7 Tips to Protect Your Privacy on the Web

It’s a scary world out there. With the Internet, you are no longer protected by distance and physical barriers from your enemies. With just an email address or phone number, someone can find out more about you than they could in days of old when all you had to worry about was a nosy neighbor. And with so many people online nowadays, it is likely that at least one person will be able to figure out who exactly you are and what your secrets might be. 

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to keep yourself safe on the Web; this article outlines five of them:   

1. Don’t give up too much information on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter  

This is very important because you don’t want to be one of those people that stay connected with everyone they have met in their entire lives. It makes you a prime target for manipulation as even the least tech-savvy person can try and find out more about your life from these social media sites. Social media sites are also a good place to look for information. 

For example, if you have someone’s social media username on Facebook and they put their phone number down as public information, then you can go ahead and call them up to talk. You might even be able to find out where they live or work based on the places that they frequently visit or mention in their newsfeed. And remember that everything you post online is permanent and cannot be deleted (except through complicated processes like asking Google to delete your entire account).

2. Use a VPN

Using a VPN service is one of the most important things you can do to protect your online privacy. A VPN allows you to create an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server run by your VPN provider. This means that all of the data that leaves and enters your PC is encrypted (and thus prevented from being read). It also prevents websites from seeing who you are or where you are located, making it appear as if you’re in another country on the other side of the world. Also, the VPN hides your IP address, which is another way for someone to find out who you are. You can find a list of the best vpn services curated by Forbes.

3. Don’t email pictures of yourself or any other information that could be used to identify you! 

Because of the sheer amount of information that you can obtain from a single email address, emails are one of the least secure ways to share information! It is particularly important not to include pictures or any other kind of identifying information in your email.

If you must send an email with personal information attached, consider using encryption software like PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) that will allow you to encrypt this data so that it cannot be read if intercepted. In even more extreme cases, some services like Hushmail offer completely anonymous accounts where no traffic logs are kept at all.  

However there are several situations when sending an encrypted file is not enough: for example, when multiple people have access to the same device and they might extract the files while spoofing your identity.

 4. Use the right browser settings so that your activities are not tracked by advertisers, search engines, and others 

This is important because most websites can track your activities on their site in several ways. The tracking software might be embedded in the website code or it may come from a third-party service like Google Analytics. Either way, you need to make sure that both your browser and any plugins/extensions are configured so they do not transmit data about what web pages you visit or which search terms you use. 

To do this with Chrome, click the Customize and Control icon, then Settings (under Privacy) > Show advanced settings… > Content Settings > Manage exceptions. You will see a list of domains; simply remove those that you don’t want to send information to by clicking on the Remove button on the right side.

5. Use search engines that do not track you.

This one is a bit tricky since even the Google search engine tracks your searches. In addition, most of the alternative search engines can be configured to use encryption so that they don’t store local copies of your data and it is sent directly instead of to their servers.  You can also search directly from the address bar if you don’t want to use a browser plugin.

For example, if you’re using Chrome, install the Startpage extension and configure it by clicking on Options (under Identity). Then click Customize on MyStartPage and then Privacy. In the Never send personal information to these services section change both of them to Google Search (it will be automatically selected). To use this type of encryption for DuckDuckGo, Firefox or Startpage simply add “https” in front of the URL while leaving off “www.”  (e.g., https://duckduckgo.com/ )

 6.  Don’t use open wifi if you want to protect your information.

This one is important because it doesn’t come down to how well or poorly a company encrypts the data that passes through its servers—the simplest way would be just to not send any of it! This also applies to corporate networks, where many employees use VPN software and other encryption technologies already in place for their security needs. 

However, these same tools can also prevent an employer from monitoring employee-side traffic (e.g., using GeoLite2 IP databases to geolocate broadband subscribers). So always think twice before logging on with your work account on the local coffee shop’s free wifi!

7.  And finally, don’t assume that anything you send or store is secure and can’t be hacked.

While this might seem like an obvious one, many people have gotten into trouble in recent years by thinking that a service was secure when they actually weren’t. Again, there are two sides to the story. Companies must do as much as possible to protect user-information from outside attacks, which sometimes means sacrificing convenience (i.e., forcing users to use longer passwords).

Protecting Your Privacy Online

If you follow these tips carefully, anyone who wants to find out more about you will run into brick wall after brick wall trying to get information about you; at least, this will buy time for you to protect your privacy more fully if you decide to do so. 

What are the Common File Storage Options for Small Businesses?

For most businesses, data ranks high in the list of most valuable assets. It follows that every small business owner must have a good strategy for data storage to ensure its safety and ease of accessibility. The good news is that there are plenty of secure storage options for small businesses. 

Before we look at some of the common data storage options for small businesses, let us first understand why security is vital when choosing a storage option.

Security is critical when considering a storage option for your business.

As many businesses shift to remote working, the question of data security has become a big concern. 

Many businesses turn to virtual private networks, often referred to as VPNs, as a way to minimize data security risk. Unfortunately, this storage option may not be as secure as most people think and may be somewhat overwhelming, especially if your employees are not quite tech-savvy. 

Luckily, you can find better alternatives to VPN, such as a file server, which is a simple and secure way for remote and in-office workers to share daily work.

