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How to Use Hardware to Prevent Wire Fraud

Tom Cronkright, Published on July 29, 2019

Just as a thief strikes in the middle of the night when their victim is unaware, fraudsters will hit your company when you least expect it. Without secure hardware, you create the “darkness” cyber perpetrators need to infiltrate your networks.

By investing in decent hardware for your company, you’re turning on the floodlights and catching wire fraud attempts before they can do any damage. Below are some effective ways you can tighten up security with hardware.

Two-factor authentication hardware

Previously, we’ve discussed using two-factor authentication (2FA) software. But 2FA can also come as a hardware solution. Instead of receiving a text or email, you use a physical key to confirm your identity.

For instance, the YubiKey requires you to insert the physical key into the USB port of your computer, then tap the key for authentication. On an Android phone, all you need to do is hold the YubiKey to it to complete authentication. Other android devices connect via USB or with an adapter.

For phones that don’t have near-field communication (NFC), there are also Bluetooth YubiKeys, compatible with most phones in use today.

2FA hardware has many advantages over 2FA software. First of all, if a device gets hacked or infected with malware, the 2FA still can’t be completed without the physical act of touching the YubiKey to it.

Should the mobile device be lost or stolen, any thief that tries to access accounts won’t be successful, unless the YubiKey is with the phone. For that reason, we suggest you keep your phone and YubiKey in different areas. That way, if one gets stolen or lost, your security isn’t compromised.

Perimeter security

In the past, perimeter security hardware would be your first line of defense. It monitors all your traffic and makes you aware of anything that’s unusual. Perimeter security hardware is equipment for intrusion detection, log monitoring, and AI.This also includes firewalls—either stand-alone devices or part of a router—and routers.

Dedicated firewall hardware can serve the sole purpose of keeping suspicious traffic out of your network. But that alone may not be enough to keep fraudsters away. In fact, perimeters are now disappearing, which means the emphasis should be on zero-trust based security instead.

But this is not to say that perimeter security isn’t useful. When combined with workplace education and business processes, it can strengthen the foundation of your company’s cybersecurity.

An advanced perimeter security system like Cisco or WatchGuard helps to keep cyber perpetrators out of your network. These security systems deliver web content filtering, antivirus scanning, reputation, application and protocol protection. They also give advanced threat protection for zero-day exploits, data loss prevention, auditing policies, and geolocation blocking.

These features work together to increase your layers of cybersecurity and shield your organization from wire fraud. It becomes much harder for cybercriminals to penetrate your defenses.

Wireless security

door with multiple locks, like what you need for wire fraud prevention

SourcePixabay.com

Wireless security hardware keeps malicious attacks outside of your digital gates, and your vital information safe inside. This type of hardware secures your network so it isn’t open to the public.

A total of 81% of organizations have seen Wi-Fi related security issues in the last year. Workers often use free, unsecured, public Wi-Fi connections that don’t use encryption. As a result, cyber scammers, with a 2.4 GHz antenna, can capture data from any nearby Wi-Fi source.

If any real estate employees use an unsecured Wi-Fi connection to transmit information about a transaction, that data could be intercepted and exploited by cybercriminals.

To prevent this, you need wireless intrusion prevention. Then, create two networks for your internet; one for you and your employees, and one for visitors.

When you keep visitors on a separate network, anything they do to jeopardize that network won’t affect your sensitive data. If your employees are up-to-date with wire fraud prevention, the business network has a lower chance of being compromised.

Another necessity is identity-based 802.1x authentication. This LAN authentication standard provides a unique authentication key for each session. It is more secure than the Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol because WEP has well-known keys that are often shared between people.

WEP is also unsafe because it uses the same keys for multiple sessions. With the key for your session, a fraudster can gain access to any data sent over the wireless connection. Changing keys for every session, denies cyber perpetrators full access to your network.

Mobile device management

castle coming out of cell phone symbolizing wire fraud prevention
SourcePixabay.com

Modern smartphones are basically handheld, pocket-sized computers. Only a decade ago, barely a second thought was given to mobile devices. Now, as new threats multiply, there’s a critical need to focus on mobile device management.

In 2018, the presence of mobile banking malware increased by 98%. Attacks by cyber scammers are evolving from desktop-only to mobile devices. This points to the need for cybersecurity to focus more on mobile device management.

With 92% of realtors preferring to communicate using text messages, they probably store vital information on their devices. If their cell phones are lost or stolen, that data can be compromised and used in a wire fraud attack.

To prevent this from happening, your IT department needs to implement mobile device management software. Should any mobile phones get lost or stolen, they can immediately use data loss prevention policies.

From 2011 to 2018, there’s been an upward trend in “bring your own device” (BYOD) for businesses. In 2018, 78.48% of organizations had BYOD activity. This is where mobile device management (MDM) becomes a necessity. MDM software allows employees to work on their preferred devices without putting your cybersecurity at risk. It also ensures that your data doesn’t go with them when they leave your business.

Systems monitoring

The key to security is how vigilant you are with traffic monitoring. An excellent type of systems monitoring hardware uses artificial intelligence (AI). One such solution, Balbix BreachControl works with deep learning and specialized AI algorithms. Since it utilizes the data you collect, the more you have, the better your AI’s predictive capabilities become.

To feed your AI the information it needs, you should collect logs at every critical point in your network, such as your firewall and router. Once your AI can differentiate between legitimate and suspicious activity, it can be used to spot subtle intrusions immediately.

In the beginning, you may get many false positives for wire fraud. But over time, the AI will learn from the information you give it and this will happen less.

How to avoid a critical loss

After about three or four years, hard drives have a small chance of failure. Because of this, you need backup plans in place so you don’t lose all your real estate company’s data.

Other events may also call for you to retrieve data from your backups. For example, ransomware is a type of attack that locks up your computer.

You won’t regain access unless you pay the “ransom,” and even then, it’s not guaranteed you’ll regain access to your device. In 2018, only 60% of companies who paid ransoms got their data back.

If your real estate company backs up its data regularly, you don’t have to worry about ransomware. In the event of an attack, all you have to do is wipe your computer and start over with the most recent backup. This can save your organization a significant amount of money and time.

Make sure you have a non-redundant, robust, and encrypted backup strategy. Using a comprehensive email solution can block even the most advanced ransomware attempts.

A good rule to follow is the 3-2-1 system. You need three copies of your data (including the original) with the backups in two different types of storage, with one being off-site.

When you have your encrypted data spread across different mediums, you have a safety net when cybercriminals attack.

AUTHOR

Tom Cronkright

CEO and Co-Founder @ CertifID

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