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5 Ways To Keep Cyber Criminals At Bay This Holiday Dec 04, 2017
The holidays are a magical time. Snow covered trees, festive lights decorating houses, time with family, parties . . . and an incredible increase in cybercrime and cyber criminals.
Didn’t see that one coming did you?
The cyber criminals think and hope so too.
While people hit the web to shop for holiday gifts, deals and plane tickets to visit loved ones, hackers are doing their best to steal your data and use it for their own purposes.
In the spirit of giving, check out these 5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday!
5 quick tips to keep cyber criminals and hackers at bay during the holiday
1. Make sure that you do your shopping at secure websites
Any time you are purchasing something online you want to make sure you are doing so from a secure website. A secure website will encrypt your information. The means that only the authorized parties (the seller) receives that information and it can’t fall into the hands of hackers or criminals.
You can tell if a website is secure by looking at the URL. If the URL begins with https:// that means it is secure. Specifically you are looking for the S after the http portion. You may also see a lock symbol. Make sure that you never enter information into a website without this. Look out for locks with warning symbols like question marks or red lines – this signals that the site is only partially encrypted and you should never trust it. Buy your stuff somewhere else.
2. Use Credit Cards instead of Debit Cards online – and probably in general where possible
There are so many different ways scammers attack your data. Think back to the big breaches of the last few years – Target, Home Depot etc. Your data can get stolen both online and at brick and mortar locations.
The most secure thing – aside from cash which obviously cannot be used for shopping online – is to shop with a credit card. Credit card companies are required to protect you from fraudulent purchases, if your account number is stolen or even if you purchase something online and it is never delivered.
The protections a consumer is guaranteed by credit cards far outweighs protections offered with debit cards and obviously, if your info is stolen, you’d much rather have that happen on a credit card than having your bank account liquidated.
3. Sign up for alerts
There are many options out there for alert programs and applications. Some let you know any time your social security number is used, some monitor your credit score and other vital information.
In regard to your credit cards and bank accounts specifically, you can have alerts sent to your email or your smartphone via text for activity. For example, you can have any purchase made on your bank card/credit card alert your phone. If that seems a bit overboard, you can set it up to alert you to purchases over a specific threshold.
Additionally, you want to make sure you are checking your bank account every day or so just to make sure nothing strange is occurring. That goes for holiday season and the rest of the year.
4. Check out third party payment systems
You’ve probably heard of PayPal but have you ever looked into why using a third party payment system like PayPal is beneficial for both the buyer and the seller?
Systems like these are middle men that help protect both sides of a transaction. The seller knows that the funds are verified but the seller also gets NO ACCESS to your account information. This is a great benefit to you. Instead of using your card and spreading your information from site to site and exposing your information to different destinations, your information is shared with one company.
Another benefit is that these third party payment options are readily available at most stores online and even at brick and mortar locations these days.
Some popular options are PayPal as mentioned, Apple Pay, Amazon Payments, Venmo, Samsung Pay and more.
5. Check Reviews and beware of the “Too Good To Be True”
It is the season for deals without a doubt. But be smart when you see an offer for something that is well below the market value.
That new iPhone isn’t going to retail for $200 no matter how great a deal they are giving you. Hate to say it but there is no free lunch and one of the best ways for criminals to get you on their sites is by advertising an incredible price for a product.
Even Amazon isn’t immune to this. Bogus retailers will advertise products that are never delivered or that have no resemblance to the pictures online. Pretty sure we have all fallen victim to that, holiday season or not.
But this time of year, make sure you read reviews. Do your research and take all the steps available to you to ensure you are protected.
We hope you have a great end of year and that you start 2018 without any personal stories about how cybercrime impacted your holidays.
If you have any further questions, feel free to reach our team and shop safe!
The post 5 Ways To Keep Cyber Criminals At Bay This Holiday 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.
Mention this blog and receive 50% off your first annual subscription.
The post 3 Ways Data Encryption Can Save You From Unnecessary Stress, Spending & Headaches appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Another Intel Processor Vulnerability Found Nov 12, 2018
Intel just can't seem to catch a break.� By now, almost everyone has heard about the dreaded Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities which have been plaguing the chip maker since they were first discovered.� Now, it seems there's a new chip-based threat.
This latest threat has been dubbed PortSmash by the research team from the Tampere University of Technology in Finland and the Technical University of Havana, in Cuba who jointly discovered it.� It works by abusing a weakness in Intel's Hyper-Threading technology, which is Intel's implementation of SMT (Simultaneous Multi Threading).
The researchers had this to say about the attack:
"We recently discovered a new CPU microarchitecture attack vector.� The nature of the leakage is due to execution engine sharing on SMT (e.g., Hyper-Threading) architecture.
More specifically, we detect port contention to construct a timing side channel to exfiltrate information from processes running in parallel on the same physical core."
In plain English, the vulnerability allows hackers to run a PortSmash process alongside a selected process running on the same CPU core. In doing so, the ProtSmash process can spy on that application and even lift data from it as desired by the hackers.
The team released a proof of concept on Github and demonstrated their ability to steal private decryption keys.
So far, the team has confirmed that the exploit works on Intel's Skylake and Kaby Lake processors, but there's strong circumstantial evidence that with modifications, the exploit would work on other chipsets as well, including those developed by rival AMD.
The reason for this is because the researchers believe SMT to be fundamentally flawed. It shares resources between two CPU instances while not providing any form of security differentiators between the two instances.
The research team responsibly reported the flaw to Intel, but the company did not respond in a timely manner, so the team published their findings, which prompted action by Intel.� The company released a security patch on November 1.