Posts tagged hackers
Network Security on Your Home Computer
No matter how much time you spend on your work computer, your home computer contains some of your most important files. Our personal machines help manage our finances, social relationships, and professional lives, but we often don’t put in as much effort into keeping them secure. Our computers contain a variety of personally identifiable information (PII), and it’s important to maintain sound computer and network security to protect your files.
Connecting Your Computer to a Secure Network
A network router is your first point of contact with the Internet. Don’t just rely on your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or cable modem to perform comprehensive security monitoring. An Internet connection starts with your modem, connects to your router, and feeds this information into your computer. Your router should be secure before connecting to the Internet.
Here are a few tips to maintaining network defense, once you are connected to a secure network. First off, use a web browser with sandboxing capabilities. A sandbox is an isolated environment that mimics an entire computer system, which targets suspicious programs and analyzes potential threats.
Browsers with sandboxing capabilities are especially useful for recognizing advanced persistent threats (APTs). These APTs are designed to escape detection, breaking through conventional security barriers, and gaining access to PII on your computer. Sandboxes help capture these viruses and clear them out.
When you own a business, you want to keep your home computers well-defended because any crossover information between work and personal machines, through email or messaging apps, can cause a data breach. A recent study found that 60% of small companies fail due to poor network security measures.
Sandboxing can be applied to a number of different programs, such as PDF readers. A common means for viruses to attack your computer is through embedded URLs, where malicious executables can gain entry via PDF files.
Keep Everything Up-To-Date
While this may seem self-explanatory, many malware attacks occur because personal computers are not as diligently updated as company devices. Make sure your computer has current versions of all software you run.
Updating programs like Microsoft Office to the 2007 version or a more current iteration is a good idea, since word-processing is a common function on home computers. Microsoft Office 2010 offers a “Protected View” that opens documents in read-only mode, which blocks any viruses embedded in unfamiliar files.
Many applications have a feature that enables automatic updates. Updating frequently is a good network security practice, since attackers typically exploit hosts that don’t have their software applications fully patched. Additionally, evaluate which programs you use most frequently and those you never seem to use. Do some research on the software you wish to delete, and determine if removing them is possible. Fewer applications on your computer workstation mean fewer channels for hackers.
Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks
Some of the most common attacks are executed through email. A social engineering attack uses human interaction to obtain sensitive information on computers with vulnerable network security. In these infected emails, a person can claim to be an employee, cleaning service, or someone else offering qualifications that would allow them to gather your confidential information.
Phishing tactics also use emails from attackers masquerading as reliable organizations to obtain personal details. Often, these phishers will take advantage of events in the news (i.e. fake natural disaster fundraisers) and holidays (i.e. Christmas shopping deal scams) to steal account information. They even go so far as to pose as reputable banks to issue fraudulent warnings, hoping that alarmed card holders will hand over their account credentials.
Keeping Your Home Computer Safe From Attacks
To avoid these attacks, install anti-virus and anti-spyware software, firewalls, or email applications that filter your inbox. Whenever you are asked for sensitive information such as your credit card number or even your birthday, verify that your information isn’t falling into the wrong hands.
If you suspect that you’ve received a phishing email, call the organization the message claims to be from. Use the contact info on the legitimate website, and ask about the email.
In general, don’t open unfamiliar links or messages with attachments, especially from email addresses not in your contacts. Also, find out how to build a strong password and employ those methods for all of your accounts. Secure and complex passwords should not only be used for WLANs but also for any devices in your home and work that use web interfaces (i.e. printers, self-automated light switch systems, etc.)
When it comes to protecting your personal information, there’s no such thing as taking too many precautions. At Geek-Aid, we specialize in every kind of cyber security. We all rely heavily on personal computers to manage many aspects of our lives, and keeping these devices secure is a top priority.
Last week, we discussed a couple of habits that will help you protect your computer’s security. Hopefully, you now know how to navigate the internet better and protect your data. In order stay vigilant and protect your computer, there is more that you need to know. After all, there is only so much you can do to keep hackers from trying to access personal information. Let’s discuss how you can check if your computer’s own security methods are in working order.
