Posts Tagged Cyber Security

5 Reasons For Increased Cyber Security Threats During COVID-19

While the world is busy fighting against COVID-19, there is a section of cyber criminals who are exploiting the situation for lucrative benefits. They are taking advantage of the efforts made by organizations to sustain their operations during this pandemic. The cyber security attacks include phishing attacks, data breach, ransom, etc.

In order to defend your organization against cyber security threats during COVID-19, it is first important to understand the reasons that have resulted in an increase in cyber-attacks. Following are the 5 top reasons:

  • The foremost reason is that the employees are working from their home networks and their personal devices. These networks and devices are usually not updated with latest antivirus or operating system versions. The lack of a properly patched and protected system results in vulnerabilities leading to easy access for hackers.
  • The second reason that has led to an increase in the number of the cyber-attacks is the flow of organizational data. When employees work from their homes, sensitive organizational data travels outside the secure network of the organization. Additionally, while working with this data, employees tend to save it on their personal devices. This allows for easy data theft.
  • The third reason is that employees need to access the organization’s network to complete their work. This remote access may be insecure. Some organizations have already established a VPN for remote access. But again all the employees are not trained to install or use a VPN. Such untrained personnel pose a cyber-security threat when they access the organization’s network. On the contrary, there are some organizations that do not have a VPN setup for remote access. This may cause a cyber-threat of greater magnitude.
  • Fourth reason that has caused a rise in the number of cyber-attacks is an organization’s requirement to keep the employees involved and informed. The regular team meetings that were conducted to discuss the team operations have been replaced by online meetings. Organizations are making use of conference video calls or unique apps like ‘Zoom’ to conduct these meetings. The shift has been hasty and not all the involved employees are aware of how to use these apps securely. Insecure logins, poorly managed user credentials and login via an insecure network are some factors that have led to cyber-attacks such as video call hacking.
  • Fifth reason accounts for unauthorized access to an organization’s funds. The underlying reason is the need of the time to do things differently. A simple example of such an attack is that an employee receives an email from a fake account created on behalf of senior personnel in the organization. The email may instruct the employee to transfer funds to an account in lieu of some organizational purchase. Since employees may not be able to validate such emails, they may end up transferring funds to the hacker’s accounts.

In order to prevent such attacks, the organizations need to educate the employees to update their systems, download antivirus updates, secure their login details, use secure VPN to access the organization’s network and be aware of fake emails.

For more information on cyber security threats during COVID-19, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Latest Identity & Access Management Trends

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Data Protection From Malicious VPN Apps

Web users intend to use VPN services with an assumption that VPN keeps their web browsing and personal data safe. However, recent research has thrown light on some vulnerabilities found in common and popular VPN apps.

These vulnerabilities include:

  • Missing encryption of sensitive data.
  • Hard-coded cryptographic keys within the app; thus, even if the data is encrypted, hackers can decrypt it using these keys.
  • Some VPN apps have user privacy breaking bugs such as DNS leaks which expose user DNS queries to their ISPs.

These vulnerabilities of VPN apps allow hackers to intercept user communications including web browsing history, username, passwords, photos, videos, and messages. The privacy breaches include location tracking, access to device status information, use of the camera, microphone access and ability to send SMS secretly. Using these vulnerabilities, hackers can manipulate the users to connect to their malicious VPN servers.

In addition to these vulnerabilities, there are some other concerns associated with free VPN apps:

  • Some free VPN apps sell your bandwidth to paying customers allowing them to use your device’s processing power.
  • Malicious VPN apps incorporate ads that may include malware. These apps may also share the online activity of users to third party marketing professionals.

Some signs that your phone has been affected by malware are:

  • Phone becomes slow.
  • Higher loading time of app.
  • Battery drains faster than usual.
  • Large number of pop-up ads.
  • Unexplainable data usage.

As the number of data breaches is exceeding, it has become important to take necessary measures for safeguarding yourself against malicious VPN apps. Following are some measures that you should take:

  • Check if you have sufficient information about the app developer. Download the VPN apps provided by trusted app developers only.
  • Check the app reviews. You can also search for the app on the search engine to check if there is any controversial news about it.
  • Audit the apps on your phone to check if they were downloaded by you or not.
    Delete apps that you don’t use frequently.
  • Run a malware scan after downloading any app to ensure it is safe.

For more information on ways to protect your data from malicious VPN apps, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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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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