How Do You Know if You Are the Victim of a Cyberattack?

Cyberattacks are becoming more common and more dangerous. With the world in lockdown, many companies have resorted to working remotely and allowing their employees to use their devices and their own internet to get their work done.

However, the majority of people do not have a full understanding of the true dangers they may face when they work remotely or use their devices online. This makes it much easier for hackers to target them to commit their crimes.

Cyberattacks can sometimes be difficult to identify. However, it is important for your own safety, and the safety of those around you to be able to identify a cyberattack and take the necessary steps to protect your devices from them.

What Are the Signs of a Cyberattack?

Identifying cyberattacks can be extremely difficult. This is because most modern-day cyberattacks can go undetected and under the radar. If you are not prepared for it, it will be unexpected and it can cause you a lot of headaches.

Moreover, if you do not know that your devices have been attacked, you could be putting those around you at risk as well. Cybercriminals can use your devices to break into those that you are in contact with as well.

The first sign of a cyberattack is that you might notice some files going missing, or even some new files appearing on your device. Many viruses are programmed to destroy or remove files from your device, and this can be a clear sign that your device has been infected.

Some malicious software will make new files show up on your device. These are used as a trigger to get the victim to click on the files and inspect them. Oftentimes these files act as a trigger to install viruses, spyware or ransomware as soon as you click on them.

Files going missing or appearing on your devices can also be a sign of spyware being installed on your device. Spyware will allow a hacker to remotely control your device, even when you are not using it. They can use this software to delete your files or download new ones.

Another sign that you have been the victim of a cyberattack is if your personal or work files are suddenly encrypted or inaccessible, meaning that no one will be able to open the files. This is often done by ransomware which is used to encrypt files until a ransom fee is paid to the hacker.

You may also notice that your device becomes significantly slower and begins to lag more often if it has been infected with a virus. In some cases you may also experience your device freezing, crashing or restarting on its own.

If your accounts have been compromised you may notice fraudulent transactions taking place on your bank account, passwords being changed or even emails or messages being delivered that you have never sent.

If you pick up on any of these signs you should take immediate action before it’s too late. If you have no cybersecurity measures in place, you need to be taking a close look at the section below to see the best cybersecurity tools you need to use.

What You Should Do in the Case of a Cyberattack

If you have experienced a cyberattack, the chances are that it’s too late and your device has already been compromised. It can be difficult to identify which parts of your device have been compromised by the hacker, so it is best to take all the necessary steps.

The first thing you need to do is change your passwords. You should start with your most important accounts such as your banking and email. Doing so will keep the cybercriminal out of your important accounts. 

However, you may want to use a different device to do this in case your main device has been infected with spyware, which will allow the cybercriminal to see your new passwords and still break into your accounts.

You will also need to start setting up your cybersecurity measures. This is vital to keeping your devices secure and preventing any further cyberattacks. Below we will discuss the best cybersecurity tools for you to use.

How to Prevent a Cyberattack

Preventing a cyberattack comes down to using the correct cybersecurity tools. There are many different ones to choose from, however, there are three crucial ones that you must use if you want to keep your devices secure.

With any of the following software, it is important to use reputable developers who are well known. Cybercriminals use fake cybersecurity software, also known as rogue software, to break into people’s devices. You must do thorough research on any software you want to install on your device and find several different reviews from multiple sources.

Rogue software is a new form of cybercrime that allows criminals to easily break into people’s devices since they are willingly installing software that they believe will protect their devices. Instead, they are putting themselves more at risk, and cybercriminals will be able to install malicious software onto their devices.

The first tool you need to get is antivirus software. This will help you even if your device has already been compromised. Antivirus software will constantly scan your device for any malicious software and it can take the necessary steps to remove it from your device.

Another tool you need to use is VPN software. A VPN is capable of encrypting your internet connection, which means that no one will be able to see what you are doing on your device, and they won’t be able to snoop through your files. VPN software will also allow you to change the location of your IP address by connecting to one of several different global servers.

