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.

How are Small Businesses affected by Hafnium Microsoft Exchange Breach?

The cyberattack on Microsoft Exchange email servers has impacted thousands of small businesses, government organizations, enterprises, educational institutions, etc. This led Microsoft to scramble quickly to patch those vulnerabilities that hackers have exploited. As of now, Microsoft was able to patch all the zero-day flaws that caused the Hafnium Exchange breach, but it is beyond the capabilities of small businesses to secure their compromised systems. In this blog, we will shed light on the Microsoft Exchange breach and then related it to the challenges that small businesses have to face for the next few months.

Hafnium Microsoft Exchange Breach

Analysts from Volexity first detected the exploitation of zero-day vulnerabilities of Microsoft Exchange in March 2021. Those vulnerabilities helped hacking group so-called Hafnium, a Chinese state-sponsored group, to get access to email accounts associated with Microsoft Exchange without requiring any authentication credentials. As per Microsoft, the attacks were conducted in three steps, as follow:

  1. Hackers started with getting access to the Microsoft Exchange server by either account credentials they had stolen or utilizing the vulnerabilities to present themselves as a person who has the right to access.
  2. By developing a web shell, the hackers then remotely controlled the breached server and all additional backdoors to set up more access points.
  3. Using remote access, the hackers then stole the sensitive data from the corporation server, mostly email addresses and passwords, because they are stored unencrypted by Microsoft Exchange.

Hafnium’s main objective was to extract sensitive data from thousands of Exchange associated corporations, such as educational institutes, law firms, non-governmental organizations, defense contractors, and other small and medium businesses.

Microsoft Response

In response to the hacks, Microsoft released multiple security patches for Exchange Server to overcome the zero-day vulnerabilities. Microsoft also urged all Exchange users working with Exchange 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions to patch the servers on priority. Despite the patch release, Censys a cybersecurity company, says that above 50% of those versions of Exchange Servers left unpatched and vulnerable to potential threats. Besides that, many other hackers have also come up to use this loophole and make an impact.

Exchange Breach Impacts

As of now, around 30,000 U.S. organizations are hit by the breach. Mostly the victims were U.S. organizations, but Germany, UK, Netherlands, and few others were also the target. Although all kinds of organizations, whether large enterprises or small businesses, are the victims, the larger enterprises are still in a better place to investigate their systems and remove all malware, web shells, and other vulnerabilities in minimal time. Because patching the vulnerabilities is just one stage for recovery, but clearing all the after-effects of hacking is another crucial stage. This second stage is quite challenging for small businesses to meet due to the lack of resources and expertise.

Effects on Small Businesses

Thousands of small businesses have also been the victim of the Hafnium Exchange breach, and most of those businesses by now have installed the security patches from Microsoft. But when it comes to investigating the system to avoid further infections, such as ransomware or destructive malware, small businesses clearly lag there. Mostly, small businesses outsource their technical support to IT providers, but such IT providers are just experienced in setting and managing IT systems. For addressing cyber-attacks, such providers cannot be trusted.

Restricted budgets and no serious plans of cybersecurity are making small businesses’ systems further vulnerable to threats for many months to come. And since many other hacking groups are also taking advantage of the situation, it is the worst situation for small businesses. As per ESET, at minimum ten other hacking groups are using the same server flaws to breach through organizations systems.

IT Department Tasks

For small businesses, removing initial web shells is easy with their IT administration’s help and following the Microsoft guidelines, but doing the next investigation demands dedicated skills. The world is already seeing high demand for cybersecurity experts, and the present cybersecurity experts also present a significant skills gap. Therefore, it is also quite difficult for small businesses to find highly trained experts and willing to be part of such an organization when they can easily score a high position in big enterprises.

There is also a possibility that small businesses don’t even know that they are hit, and in case they know about it, they still need proper guidance to know how to proceed next. Seeing the gap of expertise from small businesses and the potential of Exchange Server hack, Microsoft has provided detailed guidance for helping IT staff what to do. CISA has also provided a tool and advice to look for server logs to get evidence of a compromise. So, small businesses have multiple approaches and resources they can utilize in order to get out of the victim-zone in minimal time. But all such measures do not guarantee complete system recovery and protection, owing to the fact that other hacking groups have also used their own approaches to exploit Microsoft Exchange vulnerabilities.

