Ways To Avoid Phishing Attacks

With today’s culture it security is one of our biggest concerns with everything being digital from online banking to conferences and evening tax filing. It should be our number one priority to protect ourselves from cyber-attacks and or threats. 

With an increase in phishing attacks, it is said that over thirty percent (30%) of these attacks are done via emails that and being opened unknowingly, which means this should not be taken lightly. Quite a number of your spams contain malicious attachments that can infect devices and or capture essential data. 

What Is Phishing?  

According to the webster dictionary, phishing is defined as a scam by which an internet user is duped (as by a deceptive email message) into revealing personal or confidential information that he scammer/attacker can use illicitly. 

As is said above, a phishing attack usually happens through emails to aid in a cyber attack. Phishing is mainly done via emails sent in links that look most legitimate as that of the reputable company. It is a lucrative business for most scammers/attackers as it players on your most basic instinct.

Avoiding Phishing Scam/Attacks

While phishing attacks are rampant, there are steps that we can take to ensure we are protected. Here are seven ways you can do so:

  1. Check Before You Click: It is easy to click a link/URL displayed in a trustworthy environment; however, an unknown email URL should be checked out before you proceed. Once you receive a random email you are unsure of, you first, hover over the link/URL you see as uncertain before clicking on it. At this point, look to the bottom left corner of your screen to view its corresponding URL. A phishing email may carry a link that looks just like that of a legitimate company, but when selected takes you to a malicious page that will infect devices and capture information.
  2. Stay Informed: It is a fact that as new security measures are made or put in place, the attackers do change their techniques. Not staying on top of the information game (keeping informed), you stand the possible chance of quickly falling prey to these scammers. Updates are often on the news (television) and various online medium.
  3. Update Browser: Security patches are released continuously for popular browsers often. These releases are a defense against various security loopholes that may be noticed and even used by numerous scammers and cyber attackers. Once an upgrade is speculated, please upgrade immediately, ignoring updates that only leave you prey for your attackers.
  4. Avoiding Attachments and Links: When to avoid illegitimate URL/links at times, hit us in the face, but we choose to ignore them. We can pick this up easy or say some of the this we have ignored are lousy grammar, request for personal information misspelling, or even a.net where a .com should be. This means never click on a link or attachment that is not trustworthy.
  5. Anti-phishing Installation: You would find with modernized browsers that they would have an anti-phishing toolbar already installed for your auto protection. This protection is done by doing quick checks on sites you are visiting compared to popular fishing websites. The sophistication of this tool quickly alerts you to any malicious site s once visiting. This is one know layer of protection and is entirely free for its users. 
  6. Never Give Personal Information: This is the golden rule and is being said many times but never enough. Don’t ever volunteer your sensitive personal information. Articles prior will inform you of your confidential data that you should never share. These include but, in the know ay limited to financial details, login credentials for separate accounts, social security number (SSN), and many more. If you notice the majority of the phishing websites carefully frequently request the previously mentioned sensitive information.
  7. Antivirus Software: There are multi reasons for using antivirus software, and phishing protection are one such. Your antivirus software stays on your device(s) to protect from malicious attacks that may work around your first security line or work around the loophole. It is like another line of defense.

Conclusion

 I hope this article aids you in being better able to protect against phishing attacks and scams. Reminder to always check your URLs or links before clicking to go through to your new browser. Continually update browser and antivirus software as these protect you by hiding your possible loopholes and system workarounds. The most important rule of them all never shares sensitive information and login credentials. 


Your Digital Identity

While initially, it was said that your online whereabouts do not define you as they only entail things that are mechanical such as your email address, phone number, IP addresses, and items of that genre. We all can agree that this has significantly changed with most of our lives in the digital space. This dimension has gained rather exciting attention. This all makes it much easier for most of our worst nightmares, “identity theft.” 

What Is Digital Identity?

Though the concept of digital identity may seem complicated and somewhat tricky to understand, some information will give clarity. 

Digital identity is defined as a network or internet equivalent that holds or consists of information about you. As we evolve through our digital journey, our life becomes that of our online and offline activity, as such events are surveyed via the digital domain. These pieces of information that entail your digital identity can be as minimal as a comment on various online mediums to big as sharing sensitive information like social security number or single user name or email address. These are called your “digital attributes.” 

What Are Digital Attributes?

As the Internet of Things (IoT) increases every day by various mediums, be it applications, networks, or otherwise, the attributes also increase with this. While we have named a few earlier, here is a list with a few more. 

  1. Social Security Number (SSN)
  2. Login Credentials (email address/username and password)
  3. Online Accounts
  4. Online Activity (Searches)
  5. Social Events (likes, posts, and shares)
  6. Comments made on articles or social media

Protect My Digital Identity 

In the end, our digital identities are here to stay. As avast so humorously states it, “As long as your online Doppelganger exists, there will always be someone hoping to exploit it.”

