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How to Avoid Online Scams this Holiday Season

Hack the Hackers with Password Security

Top Access Control Trends for 2019

The Benefits of Two-Factor Authentication

Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

Tips to reduce risks after a security breach

Malware strain infects 200k more devices

Healthcare: Prevent insider threats

Cryptojacking: How to protect yourself

Virtual DR: The best anti-ransomware tool

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Posts Tagged ‘cybersecurity’

How to Avoid Online Scams this Holiday Season

This holiday season, experts expect cyberattacks to rise by 60 percent. Retailers and consumers will see a spike in cybersecurity alerts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with heightened risk for the remainder of the year. Below are practices WesTec recommends to avoid online scams this Christmas.

Analyze Email Advertisements and Deals

Most attacks are a result of commodity malware. Scammers send phishing emails, often posing as your favorite brand, to try and steal your financial information. These emails often include misspelled words and misused grammar. If you suspect any email you receive is a scam, avoid clicking any URLs. This is how scammers steal your data or install malware on your computer. Instead, to verify the email came from the true brand, visit their website and see if they are offering the same deal.

Shop from Established Brands

Sometimes deals look too good to pass up. If an unknown website is offering a seemingly impossible deal, you could be looking at an online scam designed to steal your credit card information. Shoppers can look for the https in a retailer’s site URL, compared to http. The ‘s’ stands for secure and ensures all communications between the browser and website are encrypted. 

Avoid Public WiFi

If you plan to shop online, avoid purchasing on public WiFi. These networks are often unsecured, meaning anyone with a computer acumen can view what you are browsing and steal your personal information.

Use a Credit Card

Pay with a credit card when making gift purchases. A credit card offers the best liability protection against potential fraud, unlike debit cards. If scammers gained access to your debit card information, they could drain your accounts.

Make Sure All Passwords are Unique

It’s easier to use the same password for all accounts. But is it safer? If a hacker discovered your login credentials, they could easily hack into other accounts and steal your information. To best protect yourself, your data, and your financial information, make sure each account has a random and unique password. For more information about password security, visit our recent blog post. With the holiday season quickly approaching, be proactive in identifying online scams. For more information about cybersecurity and avoiding attacks from scammers, contact us.

Hack the Hackers with Password Security

hacker attempting to steal passwordsHave you ever been the victim of a cyber attack? Do you use the same password for all of your accounts? Follow our guide to outsmart the hackers with increased password security.

How Hackers Get Your Passwords

Before you can better protect your accounts, you must understand how cybercriminals access steal your information. Typically, a hacker will compromise your account in one of three ways. 
  • Personal attack: Hackers target your account specifically. They will typically guess your email password and use password recovery options to access other accounts.
  • Brute-Force attack: Hackers systematically check all possible passwords until the correct one is found.
  • Data Breach: Hackers attack large companies, resulting in millions of compromised accounts.  

What Makes a Good Password?

Ideally, your password should be at least 16 letters and contain a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters. Passwords should not include any repetition, dictionary words, usernames, pronouns or IDs. Make a strong password by thinking of a phrase and then use the initials of each word, as well as the numbers and symbols, to combat potential attacks. For example, if your phrase is “Do you think a hacker will guess my 16 character password for Facebook?!”, your password might be: Dytahwgm16cp4F?!

Enable Two-Step Authentication When Possible

If any sites or accounts offer two-factor authentication, take advantage of it. This system works to limit hacking attempts by making a user authenticate their identity with a second method of verification. Check out our recent blog post about two-factor authentication for more information.

Use a Password Manager

The best thing you can do for your accounts is have a different password for each one. However, if you follow this one cardinal rule of password security, keeping up with all passwords can be difficult. Using a password manager allows you to save all of your passwords in a secure spot with a strong master password.  WesTec offers consulting for any individuals or businesses wanting more information about password security, network installation, or managed IT services. Contact us for more information.
Top Access Control Trends for 2019

Top Access Control Trends for 2019

Access control systems continuously evolve with the newest technology trends. In fact, they must keep up with updates to protect companies, their employees and data from threats. With a rising number of security breaches, we can expect more companies to install access control systems. 

Access Control Reviews

Security breaches are encouraging companies to conduct full audits of access controls. Enterprises will review risks by user, role and business process to isolate and mitigate risks before they turn into high-profile breaches. By noting weak security measures, companies can make changes to better protect assets.

Individualized Access

In 2019, we saw to see a rising trend in individualized access. This ensures each person has their own username, password or identification code. Companies now have access to automated provisioning, which sets up user accounts and creates automated workflows based on job duties. 

Security Patching

Hackers will do anything to break into security systems. While this has been a problem for decades, hackers are now specifically targeting overlooked points of access. To combat external threats, we expect access control systems to begin patching vulnerabilities, even if it means temporarily disrupting productivity. 

