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. Start by making a short video to engage your customers with something they need. Conclude by offering to listen to their feedback. 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. Carefully mapping your IT infrastructure will make it easier to spot bottlenecks and obsolete systems. 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. You can also use an Online Service Marketplace to build unique online services to grow your customer base.

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. 

14 Currents Tips for Safe Online Shopping Anywhere

Today, millions of people shop online across the world. There are several reasons why people love shopping online. First, online shopping allows customers to bargain. Second, it is easier to select goods or services online. Third, it is safer. This is especially true during the COVID 19 pandemic. Fourth, online shopping is fast. For most people, online shopping is easier. More importantly, it is convenient.

But online shopping comes with some challenges. According to the FBI, online shopping increases opportunities for cybercrimes. This involves two crimes. First, some people don’t pay for delivered goods. Second, some people don’t deliver the purchased goods or services.

The challenges of online shopping can scare you. But the advantages are more. So, you need to stay calm. With the following tips, you can shop online safely.

14 Tips for Safe Online Shopping

1. Use familiar websites

A search for online shops will give you several results. If you trust any site, you are more likely to be conned. You need to find a familiar website. You can even ask friends for referrals. A familiar site is less likely to rip you off. For example, you may start with Amazon.com. You must be familiar with this website. If not, you must know some other online shops. Ensure that you visit the right site. Some people use similar names with top shops. For example, you may find Amazon.net. If you are not careful, such people can trick you. The fake sites can even offer cheaper prices. But you must avoid these offers. Chances are that they will not deliver what you purchase.

2. Ensure there is a lock

Find a secure online shop. Their website should have a lock. The site should have an installed secure socket layer (SSL) encryption. How can you tell if a site has SSL? First, the URL will start with HTTPS. This is a standard requirement for all sites. Unsecure sites will start with HTTP. Second, you will see an image of a locked pad. Normally, this will appear before the URL. A lack of these two elements should be a red flag. Avoid using your credit card on such sites.

3. Do not overshare personal data

To avoid being conned, keep personal data private. Online shopping does not need your birthday or social security number. If they ask for more details, consider it an alarm. Scammers need more personal data to steal from you. Just give little personal info. Even if you know a site, be careful. Scammers are everywhere. If they ask for more data, pose. Ask yourself why they would need that data.

4. Use Blur

Blur is an online privacy solution. It ensures that you shop online without revealing personal data. For example, Abine’s blur acts as a password manager. For less than $40 a year, you shop online with hidden personal data. This means that you don’t reveal contacts, emails, or credit card numbers.

5. Create strong passwords

Shopping online requires you to create an account. This account will need a password. If you use a weak password, scammers will crack it. Then, they can use this opportunity to steal from you. This is the reason you need a stronger password. This doesn’t mean that they won’t crack it. But at least they will have a harder time. Consider using a password manager. It will help in creating a password that they may not crack.

6. Check your statements often

The risk of fraudulent behaviors online is too high. So, stay alert always. Don’t take too long before checking your online transactions. Keep checking your accounts. Ensure that there are no unknown transactions. Scammers have many tricks to get to your money. You must ensure that they don’t get to steal your hard-earned money. Be alert even if you find charges from sites such as Venmo or PayPal.

It is also advisable that you use a credit card to shop online. A compromised debit card can land you in more trouble. Scammers can use it to access your funds in the back. Also, be alert with sellers that use payment systems like wired money. Such sellers are more likely to con you.

In case you find a problem, call relevant authorities immediately. It is good to solve any issue as soon as possible. For most banks, you only have 30 days to address a problem. After this period, you may have to be liable for the transactions.

7. Install an antivirus program

Thieves are smart. They also know you are smart. They know you may not give them more personal data. This is the reason they will try to out-smart you. They will do something that will help get your data. For example, they can launch phishing attacks. They can also use spam to steal your info. This can do this by copying a message that looks legit. Luckily, an antivirus program can help. Install the program to protect against malware. Keep it up to date. Without regular updates, an antivirus may not be helpful. It may not protect you from new threats. Being safe is better than having to deal with scammers.

