3 Reasons Not to Use Facial and Fingerprint Recognition Lock on Your Phone

Our phones keep a lot of our personal information. It includes our contacts, accounts, photos, locations, financial information, to name but a few. Therefore, you cannot be too careful when it comes to data protection.

Smartphone security awareness becomes crucial today as most organizations and educational institutions have switched to technological solutions. This exposes people to cyberattacks and different kinds of online fraud. DoMyEssay has been providing online writing help for years, observing the highest security standards. Their experts have shared a few tips on smartphone security that can benefit not only students and their parents but anyone who uses mobile devices. Here are the top 5 recommendations: 

  1. Create unique passwords for all your mobile devices.
  2. Use security settings to protect your identity and location data. 
  3. Use only trusted services and stores.
  4. Update the OS on your device regularly. 
  5. Use a secure method to lock your phone. 

The last point requires particular attention. There are several ways to lock your phone, but biometric identification is probably the most popular. Many people believe that facial and fingerprint recognition gives us security that is impossible to crack. Unfortunately, it is far from being true. Yes, biometric identification is a fast and convenient way to lock your phone, but it is not completely secure. Here is why. 

1. A Lot Depends On Your Device

Some phones appear to be more secure than others. An experiment conducted by Consumentenbond, a non-profit organization from the Netherlands, tested facial recognition on 110 mobile devices. 38% of the smartphones failed the test. Holding a photo of the owner in front of the device was enough for the 42 of the examined phones to unlock. It means that to hack one’s phone, attackers need nothing more but to get a photo from the owner’s social media. They do not even need 3D printed masks or sophisticated software solutions. 

This test made a lot of people worried about the security of their phones. The study results showed that Apple, Samsung, OnePlus, and a few other devices had stronger facial recognition features. Yet, a lot of phones from Sony, BlackBerry, Nokia, Xiaomi, and older models of Huawei, Lenovo, and LG failed the test. Thus, be careful if you use older phone models, and do not forget to install security updates. 

As you can see, there is no silver bullet when it comes to security. If you want to protect your personal data, find out more about the vulnerabilities of a particular phone model. Unfortunately, a lot of people ignore this step. To make matters worse, this issue is not properly addressed at school. Students grow up knowing how to write an essay and improve it with the EssayEditor service. Yet, educators do not teach them about mobile security issues even though they raise major concerns globally. 

2. Biometrics Can Be Hacked as Well

It seems that our fingerprints and facial features cannot be artificially recreated. Yet, hackers can lift fingertips and trick cameras. This makes facial and fingerprint recognition vulnerable to attacks. 

A few days after the release of the iPhone X, Vietnamese researchers at Bkav managed to trick Face ID with a 3D-printed mask placed at a very specific angle. Obviously, the procedure of cracking Apple’s technology required much effort, special equipment, and knowledge in the field. Yet, this incident has shown that facial recognition cannot be called completely secure. 

Is fingerprint lock more secure? No. We leave our fingerprints everywhere. So there are a lot of places where attackers can find your biometric data and use it to unlock your phone. It is possible to recreate fingerprints using latex and even school supplies like playdough and Elmer’s glue. Besides, hackers can even steal fingerprints virtually, cracking the scanner itself. 

3. Biometric Identification Is Still a Work in Progress

Biometric recognition, in particular facial identification, is still a new technology. Although developers continue to improve it, today, it is neither completely secure nor accurate. Facial recognition might not work if a person wears sunglasses or a mask. Additionally, camera angle and lighting matter as well. Fingerprint identification does not function properly with glows or when the user’s fingers are wet or dirty. It is also not an option for people with damaged skin. 

Furthermore, scanning one’s face or fingertips makes an individual’s sensitive data exposed. This can pose a significant risk to privacy. Our two previous points show that any scanners can be hacked. Users cannot be completely sure that their data is safe. What is even worse, people cannot change their fingerprints or facial features in case of a security breach like they can change a password. 