Keep Your Computer Updated
Computer companies know how troubling hackers can be, for both them and their consumers. They do not want hackers infiltrating the private information of the people who buy their machines. That’s why they constantly update their computer security system to fight off all sorts of viruses, malware, and trojans. The first thing you should do is check if your computer is running the latest update. This will ensure that it is up-to-date and ready to fight off anything trying to penetrate your system.
Scanning Your Settings for Better Protection
There are plenty of useful tools that computer manufacturers release as well. These tools are able to scan your computer for potential problems like weak user passwords or if you are using all of your security features. They can also educate users on the proper security setting for protection against threats. Just remember to download this kind of software straight from your computer’s manufacturer and not untrustworthy sites.
Secure Your Internet Browser
The number one way that hackers gain access to your computer is through the internet. Accidentally opening suspicious emails, clicking random links, or browsing unfamiliar websites can leave you at risk. In order to avoid downloading something malicious, you have to secure your browser’s own security settings. You’ll find that your browser does more than just block pop-up ads. Like your computer, your browser needs to stay updated to protect your system. Your plugins need to stay updated as well. If they remain out of date, then your system is vulnerable.
Make Sure You Have a Strong Firewall
The biggest defense against hackers is your system’s own firewall. Most computers come with a built-in firewall. They block others from penetrating your computer’s files and prevent them from seeing your system online. You have to make sure this computer function is working at optimal efficiency. Try running a port test service. These services are meant to test your firewall and make sure the world cannot see your computer. If it can detect your computer, then it’s very likely that your firewall settings are not correct or that you have a virus.
Make Sure Your System Is Secure With Geek Aid
Confused? Want to make sure that your system is absolutely secure? Well, Geek Aid is your best bet. Our geeks are trained to know the ins and outs of your system. That way they can not only protect you against viruses or threats but keep your system in working order. We make house calls and service offices as well. So, call us at (877) Geek-Aid to speak with one of our geeks today.
It seems harder and harder to protect your computer from security threats and virus. Hackers are constantly trying to gain access to your computer system using the latest tricks and cons. We’ve discussed before how to protect yourself from malicious malware. For example, if you click on a suspicious link in an email, there a good chance you’re inviting a virus to infect your computer. However, a new report suggests it might not be enough. A new virus is now able to infect your computer the moment your mouse hovers over the link.
Malicious Malware Installs Banking Trojan
What’s a Banking Trojan? It’s a type of malware that is designed to break into an online bank account and move a person’s money into a hacker’s bank account. In the U.S., these trojans steal millions of dollars from business and personal accounts. Companies and organization are usually the targets of these nefarious campaigns.
Research by cyber security company Trend Micro and information security blog Dodge This Security revealed a new malware downloader is installing banking Trojans. What makes this particular malware stand out is that users don’t even have to click on anything for it to activate. All users have to do hover their mouse cursor over a hyperlink in a PowerPoint file.
These attacks were largely made against companies and organizations in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Hackers sent PowerPoints containing the Trojan via spam email. These emails were disguised as finance-related, making the user believe they were related to a recent order or invoice.
Older computer systems are more at risk than new ones. While the malicious malware does try to automatically download onto your computer, the latest Microsoft Office will ask you beforehand. This provides the user a security measure to prevent the virus from affecting you. However, older versions of Office will execute the PowerPoint file.
Keeping Your Computer Safe
Many companies do not update their computer’s operating system or applications. Working off of older technology leaves them vulnerable to attack and without that added layer of security that they need. Unfortunately, just like we saw with the WannaCry situation, it isn’t so easy for large scale companies to update their computer systems.
A good antivirus software will help to protect your computer from an attack like this. Trend Micro was able to detect 1,444 spam emails last month. Another way to avoid becoming a victim of online theft is by looking out for suspicious emails from unknown senders. These are often the most dangerous types of emails with hackers hoping that you will download its contents.
If you are a small or big business, your computer system is a target. It is best to invest in protecting your company’s private and important information. At Geek Aid, we can assist you with business IT solutions, including:
- Performance Enhancements on Computers
- Crash Repairs
- Data Recovery
- Data Backup
- Security From Thieves and Competitors
- Email Setup
- Technology Consultation
Don’t leave your company’s security system at risk. Call Geek Aid at 877-GEEK-AID for computer and technical support.