Some steps or actions can put in place to mitigate or even prevent attacks or digit identity infiltration from happening.

  1. Invest In A VPN: Always use a virtual private network (VPN), as this software establishes a secure path between you and the server hence protecting your digital identity. See more in the article, why invest in a VPN.
  2. Protect Your User Name and Password: Often, advice not to share your credentials with anyone is worth obeying. This is one step in protecting your digital Doppelganger existence. Another step is implementing a password manager; this places secure encryption on your passwords and gives you the marvelous advantage of managing passwords for one central spot.
  3. Search Engine: It is best to use a search engine that is most secure. In most cases, users substitute with incognito web browsers.

Other Steps In Protecting Your Digital Identity

  1. Burn or shred documents containing sensitive personal information
  2. Limit sharing of sensitive information such as SSN
  3. Use unique and strong passwords on all online accounts
  4. Never share login credentials
  5. Secure home and workplace Wi-Fi networks

Digital Transformation Security and Its Impact

Digital transformation is having a widely significant impact on technology as we grow, from cloud storage to mobile adaptation, which means it goes beyond website and system responsiveness and deals with solutions for all possible hacks or attacks. What will you also notice in companies’ changes? These established businesses continuously roll out new changes and upgrades to ensure that all the latest security protection measures are in place to ensure customers/clients can browse and conduct business safely without worrying about online safety. 

Companies do know that “growth is key,” with that said, technological upgrades are done for better business outcomes for customers.

These transformations usually affect small businesses and large businesses alike, as change requires the participation of all departments or members to be involved. This is so as the transition then has to be understood by all be it, customers, who are the largest stakeholder, office members, or partners. While digital transformation is quite essential, it keeps our companies’ IT teams or provider of said service busy at all times. All IT companies are constantly researching to keep the pace going with security needs to ensure all affiliates are protected.     

Believing it is safe to say most, security practitioners were not anticipating such a drastic shift in the digital transformation field and the weight it brings to the market affecting security. With this, organization and their various teams are always on point and have to stay that way for preparation and consumer protection. Security practitioners, as well as IT personals, have to keep abreast and updated as again the cannot be caught ill-prepared for any changes.

 

Digital Transformation Impact On Security 

According to avast.com, small or mid-sized business (SMB) groups defines digital transformation as, “using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, practices, models, cultures and customer experiences.” It also stats that data revealed that nearly 60% of SMBs are now familiar with the term and understand its meaning and is said to double in the past two (2) years. 

It is a fact that all online activity can indeed impact your business in the way of cybersecurity. As employees in multiple industries and varied areas of a function, we all use one thing or another. What does impact your security level, from as simple as browsing the web, sending or accessing emails, or even the use of cloud storage opens us up for network infiltration? 

Though digital transformation in a more condensed form is all about technology improving and the innovative drive of data to improve on business and how we serve, it is safe to say we have a long way to grow. Some key factors must be implemented in the growth as well; some are customer insight, efficiency in operation, and business agility enhancement.  

Success In Transformation 

A successful digital transformation is an aim for all companies, but we need to take a lot into the equation to accomplish this. So when looking at an organization (security practitioner or IT) with a high success rate in withstanding and securing your data, here is a list of things to consider. 

  • Network safeguard right across and always check for possible improvements 
  • Security practices are still in place
  • The business system security architecture is unified and constant work is done to maintain
  • Threat intelligence is shared across the company to keep all teams informed 
  • Their ability to reach out and assist strategically executing projects securely

Cyber Attacks That Tampers With Your Privacy

 An increase in technology also increases the possibility of evolved cyber attacks and/or threats. As we get wiser in systems we use or measures to take, so do our hackers, whose aim is to compromise our systems, security, data, and other information, including account numbers, emails, and passwords. This interference can lead to theft of identity, loss of funds from a financial institution, and much more company devastation. 

In this article, we hope to educate you on prevalent attacks that many cause from your online presence and actions that can be taken to mitigate and prevent further trouble.

What Are Some Common Cyber-Attacks?

Computer Crime: Internet Phishing a login and password concept

SSL Stripping

What is SSL stripping? This is also known as an SSL downgrade attack and is an attack used to compass security enforces by the SSL certificates on websites. HTTP and HTTPs function in the request-response protocol, but they deem it more secure as for the request encryption through SSL. 

SSL is a secure protocol used for communicating sensitive information; this information includes but not limited to banking details, email correspondence, to name a few. An encrypted connection between both parties creates this protocol’s security; this is usually a client application and a server. For a secure connection to be established in most scenarios, the following occurs.

