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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.To SSL or Not to SSL: What is HTTPs and Why it Matters to You Jan 12, 2018
2017 was a pretty eventful year for tech. Between the WannaCry ransomware virus, the data breach at Equifax and many other less famous incidents – one thing is for certain. 2017 was the year of cybersecurity and 2018 is expected to follow suit.
With cyber attacks on everyone’s mind and radar, businesses are starting to notice a shift in public perception when it comes to the companies they work with when it comes to data security. People want to feel safe – and they want to make sure that their information is safe, even on the web.
So while this has been a growing trend for a few years now, it is safe to say that moving forward, the trend has transformed into an expectation of security and protecting consumer data.
2018 is definitely the year of HTTPs.
What is HTTPs?
To understand what HTTPS means and how it works, you need to know a few definitions.
First – HTTP, HTTP stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. Without diving too deep into the technical lingo, this is an application layer protocol. Basically, HTTP is the protocol that involves information sent between a browser (like google chrome) and a website itself. So if you were to interrupt that connection and intercept it, you’d see in plain text what was being communicated between the website and the browser.
This can be very dangerous in certain situations. For example, if you are purchasing goods on a website with a basic HTTP (basic meaning unsecured), your personal information like your address, credit card info and whatever else you submit can be intercepted and stolen.
Nobody wants this to occur – except the thieves – so HTTPs was introduced as a secure option.
Like HTTP, HTTPs stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol but it has an additional Security component; hence the “S”.
By adding additional security components, the language being transmitted between website and browser is encrypted and kept from being read by evil doers and criminals.
Another term you might hear thrown around regarding this security protocol is an SSL or Secure Socket Layer Certificate. Again, this is just another way of saying that your site has the technology in place to securely encrypt transactions between the website and browsers etc.
The types of SSL Certificates may vary, but their basic coding provides security and encryption.
You can always tell if a website is secure in a few different ways.
- https:// precedes the URL destination i.e. https://www.google.com
- A lock shows up in the leftmost corner of your navigation bar
- A green lock shows up in the leftmost corner of your navigation bar
Sounds pretty good, right?
There was a time when this added security feature was mainly used on websites that transfer personal information such as ecommerce, financial, medical, legal etc. but these days the added security of an SSL or HTTPs on your site is more of a standard.
It is something that savvy consumers look for to avoid vulnerability.
Now that we’ve gone through what this feature is and how it operates in respect to your website you might have some additional questions about whether this feature would benefit you. We’ve touched on a few of the most common topics below.
I’m Just A Small Business Website,
Why Should HTTPs Matter to Me?
An SSL Shows Your Customer Base You Care About Their Security
By adding an SSL certificate to your website, and turning it from HTTP to HTTPs, you are providing an extra level of security for your users. They know right away that your website is secure- that nothing they are viewing or how they are interacting on your website is being monitored or watched by a malicious entity. It shows that you care about your customer’s user experience – and that reflects highly upon your company brand.
It Actually Provides Additional Security Against Hackers
Having an SSL certificate installed on your website also helps protect your website from a possible breach or hacking attempt. The extra level of encryption provides an external wall that is harder for hackers to break and infect. So while you might not necessarily need one for the type of website your business uses – it does help you protect yourself against would-be attackers and saves you money on potential cleanup and patches once a website does get infected or breached.
HTTPs Help Improve Website Search Engine Rankings and Traffic
Having this added security installed on your website shows popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing! that you take your user’s experience and security seriously. So seriously that they award your website with increased rankings.
And we all know higher rankings lead to more traffic which you hope leads to more clients/customers.
Google has been favoring websites with HTTPs for a few years now; however, after recent technology-related world events, they have doubled-down.
Starting this past October, websites that use a form or search tool on their website will not have a Not Secure warning when viewed on Google Chrome browser. The last thing you want your prospective clients to see when visiting your site is a message about poor security.
Google also has been blatantly favoring websites with HTTPs over HTTP. About have of all 1st page results on Google are websites with HTTPs, up over 30% since the end of 2016.
Failure to increase security on your site risks lower search rankings and even increases bounce rates. It is also proven that HTTP sites load slower, causing Google to penalize them for site speed as well. Overall, the industry is punishing sites that do not value security.
So, what should you take away from all of this?
An SSL does incur extra costs (but they are minimal) but failure to secure your website can cost you potential new customers, reduce website traffic and impact overall user experience.
Your IT partner or web hosting provider should have the necessary tools to help you with your website security. It should be fairly simple and won’t break your budget either.
Want to take the next step and convert to HTTPs but not sure how?
Andromeda has trained technicians and developers that are more than happy to help you with the conversion. Just give us a call to get started today!
The post To SSL or Not to SSL: What is HTTPs and Why it Matters to You appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Almost Half Of Top Ranking Websites Are Vulnerable Feb 17, 2018
Menlo Security just released their third annual "State of the Web" report and it's not pretty.� The headline finding is that 42% of the top 100,000 sites as ranked by Alexa are more dangerous than you think.
The report defines a risky site as one that meets one of three criteria:
- The site, or one of its associated background sites (from which news articles or video is pulled), is running software with a known security vulnerability
- The site has been used to launch attacks or distribute malware
- The site has suffered a security breach in the past twelve months
This first point is key, and often overlooked by security professionals.� Any time your website is pulling content from another source, it creates an opening that a hacker could potentially exploit.� Worse, most security professionals lack the tools to properly monitor those connections.
As bad as that sounds, there's an even worse detail lurking in the pages of the report, and that concerns emails.
Hackers are increasingly moving away from setting up their own domains. �Instead, they're preferring to create a subdomain of a compromised, legitimate domain, which makes it harder to spot.� Amir Ben-Efraim, the CEO of Menlo Security, had this to say about the issue:
"It is far easier to set up a subdomain on a legitimate hosting service than use other alternatives - such as trying to hack a popular, well-defended site or to set up a brand-new domain and use it until it is blocked by web security firms. �Legitimate domains are often whitelisted by companies and other organizations out of a false sense of security, giving cover to phishing sites.
Also, hosting services typically allow customers to set up multiple subdomains.� For example, researchers found 15 phishing sites hosted on the world's 10 most popular domains."
The bottom line is:� The web and even the most popular sites on it, aren't nearly as safe as you think.