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AndroPedia Tech Library
As part of our service, it is important to keep our client-partners well informed on IT developments, news, and best practices. Here is just a sampling of typical items from our AndroPediaSM library archive:
5 Ways Your Information Gets On The Dark Web Jan 26, 2018
In our last IT article we discussed the Dark Web. Specifically what the Dark Web is and why it is something that matters to just about everyone. If you missed the article make sure to give it a read here.
There are many ways your information can be compromised and inevitably end up in the hands of wrong doers on the dark web. On top of that, there are numerous ways that hackers and criminals can steal your data that are completely out of your control.
It is important that you put defense in place where you can but it is also important that you manage your risk by educating yourself on some of the top vulnerabilities out there.
With that in mind we’ve gathered 5 of the top ways hackers and criminals get around you to steal your data for the Dark Web.
5 Ways Your Information Gets On The Dark Web
1. Visiting & Using Unsecure Websites
If a website isn’t secure, information passed between you and the site can easily be compromised. In a nutshell, websites pass information to your browser (google chrome, firefox etc.) and your browser displays that information for you to look at/use. Without proper security protocols like an SSL or HTTPs, sites don’t secure that information transfer. So, if you enter personal data into a form, make a purchase or put any data on the site that isn’t secured, it is easy enough for a hacker or cyber-criminal to intercept that data and sell it on the Dark Web.
If you are interested in how to secure your website or tell if the sites you visit are secure, we have an easy to understand article here.
2. Consumer Database Breach
While hackers and criminals will go after your personal data on a small scale, a larger customer breach is what their dreams are made of. Just think back to the Target, Home Depot and Experian breaches of recent years. Even social media databases are full of rich information that hackers can make use of. If a hacker gets ahold of your Facebook password they might have also gotten ahold of your date of birth, where you live and other personal information that they can use to access financial accounts or other personal accounts.
While you can’t keep hackers out of Target’s database, you can practice your own security protocols to decrease the likelihood of criminals using compromised data to ruin you financially:
- Use different passwords for different sites
- Change passwords often (every 90 days is recommended at minimum)
- Use strong passwords
- Look into a monitoring service that alerts you of suspicious activity on financial accounts
3. Firewall Issues
You don’t necessarily have control over whether someone else secures their website and you definitely don’t have control of the security procedures at your local grocery store, but you do have control over the firewalls you use at your business.
First . . . make sure you are using a professional or business grade solution for your firewall. Consumer grade solutions are meant for home use and will not have adequate protections in place to keep your company’s private data secure.
Additionally, make sure that you have regular updates and software patches scheduled. These devices are only as good as the software they utilize. If your firewall is out of date or your software is out of date, chances are they cannot defend against the latest hacker strategies and viruses.
You will also benefit from a regular system audit to ensure all ports are secure and no user changes are impacting your network security. It is pretty common for businesses to forget these updates and checks and this is an incredibly vulnerable access point into your network if not properly configured.
4. Outdated Systems/Devices On Your Network
While your firewall controls much of the inbound and outbound traffic on your network, there are countless other devices that can create vulnerabilities. For instance, if you consider the Target breach of 2013, it is rumored that the criminals gained access to Target’s network via an HVAC company that monitored temperatures in stores. This brings up the fact that it is not just your own network but anything connected to it and the security of those ancillary devices/networks that you must be aware of.
If you have smart devices in the office, if you subscribe to any type of service that needs access to your network, all of these items and programs open you up to vulnerabilities. Even the smart devices you use at home can cause you trouble on a personal level. Imagine if a smart device on your home network was compromised and used by hackers to get into your work files on your home computer. This stuff happens and your information ends up on the dark web because of it.
5. Downloading untrusted applications/Opening Malicious Email
Email is essential to running your business but it is one of the best ways for hackers and criminals to gain access to your network. All they have to get you to do is click a link or download a file and BAM! your data might be compromised.
Email isn’t the only culprit though. Downloading files off the web can also give hackers access to your network and in turn your data. There are tools that can help you avoid this as well as training that helps you spot malicious links/sites.
How Can I Prevent My Info From Getting Onto Dark Web
With proper firewall configuration, professional anti-virus software that is updated regularly and employee training, you will dramatically decrease your vulnerability and incident rate.
There are so many ways hackers access your data. They can get to you through stores, websites, your email, the smart devices at your office/home and those are just a few examples. The scary part is that no matter how secure you make things, they will come up with a new approach that no one expects.
All hope isn’t lost though, with certain protections like professional cyber security consulting, monitoring software (both professional and personal), and specific security devices, you can protect yourself from cybercriminals.
If you’d like to discuss your options and make sure you are truly covered, reach out to our team and schedule a network security assessment.
The post 5 Ways Your Information Gets On The Dark Web appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches Sep 04, 2017
When you think of data encryption, you might imagine top-secret files and espionage. Historically, militaries and governments protected messages and sensitive information using encryption. These days encryption has many more uses. And with hackers and cyber criminals constantly after your data, it is important that you make use of this security measure.