Patch Problems

Many sites that are not hit with the Hafnium intrusion have been put offline for another problem. The process of applying Microsoft Exchange Server patches often leads to network disruption. To apply the Hafnium patch requires an Exchange Site must update all prior patches. This process of updating has been a disaster for many sites, as their systems are taken offline and do not recover. No one is able to contact Microsoft for a fix.

Conclusion

Hafnium Microsoft Exchange breach is one of 2021 biggest attacks seen by now. It is far more invasive than the recent SolarWinds Breach, which affected mostly Government organizations. and the worst part is the after-effects of these breaches. Suppose 30,000 U.S. organizations are hit by this hack, then despite the Microsoft patches. In that case, there will be many organizations that are going to be exploited by Hafnium and other hacking groups due to hidden backdoors, etc. Compared to all such organizations, small businesses are the most vulnerable ones. Therefore, it is a need of time that Microsoft and other cybersecurity firms play a helping hand in making those victim businesses get rid of possible malware by facilitating in thorough investigations. Besides that, opting for cloud servers and migrating workloads to the cloud can also facilitate small businesses to avoid getting a victim of such breaches in the future.

The Role of Operating Systems in Security

For every computer system and software design, it is imperative that it should address all security concerns and implement required safeguards to enforce security policies. At the same time, it is important to keep a balance since rigorous security measures can not only increase costs but also limit the user-friendliness, usefulness and smooth performance of the system. Hence, system designers have to ensure effective performance without compromising on security. A computer’s operating system must concentrate on delivering a functionally complete and flexible set of security mechanism for security policies to be effectively enforced.

An operating system’s protection and security requires all computer resources such as software, CPU, memory and others to be protected. This can be enforced by ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability in the operating system. It must be able to protect against all threats including malware and unauthorized access.

Threats to Operating Systems

Let’s have a look at the common threats faced by any operating system.

Anything that has a malicious nature and can be harmful for the system is a threat.

Malware

This category includes viruses, worms, trojan horses and all kinds of malicious software. These are generally small code snippets that can corrupt files, destroy data, replicate to spread further, and even crash a system. Many times, the malware goes unnoticed by the victim user, while the cyber criminals silently extract sensitive information.

Denial of Service Attacks

DoS attacks don’t actually attempt to damage a system, but rather clog it to make it useless. A tight loop that requests system services repeatedly is an example of a DoS attack.

Network Intrusion

Network intruders can be classified as masqueraders, misfeasors or a clandestine users. A masquerader is an unauthorized individual who penetrates into a system and exploits an authorized individual’s account. Misfeasor is a legitimate user who accesses and misuses programs, data or resources. Clandestine user takes over supervisory control and tries to evade access controls and audit collection.

Buffer Overflow

Also called buffer overrun, buffer overflow is defined in the NIST Glossary of Key information security terms as “A condition at an interface under which more input can be placed into a buffer or data-holding area than the capacity allocated, overwriting other information. Attackers exploit such a condition to crash a system or to insert specially crafted code that allows them to gain control of the system”

Buffer overflow is one of the most common and dangerous security threats. To exploit a buffer overflow, attackers identify a buffer overflow vulnerability in a program and understand how the buffer will store in process memory to finally alter the execution flow of the program.

Ensuring Operating Systems Security

Operating systems security can be ensured with the following mechanisms.

Authentication

Authentication identifies every user in a system and ensures that their identity is legitimate. The operating system makes sure that each user is authenticated before they are allowed to access a system. Different ways to ensure their authenticity are:

Username and Password

Every user has their distinct username and password that needs to be entered correctly before they are able to access a system

User Attribution Identification

These methods usually involve biometrics verification such as finger prints, eye retina scan, etc. This authentication is based on uniqueness of users and is compared with the database samples that already exist in the system. Users can access only in case of a match.

One-Time Password

A one-time password is generated exclusively for each time a user wants to log in and enter a system. The same password cannot be used again. Methods include:

  • Random Numbers

The system may ask you for numbers corresponding to a set of pre-arranged alphabets. The combination is different every time you require a login

  • Secret Key

This includes a hardware device that generates a secret key for the user id, and changes every time.

Tokens

A user is authenticated with something that they physically possess, such as a smart card or electronic keycard.

Access Control

Access control specifies who can have access to a system resource and what type of access each entity has. A security administrator maintains an authorization database to specify what type of access is allowed to each user. This database is consulted by the access control function for determining whether access should be granted.