Common data storage options for small business

On-premises

As the name suggests, an on-premises data storage solution involves having servers owned and managed by the data owner themselves. 

For larger organizations, the servers could be located at a private data center facility. However, a data storage system could consist of only a few machines in a dedicated room or closet for small businesses. 

Whatever you choose to work with, the defining factor of an on-premises storage option is that the data owner will have full responsibility for the premises on which the infrastructure holding the data is located. That way, you have greater control over the security and the accessibility of the data. 

However, on-premises storage may be a bit costly to set up compared to other file storage options for small businesses.

Colocation 

In the initial stages of your business, you may be content with an on-location data storage solution. But you may soon realize that your storage could be more demanding as your business begins to experience growth.

Fortunately, colocation may be a good option to help continue enjoying the control that is almost equal to an on-premises solution without having to deal with managing your equipment. In other words, you will collocate your equipment with a data center facility, which allows you to enjoy the features of the data center’s network infrastructure, such as equipment management and comprehensive security.

Cloud storage

Cloud storage is another excellent option for file storage for small businesses. Much like in colocation, the physical environment (or servers) is typically owned and managed by the hosting company.

One of the biggest advantages of using cloud storage is that it is cheap in that it does not require much in terms of investment. Additionally, cloud solutions provide for easy scalability, and your business can always source more storage space as needed without the need for extra hardware.

The main drawback to a cloud storage solution is its security risks due to its open nature. However, that doesn’t mean you could never use cloud storage for your business. 

For greater security, you may opt for private cloud deployments, which are implemented through vitalized infrastructure and offer better levels of security.

Final words

File and data storage is critical for any business. That is why you shouldn’t wait until you run out of space to create more. Instead, always plan ahead of time to avoid inconveniences that could cost you time and money.

3 Simple Bot Mitigation Techniques

More than 40% of all internet traffic comes from bots, and a quarter of total internet traffic comes from malicious bots. 

This is why it’s important to detect the presence of bad bots as soon as possible and manage their activities accordingly. In short, a functional bot mitigation strategy is crucial for any business and even individuals with an online presence. 

What Is Bot Mitigation

A key aspect of bot mitigation is to identify the bot traffic and properly distinguish bots from legitimate users, but there are other aspects to bot mitigation we should consider. 

First, it’s crucial to understand that not all bots are bad. Bots are by nature, just tools. They are computer programs that are programmed to execute automated processes without any human intervention. These bots can execute repetitive tasks at a much faster rate than any human user ever could, and so they aren’t necessarily good or bad, it all depends on how the process/task it performs. 

With that being said, there are actually many good bots that are beneficial to our site, application, and/or business, like Google’s crawler bot. Yet, there are indeed bad bots operated by cybercriminals to perform many malicious tasks. 

Thus, a crucial aspect of bot mitigation is distinguishing between good bots and bad bots based on signatures, behaviors, and other factors. 

Another important aspect of bot mitigation is what we will do to malicious bot traffic once it has been properly identified. 

Completely blocking the bot and denying it from accessing our site’s resources might seem like the best and most cost-effective approach at first glance, but it isn’t always the best approach in all situations. 

Block or Not Block Bot Traffic

There are two main reasons why blocking bot traffic isn’t always the best approach. 

The first has been briefly discussed above: we wouldn’t want to accidentally block good bots, and even worse, legitimate human traffic. This is an issue we know as false positives

The thing is, today’s bad bots have become so sophisticated in masking their identities and impersonating human behaviors. Bot programmers are now really advanced and many have adopted the latest technologies, including AI to hide the bot’s presence. 

So, even distinguishing between bot traffic and human users is already challenging enough, much worse differentiating between good bots and bad bots. When we aren’t sure about the identity of the suspected malicious bot, then blocking is not a good idea. 

The second reason is that blocking will not stop persistent cyber criminals from attacking your site. They will simply modify the bot to bypass your current bot mitigation measures, and they may also use information you’ve accidentally provided, for example in your error messages when blocking the bot, in upgrading this malicious bot. 

In such cases, blocking the bot can be counterproductive, and this is why there are other bot mitigation strategies you should consider. 

Bot Mitigation Approaches To Consider

If blocking the bot isn’t always the best approach, what are the alternatives? Here are some bot mitigation techniques to consider: 

1. Rate Limiting

A key principle to understand when mitigating bot activities is that bots run on resources, which can be expensive. Thus, all bot operators would like the bot to execute the tasks as fast as possible while also using as few resources as possible. 


Rate limiting, or throttling, works based on this principle: by slowing down our reply to the bot’s requests (i.e. lowering bandwidth), we can significantly slow down this bot’s operation without letting it achieve its objective.

The hope is that by slowing it enough, the bot operator will be discouraged and will move on to another target. 

2. Feeding Fake Data

Similar in principle to rate limiting, but here instead of slowing down our bandwidth, we’ll reply to the bot’s requests with fake content. For example, we can redirect the bot to a similar page with thinner or modified content to poison its data. 

Again, by letting the bot wastes resources, the hope is that the attacker will simply move on to another website instead of persistently attacking yours. 