In Sum

Do the advantages of biometric locks outweigh their disadvantages? It is up to you to decide. The one thing is clear: the technology is still far from being perfect. It is important to know the vulnerabilities of our mobile devices to become more aware and take some extra measures to protect our personal data. Thus, the only fact that you are reading about the risks of biometric identification is a step towards the stronger security of your phone.

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.

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.

8 Cyber Security Best Practices For Your Small Business

There is a dangerously incorrect mindset that is common amongst small business owners and that is the idea that they are virtually immune to cybercriminals on account of there being ‘not much to steal’.

The reality is that, according to the U.S. Congressional Small Business Committee, 71% of cyber attacks occur upon businesses with fewer than 100 employees. More concerning still, is that a State of SMB CyberSecurity Report found that as much as 50% of all small businesses had experienced a security breach in that past year.

But why is this? Almost all cyber attacks are designed to procure personal data to be used for identity or credit card theft. According to CSO.com, it is the less-secure networks that are commonplace in small businesses that make them ideal targets. Those looking to automate attacks can breach potentially thousands of small businesses in much less time than larger targets.

Without an IT security specialist at your disposal, what can you do to prevent your small business from falling victim to a cyber attack? Here are 8 best cyber security practices you can immediately implement to better protect your business.

1. Install a firewall

The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) recommends that all small-medium businesses install a firewall to create a barrier between cybercriminals and sensitive business data. In addition to external firewalls, many companies are now also setting up internal firewalls for added protection. It is also sometimes overlooked that employees who work from home require a home network firewall as well, so consider providing support and firewall software for your employee’s home networks to ensure comprehensive compliance.

2. Document your cybersecurity protocols

No matter how intuitively or informally you run your small business, one area that is essential to document is that of cybersecurity policies. On-line training is available through the Small Business Administration (SBA) Cybersecurity portal, including checklists and general information on protecting businesses that operate online. Consider utilizing the FCC’s Cyber Planner 2.0 to help you to create your security document and also investing in Security Information and Event Management to spot and respond to security incidents.

Additionally, the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses includes a detailed toolkit for deciding upon and documenting the cybersecurity best practices for your business.

3. Don’t overlook mobile devices

According to the Tech Pro Research BYOD, Wearables and IoT, as many as 59% of businesses cater for employees to use their own devices, so it’s imperative to incorporate this risk into your security plan. With wearables such as smart watches increasing in popularity, it is important to include these devices within a security policy. Norton recommends the requirement of all employees to set up automatic security updates and ensure that the business’s password policy be applied to all mobile devices that have access to the network.

4. Prioritize employee education

Small businesses often require employees to wear many hats, making it all the more essential that they are all adequately trained on the business’s network cyber security policies.

As cybercriminals become savvier, it’s imperative to regularly review and update your security protocols. For employee accountability, ensure that each employee has read a company handback and signs an acknowledgement document stating that they have received and understood the policies, as well as the consequences of not correctly following them.

5. Ensure safe password practices are upheld

According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 63% of data breaches occurred as a result of weak, lost, or stolen passwords. In today’s BYOD (bring your own device) world, it’s more essential than ever to ensure that all employee devices that access the business network are password protected and that original wifi codes are also changed. 

It is recommended that all employees ideally be required to use passwords that incorporate upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers and symbols – and that small businesses enforce that all passwords be changed every 60 – 90 days.

6. Backup all data regularly

No matter how well protected we are from cyber attacks, it is still possible to be breached, so protecting your data from loss is vital. It is recommended that you backup databases, word-processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, financial files and accounting records regularly and keep them in a safe, separate location in case of flood or fire. Be sure to back all of your data up in the cloud for maximum protection, too.

7. Utilize multi-factor identification

Regardless of your security preparation, at some stage it is likely that an employee will make a mistake that compromises your data. Using multi-factor identification settings is easy to do on most network and email products and provides an added layer of protection. A solid choice is to use an employee’s cell phone number as a secondary identification form, as it is unlikely that a cybercriminal would have access to both the password and the PIN.

