Designed to provide free Wi-Fi for an entire city, Municipal Wireless Networks span further than an ordinary public hotspot provided by a local business. These networks are intended to help a wide variety of people stay connected. Especially if they otherwise do not have the means to do so. Roughly 80 cities in the United States already have citywide Wi-Fi programs in place.
Advocates for Municipal Wireless Networks cite the need for available internet access for all citizens. However, there are many who worry about the lax security that comes with any public Wi-Fi. Unreliability among hotspots offered at local stores is common knowledge at this point. The lack of security leaves users susceptible. Most hackers prefer working remotely, which does somewhat limit the risk. But users have also learned which sites to use and not use when on public networks.
Municipal Wireless Networks allow access citywide, though. The reach afforded to a hacker here is sprawling. Is this something that could put you at risk?
Precautions in Place for Municipal Wireless Networks
Infosec institutions warn users of the fragile nature of Municipal Wireless Networks. They also give a list measures that need to come standard with each of them. Firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, intrusion detection systems, all of these are necessities.
For newer citywide wireless networks, like the kiosks in New York City, a private option is being made available. The private network is more secure but has requirements that are mostly only available to the latest iPhones and iPads. New York City plans for these kiosks to be as widespread as payphones once were, with more than 7,500 across all 5 boroughs. Based on the available security options, that could do more harm than good.
Municipal Wireless Networks are well-intentioned services that come with a great risk. If your city has one, proceed with caution and only use them for casual browsing.
The fight against hackers is a constant battle. Computer engineers have to deal with creating innovative ideas and protecting the devices they release into the public. The good news is that cyber security systems may have just received a significant boost. A research team at Princeton University’s Engineering School has developed a new tool that can detect malicious websites before a user even visits it.
It is hard to avoid being affected by malicious websites. You can evade web pages that you are not familiar with, but that limits your internet experience. Another way to protect yourself is by using internet security measures like a pop-up blocker and Anti-virus software. However, just visiting a malicious website puts your computer at risk.
These websites present a big risk to your computer and privacy. Some malicious websites con people into signing up for scams. Others install malware on your machine, either hoping to gain control over it or interrupt its functionality.
Identifying the problem Before It Affect You
The researchers created a system called the Proactive Recognition and Elimination of Domain Abuse at Time-of-Registration, otherwise known as the PREDATOR system. What it does is try to identify if a website is purchased by a legitimate or malicious source. The tool examines the behavior of each source and uses that to determine if a website is a threat. By classifying the patterns of each source, PREDATOR is able to warn a user before they even visit the web page.
“The intuition has always been that the way that malicious actors use online resources somehow differs fundamentally from the way legitimate actors use them,” professor Nick Feamster, one of the tool’s developers explained. “We were looking for those signals: what is it about a domain name that makes it automatically identifiable as a bad domain name?”
This tool is still in its infancy. The researchers believe that domain blacklist services and registrars of domains would have to use the system for it to be beneficial for regular internet users. Hopefully, further development can be made on this breakthrough tech.
Recently, most of the internet was subject to a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. This attack effectively prevented access to more than 1,000 popular websites, like Twitter, Spotify, and Reddit. Ultimately causing people on the internet to collectively lose their minds. While we have discussed DDoS attacks before, it is time to define what it does and how it prevents you from accessing your favorite sites.
A denial-of-service attack is a cyber-attack. It is willfully done by an external force, looking to impede a user’s access to a website. By targeting Domain Name Servers (DNS), they were able to interrupt a user’s connection to a website. A DNS server is important when it comes to accessing the internet. It basically takes your web browser’s request to go to a certain webpage and fulfills it by making sure it goes to the right place.
In the case of the DDoS attack that recently occurred last month on October 21st, major DNS host, Dyn, was the one affected. An open source malware called the “Mirai botnet” infected IoT devices, which launched 10’s of millions of IP address at the DNS servers. A large amount of request from internet users, occurring simultaneously, can overload DNS system and prevent many from having their request to visit a website fulfilled.
How to Prevent a DDoS Attack
There is not much that a user can do to prevent a DDoS attack from happening. It is up to manufacturers to build more secure devices, especially when they connect to the internet. Dyn discovered that some of the infected devices came from Hangzhou Xiongmai, a Chinese manufacturer of computer parts.
Currently, the devices that caused the attack are being recalled and patched with security updates. The devices did not force users to change their passwords, leaving them susceptible to an infiltration. Unfortunately, many devices might carry the same security flaw as the ones made by Hangzhou Xiongmai. Unless manufacturer can provide better cybersecurity measures, more attacks like this can happen in the future.
Our devices are becoming smarter and smarter. From our cell phones to our television sets. As the automobile industry begins to invest in self-driving cars and advanced, integrated computer systems, some U.S. regulators are advising that they create greater cyber security measures.
Cars Left Vulnerable Without Proper Cyber Security
The computers on modern cars operate important vehicle controls and store personal data. If hackers are able to access them, then there is no telling what sort of danger they can put drivers and their passengers in.