There appears to be no rest for the world of cyber security. Hackers are vigilant and in order to keep the personal and private information of the public safe, cyber security experts must be as well. A popular target for hackers are smartphones and other mobile devices. As people rely more and more on this form of technology for everyday task, the more likely they become a victim of security threats. The companies who create these devices constantly update them to prevent such events. However, hackers are crafty. For example, their newest method to hack your phone involves using cutting-edge voice hacking.
Mimicking You Through Voice Hacking
While still in its infancy, sending commands to your smartphone or mobile device via voice controls is on the rise. Digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and others are becoming an essential part of the user experience. Even Apple has dedicated their time to updating Siri with a better intelligence.
What’s troublesome is that hackers can record audio samples while you are engaging with these digital assistants. They are able to mimic your voice, convincing other that they are you. This malicious technology allows hackers access to personal accounts and security mechanisms.
In an interview with Forbes, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, chief technology officer at AVG, warns against using speech recognition apps, recommending that users disable them right away. “At the moment, leaving biometric technology as it is today is like leaving a computer without a password and just allowing anyone to walk by, click and take an action,” says Ben-Itzhak.
Stopping Voice Hacking in Its Tracks
The researchers at the University at Buffalo have the same thoughts as Ben-Itzhak. That’s why they’ve developed a way to detect and prevent hackers from using obtaining your voice patterns. The engineers were able to create an app that stops voice hacking using a smartphone’s existing components.
“Technology is advancing so fast; we have to think of different ways. The strategy is using multiple lines of defense. We call that defense in depth,” says Kui Ren, Ph.D., director of the Ubiquitous Security and Privacy Research Laboratory (UbiSeC) at UB, and one of the study’s lead authors.
Ren and his team’s study focused on hackers replaying someone’s voice to access a device. Hackers will use speakers to perform such a task. The app uses the following tools:
- A magnetometer in a phone to detect the speaker’s magnetic field.
- The phone’s trajectory mapping algorithm to measure the distance between the speaker and the phone.
The app also uses movement to detect the difference between a person and a replayed voice, the latter’s magnetic field changes when moved.
“We cannot decide if voice authentication will be pervasive in the future. It might be. We’re already seeing the increasing trend,” Ren said. “And if that is the case, we have to defend against voice replay attacks. Otherwise, voice authentication cannot be secure.”
This research is crucial to keeping digital users safe. Some technology already exists that prevent other forms of voice hacking from occurring. Hopefully, people will soon be able to add the University at Buffalo’s app to their phone’s security.
Recently, England’s healthcare system was the victim of a massive cyber attack. The ransomware known as WannaCry locked doctors and employees across at least 25 hospitals out of their networks. Later, it was discovered that the same attack hit multiple organizations across the world. Find out what happened and how it become the largest ransomware attack to date.
What Did WannaCry Demand?
A hacker group known as The Shadow Brokers stole and leaked several Windows’ exploits from the NSA. Within the information leak, a remote code execution vulnerability called ExternalBlue was used to access unsecured computers and install the now infamous ransomware. The computers affected were either not updated or running Windows XP or 2000, which are operating systems that are no longer supported.
The ransomware program is modified version of WannaCrypt, a virus that has plagued computers before. The malicious software locks users from their computers, and then ask them to pay a $300 fee via bitcoin to obtain the encryption key. The longer the user takes to pay the ransom, the higher the fee becomes.
How Did the Virus Make It Onto Computers?
Like many other pieces of malware, WannaCry spread because people didn’t take proper precaution. The virus is believed to have originated from compressed files attached to emails. It’s important to avoid becoming an online victim. This is a topic that we have discussed before because there are a lot of opportunistic groups looking to take advantage of internet users.
Why Are Small and Large Businesses Using Vulnerable Systems?
Upgrading to the newest operating system is not so simple for business. For example, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that medical equipment uses old operating systems and are not easy to update. Business with multiple computers or larger IT system can also have a hard time updating their infrastructure. Some updates can break key application needed to do work. Companies have to be very careful when performing a companywide update, otherwise, it can critically damage everyone.
While Microsoft has ended support for older operating systems, they recently created a patch to address the incident. Companies using Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 can now download a patch to protect their computers. If you can, we suggest updating your operating system regularly to avoid risk to your private information.
Are You the Victim of a Cyberattack?