To keep your accounts as secure as possible, you must ensure that you use strong and unique passwords. However, this means that your passwords are difficult to keep track of. The solution is to use a third-party password manager. Password managers will keep all of your passwords safe and allow you to access them securely. You should avoid using the default browser’s password manager as these are not secure and can easily be breached by a cybercriminal, in which case all of your accounts will be at risk.

Why You Should Buy Rotating Proxy Service – Best Proxy Provider

For people who use a proxy provider, rotating proxies offer a higher level of service. A rotating proxy shuffles your ID with a new one now and then, which blocks your online identity. Having your proxy automatically change enhances both performance and security.

Not all proxy providers are equal. So take time and effort when you buy a rotating proxy to choose the best service.

Today, we’ll show you why you should only buy rotating proxy services from the best proxy provider.

Ample IP Addresses

A dedicated proxy means website owners can easily track you visiting their website. For example, if you visit the same page multiple times per day, it may expose your interest in that product or service.  But maybe you have a different reason to visit the page.  A rotating proxy allows you to be anonymous when you repeatedly view a website.

Buying a rotating proxy service from the best proxy provider can offer you a pool of IP addresses. As a result, you can avoid being banned. Also, anyone who is tracking your online activities can’t reveal your actual IP address. And this is something that an average proxy provider can’t provide.

To Gain Competitive Edge

If you own a business, using a rotating proxy can allow you to monitor your competitors. Then, you can sign up for service or download their trials to test them out. And you can do that with the same niche without getting blocked. As a result, you can gain a competitive edge.

If you’re buying something online, the prices might vary across different regions. A rotating proxy from a designated region can help you get the best deal to save the most money.

Achieve Increased Conversion Rates

A regular proxy service provider offers only a single IP address.  Over time, you become known to the target website.  As you move through the pages, the tracking on that website will identify your activity.  With a rotating proxy, you can freely get as much or as little information as you need.

Staying on a page for a prolonged period might make the owner suspicious. You might even get blocked by the owner and can’t come back to the site anymore. But, you have to research their content and keywords, which needs a lot of time.

Improved Security

Security is more critical now than ever.  Nearly all website tracking is IP-based.  Every website is tracking every move you make through their site and recording it forever. So if your IP is changing, you can bypass the most common forms of tracking.  This means you see all the web pages fresh, treating you like a new customer.

But for the best security, your IP address needs to be frequently shuffled. Therefore, if you buy a rotating proxy from a good proxy provider, they can guarantee you to cut your chances of getting exposed. For these reasons, you need to choose the proxy provider very wisely.

The security of your proxy relies on the provider you pick. A reputable provider will hold the security of your business in high esteem.

Ending Notes

Your IP address is enough to get your information exposed to the outer world. Choosing the best rotating proxy service provider is critical for your daily internet browsing.

Steps to Take if You Have Been Scammed

The art of scamming is a time honored fraudulent practice. Scamming results in good ROI (Return on Investment) for perpetrators, and spells trouble for victims. Fraudulent practices like scams and schemes occur both in the offline and online world. Both practices operate in the same fashion but on different platforms.

Finding business contacts Phished and Farmed

There are more than four billion netizens online today. These billions of internet users are interacting with a vast amount of different services, applications, and web pages. This means that the possibilities and opportunities for cybercriminals are endless. On another note, it makes hiding much easier for them too. Cyber incidents involving the exploitation of vulnerable internet users, their data, finances and sensitive personal information occur dozens of times every minute, all over the world. To put it into perspective, financial losses incurred from cyber incidents are on par with natural disasters. 

This is why it is important to understand what a cyber scam (internet scam) is, the types of cyber scams out there, and finally how to protect against them. What can you do after you have already been scammed, is the most important question to ask. Thankfully, today there is a substantial cybersecurity knowledge base from which tips and recommendations can be drawn to help internet users protect themselves from such risks.  