Unfortunately, regulators at the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can only recommend that the automobile manufacturers follow their cyber security guidelines. Automakers say they are taking them into consideration, but some feel like their word is not enough.
“This new cybersecurity guidance from the Department of Transportation is like giving a take-home exam on the honor code to failing students,” Sens. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a joint statement. “If modern day cars are computers on wheels, we need mandatory standards, not voluntary guidance, to ensure that our vehicles cannot be hacked and lives and information put in danger.”
Some cars have already been hacked. A line of Fiat Chrysler automobiles was recalled last year because of a security threat to its onboard computer. Another instance of a cyber security breach occurred with a Jeep Cherokee. As part of a test in July of this year, data security researchers were able to take remote control of a Jeep Cherokee with just a laptop. They only had access to the transmission and brakes. However, in malicious hands, this amount of control is enough to cause an accident.
Does this make you weary of the future of smart cars? Hopefully, regulators will be able to enforce stricter and mandatory cyber security guidelines. Otherwise, the safety of American drivers is at stake.
It seems hackers are getting more creative these days. While we implement several security measures to protect our personal information, they seem to be finding new and inventive ways to steal our data. A new study recently revealed that hackers are even listening to the sounds your keyboard is making while you are using voice chat. Find out how they are using voice chat for their own malicious purposes.
Voice Chat and Typing
While you are voice chatting on Skype, hackers are just waiting for you to type sensitive information on your keyboard. Every key on a keyboard has a distinct sound based on the brand and how it is made. Using a machine dedicated to detecting the different sounds each key makes; hackers are hoping to decipher passwords and other important information.
The study performed by the researchers at the University of California, Irvine and in Italy. They found that with the right information, hackers have a 91.7% chance of deciphering the keys you are pressing. Without knowing the right information, they still have a 41.89% chance of figuring out what you are typing.
According to co-author Gene Tsudik, “We have shown that during a Skype video or audio conference, your keystrokes are subject to recording and analysis by your call partners. They can learn exactly what you type, including confidential information such as passwords and other very personal stuff.”
How to Avoid Hacks Like These?
Thankfully, the machines they are using to listen to your keystrokes only works on physical keyboards. It is almost impossible to figure out what you are typing if you use a laser keyboard or touchscreens, as they make no sounds.
Another step you can take to protect your information is to be aware of who you are talking to on your voice chat sessions. If you are talking to strangers, or someone you do not trust, don’t type while you are voice chatting.
Threats to our computer security come from everywhere. The breach of over 500 million Yahoo accounts is just one of many instances where a corporate entity is hacked by an outside force. For example, Sony’s PlayStation network was breached in 2011, and its film studio was hacked in 2014. Network engineers are constantly developing new ways to protect personal information. One solution is a password protection system called Phoney.
How Does the New Password Protection System Works?
The Phoney system was created by a team of engineers at the Sun College of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Hunan University, Changsha, China. It encrypts password hashes and honeywords. The password hashes and honeywords are a way to mask the password if it is stolen by a hacker.
While password hashes and honeywords are necessary forms of security for passwords, hackers have still found a way to get through them. Phoney’s password protection system adds an extra layer of security to thwart thieves from accessing personal information. If the system detects an intrusion, it will immediately block and lock down the affected account.
According to the team at Sun College, “Phoney is helpful to existing password authentication systems and easy to deploy. It requires no modifications to the client, and just changes how the password is stored on the server, which is invisible to the client.”
The team notes that this is not a perfect solution. Hackers are vigilant and may find a way to hack the system. However, it is a much need step in the right direction. According to a survey by Duke University, more than 80 percent of U.S. companies reported being hacked in 2015. Hopefully, this makes password protection more secure.
We value our personal information and privacy. However, we willingly give them to multiple retailers, websites, and other outlets. We trust them to keep our information safe and protected. If these outlets can develop and implement new security methods, such as phoney, into their online systems, then the public’s personal data is better protected.
Your computer might be more impressive than you think. In a recent test, Russian physicists have discovered that a home computer has what it takes to go against a supercomputer. In fact, it is more effective at certain tasks than a supercomputer. Find out how your machine can outperform a high-level computer in complex calculations.
Home Computer Performance
The test was performed by physicists at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. They wanted to see how well a consumer-level machine holds against a supercomputer. A supercomputer is a computer that has high-level computational capacity. This gives it the ability to perform weather forecasting, code breaking, simulations, and many other complex equations.
Researchers used a Nvidia GPU in order to perform the equations. These equations calculated how multiple quantum particles interact with each other. The researchers used multiple programs, along with the GPU, to calculate a numerous amount of data.
The Nvidia GPU excelled at the task. It even outperformed the supercomputer. Researcher begin to think differently about how they process data.