Intrusion Detection Systems

Intrusion Detection Systems monitor network traffic or events occurring within a host to identify any suspicious activity. IDS helps identify network, transport and application protocols.

Firewalls

Firewalls are important to monitor all incoming and outgoing traffic. It enforces local security, thus defining the traffic that is authorized to pass through it. Firewalls are effective means to protect local systems or network of systems from all network-based security threats.

Buffer Overflow Defense

Countermeasures to avoid buffer overflow include compile-time defense, that aims to harden a program for resisting an attack to enhance software security; or runtime defense, that detects and aborts attacks in an executing program.

Key Takeaway

Operating systems security plays a primitive role in protecting memory, files, user authentication and data access protection. Consistent protection means that the system meets standard security requirements and have the required functionality to enforce security practices.

How to Optimize Your PC for Both Security and Productivity

Have you been in the situation when after hours of fruitful work all your data is being disappeared? It is shocking for every user. It is not a problem for only novice users. Experienced PC users may easily face the same issue. But what differs the former from the latter is that advanced users know effective tools for productivity of your computer. They don’t panic and follow working tips to resolve the issue.

Ensuring data security is crucial for every person working on the computer. Either you want to recover Word document or ensure data backup for your folders, we will help you. By reading the article, you can easily recover deleted folders on windows 10 and perform a high level of data protection.

How to Recover Lost Data on Your PC

If you use Windows, the following guide is for you. It will show you step by step how to recover deleted files and optimize the work of the operative system. Let’s get more information about the data recovery tool and backup your folders to the computer.

  1. The first step is the most essential. You won’t be able to move further without managing the first action. You need to download software for a successful data recovery process.
  2. When the program is downloaded you need to install it and launch it.
  3. When you open the Disk Drill you will see a big window featuring a list of disks. Your task is to select the one with the appropriate folder, i.e. the folder you want to recover.
  4. Now you need to search for the missing data. On the screen, you will see a blue Search for lost data button. Click on it to make the system work and process the information. With the help of working algorithms, the software will scan the data and show you possible options.
  5. When it is done, you will see all the recoverable files. Your task is to choose those to be restored. Here is one important remark to consider. You can’t use the same place to store the retrieved file. If you do so, there is a risk for the file to be overwritten. You don’t need it. So, choose another folder other than the original storage place to back up the data.
  6. When the files have been selected, you can press the Recover button and wait until the work is done.

The process of data recovery doesn’t take too much effort from the doer. You may spend more time depending on the number of files you want to recover. The system may simply process the information longer but the actual procedure is like a piece of cake. The time of the process is also dependent on the methods the software chooses. If you don’t want to get deep into the process, you may rely on the system. It will choose the most appropriate method for your case. For more advanced users, there’s an Arrow button to choose from a variety of methods. You can select the one that you consider to be correct.

It is also important to tell a few words about the software. You may need to restore various types of files. It can be a photo, message, Word document, or any other file. By using Disk Drill software, it is possible to restore almost everything. And the process will take minutes. So, don’t get upset when the information has been accidentally lost. Now you know working methods to get it back to your PC.

The Internet Is Drowning in Malware and Phishing Scams

The past few years have seen a monumental increase in cybercrime. Data from multiple cybersecurity companies and government agencies shows that millions of attacks are being launched every second of every day. In this environment, anything you touch on the internet could expose you to some kind of attack or malicious software.

Malware on The Internet- How It Affects Everyone

Let’s start the discussion by talking about malware- one of the oldest and most potent attack vectors. Malware is short for malicious software and it’s any kind of code whose intention is to attack your computer in some way.  It can be a virus meant to steal your personal information or infiltrate your devices and start tracking you through sustained access.

Data shows that nearly a million new malware threats are released every day. This is an ominous figure and one that should worry anyone who uses the internet. More worryingly, it is clear from recent attacks that malware is getting better and smarter as new tools and vulnerabilities are discovered.

How Malware Gets into Your Devices

The internet is the number one source for malware although you can also get through traditional means like portable storage devices and over the network file sharing. Accessing the internet in this environment of increased malware has been likened to wading through a flooded minefield.  

There are several ways you can be exposed to malware through normal internet activity. Here are some of them and how you can protect your devices:

1. Accessing unsecured websites

 Most browsers will either warn you or prevent access to an unsecured website. However, those using old browsers are still vulnerable meaning they can get infected by just accessing a website without any form of protection or security. An unsecured website is one without an SSL certificate as this is the first sign of a website that is run by cybercriminals or individuals who don’t care about security.