  1. A user sends an unsecured HTTP request
  2. The server replies by HTTP and then redirects the user to a secure protocol (HTTPS).
  3. The secure session begins when the user submits a secure HTTPS. 

For the SSL strip to happen, a hacker intercepts the redirected HTTP to the secure HTTPS protocol and interferes with requests between the user and server. The hacker proceeds to establish the connection (HTTPS) between her/himself and server, and an unsecured bond with the user, the hacker acting as a third party.

Help Of a VPN

A Previous article titled Why Invest In A VPNinforms you how a VPN can be your best option for hackers, identity theft, and generally cybercriminals. Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows users to have a secure connection to other networks via the internet; this is usually done remotely. A VPN hides your IP address, which then protects you from identity theft by encrypting your data; all this is done by routing you through a private network. With information encrypted being sent from the user to your intended location, data intercepted by hackers would be unreadable.  

Min-in-the middle

A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack happens when the attacker/hacker intercepts the communication to inject malware to your device, be it PC or mobile. The MITM usually consists of three parties: the victim (user), the website, or entity the victim is attempting to communicate with and the interceptor/hacker. 

The MITM methods are most times to steal the browser cookies, phishing, and to identify login credentials that are stored. These allow your attacker(s) to insert themselves between the victim and the intended entity to gain relevant credentials and other valuable information.

Fake Hotspots for Wi-Fi

One of the most natural things for hackers to do may be to set-u a false wi-fi hotspot name Barnes & Noble, McDonald, or everyone’s favorite Starbucks. These frauds would look most reputable and would be seen as convenient and identical to the network commonly used. Once connected to this network and data transmission begins, hackers will have access to all your details. This to the hacker is like “taking candy from a child.”

Packet Sniffing

This is considered as the gathering, collecting, and logging of possibly all that passes through your computer network. When using a website with an unprotected network can allow your hacker to attach hi/herself unto packets of information passing between you and the website trying to reach and process.


Why Invest In A VPN?

Multiple questions are surrounding the need and reasons to invest in a VPN. This article seeks to inform you of and answer the majority of issues surrounding the blur of VPN.

What is a VPN?

The abbreviation stands for Virtual Private Network; this is a virtual pathway between devices. A VPN allows its users to create a secure connection to other networks via the internet. With the feature of encryption, it safeguards your every move on the internet, be it working, shopping or banking, proves to be one of the best tools on the market to ensure your internet privacy.  

 

How does a VPN work?

Did you know that VPNs were initially set up by Microsoft in 1996, to have employees remote securely to the company’s internal network?

Virtual Private Network (VPN) works by routing your traffic through a VPN server instead of sending it directly to your internet service provider. What this does is data that is transmitted via the internet, such as your online searches, uploads, and others appear to be coming from your VPN server and not your devices used for browsing. 

In our previous article titled IP Address Security, you would have read how a VPN aids in protecting your IP address, which is a unique number associated with your home or office network. This unique number is visible to the web; hence investing in a VPN hides your IP address by rerouting your traffic, thus protecting your identity with the added encryption feature.

 

Why Use A VPN?

I recently had a conversation with a friend who asked me; why do I need to use a VPN? My answer was, why not? Not several people use the tool for varied privacy reasons. At that time, I thought we are more modernized, and everything is or can be done online.

Public Networks: public network wi-fi, which is found in your favorite places as your favorite coffee shop, and other areas are exceptionally high-risk. If a hacker is on this same open or public network, this individual will easily spy on your activity with the high potential of accessing and using your private information. Having a VPN secured network will have all hidden, and your identity secured.

Why Use a VPN In Home?: The VPN affords you the opportunity of IP address protection, but it also allows you to hide your internet provider. You may say that is not important, but you avoid discrimination of price and geo-blocks on media with it. 

 

Six Reasons To Use A VPN

The piece of mind for secure connections where ever you go:

We mentioned the public network earlier. While it is not security or privacy correct, we all fall short of using that coffee shop wi-fi or the airport wi-fi as we need to connect, to check and reply to that email or simply view social media, I have. In doing that, we shared our information with multiple people in our location. 

Accessing video streaming content where ever you travel worldwide:

True story: A year ago I took a trip to the Caribbean while on the island I decided to get connected to the internet and watch my favorite investigating series, only to find out it wasn’t available in my geo-location. My first shocker of many that could have been resolved with a VPN. 

Seen that a VPN allows you to connect to a US-based server or an equivalent home server while you take those memorable trips, this has your streaming services thinking you are still at home.

Be safe shopping locally or internationally online:

We can’t deny the convenience and benefits of shopping from your most comforting spot (home or office), can’t deny online shopping. 

