The Global Risks Report 2016, your next suspense novel…

If you’re looking for a scary story, put down the latest spy novel and pick up the 11th edition of The Global Risks Report 2016, courtesy of the World Economic Forum.

The cyber attack threat takes center stage in North America, standing out as the most likely risk by far. The report reflects the perceptions of nearly 750 experts and decision-makers in the World Economic Forum’s constituencies surveyed in late 2015.

The risks perceived as the most likely to beset various regions this year include:

Social volatility
Interstate conflicts
Economic instability
The truth is that governments, businesses, organizations, and citizens in most parts of the world face pretty much the same dangers from cyber threats as their North American counterparts.

The Grant Thornton International Business Report 2015, for example, shows that cyber attacks are estimated to have cost Asia Pacific businesses $81 billion in the preceding 12 months, while firms in both the EU and North America saw revenue losses just over $60 billion.

Cascading Effects

Cyber dependency is a global trend in a world where digital businesses reside in increasingly connected, smarter and more automated environments.

That means that an entity’s risk is increasingly tied to that of other entities, making it harder for any single party to fully protect itself. This raises “the odds of a cyber attack with potential cascading effects across the cyber ecosystem,” the report states.

Consider also the impact of other risks that can lend more fuel to the cyber-attack flames. “Chronic and resurgent violence, conflicts, and economic and social volatility will remain prominent features of the current and future reality,” the report notes. Such conditions only make it easier for bad actors to gain new recruits to conduct cyber-attacks, be they criminal or terrorist in nature.

Raise Your Defenses

The World Economic Forum’s 2015 Executive Opinion Survey, out of 140 global economies, 18 put cyber-attacks on their list of top three risks and eight consider them a risk of highest concern for doing business. These are Estonia, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, and the United States.

Growing awareness is a good thing, but improved readiness to face these attacks is even better. If there’s a happy ending to this scare story, it is that defenses can be improved, although organizations must first fully grasp the extent of their cyber-security risks and the investments required to better manage those risks and build resilience.

The Global Risks report recommends actions that businesses can take to better defend themselves, such as:

Fostering greater cooperation throughout their value chains
Sharing cyber breach data with law enforcement
Building up security for under-protected areas like machine-to-machine connections
It’s unlikely that every organization can prevent every cyber attack, but companies should emphasize methods to identify and effectively mitigate them by streamlining mechanisms for:

Early detection
Response and recovery
Rapid mitigation
Better manage the consequences
That sounds like a good plan to us, and hopefully it’s one that organizations of every stripe will waste no time putting into action.


Summary:  Using the internet on an Android phone or tablet with the default settings leaves you very vulnerable online.

It means hackers can gain access to your personal information and control your device. A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, will protect your Android device.

A VPN encrypts your presence online so that someone cannot remotely put malware on your smartphone or tablet, download apps, or steal personal details.

To be fully protected online when using Android, get Express VPN today.




My Android smartphone started doing some really weird things last year.  It began to download apps all by itself.

When I started flicking through the home screens on my phone I noticed random app icons that were never there before.

I certainly never downloaded them and I have no idea how they got there. Even though I deleted the apps from the device, new apps kept reappearing every few days.

It was through a friend I realized my Android phone had been hacked and I needed protection.

Infiltrating an Android device is actually more straightforward than you might think.   For example, if you regularly use public Wi-Fi, it is easy for a trained hacker to gain access to your device.

Some common signs that your device has been hacked include:

  • Battery being drained quicker than usual due to malware
  • Internet data is being used up quicker than normal
  • Apps are being downloaded without your consent

If any of these issues are happening to your Android device then you need to take action.  You should run an anti-virus and clean your phone, but this is just a reactive measure.

You also need to be proactive to stop it from happening in the future.


There are so many VPN services out there that claim to be the best.  However, I speak from personal experience on what the top 3 services are for Android operating systems.

I take my security very seriously now.  After my device was hacked last year, I went through several VPN services before I found one that I was comfortable with.

