Cybersecurity is an important aspect of protecting your business, your employees, and your data. The more work we do in a digital environment, connected to other people and systems around the world, the more critical security is. Cybersecurity attacks are all too common, and there are always people looking for weak spots in systems to exploit for nefarious purposes. Luckily, companies like Microsoft are working even harder to identify vulnerabilities before outsiders do and find solutions to protect their client’s systems and data.
Cyberattacks are known for causing significant delays and downtime, as well as missed opportunities, property loss, and reputational damage. Unfortunately, it seems like malware attacks are almost inevitable these days. Today, it’s never been more critical to be prepared and have strategies in place to prevent attacks and recover your data if—or when— your business is hit. The impacts of a cyberattack can include:
- Downtime due to data lockout
- Reputational damage, lost clients, or lost leads
- Missed sales or customer service opportunities
- Compromised equipment with GPS or other connectivity
- Time spent mitigating the effects and implementing stronger measures
While any company with a digital presence is at risk of common data breaches such as phishing scams and ransomware attacks, the equipment rental industry is highly unique and has its own set of potential weaknesses to consider.
Common Cyberattack Targets in the Equipment Rental Industry
Besides facing the same cyberattacks as other industries, equipment rental businesses have some additional assets and risks to consider when planning for cybersecurity.
These unique risks include:
- Equipment with GPS or other network connectivity, especially if you have equipment stored in multiple locations with different network protocols.
- Companies in the process of merger or acquisition where systems and data are being combined. This process can create vulnerabilities while systems are merged.
- Having multiple different APIs and software systems that must interface with each other.
There are many different places in modern rental business operations that are weak points for a cyberattack. Cybercriminals usually aim to exploit devices with out-of-date software or operating systems, personal or otherwise unprotected devices used to access corporate data, compromised and unsecured websites that staff may visit, and remote desktop protocol sessions.
Generally, there are 7 common types of cyberattacks that all companies are at risk of:
- Email and SMS phishing are social engineering attempts to gain access to a system or private data by impersonating a reliable company or individual that you might trust. They happen on every platform and can be extremely detailed and believable.
- DoS and DDoS attacks are when a site or system is flooded with fake traffic in hopes that the system will crash. The mission may be to just cause downtime, which has negative reputational impacts, or the goal may be to exploit other possible vulnerabilities once the system crashes.
- SQL injections are bits of malicious code that a hacker can inject into your system via unsecured comments or search boxes. The code will then deliver protected information to the hacker.
- Password attacks are usually brute force attacks where a program with contextual information runs through every possible combination of letters, symbols, and numbers. Alternatively, passwords can be acquired from insecure databases.
- Rootkits are malicious programs hidden in legitimate software, usually free downloaded software, and they can give hackers remote access to the machine or network.
- Internet of Things attacks take advantage of equipment with connectivity, using it as a gateway either to steal valuable equipment or gain access to a company’s private data.
- Ransomware, spyware, or malware often come from free software downloads from websites, email links or attachments, or file downloads. They may run spyware that shares private data to the hackers, corrupt your data, or encrypt all your data and demand a ransom for access.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. The good news is that there are equally as many ways to protect your business from harm as threats. The key to preventing these types of problems for your business is to be keenly aware of your company’s security strengths and weaknesses, or as Microsoft calls it, your “security posture.”
For instance, if you have an equipment rental ERP system built on Microsoft Azure, you’re already benefiting from the dedicated security team that Microsoft has to protect its systems and data.
The Cloud Is Secure, Microsoft Azure Protects Your Data
When people talk about cybersecurity, there’s a common assumption that everything online is hugely risky, so you can’t trust anything in the cloud. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Microsoft invests over a billion dollars a year into cybersecurity. The security group works 24/7/365 and has over 3500 security experts. There are 200 people dedicated specifically to identifying vulnerabilities and problem-solving solutions for them. These people do red team vs. blue team exercises, where one team actively tries to hack the system, and the other team actively tries to thwart the attempts. After they finish the exercises, the information learned is used to strengthen security systems.