8. Protect your WI-FI

You can find many free public hotspots. For example, you can find a free WI-FI at Starbucks. Well, you can use this public hotspot to shop online. Some of these free WI-FI can be trusted. The problem is that most of them cannot be trusted. They make it easy for scammers to access your data. To be safe, consider using a virtual private network (VPN).

9. Avoid online shopping in public

It may be tempting to shop online in public when you have your laptop. But did you know this is not safe! Imagine doing all this in a public café;

  • Entering your credit card number
  • Entering the expiration date
  • Entering your 3-digit code

Doing all this in public is unsafe. It gives a scammer enough time to get your info. If you have to shop in public, find a strategic place. This will reduce the risk of exposing personal data. The best option is doing online shopping at home. This is safer.

10. Think mobile devices

Legit online shop offer apps you can use to do online shopping. When you select an online shop, check the online shopping app. Download and install it on your mobile phone. Use this app to visit the store and shop directly. This reduces the chances of being conned.

11. Pay via your phone

Today, paying for online shopping is easier. You don’t have to use a credit card. You can simply use your smartphone. You just need a mobile payment app. More places are accepting phone-based payments. This means you don’t have to carry your credit card. Apps like Apple Pay offer a safe phone payment system. You can also download and use Google Pay. What are you waiting for? Get yourself a phone payment app. Let’s avoid scammers who are always after our credit cards. You can do online shopping without the fear of losing your money.

12. Be careful with gift cards

Gift cards create a good opportunity for scammers to steal from you. This is the reason you must be very careful. You will find scammers auctioning off gift cards on different sites. Some gift card exchanges are good. They let you exchange your gift for a better one.  But don’t trust everyone. Some will exchange your card for others with no value.

13. Find out about the seller

Before you do online shopping, find out more about the seller. Try and read reviews. Read as many reviews as possible. See what customers are saying. If you only find positive reviews, be careful. This should be a red flag. At least, you should find some negative reviews. No one can be too perfect.

Apart from online reviews, get some contact info. Find a real address. Also, get a working telephone number. This can help when things go wrong. For example, you can call the seller if you don’t get your order. You can also make a complaint through the physical address.

If you doubt a site, find more about it. If you have ever been tricked you know how it hurts. Just take time before you pay for any product. Some people out there are always ready to cheat others. Don’t fall into their trap. Be smart.

14. Complain and report scammers

What happens if you are scammed? First, don’t be ashamed. We all make mistakes. Take this as an opportunity to know more about online shopping. Second, talk to the seller. Complain about the failed deal. If you are not satisfied, report to the relevant authorities. You can even report to the FBI. This will work better if you do online shopping on US sites. If you are scammed in foreign sites, it may be harder to follow. Good luck.

Understanding the Basics of Cyber Security for Small Businesses

Cyber attacks are a part of the many risks online business owners face. It is estimated that cybercriminals will steal 33 billion records by 2023.

Therefore, businesses of all sizes must understand and practice cybersecurity. Even knowing only the basics of how to protect your website and its data is an effective prevention of potential cyberattacks.

With that in mind, let us discuss the basics of cybersecurity along with best practices to implement for your business. 

Cyber Security Risks for Small Businesses

Before implementing the cybersecurity strategies, let us go through the common cybersecurity risks. After all, it is essential to understand what kind of potential attacks you will be defending against.

Common cyber threats for online businesses include:

  • Malicious code. It falls under malware and is also called malicious software. Malicious code can attack your computer and access sensitive information by disguising itself as legitimate links sent via email.
  • Unsecured wireless internet networks. Compared to a wired connection, wireless networks are more prone to cyberattacks. Hackers can easily access unsecured wireless networks to steal sensitive data, like login information or intellectual property.
  • Security breaches. Breaches can happen through several scenarios, like carelessness or lack of knowledge. However, the most common cause is employees forgetting to sign out of their work or personal devices.
  • Phishing attacks. This type of attack includes pretending to be a legitimate business and attempting to take users’ information, like phone numbers, addresses, or credit card numbers. Unfortunately, phishing attacks have become more sophisticated with the disguise, so it is important to look at them seriously.