How To Protect Your Devices From Unsecured Websites

Avoid accessing websites without SSL certificates especially if you get a warning from your browser.  If you happen to inadvertently click on a link that leads you to an unsecured website, scan your devices for malware. Make sure you check anti-malware removal tool options during installation that allow scanning of websites for malware.

2. Malicious Links

Clicking on a malicious link on the internet, local file, or one sent to you on email could also expose you to malware. Hackers often disguise malware links as genuine ones through URL shorteners and other methods. Once you click on the link, malware will be downloaded in the background to your device.

How to Protect Your Devices from malicious links

Avoid clicking on links that you cannot read or tell where they will lead you. For instance, you should only click shortened URLs from trusted sources. Of course, you cannot avoid all links as they help you navigate the web so having an anti-malware tool installed on your pc and browser is important.

3. Infected Files from Illegal Sources

Hackers like using illegal file download and streaming services to spread malware. By downloading that illegal movie or streaming it for free, you are most likely allowing the hackers to install malware on your computer.

How to Protect Your Devices From infected files

Make sure you scan all files downloaded from the internet before you open them on your devices. Modern anti-malware can automatically scan a file on your local storage that was downloaded from the internet. This kind of proactive security is what you should look for in your security tools.

4. Phishing Scams

Phishing refers to when a cybercriminal sends emails to individuals pretending to be someone or creates a fake website to lure victims.  Phishing attacks are on the rise with Google reportedly discovering over 20 million phishing websites last year at the peak of the pandemic.

How to Protect Yourself from phishing scams

Be aware of fraudsters and internet criminals that are out to swindle you or gain access to your devices. Double-check that the information provided on a website is real and genuine especially addresses and contact information. Beware of criminals pretending to be someone known to you sending you emails and report such emails to your IT admin if you are in a company setup.

Protecting yourself against malware and phishing websites requires you to be proactive about your security on the internet. Have the necessary security tools and be aware of the dangers that lurk on the web. Also, make sure that your software is updated frequently.

Top 3 PC and Phone Security Apps for Small Businesses

The joy of B.Y.O device usage in the workplace – and the extensive connectivity and range of devices that accompany – is all positive… until it’s not.

Considering how the average user simply assumes data protection when adding or integrating a protocol, a cloud facility, or devices, corporate security has remained remarkably tight. Granted, there has been an increase in broad criminal activity online, but when looking at the figures, the successful strike rate is still low.

In part, this is because antivirus and other tools have evolved enough to run just ahead of the game, regardless of the enhanced connectivity and diversity of inputs globally (get ready to times that by a million for the unfolding IoT). Another factor is increasing awareness of online security-the bigger the company, the higher the awareness, by and large.  

Reputable agents like IT support outfit EC-MSP make patches and best practices – as well as important updates – available to their clients as a standard courtesy. It’s vital for your security to remain as current as possible, and larger companies have dedicated IT departments that contain someone who will do just that.

Unfortunately, most small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) don’t have that luxury, with an increasingly large proportion of SMEs falling prey to first time cyber-attacks each year. It’s not easy to make patching your business’ security your prime focus when you’re the boss and doing everything yourself.

The antivirus software community can still slap themselves on the back a little-today’s online security is dynamite in comparison to the simple days of yore-and most take the onus of updating out of (busy) users’ hands. Invariably, successful hacks come on the back of poor user behaviour, not the failure of top end protection.

Here are seven great choices for phone and PC security; all are packages that are highly unlikely to allow any meaningful or successful attack via mobile or office machines. All can provide top end security, so feel free to pick and choose your preferred option.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud

A name now familiar to millions, Kaspersky is highly scalable and good for common OS options, including Android. Features that make this option stand out include cloud discovery, mobile support, and vulnerability monitoring. Frequent complaints about the price can be found in consumer reviews, but it’s still comparable. That the app is cloud-scalable reflects Kaspersky’s focus on SMEs, and it comes with mobile support and remote management, as well as a 30-day free trial period.

Some of Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud main features include:

  • comprehensive network attack defence
  • email, web, and file protection
  • a solid firewall
  • exploit and ransomware prevention, and
  • vulnerability monitoring

Just to name a few.

It also allows monitoring users’ social media networking, messaging, and file sharing. This feature is intended for security flags rather than an Orwellian desire for control, but it does help with identifying who did an honest day’s work on any given day. 