Encryption is defined as scrambling data or text to make it unreadable. This protects stored data and personal information from displaying to those without a proper clearance or key to decode that information. There are all kinds of pieces of information you have on file that a disgruntled employee or criminal could make use of:
- Home addresses
- Email Addresses
- Drivers Licenses
- Credit Card information
- Social Security Numbers
- Date of birth
- Medical history or records
- Financial information – routing numbers, account numbers etc.
Depending on your industry, this information may be subject to state and federal regulation, hefty fines and, in cases of negligence, even jailtime (we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars). Businesses close their doors over this stuff.
While employee training and proper cyber protocols are great at protecting you and your business from user error and data breach – encryption is an added layer of security every business benefits from.
3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches
- Encryption Saves Your Reputation – More and more employees are working on the go in 2017. With employees working from home, sales staff in the field and the hustle and bustle of every day, you don’t want to hold your employees back or decrease productivity by preventing devices from leaving the office. But imagine your employee runs into the neighborhood Starbucks and leaves their company laptop in their front seat. While they are ordering their venti latte, a criminal breaks into their car and steals their belongings – your laptop included. Now you’re out the hardware but more importantly, you have a criminal at large with sensitive data. If this data has any sensitive personally identifiable information (PII) on it, you are required to report the incident. Do you want your customers losing valuable trust in your company? In fact, this fear of reputational damage is the reason that three out of every four victims to ransomware, data breach or cyber-attack do not report the incident. Think back to 2013 when 41 million people found out Target compromised their sensitive data. You’d probably think twice about shopping there again if you were one of them. If the stolen laptop had been encrypted, you wouldn’t have to report an incident. The criminal would have no way of deciphering data on the equipment.
- Encryption Keeps Designated Information Private – Let’s bring this example back into your office for a moment. Even if you don’t keep sensitive customer information on file or process credit cards. You have personal information for employees on file: Performance reviews, social security numbers, salary information and more. You don’t need a hacker or even a disgruntled employee gaining access to these records. With encryption you can ensure that even if an employee accidentally or intentionally stumbles into an area they shouldn’t be, they can’t make sense of any of that information.
- Encryption Can Save You From The Unexpected – Whether a device goes missing from the office, is stolen from a front seat or possibly snatched by a disgruntled employee, you can’t have sensitive information at large. Your reputation aside, as mentioned earlier, these types of breaches can result in very large fines, prosecution and years in prison. Nobody needs that on their mind every night. With encryption you can rest easy that even in the wrong hands, your data can’t be manipulated or exposed. To take this a step further, certain encryption management tools have the ability to remotely disable and even wipe devices. This comes in handy in all of the examples we have described. So now, not only is the information on your device useless, but after your IT company takes necessary steps, the device shows nothing but the “blue screen of death”.
Encryption is a powerful tool. It is an incredibly useful and we would say necessary piece of your cyber security and data protection plan. It is important that you protect sensitive information. Even if you don’t want to believe it, there are criminals and people out there that would wreak havoc with that data if given the chance.
For more information on our encryption software and other cyber security training, protocols and plans, give us a call at (815) 836-0030.
And be sure to click here and explore our Unlimited Security Training Program. Over 80% of data breaches are a result of human error and the first step to prevention is education.
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The post 3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Embedded Sound Waves Could Damage Your Computer Jun 13, 2018
It seems like a new attack vector emerges on a weekly basis, and this week is no exception.� The latest threat:� Emails containing specialized audio files whose acoustic vibrations can damage your computer's hard drive. This is possibly damaging to the point of causing system failure, data corruption, and making it impossible to successfully reboot your machine.
As the researchers point out, "Intentional acoustic interference causes unusual errors in the mechanics of magnetic hard disk drives in desktop and laptop computers, leading to damage to integrity and availability in both hardware and software such as file system corruption and operating system reboots.� An adversary without any special-purpose equipment can co-opt built-in speakers or nearby emitters to cause persistent errors."
It should be noted that as scary as this type of attack sounds, in practice, it is of limited value.� An increasing percentage of laptops and desktop PCs sold today come with SSDs for storage, which are not vulnerable to this type of attack.
In addition to that, not just "any" sound will do.� For the attack to be successful, the acoustic vibrations have to be strong enough to do real harm, and quiet enough that the attack is difficult to detect, lest it be aborted immediately.� The combination of those two factors make it unlikely that this one will gain widespread attention from the hacking community.� Nonetheless, it pays to be both mindful and vigilant, especially if you have an older PC or work in an office with older equipment.
The research team who discovered the new attack vector have created a new sensor fusion model that could be delivered through a firmware update.� Once updated, it would prevent unnecessary head parking in the hard drive, thus limiting the potential damage the attack could cause.� So far, there has been no word that PC manufacturers are considering making the necessary changes to their firmware.� Time will tell.