If you notice the telltale signs of a cyber attack on your computer system, call us at Geek Aid. Our IT and networking specialist can help. We offer services like data backups, data recovery, virus removal and more. We even provide recurring updates for companies to prevent attacks from infecting your system and disrupting your business.
One of our services even includes setting your business up with your own private exchange or email setup. That way your email is only distributed to those who need it. Your computer’s security system is important to us. So, call Geek Aid at (877) GEEK-AID today. You can also reach us via email by filling out our contact form.
With Apple and iPhone being such a recognizable name, the company’s flagship product was bound to draw the unwanted attention of hackers. Hackers are the seedier parts of the digital world. Furthermore, most of them look for opportunities to exploit technology for their own personal gain. It is not uncommon to hear about hackers making demands and using their skills to access private data.
A hacker group called the “Turkish Crime Family” recently gained media attention. The oddly-named group claims to have access to various user accounts and threatens to use that information to wipe user iPhone data unless Apple pays a hefty ransom.
The Ransom and Threat
The hacker group is asking for $75,000 in Bitcoin or $100,000 in iTunes gift cards. However, some are unsure of the number of accounts the group has access to. They claim to have hundreds of millions in their possession. As a show of force, the Turkish Crime Family revealed 54 accounts.
ZDNet was able to confirm that the accounts are indeed real. No one knows exactly how the hacker group was able to obtain these accounts. Unless Apple pays, they plan to use the account information to access iCloud and remotely erase their data.
Apple Claims iPhone Data Is Safe
Despite the hackers’ forceful demands, Apple is unwilling to give in. Their response is that users accounts are safe. Their statement claims that:
“There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.
We’re actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved. To protect against these type of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication.”
How Users Can Protect Their Information
In the event of any breach, real or not, users should stay vigilant. The number of accounts that these hackers claim to have is a lot. As a result, users are taking a risk that their private information can be leaked with others or erased entirely by not doing anything.
What users can do is secure their devices. The first step is to change their iCloud password. Remember, a complex password with capitalizations, symbols, and numbers are harder to crack. Next, update your security settings. Old information is how hackers often gain access to passwords.
The last step you should take is enabling two-factor verification. This security method uses a combination of two components to verify a user’s identity. For Apple, users need their password and a six-digit verification code, which is sent to their most trusted devices, to access their account from a new device.
The digital world is a dangerous place. There are vultures are out there, who only want to take advantage of you and steal your personal information. However, being vigilante will prevent you from becoming an online victim. At Geek Aid, we are all about cyber security. Here are a few ways that you can protect yourself from dangerous hackers.
Avoid Becoming an Online Victim by Ignoring Dangerous Links
We have discussed the perils of clicking on dangerous links before. They mostly come through emails. That’s why emails have filters to weed out junk mail. They are most likely coming from malicious sites. Never click on an unknown link.
Question Suspicious Emails
Some hackers are clever. They will pretend to be legitimate sources and convince you to give them your personal information. Check the email address to see if it looks suspicious. If they say you owe money, call the company directly and check with a representative to find out if the email is real.
Be Careful What Information You Share Online
Hackers are often able to trick people because they monitor the information they are putting on social media. They will use your interest, location data, and other public knowledge to try and fool you. You can restrict this information by adjusting the privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. Some allow you to restrict who can see what you post, keeping your information invisible from unwanted eyes.
Make Your Passwords Complex and Unknown
We know that passwords can be hard to remember, but you should never use words or phrase that relate to you. This will leave you vulnerable, especially if you use your password as a username elsewhere or if it’s related to information that is public. It is best to create something complex like these:
Ensure that you are hack-proof and protected from becoming an online victim. Remember, always stay safe in the digital world.
Android users are already familiar with the pattern lock. For those who aren’t, the pattern lock is an alternative to a password. In order to access a phone or tablet, users draw a pattern on the screen and the device is unlocked. It’s simple, it’s easy, and it’s intuitive. But, is it safe? Security experts from several universities prove that anyone can crack the pattern in just five attempts.
The 5 Attempt Barrier
With a pattern lock, users draw a pattern on a grid of dots. By connecting one dot to the next, in the right order, they will unlock their device. Like most security methods for phones or computers, there are a certain number of attempts to input the code. For Android phones, it’s five attempts and then the device locks for a certain period of time.