7 Basic Protection Strategies Against Cyber Attacks

These seven basic protection strategies combined can improve your cybersecurity a lot. They’re relatively simple to implement and can make a massive difference in the security of your website.

1. Choose a Secure Hosting Provider

A secure hosting provider increases not only website quality but also its security. But, most importantly, it protects your system and all of its essential information.

Standard security features good hosting plans include are SSL certificates, firewalls, DDoS prevention, malware detection, and user access management.

However, these features depend on the hosting provider you pick. So make sure to compare and choose one that includes everything your website needs. 

One example to consider is Hostinger, which offers hosting plans starting from $1.39 to $3.99/month. Its plans come with robust security features and other great benefits your website may need.

2. Update Your Software

Cybersecurity can be as simple as regularly updating your software. By constantly using the latest software version, you make sure all previously found security loopholes are patched up, and the software is safe.

This is because updates fix and remove bugs. They also include crucial patches to improve security and remove outdated features. In addition to security, by regularly updating your software, you also maintain the website quality.

Whenever possible, always enable automatic updates. Doing so will ensure that you’re always up to date. For plugins or software with manual updates, always check the developers for any software information.

3. Train Employees

Doing security training on your employees helps bring awareness of potential cyber threats and educates them of what they can do to prevent them. The training can include phishing basics, information security, and other cybersecurity measures your business may need.

The point of security training is for the employees to protect themselves and their workplace by taking the safest measures when browsing, logging in to apps, and sharing personal information.

The key to successful employee security training is the planning process. Some of the methods are:

  • Research the latest cybersecurity threats and solutions before presenting them to the employees.
  • Plan and schedule the training sessions to fit the employee’s preferences.
  • Use the suitable tools and techniques for the training.
  • Ensure all employees follow the training protocols when attacks happen.

4. Use Strong Passwords

Strong passwords are one of the most straightforward but most efficient cybersecurity efforts to make. They make it more complicated to hack into the company systems, improving the overall security of your business.

Strong passwords consist of different characters, symbols, and numbers. The longer your password is, the better it protects against hacking and brute force attacks.

Test your passwords and improve them if needed. Alternatively, use a password generator to create strong combinations. Afterward, manage your passwords by using tools like LastPass or print them out for extra safekeeping.

5. Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software works by detecting and expelling viruses from the computer and also prevents future attacks. Without antivirus, your system is unprotected, making it very vulnerable.

Research existing antivirus software and choose the one that suits your needs. Check the user reviews and create a free trial account if possible to understand the software better. If it meets your expectations, create an account and make the payment.

6. Back Up Files Regularly

Similar to software updates, regular file backups prevent data loss and secures your latest files. Additionally, you always have a copy of your files if a cyber attack happens.

Fortunately, most hosting providers offer automatic backup daily, weekly, or monthly so you can avoid the hassle of doing them manually.

However, if you prefer to backup manually, do it via the control panel from your hosting provider. WordPress users can also use plugins like UpdraftPlus and VaultPress.

7. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a method where users must enter their credentials on at least two separate systems in order to log in. These extra credentials can be your phone number, fingerprints, voice recognition, or authentication code via SMS text message.

Naturally, MFA is stronger than two-factor authentication and can adapt to changing workplaces – at the office or home.

Enabling MFA depends on the devices and software or app you’re using. Therefore, check the MFA tutorials for each platform before the activation.

Conclusion

As cybercrimes rise, understanding basic cybersecurity becomes more crucial. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple and practicable basic security measures that you and your employees can take to protect your business.

This article covered seven essential cybersecurity tips, ranging from choosing the right hosting provider to enabling multi-factor authentication.

Implement these seven tips as soon as possible to secure your business and its data. Good luck!