A reminder from the previous article “website security” shop or disclose sensitive information only to SSL certified websites, which means your website should have the closed lock to the front of “https.” In this, the site is more secured for you.

Feel secure when banking online:

From the various conversations with customers and clients, one of the most important to both parties to secure other than their social security number (SSN) is their banking information. Your VPN provides an additional security layer, which puts your mind at ease because we all love the convenience of online banking.

Ability to remain anonymous:

Often we may hear the phrase, “our phones listen to us,” and that is true. We often search for items in our search engines, and they pop up on our social media page(s), which proves our devices listen but safe to say they provide answers. 

Your VPN allows you to remain anonymous from shopping for flights to checking in your hotel room as these websites also track your activity.

What fears of public wi-fi?

It cannot be said too many times, airports and other places with public wi-fi offer you this opportunity to be entertained or busy while waiting on your flight or even coffee. You may not realize that this would be a hotspot for identity theft just waiting to happen.

 

Advantages of:

  • Censorship avoidance: Though illegal in most cases to circumvent restricted government information sometimes it is necessary and a VPN allows that.
  • Stream from any location: A VPN gives you the grand privilege to stream your favorite videos from whichever location you are. 
  • Beat price discrimination: Your location and internet service providers play a huge role in this area. Have you ever realize that your more sought after items from your browser usually populates your social media pages and other sites? Your VPN helps in minimizing in that department.
  • Don’t be tracked: Cannot be said too many times a VPN adds that layer that hides you from hackers and other cyber type criminals. 

Disadvantages of:

  • VPN Blocked: I learned this at an inopportune time on my part, that companies do get wiser in detecting VPN. Here I was settled to stream one of my favorite series and the website gave me an error as it was detecting my VPN. 
  • No cookie protection: There are cookies that sole purpose is to make the websites work better, in those cases, the VPNs will not be able to block cookies. You are allowed with the privilege of deleting cookies that track or some virus protection such as AVAST that allows you a secure browser. 
  • Potential slow speed: This happens as there is a lot more pressure on website traffic putting it through a VPN, with all the steps of finding a private network. 
  • May not have complete privacy: This point must be most alarming. While your VPN blocks and secure from hackers, government entities, and any other lurkers, your VPN providers can see all activity if they wish.

Website Security

Congratulations, you have successfully launched your website but, is it all done? how secure is your website? and is it ready for business? These questions are the best to ask at the end of the project and just before launch. At this point we are thinking of potential cyberattacks, encourage potential visitors and maintaining your reputation. In this article, you are going to be informed of your new best-friend website security. 

Now, What is Website Security? You might ask. This is an action or application taken to ensure the protection of website data is not exposed to cybercriminals or prevent exploitation of websites of any form, this is an ongoing and essential part of your website management.

 

Why is it Important and What does it Protect?

Website security is important as it protects as hacks, simple. Having security is just as important if not more than all other aspects. Look at it this way, no security results in potentially being hacked, being hacked can result in data loss, data loss results in a damaged reputation, possibly blacklisted, lawsuits and this can result in some huge fines.  

Some of what you will be protected against are as listed:

Defacing: replacing your website content/material with other malicious data.

Malware: This can be used to steal sensitive information.

Blacklisting: The possibility of your website being removed for search engines.   

All of the above shows lost and now results in favor of your or your business.

 

As for your users some of what the will be protected against includes:

Phishing:  In most cases, this is found happening emails, however, this is now seen in various web browsers and is designed to trick the user into giving up sensitive information. 

Malicious Redirect: In this case, the attack redirects the user from the intended site to another. 

Stolen Data: Cybercriminals oftentimes attempt to save users’ data which may vary from as simple as your name to SSN and also payment information done online.

 

BROWSE I A SECURE ENVIRONMENT

How Do You Secure Your Website?

There are many steps to take in securing a website, here goes to name a few:

 

Web Application Firewall: A web application firewall (WAF), stops automated attacks usually carried out by malicious bots that seeks to attack from your more vulnerable points to exploits or even slows down and crashes site through a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.

SSL Certificate: This certificate protects data collected by the website as it is being transferred to the server. Though considered a basic security measure a site on any browser labeled “insecure” is without an SSL certificate and is suggested to stay off. 

The cost of an SSL certificate may vary depending on the site and their of at that moment. Some of the most popular sites to get your SSL certificate are:

  •  SSL.com
  • Namecheap
  • The SSL Store
  • GoDaddy
  • GlobalSign
  • Digicert

Just to list a few and you will see that all sites offer to vary in prices.

Though we have only touched the surface of what website security is remember, “a breach in your website security cost more the longer it stays”.