Threat Identification

Next year, systems will continue and expand their use of data analytics to monitor and mitigate threats. Companies will use their dashboards to monitor access, but they will also run possible scenarios to reduce risk and conflict. 

man using access control systemCloud-based Systems

The need for analytics, automation and access will encourage more businesses to install  cloud-based control systems. As companies increase their technology and mobile tools, they will want to protect their system in an effective way.  As we prepare to enter a new year and decade, businesses shouldn’t ignore threats from potential breaches. Our expert IT professionals at WesTec Services can help you analyze your current strategies and install a system designed to deflect security breaches. Contact us to learn more about our access control systems.
two-factor authentication benefits

The Benefits of Two-Factor Authentication

As technology continues to advance, additional security measures become necessary. Until now, single-factor authentication has been the standard. Single-factor authentication requires a username and password to enter an account. Consumers need additional security measures as cybercriminals become smarter. This is where two-factor authentication helps protect sensitive information and log-in credentials.  Two-factor authentication (2FA) isn’t a new concept, but is a necessary additional layer of security. It usually works by requiring the submission of a username and password, then asks for something additional to prove you are who you say you are. For example, some businesses will send a pin number to your cell phone you must provide for entry into a site.

Improved Security

With a second form of identification needed for verification, two-factor authentication makes it harder for an attacker to impersonate a user. In the event a cybercriminal gains password access, they can’t produce the additional element required to authenticate.

Increased Productivity and Flexibility

Employees can work remotely when their employers implement a second factor of authentication. They can securely access important applications, data, documents and back-office systems from any device or location with little risk.

Lower Security Management Costs

Approximately 40% of all help desk calls are related to password resets. With secondary authentication, businesses can expect less of the budget to be spent on security needs. It provides a safe way for employees or consumers to reset their account password by using the additional element to prove their identity, meaning they can handle the issue without contacting an IT professional.

Reduce Fraud

Identity theft is a common goal of cybercriminals. With two-factor authentication, businesses add extra mobile protection for customers, the site and the transaction. Adding a second element in your authentication process builds a sure brand consumers trust.  Ready to add two-factor authentication to your website? Contact your Houston IT experts.

Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

July 5th, 2018
Regularly evaluate your cybersecurity

Experts estimate that the global market for cybersecurity products this year will exceed that of last year. At first glance, an increase in spending seems necessary and shows that businesses are becoming more aware of cybersecurity issues. But a closer look may prove otherwise. Learn why your company could be investing on cybersecurity products the wrong way.

Uncover threats and vulnerabilities

Every business should evaluate the current state of its cybersecurity by running a risk assessment. Doing so is one of the easiest ways to identify, correct, and prevent security threats. After discovering potential issues, you should rate them based on probability of occurrence and potential impacts to your business.

Keep in mind that risk assessments are specific to every business and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for small business technology. It all depends on your line of business and operating environment. For instance, manufacturing companies and insurance groups have totally different applications to secure.

After tagging and ranking potential threats, you should identify which vulnerabilities need immediate attention and which ones can be addressed further down the line. For example, a web server running an unpatched operating system is probably a higher priority than a front desk computer that’s running a little slower than normal.

Tailor controls to risks

Instead of spending time and money evenly on all systems, it’s best that you focus on areas with high risk. You should address these issues immediately after an assessment, but also put plans in place to evaluate their risk profiles more often.

Assess existing products

Chances are, your organization has already spent a great deal of money on security products and their maintenance and support. By conducting risk assessments more often, you can improve the strategies you already have in place and uncover wasteful spending. You may discover that one outdated system merely needs to be upgraded and another needs to be ditched. Remember, your existing products were purchased to meet specific needs that may have changed immensely or disappeared altogether.

It’s much harder to overcome cybersecurity obstacles if you’re not regularly evaluating your IT infrastructure. Contact our experts for help conducting a comprehensive assessment today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Tips to reduce risks after a security breach

Tips to reduce risks after a security breach

June 28th, 2018
Tips to reduce risks after a security breach

No company is completely safe from data breaches. For proof, look no further than companies like Yahoo, AOL, and Home Depot, which compromised millions of personal customer information. That said, no business is completely helpless, either. The following steps can minimize the risks to your business in the event of a large-scale data breach.

Determine what was breached

Whether its names, addresses, email addresses, or social security numbers, it’s critical to know exactly what type of information was stolen before determining what steps to take. For example, if your email address were compromised, you’d take every precaution to strengthen your email security, which includes updating all your login credentials.

Change affected passwords immediately

Speaking of passwords, change yours immediately after any breach, even for seemingly safe accounts. Create a strong password comprised of alphanumeric and special characters, and make sure you never reuse passwords from your other accounts.

Once you’ve changed all your passwords, use a password manager to help you keep track of all your online account credentials.

If the website that breached your information offers two-factor authentication (2FA), enable it right away. 2FA requires two steps to verify security: usually a password and a verification code sent to a user’s registered mobile number.

