How Can Organizations Guard Against Phishing Scams?

23 August, 2016

Business organizations are a worthwhile target for the hackers to carry out phishing scams. Whether it is to steal passwords, employee details or any other sensitive data, just a single click from an ignorant employee is sufficient to give out the information sought by the hackers. Though most phishing emails are detected by spam filters, it is important for the employees to understand the risks and consequences to avoid falling victim to such attacks.

Listed below are some steps organizations should take to guard against phishing scams:

Initiate A Security Awareness Program

The reason why phishing attacks have a high success rate is because they target the end users, i.e. people who have little or no technical knowledge about data security. Therefore, educating your employees about this aspect can help to decrease the probability of a potential data breach. As phishing attacks mainly involve a fake email, malicious attachment or ad, unsolicited friend request on social media etc., security awareness program will help your employees identify such suspicious activities more easily.

Keep Software Regularly Updated

Though security software do not offer complete protection against phishing attacks, they can prevent application downloads or website redirects that seem to be potentially dangerous. Hence, it is important to install and update anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software on all the computers in the organization. The same rule applies to the operating system and other programs installed on the systems. Keeping the software patched will protect you against the latest security threats and vulnerabilities.

Use Layered Security

Make sure your organization’s confidential information is protected by multiple layers of security. With this, even if a phishing attack is successful, the hackers would not be able to gain access to all the data stored on the victim’s computer system. Use secure user IDs and passwords, followed by data encryption, access control protocols, user activity monitoring and other such types of layered security.

Follow Best Password Practices

Encourage your employees to follow the best practices when it comes to maintaining confidentiality of their official email accounts. Make sure they create strong passwords and change them at frequent intervals. Also, the login credentials should be stored in an encrypted format in the computer system. By combining difficult and lengthy passwords with two-factor authentication, you can considerably reduce the consequences of a phishing attack.

For more tips on preventing and managing phishing attacks, feel free to contact Centex Technologies. We can be reached at (855) 375 – 9654.

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What Is Cryptography?

15 August, 2016

Cryptography is a form of information security technique that involves converting cleartext into an indecipherable format, known as ciphertext, so that it can be securely transmitted over the internet. It ensures that the encrypted information can be read and processed only by the user it is actually intended for. Cryptography software makes use of mathematical algorithms to encrypt information and requires the user to enter a key in order to change it back to plain text.

Types Of Cryptographic Algorithms

  • Secret Key Cryptography: Also known as symmetric key cryptography, it uses the same key for both encryption and decryption of information. The key is known only to the sender and receiver.
  • Public Key Cryptography: In this, the sender encrypts the information using a public key and the receiver can decode it through a private key. It is also referred to as asymmetric key cryptography.
  • Hash Functions: This form of cryptography does not involve the use of any key. Hash functions, also called one-way encryption or message digests, are mainly aimed at ensuring data integrity. In this, the plain text is converted in the form of a fixed length hash value. If the data is modified at any stage, the hash value gets changed and indicates unauthorized access.

Benefits Of Cryptography

  • Confidentiality: It prevents the information from being accessed by anyone else except the end user.
  • Data Integrity: It safeguards the data against undetected modifications, either during transmission or after being stored on the computer.
  • Authentication: Both sender and receiver can authenticate each other’s identity.
    Non-Repudiation: The sender cannot deny the authorship of the information at a later stage.

Drawbacks Of Cryptography

  • A strongly encrypted information may make it difficult even for the authorized users to access it if they do not have the key.
  • The sender cannot allow selective access to the information with the use of cryptography.
  • Cryptographic algorithms are based on complex mathematical computations. Thus, it may slow down your computer’s speed to encrypt and decrypt the data.
  • Cryptography is a time consuming process. It takes too long to create the code and transmit it to the receiver.
  • It does not protect the information from other potential threats arising out of poor infrastructure and security procedures.

Centex Technologies provides efficient IT security solutions to the business firms in Central Texas. For more information, feel free to call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Ways To Fortify Your Firm’s Computer Security

9 August, 2016

Data breach has become a common occurrence these days. However, owing to the increasing focus on computer security, many organizations have taken the necessary steps to protect themselves against online attacks. As a result, small businesses are turning to be an easy target for the hackers due to the absence of a stringent cyber security policy.

Listed below are steps to fortify your firm’s computer security:

Understand The Potential Risks

Though technological advancements, BYOD policy and cloud computing have simplified business operations to a great extent, they have also increased the risk for a potential data loss. Therefore, you should evaluate the risks and benefits before implementing these in your organization. Make sure you employ strong password policies, enforce installation of security software and enable remote wiping in case a device is stolen or lost. Devices that support data encryption should only be allowed to access the corporate network.

Restrict Access To Confidential Data

The computer systems that have confidential information should be accessed only by a limited number of employees. Important official accounts and server room should also be protected against unauthorized access. Password protect all the computers and encourage the employees to lock the systems when they are not around. You can also use biometric authentication to further intensify computer security.