I want to help you guys protect your data and your information and this is why I have decided to share my top 3 recommendations with you.


Express VPN should be your first choice to protect your Android device.

They have over 100 VPN locations in 78 countries, which provides you an incredible number of options regardless of your location.

Express VPN also provides its users unlimited bandwidth, unlimited speeds, zero logging of your Internet activity, ease of use and their reliability is through the roof with 99.9% uptime rate.

Needless to say, Express VPN is a reliable service that is perfect for your Android.

Express VPN is affordable, only $8.32 a month with a 12-month subscription and they offer a 30-day money back guarantee.

You also get world-class live chat and email support 24/7, and Express VPN boasts an impressive average response time of under 30 minutes.

Downloading the app and using the service is super easy, too. Since we are concerned with security we have to mention how Express VPN protects you, with 256-bit encryption.

The experts at Express VPN provide this high level of encryption to ensure your security and privacy.

When combined with their speeds and customer service, it’s easy to see why Express VPN is our top choice for your Android.

To get the best protection and service available for your Android, check out Express VPN here.


IPVanish also have an Android app but it is not as easy to use as Express VPN and also has a slow customer support team.

I have friends who are not great with new technology. It takes them a while to figure out how to use different apps and software.

With Express VPN they could open up the app and be secured in seconds.

It is much harder to use the IPVanish app. If you don’t have a lot of time to spare then you should get the Android software from Express VPN instead.

Another problem with IPVanish is that their customer service is really slow. I had issues installing the app on my Android device and need to contact their support team.

It took hours from submitting my support ticket to receiving a reply. With Express VPN I had a response in minutes and a solution to my problem within the hour.

If you want to use a reliable and simple Android app that will allow you to use the internet anonymously then get Express VPN.

You can visit the IPVanish website here.


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4 Myths About Mobility in the Workplace


The use of mobile devices for business can no longer be ignored. It’s changing the way business is done and that’s proving to be a positive thing. While many organizations have taken this development in stride, others are turning a blind eye to the inevitability of business mobility. Research and statistics show that technology brings many advantages to the table, and70% of professionals will work via smart, mobile devices by 2018. Why leave your professionals in the dust? Let’s debunk some of the major myths regarding mobility in the workplace.

Myth #1: Your employees will be less productive.

Today, your employees will actually be less productive if they’re chained to one location, without the option for mobility. The fact of the matter is that work productivity is a management problem, not a technology problem. 90% of business communications stretch far beyond the local workplace – so why limit employees to that local workplace? Imagine that an employee has to leave the office for a meeting or to make a sale. It’s counterproductive for that employee to head back to the office to complete and submit a form, and it’s not good for your customer service if employees in the field can’t access necessary data or complete deals on the spot. Business mobility strategies actually save time and can ultimately increase sales by giving employees the tools they need to make quick decisions. These capabilities also improve a business’ reputation.

64% of employees conduct some sort of business after hours at home. The magic of cloud computing and mobile devices is that they allow people to complete business tasks from any location, at any time. This actually increases productivity, allowing your employees to produce the same quality of work while away on a business trip or otherwise working remotely.

Myth #2: Mobility will make your business less secure.

Of course, as with most technology, there is risk associated with business mobility. But, as with most technology, risk can be addressed.

As you implement mobility into your business, you simply need to focus on risk management and security. By paying attention to Mobile Device Management, analytics, encryption, authentication and strict policies, you can implement a mobile strategy in a risk-free way.

Many studies show that employees are already using smart devices for work, with or without company approval. Rather than ignoring this fact or expecting to put a stop to this trend, address it by creating a company-wide policy. This should include the acceptable use of devices, security measures, technical standards, etc. Check out this article for guidelines on how to do BYOD the right way. This can (and probably should) be something that employees are required to sign off on. It should also be accessible to employees at all times.

Though employee policies tend to fall to the Human Resources department, this is a process that should include the IT team and others with a knowledge of technology and mobility. By combining policies with training on the importance of data security and user diligence, the risk of business mobility becomes no greater than that of other business initiatives.