8. Install anti-malware software

While one hopes that all employees know never to open phishing emails, reports indicate that a considerable percentage still do. Phishing attacks are designed to install malware onto devices when the unknown link is clicked, so installing anti-malware onto both the business network and all accessing devices is essential.

Cyber criminals advance in their security-breaching skills every day, making the effective security of your business data an ever-moving target. It is essential that you train your employees to prioritize cyber security and that you stay ahead of the latest trends when it comes to new forms of attack and emerging technologies that prevent cybercrime. The longevity of your business may depend on it.

6 quick tips to protect your iPhone

Apple boasts itself for producing devices with high security and privacy standards. But that does not mean that you stop taking any protection into account. I mean, what device is completely protected, right?

iPhones may keep you safe from malware and viruses but you need to heighten your security when it comes to sensitive data and information leaks. The leakage of your images, videos, emails, and messages is alarming and still quite possible. The iPhone has no control over the data that is collected by the applications you install. 

For complete anonymity over the internet, you can use a VPN. If you don’t want to spend money on a VPN, your best option is to go for secure free VPN services for iPhones. Additionally, to completely protect your iPhone, the following six tips will guide you to secure it with no hassle:

Tips to protect your iPhone:

1. Use a strong password

The first thing you need to do to protect your iPhone is to use a strong passcode. Although having a strong passcode is not only limited to iPhones, it is highly recommended to use one on your iPhone device. 

Instead of opting for a four-digit password, set up a 6-digit code. Four-digit codes take hours to hack but six-digit codes can take up a few days. 

Also, use password combinations that are more difficult to crack. Do not set simple codes like your birth year or a standard code like 1234. The easier your password, the easier to unlock your iPhone.

iPhones also offer an “erase data” feature. Enabling this feature will erase your data if anyone enters the wrong password on your iPhone the 11th time. This feature has the capacity of entering the wrong password 10 times after which it erases all your data.

This erase feature may sound super fun to enable, but once your data is erased, there is no way to recover it.

2. Disable lock screen notifications

The second tip for you is to disable your lock screen notifications. Lock screen notifications are one of the most common functions almost everyone uses. But it is also one of the easiest ways to collect personal data and information.

These iPhone widgets on your lock screen can reveal all your information. You need to be aware and take this into concern. Even the slightest mistake can make you leak all your data.

3. Two-factor authentication for your Apple ID

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is another useful way to protect yourself from any information leak. Two-factor authentication would restrict anyone from trespassing your device and collecting your data and information. 

This authentication method would verify if it’s you by sending a code on a separate device connected to your Apple ID. This means that even if someone gets hold of your iPhone, 2FA would not let him collect any of your details.

4. Consider using Touch or Face ID

The rule for this is simple. Touch IDs and Face IDs cannot be unlocked by anyone but you and are the safest options of all. 

You can always back up your security password with a Touch or Face ID so even if anyone trespasses and unlocks your phone through your passcode, the Touch or Face ID saves the day.

5. Do not connect your iPhone to public wi-fi

If you didn’t know, connecting your phone to public wi-fi is quite harmful and should be taken into concern by you immediately. 

Public wi-fi can be untrustworthy networks that may steal and leak a big chunk of your data while you’re connected to it.

A number of apps on iOS devices can be used offline. Consider this as an option to avoid needing to be online when you are not at home. 

To avoid this, you can use a good VPN for public wi-fi. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can easily mask your identity and keep all your information private while you enjoy the public Wi-fi. 

We highly recommend NordVPN for this. NordVPN offers multilayer protection, strong encryption, and an OpenVPN protocol to provide a secure connection to users. It also offers 5000+ servers, a no-log policy, and a kill switch for complete protection.

6. Update your iOS device:

To make sure there are no security leaks at your end, you need to keep your iOS updates turned on. Apple updates its software from time to time to combat any software vulnerabilities. Software updates also prevent hackers from getting into your device as it requires different coding after the software update to hack into a device.