A clean and easy to use dashboard has gone a long way towards increasing Kaspersky’s current popularity, and from there you can control password rules, camera use, and even detect compromised devices.

Furthermore, you can remotely lock or entirely remove data from lost or stolen devices, alongside the usual filtering of unwelcome messages or calls-mighty handy in our mobile era. On that point, two licenses are issued per user, enabling a phone and tablet per staff member, which is often sufficient, even for larger corporates.

Overall, a great choice from a company that’s evolved into the modern cyber battleground while still remaining simple yet comprehensive for users.

Avast Business Antivirus Pro

Voted the most comprehensive antivirus by many, don’t be put off by your previous trials of their free offerings. Curiously, the free version often fails to pick up worms, trojans, and some other more ubiquitous malware files, but the pro version is a different story – and extremely potent.

Avast Business Antivirus Pro is a good choice for Mac, Windows, and Windows Server users. There is a significant difference between the performance of the free versions and this business pro package.

 For example, this pro version includes:

  • a shredder
  • a no-nonsense sandbox
  • an inbuilt rescue disk (standard with the pro version)
  • protection for Exchange and SharePoint servers, and
  • automatic updates (protection is always current and live)

Overall, Avast Business Antivirus Pro boasts super web filtering capacities, but avoid toying with the extensively customisable spam filter; otherwise, it can allow junk to land in your inbox.

Their network firewall, web shield, and phishing email protection will keep you safe online, letting you know that all endpoints are secured. A 30-day trial is usually on offer too, so that you can familiarise yourself and give it a whirl.

Critically, their support and overall company ethos is good-replies are swift-but there’s consumer complaints around constant ‘pop ups’ of payment requests and warnings that you’re not covered (when you are). Unfortunately, this is similar to McAfee-left off this list precisely because of too many negative reviews about their approach, not their products.

Avast is still on the right side of the fence, but since 2016 they’ve changed their behaviour and now manifest many of the frustratingly bothersome pop-up and crossed-wire behaviours of the antivirus fraternity as a whole. Still, it features great functionality and enterprise-level protection that will serve any business well.

Bitdefender GravityZone Business Security

While a good for Windows, Mac, and Windows Server users just like Avast, Bitdefender GravityZone is also great for a host of other OS options. Additionally, you’re unlikely to have installation issues no matter what OS you’re running on.

This app is easy to use, although it’s fairly technical in approach; anyone not current on computing (at least on layman’s terms) will be intimidated by it. The company has made a pitch out of machine learning (ML) components, which is good, but that’s also where their Proprietary Process Inspector starts to overwhelm new users.

That said, this antivirus option provides exceptional malware flagging and removal, and its heuristic understanding is impressive. Their firewall, web advisor, URL filtering, and anti-malware features are automatic, but open to customising by users.

A range of features geared specifically for a busy company is on offer with this package, notably:

  • auto-updates across all your Windows or selected OS devices (not just the device searching for updates)
  • local full disk encryption
  • broad protection against web threats
  • process monitoring and blocking suspicious activity
  • endpoint risk analytics, and
  • app and device control

There’s no free trial, but a 30-day guaranteed satisfaction refund is available.

Overall, Bitdefender is an excellent choice, although most users should ‘keep it simple’ and not attempt extensive customisation of this app. Bitdefender has been around since 2001, and its current pro version is the result of decades of refinement.

Honorable Mentions

Sophos Endpoint Protection Advanced is rising in popularity on the back of its user-friendly, solid protection. Another antivirus incorporating AI, it’s a little heavy on resources but takes a visibly predictive approach to security with its Intercept X technology, rather than a reactive one.

Webroot Business Endpoint Protection is light on resources and provides quiet but highly effective protection, its soft footprint belying its potency. With plenty of advanced features available – including a truly synchronous outbound firewall that compliments the Windows firewall without compromise of any kind – this option will protect against fileless or file-based script attacks, while also preventing malicious behaviours in PowerShell or Java.

No antivirus software list would be complete without mentioning Norton and F-Secure SAFE, as well-another two great options for any company’s needs.

The enterprise-level antivirus fraternity plays a competitive and impressive game, and any one of the options listed here will provide cutting-edge protection for small to very large companies.

Antivirus options are worth trialing whenever you can get a 30-day free trial, as it truly comes down to personal preference when all available options provide almost the same level of security for connected devices.