Myth #3: All mobile devices are the same.

You may be thinking, “Well of course they’re not all the same,” but too many businesses today are treating all devices equally. People use different devices for different reasons. Compare the typical use of a laptop vs. smartphone vs. tablet. Of course there is overlap, but one policy won’t necessarily cover the essentials for all of these devices. They might each require unique management strategies, so a business should address that when moving forward with a mobility strategy.

Myth #4: Business mobility is optional.

The fact is that mobility is a huge part of the business world already. Almost 1/3 of enterprise data is accessed through mobile devices today. Organizations ignoring this fact might find themselves falling behind. Today, a great business strategy practically requires a mobility strategy, as it factors into employee productivity, company collaboration, business profits, customer service, marketing and much more. And any business expecting to grow will need to give employees the ability to access business data on the go. The trend towards mobility is driven by a desire for greater productivity and flexibility. To ignore it would be counterproductive for a business.

Don’t let your business down. Mobility in the workplace is important. By debunking these popular myths, we hope to help businesses adopt a mobility strategy that is both effective and safe.

Keep Your Hacker Hands Out of My Phone System

If you are an OfficeSuite Phone customer and read the New York Times article Phone Hackers Dial and Redial to Steal Billions you might be in a panic, worried how to protect your business from such a scam.

But don’t worry, Broadview has your back.

Protect your business from hackers and fraud.

Fraud prevention starts by protecting your business phone system.

The scam or hack mentioned in the article involves people calling into a phone system’s voicemail service to make outbound calls. While this feature is convenient for some, it poses a huge risk as most passwords are easy to guess (more on that below).

So hackers call into the phone system, automatically try different passwords until they get through and then make calls to premium toll phone numbers (900) or other phone numbers to rack up charges.

Broadview decided years ago to cut this off by simply eliminating the not often used “call out” feature, thus thwarting the hackers.

We also recommend that OfficeSuite Phone customers update their “Permission profiles” by turning off any calling permissions that employees do not need or should not have, especially when the office is closed.

There was another problem years ago of overnight cleaning crews racking up international calls while working without much oversight. Companies were surprised to see lots of unusual international calls on their bill and were again worried about hackers.

With the OfficeSuite Phone service you can turn off any type of call, except emergency, during “closed” hours. Plus you can define “closed” hours differently for different people or groups with our Business Hours function. This is especially useful if you have multiple shifts during the day.

Finally, it is always recommended to change passwords at least once a year. We offer passwords up to 10 digits which are significantly harder for hackers to crack than four digits. We also recommend not using easy to remember passwords like 1111 or 1234.

What can you learn from the VTech breach

The breach of VTech by an unknown cyber-criminal continues to escalate. After initial reports of a breach exposing personally identifiable data of it’s customers (despite VTech’s statement otherwise), the hacker released a limited set of personal messages and photos from VTech customers to prove a near-complete compromise.

It’s been a bad week for VTech. Make no mistake, VTech is the victim of a crime. However the more immediate issue is the potential fallout for their customers and their children. And it’s here that VTech’s initial response has made things worse not better. Thankfully, they’ve adjusted course in the last 24 hrs and are being more open with information.

Let’s learn from this. Here’s what you can do as a defender to make sure your organization is better prepared to handle a breach.

Communicate Openly

The time to figure out your post-breach communications plan is now. When you’re dealing with the fallout from a breach, you want to be able to implement a step-by-step plan that is appropriate for the situation.

Here’s a basic outline of what you’re going to need;

  • An open and honest email to customers that contains;
    • specifics of the data that was stolen
    • contact information to speak to someone fully informed of the situation and ready to respond immediately to their concerns (e.g., customer care)
    • an apology
    • a timeline for future communications
  • A press release that contains;
    • specifics of the data that was stolen
    • the steps you’ve taken to inform your customers
    • a media contact for comment and additional information
  • An open and honest communication to stakeholders that contains;
    • specifics of the data that was stolen
    • what is know so far about the mechanics of the breach
    • the steps you’ve already taken in response
    • the steps you plan to take
    • who is the lead for communications
  • A public URL that you can use to gather information (like an FAQ)
    • this should be constantly updated as the situation evolves
    • use this as the default resource to send everyone to
    • don’t hide this away on a corporate site. Make sure it’s visible where your customers visit

These items should be written ahead of time in a customizable template. Remember this is in addition to the internal response that you’ll require.