3. Challenging The Bot With CAPTCHA

When we aren’t completely sure about the identity of a client (whether it’s a bot or a human user), a fairly effective approach is to challenge the client with CAPTCHAs or CAPTCHA alternatives

Keep in mind, however, that CAPTCHAs are not a one-size-fits-all solution and might not be ideal in certain cases: 

  • The most sophisticated bots with AI technologies can effectively solve CAPTCHA challenges.
  • While we can make the CAPTCHA more difficult and challenging for bots, it will also increase the difficulty for human users, which may ruin our site’s user experience
  • With the presence of CAPTCHA farms, CAPTCHA isn’t effective in stopping persistent attackers who are ready to invest in the services of these CAPTCHA-solving farms. 

It’s worth noting, however, while CAPTCHA isn’t bulletproof, it is still a fairly effective bot mitigation technique in various situations to defend against less sophisticated bots. Use it tactically and sparingly. 

When To Block The Bot Traffic

Blocking the bot traffic altogether remains the most cost-effective approach in theory since we wouldn’t need to process the bot traffic and use our resources in any way. 

However, blocking the bot traffic is only ideal if we have an adequately strong bot detection solution in place that can consistently distinguish between good bots and bad bots, and can keep detecting the presence of malicious bots even after they’ve been modified and improved. 

An AI-based bot mitigation solution that is capable of predictive, real-time behavioral analysis is essential, and by investing in one, you’ll get the easiest and most effective bot mitigation solution to implement in protecting your business from various bot threats. 

Kaseya Ransomware Attack – 5 Things to Do to Protect your Business

Ah, lovely holiday weekend. We closed early on Friday. All the staff is enjoying family time. Many are out of town. The ideal time for a horrific ransomware attack to shut down hundreds of businesses and cost millions of dollars. Happy Independence Day!

In my 30 years of running our business servers, I have noticed that system penetration attacks, denial of service attacks, and brute force email spam increases at the times and dates when US staff is away from their server. Clearly the attackers hope that people are not watching the server messages that hint that a system has been compromised.

Starting mid-afternoon on July 2nd, an nefarious group succeeded in compromising a network security reseller named Kaseya. Through Kaseya’s VSA management tools, they hit IT related businesses with ransomware. Ransomware is software that locks a server or data files and then demands a ransom to unlock them.

Kaseya Underwhelms in Response

True to holiday mode, the response from Kaseya has been underwhelming. They claim to be the victim. They claim only a few customers are affected. They state they had complete control of the attack within two hours. They offer a solution to turn off any server using their service. Meanwhile, because of the attack, a chain of 500 stores is closed in Sweden, paralyzed 200 US Companies, and caused thousands of network technicians to return to work to mitigate the damage. What is missing in Kaseya’s response is a sense of responsibility and scope. It is clear that Kaseya’s management is still by the barbecue and not in the office.

Is your Business Affected? Is your Business Next?

The year 2021 has been awash in cyberattack and ransomware news. If you are not now taking steps, then you should think about it. Like any disease, these attacks are like a virus, and you can take steps to avoid your company getting sick. This may save you thousands of dollars. Here are five steps you can take this month to lower your risk.

1. Recognize Phishing Email in all its Forms

Hillary Clinton would have become president if it wasn’t for a mistake made by Democratic Chairman John Podesta. The campaign was a target, and they already knew there were emails sent their way for information. John clicked twice and entered his email credentials. Within minutes, 50,000 campaign emails were in Russian hands, and Hillary’s campaign was toast. How could any high-level manager fall for a simple spoof?

The spoofs are getting pretty good. It takes an effort not to click. We all get them. What is typical now is they come in a short email, with no explanation and a simple and logical attachment. The only clue is that the sender is not known.

Sometimes the sender is known or even a known vendor. Here at CompanionLink, a quick view of our publicly available DNS reveals that we use Rackspace for business emails. You can guess we get many messages that claim to be from Rackspace. Things like “Phone message from Rackspace” (we do not get phone service from them), or Mailbox Full, or Mailbox Corrupted. My favorite is the ones that make you panic – “Your credit card has been billed for $6,533.32” or “Your bank account has been closed for fraud.”

Avoid the panic. Tell your staff to forward all odd messages without clicking. Then, if needed, log into your Email Portal or Bank to ensure there is no actual problem.

2. Train your Staff – Really – to Recognize and Mitigate Risks

We all know the drill. You have a 30-minute meeting with your Vice President to underscore the importance of security for your business and your customers. He tells the tech manager in 4 sentences and maybe sends an email to all. Your team managers respond upstream in glowing terms, and then behind your back, convey a “don’t screw up” message downstream. The line staff gets the message: “Please don’t leave food in the refrigerator more than 3 days, remember to buy a secret Santa gift, and do not take down the entire company with an insecure password.” Unfortunately, the line staff just treats it as another empty command from from the top.

The most common method of attack is phishing emails

The SolarWinds attack vector is not known. What is known, however, is that for five years, certain SolarWinds systems were available using the password Solarwinds123. While the company CEO claims they immediately locked out the password after being notified that it was publicly available, others dispute both the timeline and the extent of the password use.

This goes beyond simply choosing a good password. And it goes beyond any automated system that forces you to change passwords frequently. The best hygiene is to ensure every system you have has a different password and your passwords are stored securely. These are opposing goals but worthy of taking time to get it right.

