Posts Tagged Cyber Security

Cyber Security Controls Every Business Needs To Know

As cyber attacks are becoming more evolved and complex, it has become critical for organizations to possess basic cyber security controls. In order to ensure the safety of business’ confidential data, organizations need to enforce appropriate security controls.

Here are some cyber security controls that every business needs to know:

  • Automated Patching: Patches are introduced by tech developers in order to fix critical vulnerabilities found in a network, app, or system. Timely fixes or patching is essential to prevent the spread of security breaches via open vulnerabilities which may cause extensive damage to a business. Automating the updates can save time and resources spent by IT professionals for manually searching devices to evaluate and install latest updates. Automation allows simultaneous implementation of patches for several vulnerabilities.
  • Full Disk Encryption: A great way to strengthen the security health of an organization is to allow Full Disk Encryption (FDE) data on hard disks in an organization. Enabling cyber security controls that store user credentials securely and drive data confidentiality helps in ensuring safety of business data from cyber criminals. In addition to FDE, make sure to backup the data regularly to tackle situations such as disk crash. Also, make sure to store passwords and encryption keys at separate location as no one can access a system without appropriate credentials.
  • Screen Lock: The next cyber security control to be implemented is automatic screen lock. Once this control is activated, a machine enters sleep mode after being idle for a set time and user has to enter password when returning to the machine. This prevents any one from accessing a machine when unattended. This cyber security control becomes even more important for users working from remote locations.
  • Enabling Firewall: It may seem like a basic strategy but it is highly important to activate firewall across all company devices. A firewall is a software that tracks inbound and outbound activities from a network and blocks the traffic that seem unsafe for the network based on a set of security rules. This prevents unauthorized applications from reaching endpoints and penetrating into the network. This helps businesses in mitigating risks and overcoming new cyber challenges.

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

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Public WiFi Security

PDF Version: Public-WiFi-Security

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Cookies & Online Privacy

When surfing online, a common pop-up that a user receives is ‘Accept The Cookies’. Some websites use cookies to provide a more personalized and convenient website browsing experience. But in order to understand the relationship between cookies and user’s online privacy, it is first important to understand what cookies are.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are text files that contain small amounts of data that can be used to identify your computer network. Specific HTTP cookies are used to identify specific users for improving their web browsing experience.

Data stored in the cookies is created when a user connects to an online server. This data is marked with an ID that is unique to the user and his computer/system. When cookies are exchanged between user’s computer and network server, the server reads this data for identifying the information that should be served to the user.

Cookies are of two types:

  • Magic Cookies: This is an old computing term that refers to packets of information that can be sent & received without any charges. This data is commonly used for logging in to a computer’s database systems. This concept is a precursor of modern day ‘cookies’.
  • HTTP Cookies: It is a repurposed version of magic cookies, which was created for internet browsing. It was specifically created to assist web browsers in tracking, personalizing, and saving information about a user’s online session. The server sends cookies only when it wants the web browser to save it. These are stored locally by the browser, so that when the user revisits a website, web browser can return the data stored in the cookies to help the server recall data from previous session. HTTP cookies can be further classified as – Session Cookies and Persistent Cookies.

How Are Cookies Used?

While session cookies are only used during navigating a website and are stored on RAM (never written to the hard drive), persistent cookies remain on the computer indefinitely.

Persistent cookies can be used for two main purposes:

  • Authentication: They help in identifying if a user has logged in and if yes, under what username. They also help in streamlining login credentials so that the user is not required to remember them.
  • Tracking: This is to track multiple visits to a website or webpage over time. This property is used by merchants to identify a user’s browsing behavior to suggest products that may interest the user.

Why Cookies Can Be A Threat?

  • Since the data written in the cookies cannot be changed, they are harmless. However, cyber criminals can get hold of the cookies to access victim’s browser sessions.
  • Third-party cookies (generated by ads on a webpage, even if user doesn’t click on ads) allow the ad owners to track user’s browsing history, thus interfering in his privacy.
  • Zombie cookies can be permanently installed on user’s system and reappear even after deleted.

Removing cookies can help in combating the risk of privacy breach.