When you realize that you’ve been hacked, here are the steps you need to take to effectively communicate;

  • acknowledge that there has been a breach and that you’re actively investigating it
  • identify and inform affected customers
  • publish the public URL for general awareness
  • inform and brief stakeholders
  • issue a press release with critical information and a point of contact

All of these should be written in a tone that is clear and apologetic. Don’t needlessly muddy the waters (e.g., VTech’s re-definition of personally identifiable information), try to deflect blame, or raise the point that your a victim too. You can provide an explanation and get into the specifics of how this happened afterwards.

The immediate goal is to reduce the impact of the breach.

This means ensuring that your customers have the necessary information as quickly as possible. If they need to take action of some sort (cancel credit cards, change account credentials, etc.), you want them to be made aware so they can reduce the chances of something bad happening.

Act Decisively

Once you start to respond to an incident, the process has 5 key steps;

  1. detect
  2. analyze
  3. contain
  4. eradicate
  5. recovery

These steps are bookended by “prepare” and “improve/learn” and together these steps form the foundation of a solid incident response (IR) process.

Most often, the biggest challenges are faced in the “contain” step. This is often when the IR team is faced with tough decisions that directly impact the business.

VTech issued the following update on their FAQ 01-Dec-2015;

“As a precautionary measure, we have suspended Learning Lodge, the Kid Connect network and the following websites temporarily whilst we conduct a thorough security assessment.”

This is not something that any organization ever wants to have to write. But it’s 100% the right call despite the potential impact to the bottom line.

When is the right time to make this type of call? There’s no firm rule. It’s a judgement call based on the information you have at the time.

What you can do to make this easier is to work out possible scenarios ahead of time. This is an extremely difficult exercise to work through as it assumes your other work in defending the organization has failed. But it’s critical to work through these scenarios in theory and in practice (called a game day) in order to write a playbook for IR.

Part of this exercise is to determine who in the organization has the required authority to make the decision to shut down services. Hopefully you never have to make that call. But if you reach that point, you need to know who to call.

All of the processes you have in place with your security practice work towards never having to make a call to shutdown services. If you’re hacked and you have to make that call, you’re far better off working from the playbook you wrote ahead of time instead of calling an audible.

Know Your Exposure

The most important thing you can do now to reduce the impact of being hacked is to review the data your are collecting and storing. By creating an inventory of the type of data you have, it is much easier to evaluate the risk you’re facing.

With the list in hand, you want to run through a very simple exercise. Put each data point on it’s own sticky note. Use the stickies to combine various data points to create different points of view.

The goal of this play on usability card sorting is to find which data points pose more risk to your business when they are linked to other data points.

If we take the VTech example, their app store requires a billing address, the social app links parents and children, and the messaging server temporarily stores photos and private messages. Individually each of these data points poses a risk. Combined, that risk escalates dramatically.

Mapping out all possible connection between all of the data points you collect & store let’s you better identify risks and set the appropriate mitigations.

Those mitigation could entail;

  • not storing the data at all
  • isolating the data in separate backend systems
  • ensuring that your monitoring practice is looking for warning signs of data aggregation

Until you map out the entire landscape of data you store & collect, you won’t know what level of risk you’re facing. Without that knowledge, how can you formulate an effective defence?

Prepare For The Worst

No one wants to be hacked. It’s a security team’s worst nightmare. You can reduce the impact of a breach by taking steps now.