Why a Masters in Cybersecurity Could be Right for You

There are many reasons why gaining a degree in cyber security could be a great fit for you. This is a challenging career with lots of potential for advancement, and you will always be learning new things. If you are already working in a similar field and want to move your career into a cyber security role, boost your existing skills or add to your qualifications, taking a cyber security degree online could help you do this. Furthermore, there is the option to study this course even if you don’t have coding experience or previous information science qualifications. Therefore you could work towards a cyber security role with little prior experience. Whatever your level of experience or qualifications, a cyber security degree that you take online could help you achieve your career aims and propel you to working in higher-level positions.

What is Cyber Security?

First things first, it is important to understand what cyber security is. In general, cyber security is the practice of protecting networks and computer systems, such as devices, software, or servers, from data theft and malicious attacks. Cyber security is essential in many industries, and you will be performing many roles and duties. There are several categories into which the types and roles of cyber security experts fall, such as:

  • Operational security – This is concerned with handling and protecting data assets, and the processes and decisions that help this happen.
  • End-user education – In order to reduce the risk of viruses being accidentally introduced to secure systems through human error, cyber security experts train and educate individuals in order to prevent this from happening.
  • Network security – This is concerned with securing computer networks.
  • Application security – Focuses on keeping software and devices free from threats.

An online cyber security degree will give you an understanding of many types of cyber security, software and techniques that are used in the industry, as well as simulated real-life experiences in order to put these newly learnt skills into practice and help get you ready for the workplace.

What is the Masters in Cybersecurity?

The masters in cybersecurity is an online cyber security degree that can be completed 100% online in under 18 months. It will give you the skills and experience to work in various cyber security roles in different industries, as well as allowing you more control over your learning environment and the pace at which you work. There are no GRE/GMAT requirements, and you can begin learning as soon as you are accepted. There are numerous modules covering a range of areas, including Foundations of Cyber Security, Ethical Hacking, Penetration Testing, Data Mining for Cyber Security, Risk Management and System Hardening and Protection, Enterprise Security and Machine Learning with Applications in Cybersecurity.

If you do not have previous coding experience or experience in computer or information science, then you can still study the online cyber security degree. There is the opportunity to complete a Graduate Certificate in Cyber Security, which is a 6-month course that will provide you with the basics and background knowledge required to then undertake the online cyber security degree. You will also have the opportunity to work with industry professionals and put your new skills to the test in hands-on interactive experiences. The online cyber security degree is also partnered with the EC-Council and CISCO Academy and will help you prepare to become certified.

Is It For You?

This course is mainly aimed at systems engineers, security specialists, networkers, and software developers who would like to move their careers into a more cyber security-focused role. However, it also available to be studied by those without previous computer or information science experience and qualifications, as you can undertake the Graduate Certificate that will give you the foundational knowledge required to complete the masters.

The online cyber security degree will prepare you with the professional and personal skills you will need to succeed in these roles. There are many traits and characteristics that will help you in this field, and they include:

• Teamwork and communication

As a cyber security specialist, you will be working with individuals or organizations and may also be working across different departments. You need to be able to collaborate with others in order to achieve common goals and find the most appropriate solutions. Furthermore, good communication and presentation skills are essential, as you may be educating employees, speaking with many people who may not have the same level of understanding as you, and also conveying complex technical ideas and methods.

• Willingness to learn

The digital world is always evolving, and so are the threats that could damage a company or individual. Therefore, you need to be constantly willing to learn and absorb new information, regardless of your position or how long you have been in the role. Keeping up to date with the latest ideas and technology will keep you and those you are working for at the forefront of cyber security, using the latest tech and methods to keep them safe.

• Leadership

You will often be working as part of a team and leading one. Many cyber security experts move into leadership roles, leading teams, planning and organizing, and motivating your team in order to achieve the best results. You will also have to communicate and collaborate with your own superiors in order to deliver the best services possible.