3. Do not use Unnecessary Vendors

SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and Kaseya show the vulnerability when an IT vendor becomes the source of a security breach. A company whose only fault is to purchase services from a vendor is suddenly left with a million-dollar mess.

For the most part, you can identify your IT vendors by looking at the bills you pay. If you pay for a service, your company may be vulnerable to a breach of that service. Keep a close eye on payments large and small because instead of paying them, they may cost you. Be sure the service is necessary and justified. Check your emails for unpaid providers like Facebook and Google, since these notices mean that you are paying by having your information sold (advertising) rather than from your bank account.

4. Do not Trust the Cloud

People who trust the cloud are the same ones that sign agreements without reading them. Their trust is misguided. You can be sure those click-through agreements have huge loopholes for data breaches. Your best security is not to be a target. Staying small and anonymous may work better than making waves and becoming a victim.

The Microsoft Exchange attack targeted corporations that run their own private Exchange servers. The problem was not systems that were up to date but systems that were lagging in updates. These were companies that made the best effort to run secure servers but that had fallen a bit behind on maintenance, which was not surprising during the COVID era. Most companies focused on how to pay staff and not on whether to install routine security updates.

For Email that is internet-based, you are safer using IMAP protocol that does not connect to LDAP logins which may allow system-level passwords. For in-house systems, like CRM, there are still many vendors that can supply an on-premise CRM that is a fraction of the cost of a cloud system and that ensures that even if your internet is down – your customer data is safe within your corporate firewall.

5. Beware of Security Dominoes

A security domino is any system that, when breached, leads to other systems that may be breached. Password vendors Lastpass and 1Password are targets for bad players. And it would be best if you kept in mind that Yahoo and AOL have been breached multiple times, as have Facebook and Twitter. Even Apple, who sticks its finger in Microsoft’s eye on viruses, has been found guilty of sickening silence when 128 million iPhone users were hacked.

For corporate servers, ensure that your logins are qualified not just by password, 2FA, and 3 Dimensions, but ensure their IP matches a minimal set of known IPs. Do not use IP location since any VPN user easily spoofs location. You need to limit access to the specific IP network that your team uses. Primitive firewalls like Iptables can sometimes block better than sophisticated ones that allow anyone to get to a login screen. The networks your team uses are limited and known. Strength lies in simplicity.

Ending

To the management of Kaseya, your company got attacked. Start your message by taking responsibility – until known otherwise – your company was vulnerable to an attack. If you did your job right, this attack would not have happened. Start by owning that fact.

Hundreds of IT workers got their holiday ruined. Reach out. Tell them that Kaseya management is called back at the office and will stay full-time to ensure the fastest possible response.

Finally, reach out to your customers – who have been damaged – to help mitigate their future losses and explain what you are doing to make up for their current losses. You have insurance. They do not.

For everyone else – sit down on Tuesday with your monthly vendor bills, and go through one-by-one. Make sure you are protected if that vendor is breached. The year 2021 has seen an unprecedented rise in successful ransomware attacks, and the trend is not in your favor.

How did Windows 11 Leak? Is Microsoft’s Codebase Secure?

The Windows 11 official launch event took place on June 24, but the internet was already flooded with leaked Windows 11 ISO news on June 15. At first, the screenshots of Windows 11 appeared at Chinese site Baidu, and then the early build leak of Windows 11 ISO started revolving all over the internet. How does a tech giant like Microsoft let this massive leak happen? If Microsoft cannot handle its most important project’s privacy, how can we suppose that our data handed by them is secure?

There is no official announcement from Microsoft till now about how this leak took place. But Microsoft is issuing DMCA complaints to those sites that are distributing the leaked Windows 11 ISO. To have a closer look at how did Windows 11 leak, this blog presents some possible scenarios that could have led to this incident.

4 Possible Scenarios behind Windows 11 Leak

Different theories are rising related to Windows 11 leak. Some are considering it a marketing stunt, while others are considering it a serious security loophole. We have researched the possible scenarios that could have resulted in Windows 11 leak and come with the following 4 points:

1. Link to SolarWinds and Exchange Attacks

Microsoft has experienced significant cyber-attacks in the past couple of months. The prominent one is the SolarWinds attack that made thousands of global businesses, including government organizations and Microsoft its victim. The attackers even got access to Microsoft source code by gaining control of a few internal accounts. However, Microsoft later announced that the hackers just got access to view the code and the stolen source code had no impact on its products’ security.

After the SolarWinds attack, Microsoft experienced a second attack in 2021 on Microsoft Exchange Server. Four zero-day vulnerabilities were exploited by attackers from China. They deployed backdoors and continue to use them to conduct wide-scale malware attacks.

Microsoft is anxious to move on from these many cyberattacks. One hundred thousand corporate customers have spent significant amounts of money cleaning up the damage. Now the question arises, is the Microsoft codebase secure. Clearly, attackers managed to penetrate deep into the systems without being detected, so how can Microsoft be so sure about its recovery? Therefore, the recent cyber-attacks on Microsoft can be linked to the Windows 11 leak. There is no such clear evidence on it, but chances are there that it is a potential reason behind the leak.