Educate Your Employees

Even with all the cyber security measures in place, your organization is at risk if the employees are not well-informed about the potential threats. It is important to educate your employees on the adverse effects of these attacks and the best ways to protect against them. They should also be informed about the common attack vectors, such as spear phishing and drive-by downloads. Make sure they understand the rules and regulations regarding handling of removable media, operating official email accounts as well maintaining privacy of sensitive information.

Regularly Backup Your Data

Even if you have implemented an infallible cyber security policy, it makes sense to backup all the important information stored on the computer systems. In case your computer is infected with a malware, it may manipulate, delete or restrict access to the files. If you have a backup on Cloud or an external removable device, a data breach would not have much effect on your company’s operations.

We, at Centex Technologies, can review and suggest measures to fortify the computer security of your business firm in Central Texas. For more information, you can call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Top Malware Myths And Facts

27 July, 2016

Over the past few years, computer security has become the primary concern for most people. To stay protected, it is important to know about different types of malware found online i.e. how they spread and the repercussions they may bring. However, there are a myriad of misconceptions about malware that put internet users at risk.

Discussed below are some common myths and facts about malware that you should know to safeguard your computer and protect your information online:

Myth: Updating software is not important for computer security
Fact: A computer with an outdated version of anti-virus software is more susceptible to malware infection. Software vendors frequently release patches and upgrades to protect against the latest security threats. Hence, you must either enable the anti-virus software to update automatically or check for newer versions available on the vendor’s website.

Myth: Malware infection can be easily detected
Fact: Though some types of malware show obvious signs when they infect a computer, such as displaying a pop-up demanding ransom from the user or causing the system to crash. However, certain malware are specifically designed to avoid detection by the user. They may be programmed to stealthily collect sensitive information, send spam emails from the computer or lock down important files.

Myth: Malware only affects Windows
Fact: Though most malware are created to target Windows users, other platforms are not immune from this online threat. With an increasing share of Android and Mac users, hackers are initiating various cross-platform malware to target multiple devices.

Myth: Reputed websites are safe
Fact: While it is partially true that malware mostly spreads by visiting websites that have pornographic or pirated content, credible websites can also be compromised. Hackers use a technique known as malvertizing, which involves placing malicious ads on reputed websites. Clicking on these ads or just visiting the website may download a malware to the user’s computer.

Myth: You are safe if you do not have anything important on your computer
Fact: Even if you have not stored sensitive information on your hard drive, malware can scan other important details that can be used to achieve its goal. For instance, it may access your email account to send out spam emails to your contacts or trace your keystrokes to steal login credentials for online financial transactions. With this information, hackers can cause serious damage including identity theft and phishing attacks.

For more information about the malware perils and prevention tips, you can contact Centex Technologies at (855) 375 – 9654.

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Tips For Managing Cyber Security Risks

22 July, 2016

The incidences of online attacks have undergone a steep rise over the past few years, making cyber security a top priority for the organizations. A security breach can jeopardize the confidentiality of a company’s network and important data, leading to financial losses as well as reputational damage. Therefore, it is important to be proactive and identify as well as mitigate the potential threats to the corporate network.

Listed below are tips that can help organizations manage cyber security risks:

Internet Firewalls And Gateways

Internet firewalls, gateways and other such mechanisms should be adopted to protect the corporate network against unauthorized access. Devoid of proper security techniques, the company’s files, client details and other important information are at risk of being stolen, manipulated or deleted. A firewall will monitor the traffic on the organizations’ internal network and block any suspicious or unauthorized users. However, it is important to ensure that the firewall is frequently updated and password protected.

Secure Configuration

All the devices connected to the network should be properly configured to adhere to the cyber security policies of the company. This will help to identify and deal with the potential vulnerabilities. The default security settings on any device can serve as an easy backdoor for the hackers to gain access to your corporate network. Therefore, when installing networking devices, these settings should be changed and safeguarded with a strong as well as hard-to-crack password. Unrequired user accounts should be deleted and obsolete software should be updated or disabled. Auto-run feature should also be deactivated to prevent unintended installation of malicious software.

Software Management

Most cyber-attacks are initiated by exploiting the security vulnerabilities in the software installed on a computer system. Hence, it is essential to regularly download and install the updates released by the software vendors. The organization should frame a comprehensive patch management policy to ensure efficient and effective updating of the software. There should be a specified time frame within which the patches need to be installed on the networking devices. Also, all the software updates should be licensed and released by a legitimate authority.

Malware Protection

When computer systems are connected to the internet, they are likely to download malware through spam emails, fake websites, malicious advertizements or drive-by downloads. Anti-malware software should be installed to protect against such online threats. Make sure you keep it updated and allow regular scans to detect any malware installed on the device.

Centex Technologies is a leading IT consulting firm providing cyber security solutions to business firms across Central Texas. For more information, you can call us at (855) 375 – 9654.

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