Conclusion:

You might have thought that the iPhone is the safest gadget you could own but it’s high time you look around and prevent your device from any hacks or leaks before it’s too late. The iPhone may be one of the safest devices, but it isn’t as secure as you think.

Use the above-mentioned ways to combat data leaks on your iPhone. Be aware, be safe.

Three Steps for World-Class Information Security Training

One of the cornerstones of information security for enterprises is staff training. State-of-the-art anti-malware software and stringent security policies are effectively useless if your employees can be persuaded to bypass security protocols and aid an attacker without realizing it.

According to ComputerONE, Information security training can assist you with keeping your team prepared to repel cyberattacks, but it calls for a careful approach. With the 3 steps we will outline below, you will substantially reduce staff-related security risks in your organization.

Why Train Your Employees?

The ultimate goal of information security training is to protect assets and information that are crucial to your business. This is done on multiple fronts.

The primary way in which infosec training can reduce the risk of security breaches is that employees will be more aware of the possible consequences of their actions and may have a better sense of responsibility.

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, 23% of data breaches were caused by human error. The human error category incorporated negligent employees or contractors who unintentionally caused a data breach.

Separately, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) reports that 38% of data breaches (18% up from January-June 2020) between July and December 2020 were due to human error.

By making employees more informed, information security training reduces the risk of accidents caused by carelessness or mishandling of corporate data or systems.

Sense of responsibility aside, information security training is imperative due to the rapid evolution of cyber threats. Enterprises constantly come up with new ways to protect their operations, and malicious actors likewise invent new methods of circumventing carefully designed security measures.

Information security training allows you to keep your employees up-to-date with the latest developments in the worlds of ransomware, phishing, and the like. With proper instruction, even the most sophisticated threats should not be able to defeat your defenses.

Three Key Steps For Improving The Effectiveness Of Information Security Training

1. Review your information security policies

Infosec training is a must for any company that handles sensitive data, but if the policies you are enforcing are ineffective at protecting the organization, training your staff to follow them might not convey the protection you seek. Aside from the training itself, you should take care of your security policies. In fact, these need to come first – training, albeit undeniably important, is only secondary.

Security policies define how an organization should protect itself from threats and the actions to take in the event of a security incident. As far as staff training is concerned, policies can help organizations ensure their employees stick to what they learned and prevent them from attempting to cheat the system or being compelled to cheat the system by a time-poor superior.

As an example of how a security policy could solidify your defenses, let’s consider a whaling attack where the compromised account of an executive could be used to force a fraudulent transaction out of your finance department under time duress.

To prevent such incidents, your security policies could (and should) enforce multi-factor authentication (MFA) and a spoken voice conversation to clear the transaction. Even if a CEO’s email account becomes compromised, failure to pass such supplementary stages of confirmation will likely prevent the transaction.

In similar circumstances, security policies act as a guide for employees and a safeguard against security breaches. Without policies and incentives to follow the procedures established in your infosec training, the chance of the training’s success plummets.

2. Gamify infosec training

Security policies can certainly go a long way towards improving information security. However, repetitive training that occurs annually could easily bore your employees. The result – employees get distracted and fail to absorb the important lessons.

Gamification is one of the ways to “spice up” infosec training. The purpose of gamifying information security training is making it more invigorating via interactive activities that simulate security breach attempts.

A whopping 83% of those who receive gamified training feel motivated, and only 10% are bored. In contrast, non-gamified training makes 61% of employees bored and unproductive.

Organizations may either come up with their own methods to gamify traditional face-to-face or video training, or they could make use of available solutions. For executives, PwC has come up with “Game of Threats”.

“Game of Threats” simulates the experience of executives during cyberattacks. Possessing limited time and resources, participants play both as attackers and defenders with the aim of beating each other. This interactive approach provides a deeper, more practical insight into how attackers may attempt to penetrate your defenses and how executives should respond to malicious incidents.

3. Don’t just train – test

You may have fleshed out your security policies and completely revamped your infosec training program, but did it all actually make a difference?

You may find that out by testing your employees post-training. Solutions like Barracuda PhishLine allow you to simplify and streamline this process.