2. Intentional Leak from Microsoft

There is a high possibility that Windows 11 was intentionally leaked by Microsoft to create the hype and gain the attention of users. Well, if this was Microsoft’s plan, then it seems to went perfectly. Windows 11 became a trending topic on the internet before its official release, and everyone started to explore what new offerings it is going to provide.

But why would a tech giant like Microsoft has to leak its OS when it can easily market it after the launch event? The possible answer could be the attention its competitors are gaining from users in the COVID-19 pandemic.

When Microsoft launched Windows 10, it was declared as the last Windows version. The possible reason was the growth of smartphones as the main computing devices and decreased use of PCs. The sales of computers dropped, while the sales of smartphones increased exponentially. So, that’s one possible reason why Microsoft decided to stop releasing new OS every two or three years.

But COVID-19 shifted things greatly. The demand for computers increased due to remote working and online studies. Chromebooks sales accelerated, while Apple also released its fastest-ever M1 chip for Macs. This possibly left Microsoft and its computer manufacturing partners in a miserable stage. So, that might have triggered the need for Windows 11 to bring market balance.

But since Windows 11 is mostly an improvement of UI and features-enhancement of Windows 10, so to bring solid market impact, Microsoft might have played the leaked Windows 11 ISO stunt. They have managed to gain attention on the internet, let users test out the leaked ISO, and also successfully shifted the attention hype from its competitors.

3. Insider Dishonestly

Microsoft is an ideal tech company to work in. From the diversified work environment to great salary, Microsoft employees experience both personal and professional growth. But not all employees have the same intention. Therefore, one possibility behind Windows 11 leak is that the employee(s) managed to steal the Windows 11 build version without getting caught and then sold/released it on the internet anonymously. Usually, tech companies ensure strict internal security measures, but there are always some chances of security loopholes.

4. Remote Working Vulnerabilities

COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the environment of remote working. Plenty of companies are running their businesses remotely. But remote working requires employees to have access to business-sensitive information from networks that are not that secure as the workplace networks. This is the reason that cyber-attacks are already rising since COVID-19. The chances that Windows 11 got leaked due to remote working vulnerabilities is quite rare, but still, it is one of the possibilities to consider.

Wrapping Up

Microsoft 11 leak is real, and Microsoft also agrees on it. But no one is answering how this huge mistake even occurred. One concerning element is that if Microsoft’s codebase is not secure, why should customers not consider its products may have hidden backdoors. Is every Windows and Office 365 user now vulnerable to privacy breaches, theft of investments, and ransomware? Everyone’s business is now susceptible to be shut down?

We now await to see how Microsoft responds to this leak.

Understanding and Preventing Privilege Creep

Businesses are in the midst of a transition. Many are trying to determine what the right path forward is for them after the pandemic, as far as remote work or hybrid work. Some companies are bringing employees back to the office full-time, while others are going to implement more flexible policies.

There’s a lot to think about and potentially reconfigure for businesses right now after they were thrown into having employees work remotely because of COVID-19.

IT teams, in particular, are taking on a lot of that work. The IT teams in many workplaces are trying to figure out how to balance changing needs with cybersecurity risks that can come with long-term remote or hybrid work.

They also have to think about what it might look like to manage day-to-day IT concerns when teams are dispersed some or all of the time.

One big issue that can become more pervasive with remote work is privilege creep. It can go under the radar more if workers are on a hybrid or fully remote schedule, and it creates a significant cybersecurity threat.

With that in mind, the following are some of the main things to know about privilege creep and preventing it from occurring in an organization.

What is Privilege Creep?

Privilege creep is also known as access creep. This occurs when an employee, often gradually over time, gets more access rights than are needed to do their job.

Privilege or access creep can be the result of not revoking access that was granted for temporary or special projects or not making the necessary changes to reflect different job duties or requirements. When someone gets a promotion or takes on a different role in a company and they get new access privileges, but their previous roles aren’t revoked, it also contributes to this issue.

Basically, the overarching idea with privilege creep is that employees have access to data, resources, and applications not needed for their duties, which then puts the system at risk.

The biggest risk with privilege creep is often the potential for insider threats to occur. Also, a hacker may be able to get into higher levels of a company network if they have just one set of stolen credentials.

There are problems with compliance that can stem from privilege creep too. If your organization is one that’s in an industry handling sensitive data, such as health records, and there is privilege creep happening, you may not be in compliance with laws and regulations.

Along with cybersecurity issues that can come from privilege or access creep, there’s also an impact on productivity. You want your employees to only use what’s absolutely necessary for their job. The more access they have, the more time they might waste on things like recovering passwords.

Preventing privilege creep can have the added benefit of streamlining workflows.

Conduct Regular Access Reviews

One of the most important things you can do on a regular basis is conducting access reviews.

An access review should be part of your overall cybersecurity plan. Access reviews allow you to get a view of who has access to what. Set a timetable when you’ll regularly conduct access reviews to audit existing permissions.

You can analyze all the user accounts that are part of your organization. Make sure that everyone within the organization has access to only what they need.

If you’re part of a larger organization, you might rotate audits across departments.

Each employee should have access privileges reviewed at least biannually. Their current permissions need to be both assessed and justified during an audit.

You also want to take away permissions they don’t need and delve into why they have those permissions and why they weren’t removed.