A Brief Look at The Worst Cyber Scams

Throughout the years, the world has fallen to several types of cyber scams. All scams are not equal, because some are no longer utilized, while others that have existed for decades still reap dividends for cybercriminals to this day. Cyber scams have cost the U.S. billions of dollars per year, as it stands today, with the average victim losing almost $500 on average in each scam. Some of the most serious cyber scams that are still active today are; Nigerian 419 scams, Indian IT call-center scams, and counterfeit services and goods scams. Adding to this list is everything imaginable from lottery scams, romance scams, illegitimate check scams to social security scams. Practically any service or product can be a part of a cyber scam. This is why it is important to be armed with safe internet usage best practices as well as good cybersecurity knowledge. Especially, if one becomes a victim of a cyber scam.   

Types of Cyber Scams

Cyber scams come in numerous forms and various types of attack schemes and methods. All cyber scams have a ‘social engineering’ component intrinsic to them because scamming someone involves sharp manipulative social skills to trick a victim into divulging valuable information. Technically, most of the notorious cyber scams come in the following forms;

  • Phishing, spear-phishing, vishing, smishing, and pharming
  • Baiting
  • Whaling
  • RAT attacks

By far the most popular, and most successful, method of scamming belongs to the phishing social engineering category. This is simply because email-based scams are by far the easiest to orchestrate, with the least resources expended. For example, phishing campaigns orchestrated by cybercriminal groups can reach millions of people via email with a minimal financial outlay by the criminals. Cybercriminals can even automate this email process, sit back and wait for internet user credentials to be ‘harvested’. Email-based scams affect absolutely everyone, from regular citizens to the largest corporations. Statistically speaking, almost 25% of all phishing attacks worldwide were focused on financial institutions. In second place was social media, resulting in 24% of all phishing attacks. A close third is the Saas/Webmail sector. As far as the ‘victim count’ is concerned, phishing is the leader by far again, followed by non-payment/non-delivery scams and extortion in third place. Personal data breaches, identity theft, and spoofing are much lower on the list, but undoubtedly still cause damage and plague the economy. 

What to do in an Event of a Scam And How to Stay Safe From Cyber Scams

First of all, it is important to look at what to do if one is already involved in a cyber scam. Following this, recommendations and tips will be given on how to prevent cyber scams in general. There are several steps to take if one has already been involved in a cyber scam. This can fall into the following categories;

  • If a scammer has successfully accessed a device
  • If a scammer has access to personal information
  • If a scammer was paid

It is primarily important to note that a scam can be identified most easily via any unauthorized changes or charges across user accounts. 

Firstly, in the unfortunate event that a scammer has successfully received payment from a victim, it is crucial to remember that the individual immediately contacts the financial institution, reports a fraudulent charge, and requests for a transaction reversal. Secondly, if it is confirmed that a scammer has access to personal information it is recommended by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to visit IdentityTheft.gov. Furthermore, if a scammer has access to username and password credentials, one should immediately change their password across all devices and ensure that they are unique, long, complex, and stored in a safe place offline. And thirdly, if it is confirmed that the scammer has accessed a personal device (laptop, smartphone, or other) then it is recommended that one runs an antimalware and antivirus scan on the device. Otherwise, individuals should contact their service provider for support as well as change the account credentials immediately. Scams can also be reported directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC.) 