PhishLine lets you leverage the massive collection of real-world threat templates collected by Barracuda email protection tools to simulate email attacks. During a customized simulation, you will be able to survey your team to identify potential weaknesses in your security policies, work culture, and training methods.

Then, the most high-risk employees can be provided with additional gamified training based on their past actions and current responsibilities.

Most Executives Consider Untrained Staff As The Greatest Cybersecurity Risk

87% of executives around the world regard untrained staff as the greatest risk to their cybersecurity.

Infosec training and compliance with up-to-date security policies can go a long way in protecting your organization.  For some perspective, according to Microsoft, a simple step like enabling MFA can reduce security compromises by 99.9%.

Measures like training (and re-training) your workforce are easy to neglect since they require time in development and delivery, but it’s critical that you deploy them in your organization. Otherwise, you’re ceding ground to the attacker without even realizing it.

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!

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.

6 Smartphone Security Tips That Will Keep Your Device Safe

Technology is advancing at a fast pace and even though it provides us with many useful solutions, it also makes us target for cyber-attacks if we don’t have the right security.

Since smartphones are one of the devices that we use the most throughout our day, it is easy to fall for a scam that will leave you venerable to viruses that can cause more problems for you. We’ve seen many examples from the past where people’s personal information is leaked, or even used in criminal activity against the victim.

The point is, we have to do everything in our power to improve the security on our phones, and in this article, we will go through some of the simple ways you can do that.

1. Lock your phone

Your first protection if your device is lost or stolen is your password.  Face ID, Code, Fingerprint, Pattern, or any other type of protection can prevent thief access to your personal information.

So, the first thing you need to do is enable phone locking and choose the shortest amount of time possible. This might seem like a basic way of protecting your phone, but you’ll be surprised at how many people avoid this option.

Of course, a phone lock doesn’t mean that your smartphone is inaccessible, just because some of the more experienced hackers and thieves can bypass the locking process. However, it is an extra layer of security that you must have on your phone.

2. Choose Secure Passwords

We all know that it is very frustrating when you have to sign up with a complicated password including an upper case, a symbol, and a number, but there is a reason for that. Secured passwords are almost impossible for a hacker to guess.

Brute force attacks (guessing a password until you log in) is the most common way that hackers gain access to accounts. That’s why it is very important to set strong passwords that are impossible to guess.

3. Keep Your Operating System Up-To-Date

One of the biggest mistakes is avoiding updating your operating system. Big software companies like Google and Apple are constantly updating their software just to improve its stability and security.

Hackers are constantly searching for bugs and backdoors that are usually opened when the OS is not updated. That way they can access your phone very easily, so make sure you turn automatic updates on and keep your phone safe at all times.

4. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

The network you use can be a gateway for hackers when trying to access your phone. Hackers are trying to access people’s information by encrypting public networks. That way everything you type on your phone can be seen by the cybercriminal on the other end of the network.

So, make sure you use only secure Wi-Fi networks, and if you must use a public network avoid logging in with your credentials on social media pages or any other accounts.

5. Avoid Downloading Suspicious Programs or Files

Every time you want to download a file from the internet, make sure you go to the company’s official website and check for reviews. There are a lot of scams when it comes to downloading files from the internet and hackers are using popular brand names to sneak a virus into your phone.

If you want to shop at an online store, make sure you check their reviews and sometimes even contact the support team through their live chat software in order to make sure that you are dealing with a reputable company.

So, before every download, make sure you check out their reviews and see what people have to say about their experience.

6. Encrypt Data on Your Phone

One of the best ways to prevent access to your phone if it is stolen or lost is by encrypting your data. Most operating systems have encryption options that will cover up emails, contacts, financial information and prevent someone from accessing them.

You can check if you have “Data Protection” enabled in Settings on your iOS device, and go to “Security>Encrypt Phone” on your Android device.

Final Words

These are some of the best ways to keep your smartphone data safe at all times. If you go through all of the steps we mentioned before, you can be sure that your data is safe even when you lose your phone.