Protecting Your Business PCs and Phones

All of the choices listed above are sophisticated and can competently cope with the modern online business environment. However, how they impart their sophistication – how technically or simply they present to users – makes all the difference, along with support levels.

Innovative Networking Solutions That Will Greatly Help Startup Businesses

As we forge ahead into 2021, it is clear that startups need effective networking solutions. They need to pay special attention to network architecture where speed is of paramount importance. In fact, as per reports compiled by networking experts, business organizations of all sizes are set to spend at least 4% of their annual financial spending on solving networking challenges. Another critical area for especially south African startups that requires their investment is upgrading their existing networking equipment.

There are plenty of new and innovative networking solutions that might help startups better achieve their business goals. Such solutions include:

SD-WAN Solutions

While startups continue to focus on using the latest tech tools to overcome business hurdles, the growth of demand for new tech outpaces IT budget allocations and headcount. In this scenario, managed solutions emerge as a boon that lets startups automate key business areas and streamlining management. As the pioneer of SD-WAN solution in South Africa points out, one critical development in networking is the emergence of managed SD-WAN solutions. Such software-defined networking solutions let startups work their networks remotely from all locations by using a simple piece of software.

Through SD-WAN tech, network administrators can create and implement rules to automate traffic flow while prioritizing particular applications. Additionally, you can also increase or decrease bandwidth as available to various locations. Further, the technology would let startup businesses enhance their security. Startups can implement this SD-WAN technology in the form of co-managed, self-managed, or fully managed SD-WAN solutions. The levels of support you need should play the deciding factor in choosing self-managed, co-managed, or fully managed options.

5G Will Transform Mobile Networks Radically

Back in 2019, 5G mobile networks were first scaled and adopted. As per the organization Statista, the number of 5G subscriptions will stand at 220 million by the end of the current year. The growth experienced by 5G is tremendous, and so is the variety of advantages 5G offers that you can enjoy. As businesses reexamine the fleet of mobile plans they provide to their end-users, 5G will go from strength to strength. More workers now rely on mobile devices and online access more than ever. 

A suitably modern workspace’s essential characteristics are its preference for mobile access, collaboration tools that work in real-time, video streaming, and various mobile apps. All of these ask for a significant amount of bandwidth.

In all such cases, adopting 5G networks is one of the best options open to you. 5G gives mobile connectivity a tremendous boost in terms of speed. Such speeds are comparable to wired broadband networks and will be an excellent asset for startup businesses. It will give them the option of allowing robots, machines, and automated vehicles to transfer after collecting more data than ever before.

AI Security And Security Management

The cybersecurity situation startups face is becoming more and more complex. Naturally, cutting-edge tech tools are being used to manage emerging cybersecurity threats. As per reports compiled by CNBC, small businesses bear the brunt of a significant 43% of all cyberattacks, and the average cost of a single breach amounts to almost $200,000. The sum is enough to put many startups in peril besides causing significant damage to their profits. Businesses face new emerging security threats these days, making cybersecurity automation and sophisticated intelligence a necessity.

There are several solutions to startup businesses’ cybersecurity woes that include solutions implementing several cybersecurity intelligence layers right into your network architecture. Managed cybersecurity services are one such solution the provides 24*7 protection, oversight, and visibility. Other advanced solutions offer the following security checks to ensure that user experience remains seamless in the face of cybersecurity threats:

  • Threat detection
  • Malware detection
  • Device and application scans

In short, they provide a comprehensive set of services to maintain security vigilance and ensure that threats are detected and isolated at the earliest.

AI is another technology that is revolutionizing the world of cybersecurity. AI security tools use machine learning to adapt to changing security situations and continuously monitor the same. The use of such tools will let your startup business adopt targeted and customized defense mechanisms against relevant cybersecurity threats.

The need for bandwidth for startups is continuously on the rise. Thanks to the new era in networking tech, it is very much possible to meet such needs without compromising speed, reliability, and affordability. The networking solutions mentioned here will help startups better anticipate growth opportunities, give priority to future investments. They will sustain as your networking backbone for the foreseeable future. We hope this has been helpful!

How to Keep Your Computer Safe and Secure at Home

Your personal computer at home is one of the safest devices you own. The fact that it doesn’t get connected to other WiFi other than the one you have at home means that there are fewer risks of it being compromised by hackers and other serious digital security threats. However, that doesn’t mean you should be careless with regard to security.