Internet Safety Best Practices

In general, there are a few steps to take to avoid cyber scams in the future which are the following;

  • Using a premium Virtual Private Network or VPN when connecting to the internet will obfuscate the connection and make it difficult for cybercriminals, data collection agencies, and marketing companies to track individuals online
  • Making sure that no suspicious emails are opened, especially to avoid clicking on suspicious attachments from unknown senders
  • Installing and running a premium antimalware software, as well as a premium antivirus at all times
  • Avoiding oversharing and divulging personal information over social media
  • Being suspicious of any email urging payment, help, or any bizarre claims
  • Checking that the website being visited has an HTTPS lock sign in the address bar
  • Cross-checking the URL address by doing an online search, to determine whether the website is real or a scam
  • Applying spam filters to user email
  • Keeping software on all user devices automatically updated
  • Using multi-factor authentication across all accounts wherever possible
  • Backing up as much data as possible
  • Applying a WHOIS lookup online to check who the owner of the website domain is

Sticking to the above recommendations, as well as common sense, should help users avoid common cyber scams and stay safe online in the future.

How To Protect Yourself Against Cyberstalking

When it comes to cyberstalking, the first thing you need to do is understand what it is. Cyberstalking consists of someone that harasses or threatens another person through email or instant messaging for an extended period. It can also be a situation where someone has been following you around on social media and commenting on everything you post. If this sounds like something that might happen to you, there are some things that you should know about how to protect yourself against it! 

The central government has also introduced some strict cyberstalking laws to protect the country’s citizens. Cyberstalking is a serious threat, and you should never take it lightly. Moreover, you must be careful and always look upon taking safety measures for yourself. This article will go over some of the steps you can take to protect yourself against cyberstalking.

What Is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking can be defined as using the technology in the wrong manner to harass, threaten, embarrass or cause distress to another person to make them feel intimidated and fearful for their safety. Often this is done anonymously because even though they are not physically next to you, they can get close enough to be a threat. Cyberstalking is not just limited to stalking someone through the internet.

It can also include making repeated phone calls or sending unwanted messages on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Stalkers may watch your every move by tracking you online using GPS services. So, if there have been any threats occurring or computer viruses at home and online security, you must report the police without any delay.

How Is Social Media Stalking Different From Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is a form of harassment that occurs through the Internet and other electronic means. It may involve one or more perpetrators who continue to harass, threaten, track, and verbally abuse someone else online. Social stalking is when an individual makes indirect contact with another person using social media sites like Facebook to get information about them without their knowledge.

Cyberstalking can be extremely dangerous and damaging to the victim’s mental health. At the same time, social media stalking is usually seen as a harmless way of gaining information about someone on an online profile or through their friend’s list. Victims of cyberstalkers may feel unsafe in both their personal and professional lives.

Anti-Cyberstalking Tips

  • Perform regular security updates on your software and hardware systems (e.g., operating system, browsers), and these will also help you avoid malware attacks.
  • Be careful when opening attachments in emails or clicking links from suspicious sources – they may contain malware that allows cyberstalkers to take control of your devices remotely without your knowledge.
  • Make complex passwords and do not share them with anyone. Furthermore, make sure to change your passwords much of the time.
  • Utilize the protection settings in the entirety of your online records to restrict your Internet imparting to those external you confided in a circle.
  • Be cautious about permitting actual admittance to your PC and other web-empowered gadgets like cell phones. Cyberstalkers can utilize programming and equipment gadgets to screen their casualties.
  • Educate yourself about cyberstalking and the security settings in your gadgets, and then take the necessary precautions to protect yourself.
  • Secure your home and workplace against cyberattacks by using anti-theft software such as antivirus, firewalls, and spyware removal tools that contain malware detection capabilities.
  • Talk with someone you trust about what is happening if you are experiencing stalking or online harassment.
  • Be aware of your online presence and that of your children, and make sure they understand the dangers.
  • Report cyberstalking to law enforcement. If you have been a victim of cyberstalking, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They can provide victims with support and guidance on the following steps to take.
  • Delete any offensive messages and block the sender if you do not want to interact with them. Closeout of chat windows that are no longer being used to avoid having someone watch from a distance via webcam or video feed.

Wrapping Up On Cyberstalking Laws

With the rise in cyberstalking cases, it’s more important than ever to know how to protect yourself against this crime. The first thing you can do is delete any information about your physical location and personal life on social media. It would be best if you also refrained from posting too much about what you’re doing at all times of the day. 