Formalize Your Employee Change Process

A good way to avoid privilege creep and other cybersecurity risks is to formalize the steps in the process when an employee goes through a change. This might mean a demotion or promotion or any kind of change in role.

The IT department should be in the loop on these changes in addition to human resources.

Always Follow the Principle of Least Privilege

The Principle of Least Privilege or POLP is a reference to best practices to reduce cybersecurity risks associated with privilege creep.

The idea is that any user, process, or program has the bare minimum privileges required.

By adhering to this principle, you’re reducing the likelihood of an attacker getting access to sensitive data or critical systems.

If there is a compromise in the system, it can stay confined to its origin area, or at least that’s more likely what’s going to happen with POLP.

To provide an example, Edward Snowden leaked millions of files from the NSA because he had admin privileges. His highest-level role was creating backups of the database. Now, in the time since that happened, the NSA uses the principle of least privilege, and around 90% of employees have had higher-level access privileges revoked.

Another example is Target. Hackers got access to tens of millions of Target customer accounts because an HVAC contractor had certain permissions. Target allowed itself to have a broad attack surface because it didn’t implement the principle of least privilege.

A few best practice tips to implement POLP include:

  • As was touched on above, you’ll need to do a privilege audit. You should check all the accounts that currently exist and programs to make sure they have only the permissions needed to do their job.
  • All accounts should, as a rule, start with least privilege. Any new account privileges should, as a default, be as low as possible.
  • All admin accounts should be separated from standard accounts.
  • If someone needs elevated privileges, restrict them only to the time periods when they’re needed.
  • Set it up so that you can track individual actions.

Limiting privileges and maintaining principles of least privilege is an important component of modern cybersecurity. It should be one of the biggest priorities for an organization because not doing so creates an enormous attack surface and opportunities for lateral movement at a minimum.

What is Data Protection in Cloud Computing?

Many businesses now use cloud computing as a way to store and share data across the business. However, with cloud computing, there is a risk that data protection laws could be breached if personal data is not effectively protected.

The main risks regarding data protection when using cloud computing are:

  • Loss or damage of data caused by your service provider.
  • Unauthorized disclosure or access.
  • Malicious attacks on your service provider (e.g. hacking and viruses).
  • Poor security processes compromise your data.

Most cloud hosting providers have extremely strong security processes to ensure data protection but when you are looking for a cloud computing provider, you should be checking that they have a good reputation for being secure and for protecting data, to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.

Before you agree to use a cloud computing provider, you should carefully check the service level agreement for the details related to the security measures that they have in place to protect your data. The types of security details and solutions you should look for include:

Cloud Firewall

This is an added layer of protection to help prevent malicious attacks, they block cyber attacks by forming a virtual barrier around cloud platforms, applications and infrastructure.

Encryption

Encryption is a security method that scrambles data so that hackers cannot read the data. Encryption can be used in lots of different ways including to protect data that is being stored and to protect data that is being sent.

Cloud VPS

A VPS (virtual private server) provides a private, dedicated hosting environment, as opposed to sharing a hosting environment, where there is greater risk of malicious attacks and other security weaknesses. A VPS is more expensive than a shared server due to all of the additional levels of security that this solution offers to businesses. If you have a business that uses customer data, it is definitely recommended to use cloud VPS to keep your customers’ data protected.

Identity and Access Management

IAM tracks the identity of a user to authorize or deny access if necessary. The user’s access privileges will determine whether they are permitted to access data. Access control services are an important data protection measure for businesses across all types of systems, not just cloud-based ones.

Backup Plans

Another important element of security when using cloud computing solutions, is to have an adequate backup plan. If your data is accidentally deleted or there is a technical fault that results in the loss of data, a backup plan takes a copy of the data, which is usually stored in another cloud. In the event of data loss, the latest backup copy can be re-installed.

Employee Training and Awareness

One of the top causes of data breaches is through an error made by a user, so it is vital that employees who have access to data are comprehensively trained in data protection. Regulated industries have mandatory training that employees must complete to be compliant with regulators, including data protection, which they must pass a test on to demonstrate their understanding. Records of employee training results must be provided to the regulators as evidence that the business is complying with the training requirements.

There are many benefits to using cloud computing and often it is a more secure way of storing and sharing data, as providers implement excellent security measures. Businesses can also reduce costs by using cloud computing and collaborate more easily while employees work remotely, or across different locations. As long as you check that the cloud computing provider has the key security measures in place, your business can greatly benefit from using this technology.

How To Improve Your Business Infrastructure And Grow Faster

When you own a business, it is common that at times you may feel stuck, but you want to expand your operations. There are different steps that you can take to grow your business and generate more revenue. Read on to learn how to improve your business infrastructure and grow faster.

Grow Your Business With SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective strategy that helps your business thrive online by improving its visibility. Effective SEO utilizes unique keywords to drive organic traffic to your website so that it ranks high on search engine results pages. Make sure you include quality content on your website that can add value to the users. Before users buy different products, they first look for information that can help them solve their problems. When the visitors to your site get the information they want, they can try your products. Conversions from clicks on your site can boost your sales and promote growth.

