Cyber Security Tips For Start-Up Businesses

April 27, 2016

With the increasing involvement of cloud computing, social media and employees working from multiple locations, start-up businesses have become vulnerable to different forms of cybercrime. Owing to their ambiguous security practices and inexperienced employees, hackers can gain an easy access to the important information that can be used for malicious purposes.

Here are some of the useful cyber security tips for start-up businesses:

  • Protect Your Network: Safeguard your company’s internal network by installing a firewall, spyware and anti-virus software. Make sure that all the files and data sent or received through the network is properly encrypted. Set a password to secure the internet router from being accessed by unauthorized users. You should also configure access point so that it does not broadcast your network’s name.
  • Educate Your Employees: Creating well-defined security policies and implementing them effectively within the organization can help to avoid potential hacking attacks. Educate the employees about the online security threats and the best way to protect against them. Inform them about the importance of creating strong passwords, handling removable media and managing privacy of their official email accounts. Establish clear policies for maintaining confidentiality of any sensitive data and personal identifiable information.
  • Restrict Access: Limit the number of employees who can access the important company accounts and computer systems that store confidential data. Encourage employees to lock their computer or laptop when they are not around. This will help to prevent the incidence of data breach. Remove local administrative privileges to avoid malicious or unrequired software downloads.
  • Backup Important Information: Backup all the information stored on the computer systems on a regular basis. This may include the important word documents, spreadsheets, employee information, clients’ financial details, databases etc. Thus, even if your network is compromised, you can minimize its effects on your company’s operations.
  • Use Secure Payment Processing: If your business involves online financial transactions, make sure you are working with trusted payment processing provider. The customers’ credit/debit card data should be stored in an encrypted format in a secure computer or server. Keep the payment systems isolated from other programs. Make sure that you use different computer systems to process payments and browse the internet.

We, at Centex Technologies, can help to improve the IT security of your start-up business in Central Texas. For more information, you can call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Common Mobile Security Threats

April 23, 2016

Mobile devices have become an easy target for most cybercriminals due to the improper security mechanisms and lack of awareness on the part of the users. Lost or stolen devices, vulnerable applications and security flaws pose a major risk for a company’s security. Identifying these threats and being proactive in defending against them is the key to safeguard your mobile devices as well as important data.

Here are some of the common mobile security threats that need to be addressed:

  • Malware: Smartphones and tablets may be infected by worms, Trojans, viruses as well as other forms of malware. Users download several apps, games and software, some of which may be injected with a malicious code to steal important information stored in the device. When a device is infected, the hackers can gain access to the usernames and passwords, track online activity, collect online banking information etc. They may also use the malware to initiate hacking attacks against other mobile users.
  • Unauthorized Access: Mobile devices often lack strong password policies to restrict unauthorized user access. Though there is the option to set PIN, password or pattern lock, but all these can be breached easily. Also, certain malicious apps installed can also breach the users’ personal data stored on the device. Thus, all the email accounts, contacts, social media profiles, online banking details and other sensitive information are at a risk of being stolen.
  • Insecure Data Storage: Most of the data in a mobile device is usually stored in an unencrypted format. This poses a serious security threat as a theft, loss or unidentified access of the device by anyone puts all this information at risk. Confidential data can be easily retrieved, shared, deleted or modified.
  • Eavesdropping: Information sent and received through a mobile is not always secure, particularly over a wireless internet network. Thus, it can be easily intercepted by a hacker. Eavesdropping attacks are usually undetectable, making the user to unintentionally leak out sensitive information shared through phone calls and instant messages to the cybercriminals.
  • Unauthorized Modifications: Users often make certain unauthorized modifications, known as jailbreaking or rooting, in their mobile to install third party apps. This exposes them to increased security risks as they are likely to download malicious software in the device. Also, jailbroken devices are less likely to receive automatic application updates and security patches, allowing the hackers to easily exploit the vulnerabilities in the software.

For more mobile security tips and cybersecurity solutions for your business firm, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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FTP Security And Best Practices

April 15, 2016

FTP, or File Transfer Protocol, is a common method to share files easily and quickly within an organization’s internal network. However, as it relies on usernames and passwords for authentication as well as does not support data encryption, FTP security has always been a major concern for businesses. Files shared over an unsecure FTP session are vulnerable to several hacking attacks such as sniffing, spoofing, brute force attack, port stealing etc.