Hacking the Pattern Lock
Security experts at the Lancaster University, Northwest University in China, and the University of Bath proved that new technology allows hackers to successfully infiltrate a user’s device in under 5 attempts. By using video and computer vision algorithm software, they were able to record and track the fingertip movements of an android user relative to their device’s position.
The algorithm was able to quickly generate several possible patterns. At least 95% of the time, the researchers were able to unlock the phone within those 5 attempts. They even note that more complicated patterns were easier for the algorithm to figure out.
Obviously, this is a problem. Around 40% of Android users use the pattern lock as their form of security. Android phone dominate the mobile market, making up 86% of smartphones owned by mobile users. If this algorithm is used by hackers, then the privacy these mobile users are at risk.
In the end, the researchers make several suggestions. For users, they suggest covering their phone when drawing their pattern. For phone manufacturers, they suggest adding extra security measures to the pattern lock system by way of more user input or blocking the phone’s screen from cameras.
Predicting the cyber security trends of 2017 is a worthwhile exercise after such a hack-heavy 2016. Many of these hacks were high-profile. As a result, they dominated the news cycle for the majority of the year.
On a smaller scale, local businesses are hurting badly from this. Less than one in three small businesses have basic security tools. Nearly a quarter of them say they’ve had a loss of data. While almost half list it as their greatest fear. This is coming from Carbonite research, and they predict these cyber-attacks can potentially grow in 2017.
Everyone seems vulnerable in this climate. People in both the public and private sector are worried about leaks, malware, phishing, and whatever else may come.
So, what can we expect to happen in 2017? How will people be protecting themselves from more sophisticated attacks? To answer these questions, here are a few trends we predict will play a big role in making people safer in the year to come.
Predicting Cyber Security Trends in 2017
- Expected to increase this year is regulation. Research estimates that government spending on cybersecurity will continue to increase to somewhere in the billions by 2019. Whether it’s through legislation or more standard security controls, there will be a call for as much prevention as possible.
- Demand for cyber-insurance will reach new heights. More companies will be looking for this type of insurance than ever before. It could lead to a significant spike in premium cost because of this.
- The cloud will be scrutinized due to these breaches. Companies providing cloud capabilities for users are not equipped to protect. Users will be wise to find other security options on their own.
- More schools will implement cybersecurity education programs. The Air Force Association has already launched one at no-cost for elementary schools. A well-informed user is the first step in preventing a cyber-attack. So, teaching kids at a young age about potential threats will make future generations more aware.
After such a wild year, cyber security trends in 2017 all tend to lean toward vigilance. Education and better focus on prevention are imperative.
Photo apps are the social media platform most vulnerable to attack. By nature, they tend to have the most sensitive material. Worry grows among Snapchat and Instagram users because of this. As shown over the years, when a hacker is able to gain access to such sensitive material, it proves to be very damaging.
Users of photo apps would be wise to take as many preventative measures as possible. Storage location, the rise of location-specific information, and changes in an app’s terms of service do not help security. Developers need to do more. As it stands, too many users are vulnerable.
Security Flaws Made by Developers of Photo Apps
Neither Instagram nor Snapchat has end-to-end encryption. Both apps communicate primarily through pictures. Making sure the sender and recipient are the only ones able to see the messages should be a priority. Not having end-to-end is a problem.
Snapchat has also changed its terms of service recently. These changes now allow them to store and share information with third parties and their affiliates. Considering how the initial appeal of Snapchat was that all messages and photos vanished after a brief period of time, this upset users.
Security Measures for All Users
It’s highly suggested to take advantage of the phone software and security apps protecting a user’s photo access. With iOS 8, Apple made it possible to hide pictures on iOS devices. This is achieved by simply putting them in a designated folder. Additionally, apps such as HiFolder allow users to store private images locally in its password-protected vault.
Those measures only work for a phone’s internal storage of photos, however. For photo apps, users must take matters into their own hands. Linking an account to another social media platform like Facebook or Twitter is a big risk. As is using anything in the app that requests location. Being aware of which followers can be trusted is also necessary.
Most social media apps could stand to beef up their security as it stands. Because of its history of getting hacked, security for photo apps is especially important. More preventative measures by both developers and users must be in place.