Posts Tagged Cyber Security

What Makes Location Tracking A Privacy Concern

Undoubtedly using location-based services like Google maps, taxi services, etc. has made our life easier, however, location tracking or geo-tracking poses some real privacy threats as well. In order to understand these threats, it is first important to understand how this data is collected.

How Is Your Location Tracked?

Location is tracked via your devices such as a laptop, mobile phones, tablets, smart-watches, smart jewelry, etc. In the case of a computer, your IP address can be used to track your location. If you are using a mobile device, the location is tracked via GPS, cellular tower data, Wi-Fi signals, and Bluetooth beacons.

A number of popular apps also track your location such as Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, Uber, dating apps, etc. Some apps may track your location even after you have turned off location tracking in your mobile settings. A common example is Facebook. The app can track your location by your city mentioned in the profile or check-ins.

Additionally, information about your location is also revealed by the metadata attached to your photos. Most mobile phones and digital cameras embed information such as GPS coordinates or Geotags when you take a photo. When such photos are posted on a social media profile, the embedded information is also shared along.

What Kind Of Information Is Revealed By Location Tracking?

Location tracking can be used to disclose a variety of information:

  • Where do you live
  • Your financial status based on where you live
  • Your place of work
  • The regular route of travel
  • Frequently visited stores
  • Your real-time location
  • If you are on a vacation and where are you staying

These are some common types of information that can be disclosed by location tracking.

Privacy Concerns Caused By Disclosure Of Such Information:

  • Stalking & Harassment: Availability of detailed information about your location increases your risk of being stalked or harassed. If a stalker knows your frequently visited places, he can easily identify a place and the best time to confront you.
  • Robbery: Burglars can get hold of sufficient information about you by eyeing your location tracks. This enables them to know when you won’t be home or if you follow a secluded path to your work. Discloser of such private information puts you in a danger.
  • Contextual Advertizing: Contextual advertizing is a rising problem among social media users. Marketing professionals pay a high price for access to personal information such as location data of individuals. This helps them in understanding the user behavior to modify their advertizing campaign accordingly. This has led to a rise in the number of cyber-criminals trying to track the location of individuals for building databases that can be sold to organizations.
  • Frauds: Fraudsters can gain access to your location data for building and studying your individual profile. This profile helps them to have a sneak-peak in your personal life to fabricate a fraud.

For more information on privacy concerns arising out of location tracking, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Potential Hurdles Limiting The Internet of Things

There is immense hype surrounding Internet of Things (IoT). However, irrespective of technological advancements and immense benefits offered by IoT, there are some potential challenges that limit the application of IoT. In order to understand these hurdles, it is first important to understand what IoT is and how it works?

IoT is a network of interconnected things, devices, machines, animals or humans that are equipped with sensors, software, network connectivity and necessary electronics which enable them to share, exchange and collect data. The sensors of every connection in the network communicate with a cloud system and send data to it through internet connectivity. Once data is received by cloud, the software processes it to take an action like sending an alert or making adjustments to sensor/device with manual efforts of the user.

Following are the hurdles that limit the use of Internet of Things:

  • Availability Of Internet: Although IoT offers high levels of convenience and technological access to users, but there is a basic internet requirement for IoT to be operational. Undoubtedly, internet access is not considered to be a problem by majority of people, but there are still some areas of world where internet connectivity may be spotty or absent.
  • Expenses: IoT requires placement of sensors on the devices or objects. For implementing this technology to its complete potential, there is a requirement to place sensors on roads, traffic lights, utility grids and buildings. Embedding sensors on all required places is looked upon as a huge expense. Progress has been made to develop cheaper sensors. However, more progress is required before organizations would embrace the technology completely.
  • Privacy & Cyber Security: As the number of cyber security breaches is rising, organizations and individuals are thoroughly concerned about the security related to IoT. If every household item or organizational computer is connected over web, it raises the need for strict cyber security protocols.
  • Data Surge: It is estimated that by 2020, around 26 billion items or objects will be a part of IoT. This will lead to the generation of large amount of data. So, businesses need to invest in new hardware, equipment and data mining techniques for effectively collecting and analyzing data in real time.
  • Consumer Awareness: IoT is a technological buzzword, but still 87% of general public is unaware of the term or its actual meaning. There are chances that people may actually be using the technology in some way and yet be unaware of it. This lack of knowledge may result in loss of interest. However, there has been an increased interest in the use of wearable technology which could act as a gateway for other connected objects.

Irrespective of these hurdles, the number of IoT developers is expected to reach 4.5 million by 2020. This gives a hope for new solutions to these hurdles for facilitating the spread of technology and its applications.