You need to be just as careful with your personal computer as you are with your other devices. The risks are all the same as hackers don’t really discriminate. Here are some tips on how you can up your safety and security.

Install An Antivirus And Run Your Firewall

The foundations of any digital security are anti-virus and a firewall. These two essential programs can help decrease the chances of your computer being hacked or infiltrated by malware significantly. Before you download anything else on the internet, make sure that these two programs are running.

Simply put, a firewall and an anti-virus blocks viruses and notify you of any possible problems you can encounter online. Antivirus for Windows and MacOS come with many other features such as optimization tools which can help boost the performance of your computer as well.

Browse With A VPN

A virtual private network or a VPN is often recommended when you are using a public connection when outside. However, as these solutions completely mask your identity, they can also be used for your computers at home while browsing using your own connection.

There’s no such thing as overkill with regards to browsing and surfing at home. A VPN not only keeps you and your computer private, but it also helps you browse the web without any worries.

Always Keep Your Software Updated

You might notice that your computer always gets notifications about updates. While annoying, these updates are more than necessary. With these updates come bug fixes and possible solutions to security flaws that hackers have found over time. As such, it’s vital that every software you have stays updated.

Stay Away From Pirated Software

The price of games and other software online can be expensive. As such, you might be tempted to pirate the stuff you use. However, what’s your privacy and security worth anyway? Is it worth putting yourself at risk just to use pirated software? 

Downloading pirated software puts you at great risk online. Some hackers hide viruses or other malware inside the torrent packages you see online. Another thing worth noting is that the link you’re downloading from could actually be a virus in and of itself. It’s more costly trying to recover your data after a security breach so it’s much better to buy authentic software instead.

Even if it’s at your home, your computer is not entirely safe from data breaches and other digital security problems. It’s always much better to stay safe than be sorry later on. As the number of data breaches stays the same, it only means that people aren’t doing enough to keep their devices safe.

Why Cybersecurity Is Essential for Your Small Business

Cybersecurity attacks can cause irreversible, long-term damage to your business, and no business is entirely safe from them. Even big companies such as Nintendo and Twitter have fallen victim to cyber-attacks. However, small businesses are uniquely at risk and will very rarely make it to the media outlets. Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report found that a whopping 43% of breaches happened to small businesses. Cybersecurity is essential for any business, however, it is especially important for small businesses, and here’s why. 

1. Small Business Cyber Attacks Are Common

It is easy to fall into the mindset of thinking, ‘Oh, it will never happen to me’ or ‘What are the chances it would actually happen to my business?’. Thinking like this is very dangerous because the chances of a cyberattack on your small business are actually very high. In 2019 the Keeper Security and the Ponemon Institute conducted a study that found that the number of small and medium businesses enduring data breaches had increased to 63%. This is a significant increase, as the percentage was 58% in 2018. 

By the look of these statistics, cyberattacks are on the rise, and their interest is becoming more and more focused on the smaller to medium-sized businesses. 

2. Small Businesses Are Vulnerable 

Small businesses are very vulnerable to cyberattacks, and the risk of an attack is increasing significantly. Ultimately, small businesses are more vulnerable to cyberattacks for several reasons. Partly because there’s less training on cybersecurity and partly because they have less money to invest in IT support and services that can help to protect them; having good IT support and services available to your small business are so important in preventing a cybersecurity attack. They can provide consultation, information and implement software to make your business more secure. 

3. Damage Is Harder To Undo

A cyberattack has the potential to cause fatal damages to small businesses. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency found that 60% of companies that experienced a cyberattack had to close down within six months following the attack. These statistics are extremely alarming for small business owners. Cyberattacks will not only cost your money, but they can cost you your reputation and the trust of your customers. 

A high percentage of cyberattacks take the form of a phishing scam, which makes the hacker send legitimate-looking emails and texts directly to their victims, a link that allows the hacker to steal vital information such as company passwords. Once the hacker is in, it is very difficult to secure your system without having to spend extortionate amounts. 

4. Cyberattacks Can Be Very Costly

Cyberattacks can be extremely costly for a small business, and a Hiscox survey has confirmed this in a survey that found cyberattacks on small businesses cost up to $188,000. A lot of small businesses simply do not have this kind of money, and so it is quite common for small businesses to go bankrupt after an attack. Even if you do not go bankrupt and manage to survive your attack, you will have a long road ahead of you trying to revive your business. If you look to investors for funding to help you, you are going to have a hard time convincing the investors that your company is secure and not a data-breaching risk. 