Given below are some tips to improve the security of your organization’s FTP server:

  • Disable Anonymous Access: When you install FTP services on an operating system, it has anonymous access automatically enabled. If you do not disable this option, hackers can easily gain access to your server without requiring an authentic user account. They can also identify any security flaws in your FTP version and exploit them to host illegal files and copyrighted material. Therefore, you must either disable anonymous access or make sure that an unverified user has only read-only privileges in the server.
  • Enable Activity Logging: It is critical that you log all activities on your FTP server to record the users and IP addresses that were allowed access. Reviewing this data regularly will help you to assess the network traffic pattern, unusual activity and security breaches.
  • Implement Strong Password Policies: Configure the FTP security settings so that it requires the users to set lengthy, strong and complex passwords. It should consist of at least 8 to 10 characters and contain a mix of numbers, uppercase as well as lowercase letters so that it cannot be easily cracked by the hackers. In addition, the server should also compel the users to change the password at regular intervals.
  • Set Account Permissions: Depending upon the FTP requirements of your employees, you should restrict the access permissions for each user account. For instance, if an employee‘s job role involves only uploading files, then the permission for downloading or deleting data on the FTP should be removed. You can also create user groups to set common permissions for some specific employees.
  • Enable Anti Hacking Features: You can limit the number of hours during which the users can log in to the FTP. For instance, if you use the server in your organization, you should allow access only for the working hours, keeping it safe for the rest of the day. You can also set restrictions on the number of unsuccessful login attempts allowed after which the user will be locked out of the server. This reduces the chances of brute force attacks.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete IT security services to the business firms in Central Texas. For more information, feel free to call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Cryptolocker: What Is It And How To Avoid It?

April 8, 2016

Cryptolocker is a common form of ransomware, a malicious software that encrypts a user’s files until a ransom amount is paid to the hacker. It generally targets computer systems operating on different versions of Windows. Essentially, Cryptolocker is a Trojan, which means that it can replicates itself and requires a host program to be executed.

How Cryptolocker Infects A Computer?

Cryptolocker mainly uses social engineering techniques in order to compel a user to execute the malware laden file. It is generally spread through spam emails that claim to be from a legitimate authority, such as a bank or reputed company. When the user clicks or downloads any attachment in such emails, the malware file saves itself in the computers’ hard drive and adds a key to the registry to enable auto-run whenever the computer starts up. It may initiate two different processes on the system – one is to encrypt files and the other is to avoid detection or termination of the former process.

When a computer is infected with Cryptolocker, it may initially show no warning signs. The malware contacts the central server to receive the key for activation and begins encrypting the files stored on the system. The most typical files targeted by Cryptolocker have the following extensions – *.odt, *.ppt, *.pptx, *.doc, *.docx, *.xls, *.xlsx, *.orf, *.jpg, *.jpe, *.img,*.jpg, *.pst, *.mdb, *.psd, *.crt, *.pem, *.mdf, etc.

Once the encryption process is complete, the malware displays a pop-up on the screen, asking the user to make a payment in order to receive the key to decrypt the files or they will be deleted permanently.

How To Prevent Against Cryptolocker?

  • Keep your computer system updated with the latest operating system, anti-virus programs and software security patches.
  • Do not open emails from unknown senders and click on or download any unidentified attachments.
  • Block the execution of .exe files, including zip files, in your email and certain parts of the computer’s hard drive.
  • Disable hiding of file extensions in Windows.
  • Keep a backup of all your important data on the cloud or a removable storage device.
  • Remove local administrator privileges from your computer so that each time a software is installed or executed, it required entering the login credentials of a custom admin account.
  • Enable system restore to reverse any software installations, updates and driver changes as well as remove any malicious file that may have been accidently downloaded.

For more information on Cryptolocker and other forms of computer malware, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Understanding Fileless Malware Infections

March 30, 2016

A fileless malware infection refers to a malicious program that is written directly to a computer’s RAM, instead of storing files on the hard drive. The code is usually injected into the running processes and the data is stored in an encrypted format in the registry, making it difficult to detect as well as remove the malware. Since it is stored in the computer’s volatile memory, the infection cannot sustain a system reboot. However, fileless infections can cause maximum damage when they are active.

Fileless malware attacks are mainly aimed at:

  • Avoiding Detection: The malware often cannot be detected by elude intrusion prevention systems and antivirus programs, thereby allowing the hackers to initiate the attack.
  • Gathering Information: The hackers may steal important information stored in the computer, such as financial details, sensitive files, login credentials etc.
  • Escalating Privileges: Exploiting security flaws in the system may provide administrative access to the hackers so that they can launch bigger attacks or download more malware.

Types Of Fileless Malware Infections

  • Memory Resident: This type of fileless malware takes up the memory space of a genuine windows file. It inserts the code into the file memory and stays dormant until triggered or accessed.
  • Windows Registry: It is present in the Windows registry as the folder is not typically accessed by the users. The hacker may place malicious code in the operating system’s thumbnail cache and set the folder to delete itself once the attack is executed.
  • Rootkits: This malware masks its presence behind an application programming interface (API) in order to gain administrator access to the infected system. Fileless rootkits are often hidden at the kernel-level and thus, can remain active in spite of antivirus scan and system reboot.

Tips To Protect Against Fileless Malware

  • Keep your operating system, internet browser, software and applications updated by installing the current security patches.
  • Configure the security settings of your web browser.
  • Disable Java, JavaScript ActiveX, cookies and browser extensions that you do not use.
  • Avoid clicking on suspected URLs and email attachments from unknown sources.
  • Do not download software packages that require installing several applications on your system.
  • Frequently remove unwanted temporary files, cookies and registry files from the computer.
  • Avoid visiting malicious websites or those that use illegal ad networks.

For more tips to keep your computer system protected against fileless malware infections, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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