Prioritize Web Designing

A website is a critical and indispensable component that affects the entire operations of your business. You should design a user-friendly site that is easy to navigate. Apart from web design, you must also focus on other critical elements including the loading speed and bandwidth related to hosting. If you often experience downtime, knowledgeable web hosting individuals sighted that you must choose the right UK reseller hosting company to improve user experience. With reliable hosting infrastructure, you can significantly grow your business since your site can appeal to the interests of many users. All you need to do is to choose the best package that suits the needs of your company.

Utilize Appropriate Channels to Reach Your Customers

You can also use different social media platforms to engage with your clients to build strong relationships and loyalty. The advantage of using social media is that it provides a two-way communication system that allows you to get feedback from the customers. The feedback you get from the buyers is essential since it helps you make the necessary changes that can add value to your clients. You can also reach out to your loyal customers using the same channels if you have crucial information to share with your clients.

Use Management Software

You should use appropriate management or accounting software that helps you measure the performance of your business. You need to understand the metrics that help you track progress in your operations so that you avoid setbacks that can affect your operations. With the right program, you can produce financial reports that reflect all business activities. More importantly, keep your IT infrastructure and computer networks in good working condition.

Build Strong Cybersecurity

Several small businesses, in particular, are victims of cyber attacks that often result in system crashes and data breaches. Cyber threats can impact the organization in many ways and cause great harm to its operations. The best way to address cyber threats is to choose an effective security system that you can add to your IT infrastructure. The cybercriminal elements continue to pose threats to businesses. Therefore, you need to strengthen your cyberinfrastructure to ensure that your business is ready for various threats that can affect the viability of your company.

Make Strategic Acquisitions

Another viable method of expanding your business involves strategic acquisitions of smaller businesses that offer ancillary services. The strategy of acquisition helps your company access expertise and knowledge from employees within the acquired businesses. This can help promote the growth of your business. You also gain new clients from the small organizations that you acquire if you do it well.

Improve Customer Service

The quality of service that you offer your customers determines the success or failure of your business. Buyers are interested in the good customer service they get from your company, instead of the products. Therefore, you must develop an infrastructure that supports exceptional customer service to the consumers. For instance, you need to utilize an email marketing strategy when you can send personalized messages to the customers to appeal to their emotional interests. You should also build a database consisting of customers’ contact details that you can use to connect with them.

The success of your business strongly depends on the type of infrastructure that you use to reach your customers. In this digital age, it is vital to improving your online presence to attract many buyers to your business. Make sure that your website is user-friendly and has a fast loading speed as well. It is vital to choose the right programs that help improve your operations through the automation of various tasks. You should also strive to build formidable cybersecurity that helps protect your business. More importantly, provide quality customer service to attract more buyers.

128 Million iPhones Hacked and Apple Execs Chose Itchy Silence

Apple has now been caught keeping a major hack a secret. In the Apple Epic Trial, email threads released to the public exposed a significant fault on Apple’s security response.  As reported by Ars Technica, Epic Games presented a trail of emails in court that showed Apple higher-ups did not inform 128 million iPhone owners about the largest ever successful iOS mass hack.

Apple and Epic Fortnite court war has brought both companies into a position to openly share each one’s dirty works in public. The exposure of 128 million iOS devices data is one of the results exposed by Epic Games to the court.

Epic Games disclosed an email in the court made on September 21, 2015, where Apple managers discussed 2500 malicious apps present in the Apple store that 128 million users downloaded over 203 million times.

Apple Higher-ups Discussion Exposed

In the email provided by Epic Games, App Store VP Mathew Fischer asked Apple Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Greg Joswiak and Apple PR people Christine Monaghan and Tom Neumayr (on September 21, 2015) that should they email the victim users about the malicious apps. He further added that if they favor sending emails, make sure about managing it perfectly. The discussion continued about the ways to notify the victim users. But the fact is Apple never notified the 128 million victims about the hack till today. No Apple representative can provide evidence that they ever sent the email to the victims.

How this Malicious Attack took Place

Cybersecurity researchers in 2015 found 40 malicious “XCodeGhost” apps. It was also the year of the iPhone 6S launch. Later, it was uncovered that there were more than 4,000 compromised apps in the App Store. It was discovered that the XCodeGhost apps had code that turned iOS devices into part of a botnet that stole data from users.

Developers behind those apps used a counterfeit version of Apple’s app development tool named XCode to create the apps. This counterfeit version termed as XCodeGhost secretly injects malicious code along with the other normal app functionalities. Afterward, the apps let iPhones report to the command-and-control server and delivery a wide set of sensitive device data, such as infected app name, network information, the app-bundle identifier, device name, unique identifier, type, etc.

Compared to Apple’s Xcode, XcodeGhost claimed to be faster to download in China. To execute the counterfeit version of the app, the developers also had to click by the warning issued by Gatekeeper (a security feature of macOS that makes it mandatory for developers to digitally sign apps). In short, developers exploit XCode, bypassed security, and extracted sensitive data.

The Itchy Silence Strategy of Apple

Apple has traditionally marketed itself as a premium firm that values the security of its products and millions of users. It has also made privacy a priority in its offerings. The decision to notify the affected people directly would have been the proper course of action. But unfortunately, it didn’t happen. Tech users already know that Google often doesn’t inform its users if they downloaded malicious Chrome extensions or Android apps, but now Apple is also on the same track.