• Problem-solving

The majority of cyber security revolves around solving problems, so these skills will have to be developed within yourself in order to do this. As well as problem-solving, you will also have to have great critical thinking and decision-making skills in order to decide on the best solutions for the situation and implement them efficiently.

There are many great skills that you will gain and develop over the course of your online cyber security degree that will help prepare you to work in a variety of interesting and important roles. You may already have many of these traits and just need some guidance as to how to apply them in the new situations your new cyber security role may present you with.

Career Outcomes of a Masters in Cybersecurity

The online cyber security degree will prepare you to work in a range of roles in different industries and give you the opportunity to explore your strengths. This can help you decide on the kind of role you would like to work in when you have graduated. A few of the potential cyber security roles include:

  • Cryptographer – This role involves developing algorithms, ciphers, and security systems in order to provide privacy for individuals and organizations.
  • Penetration tester – Also known as ethical hacking, this is the process of evaluating the security of a computer system using an authorized simulated cyberattack.
  • Security engineer – This role focuses on designing computer systems that can handle disruptions, maintaining the systems, and planning for potential future security issues with the aim of preventing them.
  • Security director – This is a leadership role that involves planning and developing security training programs for members of the security, ensuring that they are aware of the most up-to-date ideas and developments.

There are many different roles and positions within the cyber security industry, and the online cyber security degree can help you explore the options that are available to you and the areas in which you are passionate.

Choosing to Study Online or Not?

If you are ready to take the next step and apply for a course, then you might be wondering whether you should study online or not.

Think about Your Location

Your physical location can have an impact on the kinds of courses that are available to you if you plan on studying in person. If your local institutions do not offer the courses that you want or need, then you may be forced to choose something else or not further your education at all. An online cyber security degree can give you access to a high level of education from the comfort of your own home, at any time that works for you. This is particularly useful if you do not enjoy learning in a physical classroom environment, as having more control over the area you learn in can help you absorb information more efficiently.

Top Tip: When preparing yourself to work and learn from home, you should create a productive study environment and learn more about the way in which your mind works.

Costs

Being a student can be very expensive, and this can put a lot of people off studying for their dream career. From travel to accommodation, tuition fees to textbooks, the financial requirements of a degree can really add up and make it seem unviable. However, an online cyber security degree can allow you to study whilst reducing or removing some of these costs. The course is competitively priced, and you may also be eligible for financial support and student discounts. When you study online, you will not have to commute to classes daily or rent campus accommodation, which are two of the largest costs that students face. Furthermore, being able to study at home allows you to work and maintain your current job, fitting your studies around your prior commitments and continuing to earn money.

Is Online Learning Right for You?

The online cyber security degree is perfect for those who want more control and flexibility when it comes to their studies. This is because it is taught 100% online, which provides you with the opportunity to fit the course around the rest of your life. There are numerous benefits to studying online, from saving money to learning at home, and there are further benefits for furthering your education and completing a masters. Often, job applicants with masters degrees can apply for higher-level jobs, which usually come with higher salaries. A masters degree shows that you have a genuine interest and passion in the subject and are keen to continue learning more. Furthermore, a masters degree gives you access to education, resources, and industry professionals that can boost your career and that you may not get to interact with outside of an educational scenario.

What Can You Do to Prepare?

If you have decided that an online course is the right decision, there are several things you can do to help in preparation for the start of your course.

Soft skills

The online cyber security degree will arm you with plenty of technical knowledge and skills, but it will also allow you to develop your soft skills by learning online. To ensure that you have the most success with this during your course, you can always start to build on your soft skills now.

Soft skills are non-technical skills that help you stand out in the workplace and are looked upon favorably by employers. Specific soft skills are very useful for cyber security specialists, such as communication, problem-solving, attention to detail, and teamwork, but they are all useful in a range of industries and positions. The benefit of this is that you will also have practical examples to give to employers during an interview of times when you have utilized these skills.

