Posts Tagged IT security

Security Risks Concerning Virtual Personal Assistants

VPA (Virtual Personal Assistant) software application follow commands of a user intelligently and performs a variety of tasks such as searching information on the web, scheduling an appointment, monitoring health data, initiating online shopping, searching for addresses & location, etc. Also known as Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPAs); Siri, Google Now, Alexa, Cortana, etc. are the most commonly used ones.

Although Virtual Personal Assistants are of great use, there are certain security risks concerning them. Here we have discussed the most prominent security threats associated with VPAs

  • Eavesdropping: A VPA is programmed to follow voice commands. So, it passively listens to everything being said, if the user forgets to turn it off when not in use. Thus, it ends up collecting user’s voice data without his knowledge. This recorded data always poses a risk of hijacking because cybercriminals might collect & use it unlawfully.
  • Vast Exposure Of Personal Information: VPAs resort to different databases on the web in order to respond to user’s query. Although it is highly convenient, it can pose a serious security threat.
  • Data Theft: VPA keeps a track of the user’s activity and stores that information on the device as well as a remote database. When an VPA hijacker gets hold of this information, he can extract the data and exploit it to offend the user.
  • Voice/Audio Hijacking: This technology recognizes voice to take commands. Even though it understands different words & their pronunciations, it does not distinguish the voices of different users. This can be used against the user, as an impersonator might command the VPA to perform tasks that may harm the user. Even if it recognizes the user’s voice, there is a possibility that a cybercriminal might use the actual user’s voice recording and issue commands to the VPA.
  • Remote Malware Downloading: A compromised VPA might be instructed to visit certain sites containing a malicious link. Once clicked, this link installs a malware in the device which continues to operate & damage the device remotely without the user’s knowledge.
  • Undertake Tasks Autonomously: Users might register automated commands with a VPA. This can be exploited by the hijacker to victimize the user.  For example, the user may direct his VPA to pay his phone bill every month. The VPA further takes the command and connects it to an authorized payment gateway. If the VPA is compromised, the hacker might dismiss the bill payment and transfer funds to his remote account.

There is no denying the fact that virtual personal assistants provide numerous benefits. However, it is important to stay cautious in order to avoid security risks.

For more information about IT, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

, , ,

No Comments

Cybersecurity Trends For 2019

PDF Version: Cybersecurity-Trends-For-2019

, ,

No Comments

How To Stay Anonymous Online

Internet has become an integral part of daily life because everything possible is seemingly available online. This is the reason, why there is a constant risk of your privacy being hacked by cyber criminals. Not only can they track your online presence but also snoop away on everything you do.

This constant tracking imposes the need of staying anonymous online. Following are some ways through which you can achieve the desired anonymity:

  • Hide Your IP: The best way to stay unidentified online is to hide your IP with an anonymous VPN service. This way a virtual IP replaces your real IP address and prevents cyber criminals in gaining a sneak peek of your online activities.
  • Keep Your Web Searches Private: Conducting searches on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc. collects a lot of information such as your IP address, searches made, device used to make the search, location, etc. This is the reason why users are now opting for alternate search engines which do not track the search history and retain their privacy.
  • Block Third Party Cookies: Advertizers often use third party cookies to keep a track of your browsing habits. However, it is possible to hide them by blocking third party cookies within the browser settings. If you want to delete the cookies and other browsed information, you may use programs like CCleaner./li>
  • Use HTTPS: In order to prevent sensitive information from being intercepted Transport Layer Security (TLS) is extremely important. However, every website does not support a TLS connection and in that case HTTPS can help. It helps in keeping the internet traffic secure & private by enforcing TLS connections on the websites you visit.
  • Opt For Anonymous Email Communication: There are two ways to ensure email anonymity in a situation where you want to send somebody an email without letting them know your email address. You can use an alias which is essentially a forwarding address and allows the recipient to see your forwarding address only. The other way is to use a disposable email account which can be done by creating a new email account which you can use when you need. Another alternative to is to create a temporary forwarding address. This address gets deleted after a specific time, so it is best to use it while signing up on untrusted websites.
  • Encrypt Your Emails: Encrypting your emails can help you prevent unauthorized access by a middleman. There will be a limiting control as only you will have a private key for it.
  • Enable Privacy Settings: Your social media profile speaks volumes about you and hackers usually resort to a victim’s social media accounts to garner their private information. So make sure that you enable your privacy settings and hide personal information from public view.