For more information on cookies, online privacy and IT Security, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Cyber Security Concerns Of Smartphone Users

As the ‘Work From Home’ and ‘Bring Your Own Device’ culture has gained popularity, organizations have increased their attention towards mobile security. Most employees routinely access organizational data from their personal mobile devices, cyber criminals also try to gain on this opportunity. So, organizations have to keep their employees informed about major cyber security concerns that can be woven around smartphones.

Here are some major cyber security concerns of smartphone users:

  • Data Leakage: Data leakage refers to unauthorized transfer of data from within an organization’s systems to an external destination or recipient. It is one of the most bothersome cyber security threats for enterprises. In order to combat the issue of data leakage, organizations need to implement an app vetting process that does not overwhelm the administrator and does not frustrate the users as well. However, this doesn’t help in taking care of data leakage resulting from user error such as transferring company files onto public cloud, copying confidential information to a wrong place, forwarding an email to unintended recipient, etc.
  • Social Engineering: It is a manipulation technique that exploits user error to gain private information, unauthorized access, etc. These scams are also known as ‘human hacking’ scams because these scams work by luring unsuspecting users into exposing data, spreading malware infections, or giving access to restricted systems. Social engineering scams usually aim at theft of information as well as sabotaging organization’s reputation by disrupting or corrupting data. Common examples of social engineering attacks include phishing attacks, baiting attacks, physical breach, pre-texting attacks, access tail-gaiting attacks, quid pro quo attacks, scareware attacks, etc.
  • Wi-Fi Interference: A mobile device is secure only in case the network through which data is transmitted is secure. Cyber criminals find an array of ways to intercept the transmission. Some of the tactics include setting up fake Wi-Fi networks, intercepting communications transferred across public networks, etc. Organizations can combat this issue by motivating users to download and make use of VPN.
  • Cryptojacking Attacks: Cryptojacking is a type of attack where cyber criminals use victim’s device for mining cryptocurrency without victim’s knowledge. The cryptomining process relies on the user’s resources such as mobile device processor, network, data, storage, etc. This reduces the performance level of the mobile device.

For more information on cyber security concerns of smartphone users, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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Web Application Vulnerabilities: Securing Online Applications

Web application vulnerabilities are system flaws that can arise due to improper validation or sanitization of form inputs, misconfigured web servers, or application design flaws. Such vulnerabilities can be exploited by cybercriminals to compromise the application’s security and gain access to use the application as a breeding ground for malware.

Common security vulnerabilities that affect web applications.

  • Injection: This happens when an interpreter receives a compromised query or command. Examples of injection flaws include SQL, LDAP, and OS. The best way to stay protected against injection flaws is to avoid accessing external interpreters. Language specific libraries can be used to perform functions for system calls or shell commands as they don’t use shell interpreter of the Operating System. If a call must be employed (such as calls made to backend database), make sure to validate the data carefully.
  • Cross Site Scripting (XSS): XSS attacks occur when a web application sends data to a client browser without thorough validation. XSS vulnerabilities allow intruders to run malicious scripts on victim browser which spy on user sessions and redirect users to malicious websites in some cases. In order to avoid XSS, applications should be designed to perform vigorous checks against defined specifications. It is recommended to adopt a positive security policy which defines only what should be allowed.
  • Broken Authentication & Session Management: If these functions aren’t properly configured, attackers can compromise user identities and exploit a vulnerability to steal session tokens, keys, and passwords. This type of attack can be avoided by using custom authentication and session management mechanisms. Some session management criteria that should be incorporated include password change requests, password strength checks, session ID protection, browser caching, trust, backend authentication, etc.
  • Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF): In this case, the attacker forces the victim to send requests that the server will consider to be legitimate. The requests are sent in the form of forged HTTP requests including session cookie of victim and other identification information. To prevent this, applications should use custom tokens in addition to tokens received from browsers because custom tokens are not remembered by browsers to initiate a CSRF attack.
  • Security Misconfiguration: It is important for applications to have a secure application environment. Application developers need to consider guidelines pertaining security mechanisms configuration, turning off unused devices, logs & alerts, etc.

Centex Technologies offers web application development and cybersecurity solutions to its clients. For more details on how to make your web application secure, contact Centex Technologies at (254) 213 – 4740.

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