Learning style

The online cyber security degree is designed for those with prior commitment, such as jobs or a family, who want to fit their education around this. It is a flexible and accessible course that allows you to work at your own pace and at times that suit you. If you find a physical learning environment too overwhelming or simply not have the time and availability to attend in person lectures full time, then this could be an ideal alternative. An online cyber security degree can give you a high level of education that can be adapted to your lifestyle, previous experience and schedule. However, it can be difficult to motivate yourself at times. This is why it is crucial that in preparation, you understand what type of learner you are and how to implement learning techniques that work best for you. This is really important in cyber security, as you will constantly have to learn and absorb new information in the workplace.

Starting Your New Career

An online cyber security degree is a valuable addition to your resume and can help you grow both personally and professionally. You will learn plenty of new skills, as well as expanding on existing ones, in order to make you a confident and capable individual upon graduation. Whether you are looking to move your career in a new direction or have very little experience in information science, there are ways to make the online cyber security degree work for you, preparing you for a rewarding and challenging career in a growing industry.

Identity Theft: This Biggest Threat of the Century

Identity theft is a billion-dollar industry and is rightly considered one of the biggest threats to your security and wellbeing, but if we are honest, how much do we really know about it and are you doing enough to prevent it from happening to you?

The answer to those two questions, if you are being honest, would probably be a resounding negative, but it’s time to take this threat very seriously indeed.

In 2018 over 16 million Americans were the victim of some form of identity theft, and this level of threat has steadily increased year upon year. Indeed, the cost of this breach of our personal security amassed almost $20 billion by 2018 and the signs are that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Clearly in 2021, and for the foreseeable future, our level of online activity is only growing and the use of our computers and mobile devices for key financial uses will only increase and as it does, so invariably do the ways in which criminals will seek to profit.

What is Identity Theft?

In simple terms, identity theft is the practice of an individual being the victim of some level of illegality resulting in the use of their identity to procure financial gain.

Typically this would entail an ID thief securing relevant banking details needed to raid your accounts and this can happen in a myriad of ways, most commonly being carried out virtually via access to key information online.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

It would be fair to say that far too many people either don’t view the threat of identity theft highly enough or feel that any such occurrence would be low-level and easily dealt with by either law enforcement or your banking provider.

Sadly, this isn’t a fair characterization of the potential pitfalls.

While in the past, and still today, ID theft can come from offline means (such as a criminal stealing your wallet or seeing you enter your pin codes at an ATM), a far more common occurrence is online.

Phishing

Phishing occurs when cybercriminals send you what appear to be genuine communications and links to what appear to be ‘actual’ sites/banks but turn out to be sophisticated duplicates, they then mine your account information and before you can even report what appears to be dubious, your accounts have been cleaned out.

Hacking Your Internet or Wi-Fi Signal

Another common ‘trick’ used by cybercriminals is the act of hacking into your internet supply, accessing your browsing history and looking to secure relevant saved passwords or recording your keystrokes, all with the end goal of getting hold of the key information that will complete the ID theft.

Malware and Data Breaches

The use of malware; which is essentially software designed specifically with the intention of hacking your device, sometimes wrapped up in the ‘apparent’ guise of being a genuine form of virus protection, is growing and you need to do all your can to protect yourself from such an attack.

There are a raft of legitimate virus protection services, far more than we can appropriately cover in one article, but the upshot is this, you need to be running one of these permanently on any device you use to access important information. Failing to do so is basically issuing an open invite to hackers.

Another form of access that breeds ID theft are data breaches, i.e. the act of an entire company or services data by an illicit party, and this isn’t something that you can personally do much to prevent, other than perhaps keeping yourself aware of which banks and financial services offer the most protection.

Can I Stop It from Happening to Me?

Yes you can. There are many ways to keep yourself protected and a lot of these resolve around using common sense. Whether that means keeping your access to important information to just one device (and not in public) or avoiding communication with any parties that appear even slightly dubious.

