Businesses of all sizes rely on a wide range of IT equipment, including some that may be outdated. This legacy equipment can pose a significant cybersecurity risk, as it may be running on outdated software and operating systems that are no longer supported by vendors. This means that security updates and patches are not available, leaving the equipment vulnerable to known and emerging cyber threats.
Why is legacy equipment a cybersecurity risk?
Legacy equipment is a cybersecurity risk for a number of reasons:
- It may be running on outdated software and operating systems. As mentioned above, outdated software and operating systems are often no longer supported by vendors, which means that security updates and patches are not available. This leaves the equipment vulnerable to known and emerging cyber threats.
- It may be difficult to integrate with modern security solutions. Legacy equipment may be difficult or impossible to integrate with modern security solutions, such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems. This can make it difficult to implement essential security measures to protect the equipment and the data it stores.
- It may be a prime target for hackers. Hackers know that legacy equipment is often vulnerable to attack, and they may specifically target businesses that are known to use this type of equipment.
How to safeguard legacy equipment.
While there is no silver bullet for safeguarding legacy equipment, there are a number of steps that businesses can take to mitigate the risks:
- Conduct regular risk assessments. Businesses should regularly identify and assess the security risks associated with their legacy equipment. This will help to prioritize necessary upgrades or replacements based on criticality.
- Implement appropriate security controls. Businesses should implement strong security controls, such as access controls, encryption, and network segmentation, to protect their legacy equipment.
- Use modern security solutions. Businesses should explore modern security solutions that are specifically designed to protect legacy systems. These solutions can help to fill in the gaps and provide additional layers of protection.
- Educate employees. Businesses should educate their employees about the risks associated with legacy equipment and promote adherence to security protocols.
Here are some additional tips for safeguarding legacy equipment:
- Keep software up to date. Even if vendor support is no longer available, businesses should try to keep their legacy software up to date as much as possible. This can be done by applying patches from third-party vendors or by developing their own patches.
- Segment networks. Network segmentation is a critical security measure that can help to isolate legacy equipment from the rest of the network. This can help to limit the damage that can be caused by a breach.
- Use intrusion detection systems. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) can be used to monitor network traffic for suspicious activity. This can help to identify and respond to cyberattacks early on.
- Have a backup plan. In the event of a cyberattack, businesses should have a plan in place to restore their systems and data. This plan should include regular backups and a disaster recovery plan.
In addition to the general tips above, there are a few additional considerations for businesses in specific industries. For example, businesses in the healthcare industry are subject to strict regulations on how they protect patient data. These businesses should take extra care to safeguard their legacy equipment, as a breach could result in a significant compliance violation.
Businesses in the financial sector should also be particularly vigilant about protecting their legacy equipment. Financial institutions are a prime target for cyberattacks, and attackers may be able to gain access to sensitive financial information or even disrupt financial markets if they are successful.
Businesses may simply choose to avoid the exposure to cyberattacks by replacing their legacy equipment and there is help out there. Section 179 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) allows those businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying depreciable assets, such as equipment and software, purchased during the tax year, up to a certain limit. This deduction can be a significant tax savings for businesses, especially those that are making significant investments in technology.
Here are several examples of technology that may qualify for the Section 179 deduction:
- Computers and servers
- Hardware, such as printers, scanners, and copiers
- Networking equipment
- Telephone systems
- Security systems
- Manufacturing equipment
- Medical equipment
The deduction limit for the Section 179 deduction in 2023 is $1,160,000. This means that businesses can deduct the full purchase price of up to $1,160,000 of qualifying equipment and software each year.
Here are two other helpful articles on Section 179:
· The first article focuses on cybersecurity investments and Section 179. You can read more about it here.
· The second article identifies several helpful tips for small businesses who are looking to upgrade equipment or software. That article can be found here.
If you would like to learn more about Section 179 or schedule a risk assessment with Vector Choice, you can start by scheduling an introductory 10-minute Discovery Call and we would be happy to help.