For more information about IT Security, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

, ,

No Comments

Guide To VPN Routers

A VPN router is a routing device that helps in enabling network communications within a VPN environment. It connects & communicates between multiple VPN end devices that are located at separate locations.

These routers are specifically designed to protect your system from a cyber-attack. This is made possible because all the devices connected with a VPN router are protected by a Virtual Private Network
.

Methods Of VPN Router Setup

  • There are 3 main methods and one can go with any one of these:
  • Buying a pre-configured VPN router
  • Using a VPN enabled router that supports OpenVPN
  • Flashing a non VPN compatible router with new firmware to support VPN.

Benefits Of Using VPN Routers

  • Easy To Install – They are very similar to regular routers apart from the fact that in this case internet connection is routed through the servers of a private network. Setting up a VPN router completely negates the need of installing VPN on multiple devices separately. It can be done all at once because as soon as the VPN router is installed, you can easily connect your devices with it.
  • Less Expensive – It is always beneficial to set up a VPN router due to the twin benefit it has. Firstly, buying a VPN router is a better deal than taking separate internet subscriptions for each device. So it can help you save costs and also ensures complete security at the same time.
  • Device Friendly – You can connect multiple devices with the VPN router i.e. your smart TV, smartphone, laptop, etc. So configure the device which you have and connect it to the VPN router for added security. In other words, it requires a one-time effort in setting it all up and then you are ready to go.
  • Ensures Security – Installing a VPN router secures all the devices on the network. It adds an additional layer of privacy and maintains anonymity of all your online activities. This way it is hard for cyber criminals to break through a network secured by a VPN router.

Things To Consider When Setting Up A VPN Router

  • Cost – You’ll need to buy a decent router and VPN subscription. However, the cost of a VPN router may vary depending upon the option you choose.
  • Speed – It is one very important factor that needs to be considered to ensure that there are no server overloads, network disruptions or snags etc.
  • Features – The way you plan to use your VPN router determines which firmware & VPN service you need to go with. Although it is very important to make sure that it is up to date, fast, reliable, secure and enforces policy based routing.

For more information about VPN routers, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

, ,

No Comments

What Is Packet Sniffing?

Information is often broken into smaller units when it is transmitted over the computer network. These small units known as data packets are fragmented at the sender’s node and are reassembled in their original format at the receiver’s node.

Every data packet has to cross a number of traffic control devices such as routers & switches. However, the data packet is susceptible to the risk of being captured each time it crosses these control devices. This act of collecting data packets illegally by hackers is known as packet sniffing. Hackers often use specialized devices
known as packet sniffers to do so.

How Does A Packet Sniffer Work?
A packet sniffer can exist in the form of software or hardware specifically designed to collect the data being transmitted over the network. They intercept & log network traffic with the help of wired or wireless network interface it has an access to. Hackers might use it to capture:

  • User names
  • Passwords
  • Downloaded files
  • Emails
  • Audio & video activity
  • Other sensitive information

An illegal packet sniffer is installed somewhere on the network without the knowledge of an IT administrator to gain unauthorized access to confidential information. Hackers also use sniffers to eavesdrop on unencrypted data to spy and checkout information being exchanged between the two parties and use it for their benefit.

Types Of Packet Sniffing

There are 3 types of packet sniffing, let us understand how they work:

  • IP Sniffing – It uses the network card to sniff all information packets that correspond with the IP address filter. These information packets are all used for analysis and examination.
  • MAC Sniffing – It also works through a network card and sniffs away the information packets that correspond to MAC address filter.
  • ARP Sniffing – In this type of sniffing, information packets are sent to the administrator through the ARP cache of both network hosts. The traffic is forwarded to the administrator directly instead of sending it to the hosts.

How To Protect Yourself From Packet Sniffing?

  • Use VPN – VPN (Virtual Private Network) connections provide complete privacy and secure your computer’s internet connection. It makes sure that all the data you are sending and receiving is encrypted & secured.
  • Always Check the HTTPS – Make sure that the websites that you visit have an HTTPS in its URL. Having it in the URL ensures that the website is safe to use.
  • Be Cautious – The risk of packet sniffing rises when a device is connected to a public Wi-Fi network. So be highly cautious of the websites you visit when you are on that network. Avoid doing financial transactions, entering sensitive information etc.

Other Ways

  • Scan your network
  • Use the Antisniff tool
  • Log out when you are done

For more information about IT Security, call Centex Technologies at (254) 213-4740.

,

No Comments