The 2015 email was not the only security breach case of Apple. Back in 2013, Apple fellow Phil Schiller and others received an email quoting the article of Ars Technica. The article narrates the research from computer scientists that discovered a means to sneak malicious apps into Apple’s app store without being noticed by the security review procedure, which automatically identifies such apps. The email was meant to ask for suggestions on addressing the security loopholes mentioned in the article. This further showcase the vulnerabilities associated with Apple’s security defense system and how silent the company has remained in such cases.

Wrapping Up

The court war between Apple and Epic Games highlights some uncomfortable facts we were not expecting to hear. The recent emails evidence of the Apple 128 million iPhones hack, and the silence from the tech giant makes its users more suspicious. The first thought that raises through this whole situation is how often this similar silence is observed in the past. Secondly, how secure should Apple users consider themselves when they are also vulnerable to serious malicious attacks. In short, the fact is that no matter how large an organization is or how effective is its security infrastructure, there are always risks of malicious cyber-attacks.

Industry Best Cyber Security Practices in Enterprise Database Administration

Enterprise database administration allows organizations or companies to manage huge amounts of data in the best possible manner. However, securing enterprise databases from numerous security hassles like hacking, phishing attacks, data theft, and others is not an easy task.

This is because cybersecurity attacks are on the rise due to the coronavirus crisis globally. Therefore, medium or large organizations must apply best enterprise database security practices within their workplaces to safeguard their employees’ communication and other crucial digital assets. 

Continue reading this post to discover how organizations can follow industry best enterprise database security practices in 2021 and beyond. 

Encrypt Sensitive Data

Encryption is one of the best ways by which companies can protect their databases without any hassle. Encryption aside, there is no harm in using other data protection tools that appropriately helps companies secure their sensitive data against several cyber threats.

For instance, they can consider using a cybersecurity tool that comes with a free trial. As a result, they can check its performance in terms of data security as per their preferences without an additional cost. 

Provide Cybersecurity Training to your Employees

When improving database cybersecurity, companies should not overlook the importance of cybersecurity training at any cost. In addition, they should educate all their employees as they are perceived as the first line of defense against cyber threats. 

By doing so, they can securely access the official databases of their companies without jeopardizing their security and perform the required professional tasks trouble-free. 

For that reason, companies should educate their workforce about dangerous email phishing attacks that can harm their privacy by injecting malware into their official systems or devices. 

Thus, they should be instructed not to click any suspicious link or attachment if they receive emails from unknown people in their inboxes. Besides, employees must focus on following different cybersecurity measures themselves such as updating their official devices on a regular basis. 

This way, they can easily remove their weakest security links found in their systems proactively.   

Monitor Database Activity

As far as database monitoring is concerned, companies or organizations should implement database monitoring on their systems or official devices in the first place. Furthermore, the users’ log needs to be maintained at the secure repository accordingly. 

When organizations perform database monitoring tasks regularly, they can reduce the cybersecurity risks to a certain extent. Similarly, they should also concentrate on applying behavior-based monitoring that allows them to identify any unusual or suspicious activity associated with users who have been given administrative access.

Manage or Monitor IoT Security Regularly

Unfortunately, a compromised IoT device or system in a workplace can allow hackers access crucial corporate data or information in a blink of an eye. Therefore, you need to improve its cybersecurity as much as possible using the right and effective cybersecurity approach.

In reality, securing IoT devices from different privacy or security hassles is a prime responsibility of employees and organizations both. Otherwise, they will not be able to protect their enterprises databases in the future because hackers or unwanted people will eventually explore vulnerabilities residing in such devices sooner or later.

In order to improve enterprise database security considerably, companies should not hesitate in hiring a group of ethical hackers. Consequently, they will proactively pinpoint and rectify the possible cybersecurity threats found in organizations’ official databases and networks 

Encourage the Application of Safe Password Practices among Employees

Whether your employees are either remote or office-based, they should start using different password protection tools like LastPass, Dashlane, Digital Vault, etc. 

This way, they can protect their crucial official devices against various cyber risks like hacking, data theft, malware, etc. appropriately. When employees start using password-protected official devices when accessing companies’ databases or official networks, they can securely bypass numerous notorious elements like hackers, identity thieves and other cybercriminals.

Apart from this, employers need to provide awareness to their remote or office-based employees about the prevailing cybersecurity practices throughout the year. 

Moreover, there is no harm in educating your employees on different aspects like latest cybersecurity trends, privacy or security threats, use or application of different cybersecurity tools like, antivirus software, malware detector, data encryption software, firewalls, database monitoring tools, network intrusions detection tools, etc.     

Wrapping Things Up

Companies or organizations need to understand the importance of cybersecurity in the right manner. Otherwise, they will keep facing cybersecurity risks in the future like privacy invasion, data theft, hacking, etc.

That said, they can still safeguard their crucial official data including customers’ information from the prying eyes of hackers and other cyber goons provided they follow the desired cyber hygiene practices accordingly. 

By doing so, they will be in a better position to securely manage their huge enterprise databases using the required cybersecurity approaches or mechanisms. 

That said, companies or organizations should keep in mind that enterprise database protection is a long term activity and should not be assumed as a one-time activity at all.