For more information on Internet of Things, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Features Of Data Protection Solution

Data is one of the most important business asset. During the course of business, there may be instances which can lead to data breach or complete data loss. Such occurrences can result in huge financial losses and litigation for an enterprise. This makes investing in state-of-the-art data recovery and protection solutions as one of the most important tasks for an enterprise.

Comprehensive data protection solutions enable enhanced data backup and data recovery. These solutions help in eliminating accidental data loss, recovering quickly from ransomware, virus or other malicious attacks and preventing data corruption.

Some of the main features that you should look for in a data protection solution for your organization are:

  • Incremental Forever Backup Solutions: This type of backup technology requires only one initial full backup. Once the full backup is completed, it is followed by an ongoing sequence of incremental backups. These solutions are useful in reducing the amount of data that goes around the network and the length of backup window. It is an optimized process of data restoration as only the latest version of backup blocks are restored.
  • Instant Recoveries: There are a variety of new technologies that allow data to be restored almost instantly from backups that are both local and in the cloud. It is a feature that allows a backup snapshot to run temporarily on secondary storage so as to reduce the downtime of an application.
  • Cloud Data Backup: Cloud backup solutions offer many advantages such as accessibility, file recovery and ability to tackle corrupted documents. It is commonly used in cases such as long-term retention, disaster recovery or even application testing. Cloud backup can replace on-site disk and tape libraries or they can also be used to store additional protected copies of data.
  • Orchestration: Today’s advanced orchestration tools have made it possible to automate the entire recovery process. Also, orchestration provides coordination across many automated activities. It mainly enforces a workflow order to automated tasks and enhances data security with identity & access management policies. Additionally, orchestration eliminates the potential for any errors in provisioning scaling and other cloud processes.
  • Deep Application Integration: It is important to ensure that the protected data can be accessed instantly without cumbersome consistency checks or other processes that may delay data access. Some of the basic requirements for a deep application integration are appropriate business rules and data transformational logic, adequate connectivity between platforms, longevity and flexibility of business processes, flexibility of software, hardware and other business goals.

For more information on Data Protection Solutions, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Protecting Your Home IoT Devices

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What Is SamSam Ransomware?

SamSam is a targeted ransomware attack which incorporates custom infection using a wide range of exploits or brute force tactics. The ransomware is also known as Samas or SamsamCrypt. The first version of the ransomware was released in late 2015. The SamSam ransomware attacks do not make use of phishing or malware downloads to infect a network; instead they utilize following modes of infection:

  • Vulnerabilities in Remote Desktop Protocols (RDP)
  • Vulnerabilities in Java based web servers
  • Vulnerabilities in File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Brute force against weak passwords
  • Stolen login credentials

Once, the ransomware has initial foothold on the victim’s network, it compromises the network to gain control. Also, SamSam is a manual attack. Thus, in case an application detects the ransomware, the attackers modify a registry entry to disable the endpoint tool’s detection. This enables them to compromise the application and control the network. SamSam uses a number of applications to accomplish the attack such as Mimikatz, reGeorg, PsExec, PsInfo, RDPWrap, NLBrute, Impacket, CSVDE, PowerSploit and JexBoss.

During the reconnaissance phase, the attackers try to write a plain text file named test.txt to target. If successful, they add the target to a list titled alive.txt on Domain Controller (DC). After ensuring that DC has writing privileges for machines, the ransomware is deployed and pushed to all the machines controlled by DC simultaneously.

The ransomware follows an efficient approach for encrypting the files on infected machines.

  • The encryption is initiated on holidays, weekends or late nights to buy time for maximizing the impact before getting noticed.
  • Files with selective extensions or important files required for running the machines are encrypted first.
  • The remaining applications or files are encrypted later; starting from smaller files and gradually moving towards larger files.
  • A unique AES key is generated for every encrypted file.
  • As soon as encryption is complete, ransomware deletes its installer and removes any traces of the attack.
  • It becomes difficult for victims to download files from off shore backup because the applications required to run the machine are also inaccessible. Thus, they are required to go thorough time consuming process of reloading the disk and installing applications before downloading back up files.

A ransom note is left on target organization’s machines demanding a set amount of bitcoin currency to decrypt a single machine and a lump sum amount for decrypting all the machines at once. Every victim is provided a unique web address on dark web which leads to chat feature for communicating with the attackers. The chat is deleted after a victim pays the ransom.

Security Practices To Prevent SamSam Attack:

  • Regularly install available patches for RDP service. Also, disable the service when not needed by the users.
  • Ensure that no RDP ports are left open during interactions between cloud-based virtual machines and public IPs. If it is required to leave RDP Port of a system open, keep the system behind firewall and instruct users to communicate with this machine via VPN.
  • Enable, two-factor authentication, strong passwords and account lockout policies.

For more information on how to secure your network, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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