What You Can Do

Cyberattacks are very daunting to any business owner, but there are several things you can do to try and protect yourself from malicious hackers. Firstly, you should provide cybersecurity training for all your employees. This way, they know what to look for, and if an employee detects any kind of suspicious behavior, your business will be able to act fast and be able to stamp it out before the hacker gets in. Secondly, make sure you implement strong firewalls as a firewall can stop hackers from accessing important data on a network. 

Thirdly, make sure you use strong passwords! This is such an easy preventative method, yet people fall victim to using easy passwords time and time again. A shocking 83% of people use the same password for multiple platforms, and this is a hacker’s dream. 

If small businesses wish to succeed and stand out among their competition, then they should allocate some investment to cybersecurity. This doesn’t mean forking out tonnes of money, but more taking the time to implement easy measures that can have a big impact. As previously mentioned, a simple task such as using strong passwords can go a long way! Making sure your business is using cybersecurity best practices will make you far less vulnerable to what could be a fatal attack.

Can you run a Background Check on Your Neighbor

Sometimes, we know precious little about the people living right next door. In fact, we know only what our neighbors have told us about themselves. For decades, it’s been commonplace to share a building with virtual strangers. We often don’t even know our neighbors’ names.

Needless to say, there are certain risks that go with this. You don’t have to take them because the majority of background check sites are quite easy to use. Providers like CheckPeople.com can help you find the information you need to put your mind at ease.  

When to Check Criminal History

You might choose to delve into the possibility of your neighbor’s having a criminal background in certain situations. We outline some of these below. 

  • Their behavior is erratic, indicating the possibility of addiction
  • You feel like they’re watching you come and go
  • They avoid other neighbors, including you
  • They have a lot of visitors at night, even if there’s little noise
  • They make your child or spouse feel anxious
  • You’ll need them to babysit or do odd jobs for you around the house

How to Run a Criminal Background Check

As criminal records are public, it’s not hard to obtain them at all. Doing research is a great way to stop feeling uneasy about a neighbor’s questionable behavior. Hopefully, you’ll unearth a clean record and feel safer in your home and in the neighborhood. But will research violate their privacy? You obviously don’t want problems with the law. 

To put your mind at ease: getting a neighbor’s criminal records is perfectly legal because they’re not considered private data. They’re not like ID and credit information, which you need the subject’s consent to check.

Getting Your Questions Answered

Online background checks reveal information from a large variety of sources, including town census data, records within sex offender registries, property ownership records, court records, professional license details, and more. Typically, background checks yield information about past addresses, business information, former names, names and addresses of next of kin, workplace and occupation, age, and registered or owned boats or other recreational vehicles. You will also find social network information or even news if your neighbor has received coverage for whatever reason.

How Much Information do You Need to Run a Check?

You don’t need more than their address and last name. People are often able to do criminal background checks and arrive at comprehensive, in-depth results just using a person’s address. If you have their number, you can do a reverse phone number search to find out more about them. Your best bet, however, is obtaining their full name, social security number, and birthdate.

Apart from their personal details, you might find information about their landlord, and their workplace, which will be very helpful should an issue arise, especially one that must be attended to urgently.

What Will You Find Out?

A rudimentary background check will yield enough information to get a general idea of what your neighbor is like. Filling in the gaps is your right and responsibility. You might find out that your neighbor is a lawyer with a lot of assets, but that doesn’t give you an insight into his character. That’s not even enough to know if he owns the cars parked out front.

The information might indicate certain patterns. You might unearth a history of financial problems, a series of failed marriages, or a lot of short-term past addresses. Links to social media accounts could provide additional information and clues, such as schools he went to, photos of activities, or people he associates with.

How to Protect Yourself

There are ways you can protect yourself if you find they have a criminal record. You could call the police if you believe or are sure they’re doing something illegal. Your family and home’s safety is most important in this situation, so you need to do what you need to do to protect them. Unless your rental agreement or homeowner bylaws stipulate it, you cannot force your neighbor to move.

Today, our neighbors’ identities are shrouded in mist. That lack of familiarity can lead to false assumptions and apprehension with regard to common issues like landscaping, noise, parking, and personal appearance. Instead of trying to stifle your unease, do what you can to get more information about your neighbor. You have every right to do so.