  • Set out a communications plan. Create a few templates for key communications so you can fill in the details during the incident in order to reduce your response time
  • Practice and planning are key. Work through possible response scenarios ahead of time. Practice them. Make sure you know who has the authority to suspend services if you need to take dramatic steps to contain a breach
  • Know what data you are collecting and where you store it. Understand how those data points can be combined and how those combination affect the risk (and value) of the data. Add additional protections as appropriate

When you’re focusing on keeping the lights on or, worse, getting them back on. The last thing you want to do is to shoot from the hip. Writing out a clear playbook for all aspects of incident response is the key to a successful response.

National Computer Security Day: Is Your Business Protected?

We all use computers for something in our lives, but for businesses that rely on them, National Computer Security Day is a great reminder to review the security measures you have in place. We’ve discussed in several posts how important it is for your business to keep your security measures up-to-date, but in honor of the holiday,  we are going to focus on the different areas of security that might be at risk and how to best keep them safe.

Your email systems can be at risk for a number of reasons. If the server fails, you might not be able to access important information, and if any emails contain sensitive information, that information could be obtained by hackers.  There is also the age-old scam where people send viruses through email. Having a good email security system in place will make sure that emails containing questionable content will be blocked and quarantined. It will also ensure that your emails are backed up for easy access in case of emergency. You and your employees, with the right protection, are able to enjoy inboxes that are spam-free, contain no unsafe content and are properly backed up.

What are your security objectives? How much of a block do you want between your computer network and the outside world? Having a well-managed firewall lets you call the shots and ensures that your network is constantly being monitored. You can reference web-based reports at any time to identify any erratic behavior and address any issues.

If you have employees or clients who access your network remotely, you need your VPN to be secure. VPN security means that you can have people work from home without worrying, and that any data sent through the network will be encrypted so that it cannot be intercepted and obtained, avoiding any cyber-attacks.

Internet Policy
What types of websites would you like to allow your employees to access from the at-work network? Having a security system that enables internet-use management allows you to put filters on accessible URLs to avoid any legal issues or potential issues for your employees who might access dangerous sites. Some managers also employ internet policy management systems in order to boost workplace productivity.

Data Storage
Storing your business’s critical data in a place that is easily accessible, secure, and backed-up is imperative. Having a good managed security service means that your data will be backed-up on a regular basis, which reduces the amount of time it would take for your business to recover from a potential security threat, as well as the amount of time you’d be exposed to any risk. This is hugely important to have In place to ensure that your sensitive data is monitored and secure 24/7.

What steps is your business taking to avoid security threats? Are you using a managed security service? National Computer Security Day is the perfect time to make sure all of your security management efforts are up-to-date and that you have the right protection in place for your business. We offer a variety of managed security services and is always here to help you get started.


In Cloud We Trust – Cloud Security

Security Blog

We’ve all heard it before: “If you move to the cloud, all of your data will be at risk!”

Countless studies have shown that cloud security is the major factor standing in the way of cloud adoption. While in some cases companies are right to be wary, like most things, not all cloud providers are created equal. In fact, the security a company experiences with the cloud solely depends on the provider chosen. It’s wrong to lump all cloud providers together and assume a general opinion on cloud security, whether that opinion is good or bad. Just as some companies currently have better in-house security than others, some cloud providers view security as a larger priority than others. And the word security is all-encompassing, referring to physical and network security, as well as compliance.

Physical Security

A great cloud provider will have multiple physical security measures in place. Look for providers that can offer the following: full credential-limited access to data centers, key card protocols, biometric scanning systems, exterior security systems, on-premises security guards, digital surveillance and recording, secured cages, around-the-clock interior and exterior surveillance monitor access, and employees that have undergone multiple, thorough background security checks. This isn’t asking too much. These are the things that will protect your information. The best facilities will also include environmental controls such as redundant HVAC systems, circulated and filtered air, and fire suppression systems.

Network Security

A reliable cloud provider should be able to guarantee geographical diversity of data center locations as well as full redundancy. With these steps in place, companies can ensure that in the event of a disaster, their business-critical data and applications will be safe and accessible, even if one of the data centers is affected. Look for in-flight and at-rest encryption, strong firewalls, password protection and around-the-clock monitoring. Make your provider prove itself, and ensure that it can demonstrate strict and accurate Service Level Agreements.


