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Comprehensive Guide To Cloud Migration For Businesses

In order to build an understanding of Cloud Migration for businesses, let us first acquaint ourselves to the term. The term Cloud Migration is used to define the process of moving & organizing different applications, organizational data and other resources from an on-premises data center to the cloud. Cloud is a computing model which stores the data on internet through a third-party cloud computing provider who manages & operates data storage as a service.

Once a business decides to migrate its data to cloud, the foremost step is to choose an appropriate strategy. Different strategies suit different situations/businesses. Here are the strategies a business can choose from:

  • Rehost Or Lift-And-Shift Model: It is the simplest model where an existing application is shifted to a new environment without making any modifications to its integrity. It is suitable for businesses that are new to cloud storage as it offers quick implementation & low cost benefits.
  • Re-Platform Or Lift-And-Optimize: It requires the business to make minimum changes to an application’s code or architecture when moving it to cloud. It allows businesses to make few optimizations while maintain the integrity of the application.
  • Repurchase Or Drop-And-Shop: Under this strategy, a business replaces its existing applications with new ones available on the system. It saves the cost for developing a unique system, as businesses can integrate into an established system for a seamless migration.
  • Refractor Or Re-Architect: It is a time-consuming but long term solution as businesses are required to rebuild their applications. It could involve automatically scaling certain apps or integrating new features such as server-less computing.
  • Retain Or Hybrid Model: Applications and data can be split up between two sources (cloud & on-premises for an increased security. However, it requires training on new applications or splitting of teams.

After choosing a suitable strategy, businesses can start with the stepwise process of cloud migration.

  • Assess: Businesses should analyze the resources (including time & money) required for cloud migration. It is important to consider if any training would be required after cloud migration, costs involved and if it would make sense for the business.
  • Pilot Testing: Start by implementing cloud migration to a small amount of sample data and test this system with a small team. Use the feedback to decide if it would be beneficial to scale the system to multiple teams or to the entire organization.
  • Initiate: Once the testing phase succeeds, it is time to start the actual migration process. The time consumed in cloud migration depends upon the type of strategy chosen by the business.
  • Organize: After the data movement is complete, it is important to know how much data has been moved and how to keep it organized. This helps in preventing any data loss.
  • Optimize: Identify if any immediate steps can be taken to improve the system and how will they impact the business.

For more information on cloud migration for businesses, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

What Is Maze Ransomware?

Maze is a sophisticated version of Windows ransomware that was discovered in May 2019. The ransomware was previously known as ‘ChaCha ransomware’. The goal of the ransomware is to crypt the files it finds on an infected system and demand a cryptocurrency payment in exchange of safe recovery of the encrypted data.

What Makes Maze Different?

Like other ransomware, Maze is capable of spreading across a corporate network and infecting all the computers connected to the victim network. It encrypts the data files in order to render them useless safely recovered.

However, what sets it apart from other ransomware is its ability to steal the data on infected systems and send it to servers controlled by the hackers. This allows hackers to threaten the victim organization to release its documents in case the ransom is not paid.

Thus, even if an organization uses a back up to retrieve the files, it is still obliged to pay the ransom to prevent public release of its documents.

The Maze hackers maintain a website where they list their clients (term used for victims who fail to pay the ransom). The website includes details such as name of the victim, when their computer systems were infected, links to download stolen data as “proof” and convenient buttons to share the details of breach on “social media”. The hackers have no reservations about offering uncensored downloads of stolen data that can damage an organization’s reputation.

How Does Maze Ransomware Work?

Maze ransomware makes use of different techniques to gain entry into a network. Some techniques include-

  • Use of exploit kits such as Fallout and Spelevo
  • Remote desktop connections with weak security
  • Email impersonation (the email contains a word attachment that uses macros to run the malware in the system)

The malware is a 32 bits binary file that is usually packed as an EXE or DLL file.

The malware encrypts the files in an easy step-by-step process:

  • Locate the file using “SetFileAttributesW” function & “FILE_ATTRIBUTE_ARCHIVE” attribute.
  • Reserve memory to the file with a call to “Virtual Alloc”.
  • Open the file with read and write permissions.
  • Get the file size with the “GetFileSizeEx” function.
  • Create a file mapping.
  • Generate a random key of 32 bytes with the function “CryptGenRandom”.
  • Generate a random ‘Initialization Vector (IV)’ of 8 bytes with the function “CryptGenRandom”.
  • Reserve 264 bytes of memory with the function “VirtualAlloc”.
  • Generate a new random extension for the victim file.
  • Crypt the file.
  • Write this new block with the key and IV to decrypt at the end of the file.
  • Rename the file with the function “MoveFileExW”.
  • The image of the file is unmapped, and handles closed.
  • The process is repeated with new files.