Cybersecurity research and development is proactive instead of reactive. There’s no waiting for something bad to happen, then figuring out how to respond to it. Companies like Microsoft must ensure that they’re protecting their customers’ data, and their own data, or they cease to be relevant. Trust in a person or a brand can be broken in a second, and it can take decades to rebuild. Microsoft can’t just talk about cybersecurity in the cloud; they must walk the walk, too.
Cybersecurity also ties back to physical security. The cloud operates on physical machines somewhere, and Microsoft has hundreds of data centers in 50 different regions around the world that have extensive security and many layers of protection to prevent physical access to the machines.
While you run your business, the Microsoft security team is making sure that the Azure cloud-computing servers have all the latest critical software updates and security protocols. They’re constantly testing all the Microsoft systems and platforms and looking for potential hacking targets and the solutions for them.
Microsoft Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing system that supports over 200 applications and resources to help your business operate safely and smoothly online. Here are some of the ways that Azure protects Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central clients and keeps them up to date:
- Azure is based on a zero-trust system, which is the idea that any person could be a risk, intentionally or accidentally, and all access is therefore scrutinized and requires multiple layers of clearance and approvals.
- Your data is stored in isolated databases. It’s never mixed with data from other Microsoft customers.
- All data is encrypted during access, when at rest, and in use. Backups are also encrypted.
- All network traffic inside Business Central is encrypted.
- Users must be authenticated with MFA and authorized for permissions and access levels.
- All data access, including changes made, can be tracked through the auditing systems.
One of the key bonuses with Business Central and Azure is that you don’t have to invest in an in-house cybersecurity team. Using Microsoft’s systems, you get the benefit of their comprehensive cybersecurity team already working on threats you may not even know about yet.
Cybersecurity Best Practices for Equipment Rental Companies
Cybersecurity can be intimidating, but as is almost always the case, it’s best to stay educated, know the risks, and have a plan in place to work through problems if they arise. There are quite a few things you can do to prevent malicious attacks on your equipment rental business.
Although some of them are complex, and some of them are quite easy, each of these steps is important to ensure your growing rental business is as safe as possible from cybersecurity threats while still operating efficiently. Here are our top cybersecurity best practices to protect your company from risk:
- Do a risk analysis for all equipment with connectivity and develop protocols and policies to ensure they’re protected from cyberattacks.
- Ensure all connected equipment or equipment with GPS is monitored and tracked and that security protocols are being followed.
- Make sure the default security settings for all newly connected equipment are customized immediately—i.e., before they are sent out to clients.
- Ensure connected equipment is disconnected when it is not in use. Where possible, equipment should have defined automatic timeouts if users get busy, distracted, or have an emergency.
- Make sure all equipment with connectivity has software and firmware updates as soon as they become available.
- Use encrypted network protocols.
- Make sure everyone has and uses Multi-Factor Authentication (and Bio-Metric Authentication where available).
- Limit the number of super-users in your systems.
- Set up permission groups for different access levels.
- Determine what permissions people actually need. Never give blanket system-wide access.
- Create a policy for user removal, deletion (fully gone) or disabling (still allows for audit tracking).
- Create a clear policy for emergency access protocols.
- Develop and enforce mandator workflow and approval processes.
- Ensure no one person has full access to an entire workflow or approval process.
- Train and educate staff on cybersecurity risks, how to recognize social engineering attempts and phishing scams, how to recognize if they’ve been a victim of an attack, and what to do. Cybersecurity education should be a regularly recurring event since the types of attacks evolve and change regularly.
- Regularly measure and test compliance with security protocols. If staff consistently ignores specific protocols or find workarounds, take the time to figure out why and create new protocols that make sense for users and security.
- Regularly review system users lists and adjust permissions or remove users who should no longer have access.
- Do enterprise-wide cybersecurity risk assessments and develop a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategy (BCDR).
Keep Your Equipment Rental Business Safe
Microsoft’s cloud security is unparalleled, but security for your whole enterprise is a partnership between you and Microsoft. You need to take proactive actions to make sure you’re protecting the data on your end as well. Just like you need a Disaster Recovery Plan, you should also have a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Strategy that includes specific information about what you’ll do in case of a cyberattack.
If you’ve been on the fence about the cloud and aren’t sure if it’s secure for your business, get in touch with our team for a free, no-obligation cloud consultation. Let’s improve your equipment rental cybersecurity together.