Combined with strong privacy settings, these measures will help ensure that stalkers don’t have as much access to your online presence and whereabouts. If you suspect someone has been stalking or harassing you over the internet, contact a lawyer immediately for legal advice on the next steps, like contacting law enforcement agencies or through civil lawsuits if necessary.

Implementing the Best Safety Measures for Your Business

When it comes to safety measures, you may not be able to stop the determined thief from visiting you, whether it is online or in person. However, you can make it so very difficult for them that they go and find somewhere else and leave your business well alone.

Cybersecurity

With cybercrime ever-present, it is more important than ever to keep your cybersecurity up to date. It is important to use the best security software for your business. The use of SOAR Security (Security Orchestration, Automation and response) is often used if you have remote workers working on personal equipment and saving data to multiple cloud storage facilities. There are alternatives available, though, so you may find it beneficial to speak to an expert to make sure that you have the correct product for your business, as protection given can vary greatly depending on what your business is.

Most reputable cybersecurity businesses will offer more services as well as support on their products, enabling you to get the best out of your software and helping your business in being safe and secure for all the data you hold.

Training Your Employees for Personal Security

One of the best ways in which you can enhance your security is to teach your employees about the importance of all security as well as their own personal online security.

It is a good idea that each of your employees has to have a password to access your database and that the password is unique and private for each employee. Your employees must understand the importance of changing their password regularly and not divulging it to anybody else.

Having a good strong password is imperative as cybercriminals are smart, cunning, sly, and resourceful. Using names, whether it is last names or pet names, important places, and other topics mentioned on social media is a big ‘no-no’ as cyberthieves watch social media sites to gain ideas for passwords as well as personal information.

Password Security

The best passwords need to be at least 12 characters long, preferably longer. It should contain special characters such as the asterisk or question mark. Have a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters and contain some numbers too. It is a good idea not to use words that can be found in the dictionary as these are easy to guess but try misspelling or dotting numbers and special characters throughout your password.

Ensure that your employees understand why they are having to use keypads or swipe cards to enter your building and tell them the importance of not letting someone tailgate behind you to gain access to the building.

It is a good idea to have a person nominated as a go-to person should anyone see an unfamiliar face wandering around if they are not confident enough to challenge the person for work identification.

Physical Security

It is important that you make sure that your work premises are secure and safe for your employees, as well as the information you have on-site for your customers.

There are many things you can do in order to make your premises secure, such as erecting fences in order to keep trespassers out. Fences used in this way are usually over 6 feet high with razor edging to make them unscalable. Vehicle barriers are a good idea for car park entrances which can be activated by swipe cards or keycodes so that you do not have to have your parking lot patrolled. Warning signs are also a good idea to deter unwanted visitors, as well as security lights for exterior areas.

Control Access

When it comes to actually be able to gain access to your premises, it is a good idea to install key coded entry or personalized swipe cards which can be handed out to each employee with a lanyard, perhaps with their photo printed on to it. Make sure that you have a few for visitors clearly marked. This will help any intruder to be spotted as they will not be wearing a lanyard or have any visible form of identification on them.

When you have visitors on-site, make sure that they fill in a visitor book with their name, company, and who they are on-site to see. Do not let them wander around your business premises unchaperoned at any time, and make sure that they wear either a lanyard with visitor written on it or a badge of some description. It is important that you do not give them a way of entering your building by themselves and keep all key codes secret to outsiders.

5 Tips to Prevent a Data Breach

Data violation is a threat that can influence your life and business which can be far more than a temporary danger. When it comes to the information breach, any kind of company, specific and even federal government can deal with such dangers as well as you can deal with big problems if your delicate data or individual details are leaked. A data violation can have a great effect on your service if your sensitive information is leaked or a person obtains access to the business secrets as that can influence the credibility of the firm. Numerous firms have been a victim of the data breach.