Today, more and more industries have regulations and standards to meet. “Compliance” is an extremely important word for businesses in all industries, as it refers to the laws that are in place for security and privacy purposes. Your cloud provider should meet, if not exceed, large compliance laws such as HIPAA, PCI DSS, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Whether or not your company needs to meet these regulations, you want a cloud provider that understands and follows the top compliance laws because this demonstrates that they are knowledgeable and trustworthy.

The reality of today is this: cloud computing is a growing, important technology that is being adopted by the majority of businesses. In order to remain relevant and modern, cloud is the way to go. By no means should you risk your company’s security to do so, but you should work to find a provider that is trustworthy and can offer excellent physical and network security for your data. You have to remember that cloud providers are businesses too – they put loads of money into ensuring that their customers information is secure. For the most part, they aren’t willing to risk their reputation and customers for lesser security. As long as you take the appropriate steps to ensure you’re working with a legitimate, secure provider, the cloud is ‘absolutely a viable and intelligent option for your organization. And when you make the move, you’ll experience better security than you ever had in-house.

IoT and the Impact of “Smart” Technology

internetofthingsScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 1.21.21 PM

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t exactly new – according to The Guardian, the first Internet-connected toaster was unveiled at a conference in 1989, and does anyone remember the movie “Smart House”? People have been intrigued by the idea of connecting, well, anything and everything for years and years now! Today, however, we finally have the technology in place to do so, and the Internet of Things is really taking off.

IoT Defined

The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication, and it’s said that this technology will make everything from streetlights to seaports “smart.” Its true value lies in the intersection of gathering data and analyzing it. Today, there’s a huge network of physical objects that are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity. These objects, or “things”, are able to both collect and exchange data, and the network will only continue to grow in coming years.

In really simple terms, the Internet of Things is all about connecting devices and objects over the Internet. They are able to talk to each other and to us. There are plenty of examples already: smart technology in automobiles, the smart fridge, mobile devices, wearable technology, and so much more. And IoT isn’t even limited to singular devices. Imagine a true smart home, or an entire smart city!

The Challenges

Security is always a top concern when new technology is introduced. It’s extremely valid, as devices within the IoT will certainly be gathering a lot of data about people. This is a challenge that experts in the Internet of Things are already working to overcome, and it’s still in the early stages. There have not yet been excessive hackings, but as IoT develops, it will be more attractive to hackers – this means more emphasis should be put on security in these early stages to avoid problems later. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these devices are just as susceptible as a home PC or smartphone – it’s all on an even playing field. And as the Internet of Things grows, so will security technology.

Another concern is how the Internet of Things will affect business. Some think it will affect productivity levels or lead to an invasion of worker privacy. IoT will almost definitely impact how business is done today, but it can have a really positive impact. Manufacturing already uses the Internet of Things to organize and track machines, while farmers are able to monitor their crops and cattle. As more and more businesses adopt this technology, it can have a significant impact on production and efficiency. And while employees may not like the idea of being tracked throughout the workday, this concern may lead to the implementation of IoT policies to both protect workers and take advantage of the latest technology.

IoT and Cloud Computing

The Internet of Things is built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors. Cloud-based applications are truly the key to using leveraged data gathered from the IoT. They interpret and transmit the data coming from all these sensors. The cloud provides the infrastructure needed to analyze these huge amounts of data in real time. 55% of IoT developers primarily connect devices through the cloud (Forbes). Cloud computing can also address concerns about security, as cloud security has strengthened significantly in recent years.

With huge levels of data flying around, the cloud is immensely important in the development of the Internet of Things. It has the capability to handle the speed and volume of this data, and ensures that the data remains accessible anywhere, at anytime, using any device. And paired with Big Data, cloud computing also provides valuable insights that businesses can use to customize their offerings.