When all files are crypted, the wallpaper of the system is switched with a note to inform the user about the attack.

Maze also has a chat function to contact the hackers and receive the information about payment details.

For more information on IT security, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

Major AI Trends For 2020

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Types Of Data Security

Data security refers to a set of standards, protocols, and techniques that are focused on protecting personal or organizational data from intentional or accidental destruction, modification, and disclosure. Different technologies and techniques can be applied to ensure data security. These techniques include administrative controls, physical security, logical controls, organizational standards, etc.

In order to choose the right data security protocols, it is important to understand different types of data security.

Authentication: It is the process of validating a registered user’s identity before allowing access to protected data. It is used in conjunction with authorization; the process of validating that the authenticated user has been granted permission to access the requested resources. Authentication involves a combination of ways to identify a user, such as passwords, PINS, security tokens, a swipe card, or biometrics.

Access Control: Authentication and authorization happen through access control. It is a method of guaranteeing that users are whom they say they are and that they have the appropriate access. Access control systems can include-

  • Discretionary Access Control (DAC) assigns access rights based on user-specified rules.
  • Mandatory Access Control (MAC) assigns user access based on information clearance.
  • Role Based Access Control (RBAC) grants user access based on the user’s role and implements key security principles such as ‘least privilege’ and ‘separation of privilege’.
  • Attribute Based Access Control (ABAC) assigns a series of attributes to each resource and user. The user’s attributes such as time of day, position, location, etc. are assessed to make a decision on access to the resource.

Backups & Recovery: An efficient data security strategy requires a plan for how to access the organization’s data in the event of system failure, disaster, data corruption, or data breach. This puts an emphasis on regular data backups. It involves making a copy of the data and storing it off-site or in the cloud. Also, it is important to formulate proper recovery protocols.

Encryption: Data encryption involves the translation of data into another form, or code so that it is accessible only by the authorized personnel who have the decryption key. However, it is highly important to ensure the security of decryption keys, critical management systems, and off-site encryption backup.

Data Masking: This type of data security involves the masking of original data by obscuring letters or numbers with proxy characters. The data is changed back to its original form by software only when it is received by an authorized user.

Tokenization: In this case, sensitive data is substituted with random characters that cannot be reversed. The relationship between data and its token values is stored in a protected database lookup table.

For more information on types of data security, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

Dictionary Attack: What Is It & How To Prevent It?

A dictionary attack is a type of identity breach where the hackers steal the password of the victim to gain access to personal or corporate information.

What Is A Dictionary Attack?

  • It is one of the cyber attacks where cyber criminals take advantage of the user’s habit of using common dictionary words as a password. Most internet users have a tendency to use simple or easy to remember words and phrases as their passwords.
  • In simpler words, it is an attempt to gain unauthorized access to a computer system or user account by using a large set of words to generate a potential password.
  • The traditional approach used by the hackers involved multiple attempts by making use of common words found in the dictionary. However, the attack has now evolved and the attackers make use of databases that include common dictionary words and passwords leaked in previous attacks to crack the password.
  • Some software are also available that help in cracking a password by using the password databases and producing common variations. In contrast to a brutal force attack, a dictionary attack tries only the password possibilities that are considered to be most likely to succeed.

Pre-Computed Dictionary Attack:

It involves pre-computing a list of hashes of common dictionary words these hashes are stored in a database. Once completed, the pre-computed database can then be used anytime to instantly lookup for the password hashes to crack the corresponding password. Although a lot of time is consumed in preparation, the actual attack can be executed faster than a simple dictionary attack.

Common Cracking Software Used In Dictionary Attack:

  • Burp Suite
  • Crack
  • Ophcrack
  • Cain and Abel
  • Aircrack-ng
  • John the Ripper
  • LophtCrack
  • Metasploit Project

How To Prevent A Dictionary Attack?

In order to prevent a dictionary attack, following steps can be helpful:

  • Change the security settings to lock the account after reaching a maximum number of authentication attempts.
  • Use multi-factor authentication to log in.
  • Use special characters and extra syllables in the password.
  • Use longer passwords.
  • Avoid reusing old passwords.

For more information on what is a dictionary attack and how to prevent it, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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