According to the team leader Vladimir Kukulin, “The program computes 260 million complex double integrals on a desktop computer within three seconds. No comparison with supercomputers! My colleague from the University of Bochum in Germany carried out the calculations using one of the largest supercomputers in Germany with the famous blue gene architecture, which is actually very expensive. And what took his group two or three days we do in 15 minutes without spending a dime.”
This test proves that a home computer is cheaper and more effective. It also changes who has access to this technology. Many groups do not have the resources to use one. Now, they can perform complex task, such as quantum mechanics and nuclear physics, on their own. Now that more people have access, eventually these test will lead to new discoveries.
A few weeks ago, close to 500 million Yahoo email accounts were stolen. The amount of private data and information stolen culminates in the largest data breach in history. If you have a Yahoo account, we suggest that you immediately change your password. Our email security tips will keep you safe.
Email Security Tips
Create Complex Passwords – Even though computer experts urge people to create secure, complex, and creative passwords, some individuals do not listen. You’ll find many people with passwords like 12345 or password as their form of security. In fact, last year, passwords didn’t get any better. Create a password that utilizes capital letters, special characters, and numbers. This makes it harder for hackers to guess your password.
Change Your Security Information Frequently – Passwords and security questions are two most important forms of email security you can have. That is why it is important to change your password at least every 6 months. This is a great counter measure against security breaches, very much like the one that happen to Yahoo. This prevent hackers from obtaining the latest passwords and security access.
Delete and Block Unknown Senders – Your email’s security features should catch any incoming junk mail. However, some messages from unknown senders can still end up in your inbox. You should delete and block messages from people you do not trust. Avoid clicking on any links. This can lead you to malicious sites.
Never Give Your Personal Information Away – We all have several passwords for our social media, shopping, and business accounts. One thing you should remember is that these accounts will never ask you for your password. Many hackers will attempt to impersonate a company in what is called a phishing scam. Call the company directly and find out if the email address is from them.
Curiosity can be a fascinating thing. It can lead us to the answers we are looking for, however, it can also get us into trouble. This is especially true when it comes to navigating the internet. Dangerous links can make our computers vulnerable to malware and other security threats. While this notion might seem obvious, people are more likely to let curiosity get the better of them and click on something they shouldn’t.
Watch Out for Unknown Senders
How can you avoid dangerous links? The first step is to know who the link comes from. If you receive an email or Facebook message from an unknown sender, you should delete. Links embedded into the message can lead you to a malicious website, which in turn can potentially infect your computer.
Unfortunately, not everyone will follow this advice. In a recent study at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), researchers found that one in two users were more than likely to click on a link from someone they did not know.
Why People Click on Dangerous Links
Prior to this experimental study, which tested around 1700 FAU students, researchers asked students if they were aware of the risks of unknown links. According to Dr. Zinaida Benenson, lead author and Computer Science at the FAU, “The overall results surprised us as 78 percent of participants stated in the questionnaire that they were aware of the risks of unknown links.”
Over 56 percent of email recipients, and 38 percent of Facebook message recipients clicked on a link that was addressed to them. Despite their knowledge of how dangerous the link might be, curiosity lead them to click on the link anyway. This is especially true when the users either believed that they knew the sender or the contents of the email related to them in some way.
It’s important for users to be aware that attacks can occurs in this way. When receiving messages, be care to check that the sender’s traditional are correct. Otherwise, do not let curiosity get you into trouble.
That was the question on the table when researchers examined the vulnerabilities of 44 different nations. Let’s take a look at how the U.S.’s cybersecurity fared, which nations were the most secure, and which could face serious trouble from hackers in the future.
Why This Study Is Important
Unfortunately, cyberterrorism is a global scourge. Some nations have a better system in place to defend against attacks, and other nations could stand to learn a thing or two. Plus, it is important to be able to respond quickly and appropriately to a cyber-attack. It’s not just criminals and terrorists who are lurking online. Sometimes a nation hacks another nation. So national defense now includes preparing for online attacks.
How the U.S.’s Cybersecurity Scored
Of the 44 nations in the study, the U.S. was ranked 11th. The 2-year study found that nations, including Denmark, Finland, and Norway, had the best systems and responses in place. Who were in the danger zone for attacks? Three of the worst-defended countries were superpowers China, Russia, and India, all of which boast a nuclear arsenal. Not the nations you want hackers being able to attack easily.
Takeaways from the Study
The researchers examined stats on trojans along with worms and viruses to see which nations were best prepared to handle them. The U.S. did really well in that department. Unfortunately disk cleanup utilities, fake anti-virus programs, and other misleading software exploits seemed to be very prolific.
These hacks are usually based on the user, and not the defenses of the system. Basically, it comes down to the fact that while the U.S. has really good security software in place, user error accounts for how poorly the nation as a whole did in the study. This means education is vital in order to avoid potential hacks.
What This Means for Your Business
Your business’ cybersecurity is probably in line with the results of the study. You may have firewalls in place and keep software up to date, but have your employees been sufficiently trained to detect a scam? This may be the most important thing to consider in your data security.