Virus Protection

When it comes to protecting yourself, start by protecting your computers and devices, making sure to use the relevant protection for the specific model/software. If you are looking for the right way to do so, try to compare between the id theft options that are covered by each service. Do the relevant research and always err on the side of caution when doing so as the threat, and repercussions of, identity theft are serious enough to warrant the need to go that extra mile to prevent such fraudulent activity..

Be Aware, Be Cautious, Be Smart

On the subject of being cautious. That should be a maxim you follow across the board. Think twice before clicking on any link sent to you, avoid accessing any service that you didn’t specifically search for yourself.

Don’t engage in communication relating to your personal details with anyone, especially when in relation to phone calls that were not solicited. Think of these details as akin to the nuclear codes. I.e. there is no need to mention them at all, to anyone, failure to adhere to such a mindset could well have explosive repercussions.

6 Ways To Perfectly Secure Yourself Online

Online security is no joke. More and more of our data is being stolen, bought, then sold by hackers and big corporations alike. In this day and age, data about us is even more valuable than the products we are purchasing, as it allows companies to learn about their target market. 

Online vulnerabilities also mean that your credit card information, address, family names, and more are sometimes leaked to hackers. This is dangerous, as identity theft becomes more common online, leading to loss of finance and other nasty things. With all that in mind, below we have six tips for helping you stay secure online. 

1. Use A VPN

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are handy little tools for keeping yourself secure online. In fact, it’s the first thing that Josh, an online security blogger over at All Things Secured recommends. He says that “After using a VPN for the last decade to access the internet, I can safely say it’s one of the key tools needed to protect your identity online.” VPNs create a secure connection – which could be anywhere else in the world – to mask your actual IP address, location, and web traffic. This means that many experienced hackers won’t even be able to tell where you are logging on to the net from, or what you are looking at. This is, therefore, such a great way of protecting your data.

2. Password Managers

One of the biggest issues with personal security online is the use of simple, repeated passwords. Using a maiden name, a row of numbers, or a simple word from your life is simply not secure enough. Instead, we are recommended to use combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. 

Many secure passwords look something like “xpV9s-4jKwW-2azxp-9l2L5”. This is obviously super hard to remember. However, with a password manager app, you can store all these complicated passwords behind either a face ID, thumbprint, or another special password only you know. This means your passwords are secure and you can never forget them. The app can also track any data breaches your password may have been exposed to.

3. Double-Blind Password Storage

To take this to the next level, you could even use double-blind storage. By this, we mean that you don’t even store the full password in your password manager app. You always replace the last few characters with a special code only you know. In the example from above, the last few keys recorded would be “-9l” leaving the “2L5” in one place only: your brain. This works if you change all passwords to end with the same special key, so even your app doesn’t have full records of your passwords.

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication

A two-factor authentication is a clever tool where you will need to prove your identity on two devices before being allowed to log onto an app or into an account. This works by linking devices such as tablets, laptops, and phones to one account. Then, if you try to log in somewhere new, a message will pop up saying that you need to validate this login attempt on one of your other devices. The system will then either provide you with a code to enter, a call to verify, or simply a yes/no button to push on your other device, validating that it is you and you trust this login attempt.

5. Identity Monitoring

There are also apps that can help track your identity. Again, these apps themselves are hyper-secured, so there’s little-to-no risk of data breaches here. These apps will track the internet for traces of your personal data being used in any fraudulent or malicious way, alerting you if they find such activity. This means any breaches or sales of your personal data can be caught and hopefully stopped in their tracks.

6. Secure Email

Believe it or not, many of our favorite and most-used email providers have suffered security breaches. In 2019, for example, it was discovered that 770 million email addresses and passwords had been exposed –crazy numbers! So, how do you know if your email is secure? Well, you just have to find out! Different email companies have different encryption and security standards. These can differ quite wildly. But, for most users, any of the main email account companies, such as Gmail, will be secure enough if you take advantage of their advanced protection settings.

These are our top six tips for staying secure online, all of which can be worked on from today. There is no need to delay in getting started on these, as your personal data is very important and valuable. Get secure online ASAP.