Contact financial institutions

In cases where financial information was leaked, call your bank and credit card issuers to change your details, cancel your card, and notify them of a possible fraud risk. That way, banks can prevent fraud and monitor your account for suspicious activity.

Note that there are different rules for fraudulent transactions on debit cards and credit cards. Credit card transactions are a bit easier to dispute because they have longer grace periods. Debit card fraud, on the other hand, is more difficult to dispute, especially if the fraudulent transactions happened after you’ve notified the bank.

Place a fraud alert on your name

Hackers who have your personal information can easily commit identity fraud. To avoid becoming a victim, contact credit reporting bureaus like Equifax, Experian, or Innovis and request that a fraud alert (also called credit alert) be added to your name. This will block any attempt to open a credit account under your name and prevent unauthorized third parties from running a credit report on you.

Putting a credit freeze on your name might result in minor inconveniences, especially if you have an ongoing loan or credit card application. Still, doing so will greatly reduce your risks of getting defrauded.

These steps will ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft in the event of a large-scale data breach. If you want to take a more proactive approach to protect your sensitive information against breaches, contact our cybersecurity experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Malware strain infects 200k more devices

Malware strain infects 200k more devices

June 20th, 2018
Malware strain infects 200k more devices

Yet another global malware infection has been making headlines and the story just took a turn for the worse. When the news of VPNFilter broke, experts warned that 500,000 devices were already infected, but now they believe that number is much higher. Thankfully, it’s not too late to protect yourself.

VPNFilter recap

A team of security researchers from Cisco released a report that a strain of malware had been discovered on hundreds of thousands of routers and network devices. Originally, researchers believed it affected only Linksys, MikroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link devices.

Like many malware strains, VPNFilter infects devices that use default login credentials. But it’s worse than the average cyberattack because it can destroy router hardware and cannot be removed by resetting infected devices.

As if destroying 500,000 routers wasn’t bad enough, VPNFilter lets its creators spy on networks and intercept passwords, usernames, and financial information.

What’s new

Just two weeks after VPNFilter was discovered, security experts announced that it targets 200,000 additional routers manufactured by ASUS, D-Link, Huawei, Ubiquiti, UPVEL, and ZTE. Worse yet, VPNFilter can alter data passing through infected routers. That means when you enter a username and password into a banking website, hackers could steal that information and show you an incorrect account balance to hide fraudulent deductions.

How to stop VPNFilter

Rebooting a router won’t remove the malware, you need to factory-reset the device. Usually, all this requires is holding down the Reset button on the back of the device for 10-30 seconds. If your router has no reset button or you’re unsure whether pressing it did the trick, contact a local IT provider immediately.

Cybersecurity threats have become so prevalent that even large enterprises struggle to keep their digital assets safe. Outsourcing IT support to a managed services provider like us will give you enough capacity to deal with issues like VPNFilter as soon as they arise. Call us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Healthcare: Prevent insider threats

Healthcare: Prevent insider threats

June 5th, 2018
Healthcare: Prevent insider threats

Healthcare is the only industry where insider threats pose the greatest threat to sensitive data, with 58 percent of security incidents coming from people working within the organization itself. Here’s a look at five ways to prevent such breaches.

#1 Educate – The workforce (meaning all healthcare employees) must be educated on allowable uses and disclosures of protected health information (PHI) and the risk associated with certain behaviors, patient privacy, and data security. For example, when a celebrity is admitted to hospital, employees may be tempted, just out of curiosity, to sneak a look at their medical records, so this must be emphasized as a definite no-no.

#2 Deter – Policies must be developed to reduce risk and those policies must be strictly enforced. The repercussions of HIPAA violations and privacy breaches should be clearly explained to employees. They can be penalized huge amounts of money and violations can also carry criminal charges that can result in jail time.

#3 Detect – Healthcare organizations should implement technology to identify breaches rapidly and user-access logs should be checked regularly. Organizations need to have a strong audit process and ensure that they are regularly monitoring and updating access controls so only authorized personnel are looking at sensitive patient data, and that attempts by unauthorized personnel don’t go unpunished.

#4 Investigate – When potential privacy and security breaches are detected, they must be investigated promptly to limit the damages. When the cause of the breach is identified, steps should be taken to prevent recurrence.

#5 Train – Healthcare employees must undergo regular comprehensive training so employers can eliminate insider threats. From a privacy standpoint, training and education often start with the employees themselves; they learn all about data privacy right off the bat, from the first day of orientation. Still, organizations must remain vigilant and ensure that they are properly prioritizing privacy and security as cybersecurity threats continue to evolve. Healthcare organizations’ IT departments should send out different tips covering a variety of topics regularly throughout the year. And to keep these tips top-of-mind among employees, IT departments should send them via a variety of media, including emails, printed newsletters, and even memos.

Is your healthcare data secure? What other steps can you take to ensure protection for your healthcare provider from insider threats? Call today for a quick chat with one of our experts for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

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