Hackers or cybercriminals can reach you with different means like they can access your device via Bluetooth, SMS message, or the web that you are using. Internet is a platform on which every person is doing something, some are obtaining internet service for entertainment functions, some obtain internet service to do video gaming and after that, some get internet service for work objectives. If a person obtains access to your device, your identification can be stolen. Hackers usually access your device via the internet and you deal with the consequences afterward.

If one does not take data breaches seriously, it can be really harmful. You need a secured internet connection so no person can quickly access your data. If the data is not encrypted when you do streaming online or do any kind of work, the data on your devices would be easily available to hackers or unauthorized people and they can get access to your device or your computer system and your sensitive information can quickly be revealed. We are most likely to speak about how data breaches occur as well as what preventative measures we can take to avoid data violations.

How Does a Data Breach Happen?

Data breaches occur by various techniques used by hackers to enter into your device or system to access your sensitive information. The following are a few of the techniques used by hackers.

Phishing Attacks

Hackers usually trap internet users into clicking links that are not secured and then once you open up the link, they will get access to your system or device. Normally, hackers send phishing emails to enter your system. They use this method to obtain access to your personal data and also you can have a huge loss.

Public Wi-Fi

Using a public Wi-Fi hotspot is so typical in the U.S. state as there are different areas where public Wi-Fi hotspots are available. Making use of public Wi-Fi can cause a data violation as the data is not encrypted and also once your tool gets linked to the Wi-Fi, any person can conveniently access your data and also can mislead you right into clicking unprotected web links.

Weak Credentials

Most of the data violations occur due to the fact that people don’t pay attention to their credentials. They always leave a pattern while setting up their credentials and that benefits the hackers to enter your system and your account.

What to Do to Protect your Business

Following are 5 really important tips that help prevent data breaches and help in protecting your personal information and systems.

Get an Internet Security Suite

While getting internet service, make sure to get an internet security suite as that will help in securing your data and it will not be simple for hackers to obtain access to your personal information. Getting an internet security suite will certainly be beneficial for the business or even for individuals. There are several internet service providers like AT&T internet that provide a web security suite. You can take a look at the AT&T internet packages and can see how you can get internet security in addition to internet service. This suite will secure your data and will also protect your devices from unsecured web links and also phishing attacks.

Perform Regular Vulnerability Assessments

Companies must do routine vulnerability assessments to make certain that everything is protected at their end. Companies must have a department that analyzes on a normal basis instead of doing it once a year or a month as that gives the hackers time to find out the new patterns you adhere to.

Educate Yourself as Well as Your Employees

Firms need to educate their workers on safety to make certain that the devices they are using are secured. You need to inform on your own and also your children about internet safety due to the fact that the majority of data breaches occur because people generally do not take this seriously which causes data breaches, and afterward, you face the consequences. Your identification can be stolen and your firm’s secrets can be exposed.

Beware of Phishing Attacks

A lot of the violations happen due to human mistakes. You should beware of phishing emails and also web links and also must never ever click any web link which you are not aware of. Never ever open any kind of email that you receive from an unknown individual as that will certainly be the reason for data breaching. Immediately report to your security team regarding such emails as well as internet links so that they can take action promptly.

Backup and Encryption

Make sure that your tools are encrypted as well as you are doing a backup of your data by utilizing the cloud solution so if by any chance someone hacks your systems, your data continues to be safe.

Conclusion

Information breaches can have a great effect on your business’s reputation if the company’s personal data gets leaked. We have numerous examples of the damages brought on by data breaches. Ensure that you take all the safety precautions so you do not end up being a victim of it.

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. For example, there has been a huge influx of new investors into digital currency due to coins like Bitcoin having huge price increases. This in turn has led to a sharp rise in cyber attacks on people’s crypto wallets in order to siphon off investors’ profits. Keeping these assets secure by using cold wallets, encrypted passwords and two-factor authentication is the bare minimum in cybersecurity. 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.