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Second Opinion Malware Scanners: Why buy one?

Second opinion malware scanners are the best key in managing vulnerabilities. What a regular antivirus or internet security program doesn’t find or catch, the second opinion malware scanner can catch. This is an integral part of a defense-in-depth method, which is a very good idea in maintaining the security of your computer AND your identity. ID theft is one of the biggest security problems on the internet today, but luckily thanks to many anti-malware companies, there are ways to avoid these types of problems.

Second opinion malware scanners do not interfere with other antivirus/internet security software. If they do, rarely, the support team at each company are dedicated to helping you solve that issue pretty fast. These types of programs are engineered to work alongside an antivirus and internet security program.

The following is a short list of second opinion malware scanners. I only recommend two of them, because they are the best, and because I’m an affiliate:

  1. Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro (MBAM Pro)

    Overall, this program is a powerhouse against malware. It provides the best secondary protection mechanisms with IP blocking functionality. Also, allows you to protect the MBAM interface with a password. It keeps hackers out, and the user is allowed in. It also provides priority database updates, excellent customer support, and lightning fast scanning technology. This comes at a lifetime price of only $24.95 (USD), which means once you buy it, you don’t pay anymore fees ever again!
    Try Malwarebytes, the Leader in Malware Removal
  2. Hitman Pro by Surfright

    Now, this program, Hitman Pro, is a different story. It provides a behavioral scan for malware, which checks programs and files for typical malware/virus-like behavior. If it thinks it is a threat, the program alerts you asking you to remove it. It also uses the cloud to enable itself to scan your computer with the newest data from all antivirus companies about zero-day threats. This program is best known for its ability to find kernel-mode rootkits, and its ability to remove even some of the toughest malware. What could be better? Buy Hitman Pro Today!
  3. Zemana Anti-Malware
    This program is a bit newer in the market, and not as well known as the above two. However, it is a competitor in the anti-malware field, and deserves a mention nonetheless. From the vendor: “Zemana Anti-Malware is a second opinion scanner designed to rescue your computer from malware (viruses, trojans, rootkits, etc.) that have infected your computer despite all the security measures you have taken (such as anti-virus software, firewalls, etc.)”.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in Education (mini-whitepaper)

BYOD is the technology philosphy and business/education policy of bringing your own device (mobile) or technology (shortened BYOT for laptops, iPads, etc.), and using it while at work or school. Therefore, the use in education can be very beneficial as well as troublesome. Of course, monitored by teachers, it can prove those benefits.

In the past, schools provide the technology that the students would need, but as economic troubles emerge and technology is more pricey, it is better established for a student to BYOD. Basically, the schools are asking the parents of these students (except for college-age students) to purchase the devices so the student can use the technology at school.

These are some of the reasons for the set list below of advantages and disadvantages of BYOD in education, and how you can decide what’s best.

(Awesome guide by Cisco [PDF]: http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/46096_byod_ed_aag.pdf )

Advantages

  • Frees up tons of expenditure in educational costs.
  • Provides a big teaching arsenal for teachers, allowing students to view e-textbooks, videos, educational apps, online research, digital learning apps, etc. This type of provision allows reinforced ideas and teachings, and blends the learning. Thus, it has been named as Blended Learning.
  • Less confusion, since the student can use the device at school or at home. This will provide a major way for students to understand the apps much better, make better use of projects (and actually accomplish a good grade), and make learning more fun.
  • Filtering software becoming available (which would be armed on wireless networks and have an acceptable-use-policy in place) to break some disadvantages, which are listed next.
  • Makes learning more efficient. Students are more wired in to technology, so the efficiency of learning would be better for students of all types.
  • Repair costs for educators? Phewey! Students/parents are responsible for repairs, no problem.
  • Digitized classrooms, which brings back instant results in points systems and other apps. The teacher can have their own subscription to the service, while the students utilize their subscription. The students enter the answers or project data, and it can be automatically graded and sent to the teacher. Makes it easier for scoring, saves a lot of time grading, and boosts efficiency even more.
  • Gamification, which brings educational games can be developed which correspond to the learning program and make it more fun for those student gamers talked about above.
  • Ability to instantly send results from government checking units, which may see the quality of education through these digitized classrooms. This could provide the way for even better apps to be developed, more schools to take on the philosophy, and improvement of technology in the classroom.

Disadvantages

  • The biggest concern in doing the BYOD philosophy, is the inability to filter out inappropriate text, images, videos, etc. Teachers would still be required to check up on each student to make sure they’re staying on task. It is sure those sneaky students will still find a way around the fact the teacher checks on them.
  • Ability to filter out gaming is a problem. Games are so easy to access and put away in smart phones and iPads, that it would be easy for students to play a game, see the teacher, react, and close the game before getting caught. The reaction time is so much easier than a PC/Mac (where a taskbar reveals current apps open).
  • With students having access to the device at home and school, they can get used to the devices easier and learn better reaction times, just described above.
  • Inappropriate digital material being brought to school. The major concern is focused on plagiarism, school cheating, etc. One example would include macros (which can automate math problems).
  • Forgotten, lost, damaged, or stolen device. This is especially true for younger students. There could be problems of leaving it on the bus, dropping it in a puddle or water, leaving it on a desk, someone stealing it, etc. Also, the fact that confidential data could be at risk. This could provide a whole new level of privacy trouble and potential liability for schools, if gone out of hand.
  • Some students live in poor or lower income/budgeted families that cannot afford such devices. There is hope that PTA organizations and such can provide financial assistance or a more generic low-cost device to help the student get the best learning possible. While many families are prepared for the general school fee, they’re not so prepared for this new philosophy of BYOD.
  • Schools not prepared with the proper wireless equipment, filtering software, and other technologies such as software apps.
  • Cuts the needs of extra teachers, teacher assistants, etc. Which could drop employment levels in education. But, of course, an assistant could qualify as helpful in monitoring the student’s habits on the device.

Overall, the advantages versus disadvantages are pretty standard, and hopefully, it can help educators decide if the use of it is okay for their systems of learning.

If this has saved you money or your organization money, or potentially provides savings, please donate to further our cause of better security.

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The Advantages and Disadvantages of Single-Sign-On (SSO) Technology (mini-whitepaper)

Overview

Single-Sign-On (SSO) is a user-authentication process, in which the user signs in to one screen name, and it makes multiple applications or websites unlocked or logged-in. Usually, the system will have conditional measures that will know what a certain user has access to, permissions, etc., and be able to provide the services. Now, the question brought to attention is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of single-sign-on?

Advantages

  • In the healthcare industry, it could be booming with single-sign-on. If a doctor were to need to sign-on to a database to access a patient’s files, he/she would also have to access x-rays, and other data that would be on a different application. Having a single-sign-on for all that would be life-saving and totally worth it. Not only that, but hours of saved time.
  • Apps such as OneLogin provide easy-access to tons of accounts across the board, particularly social media. It says on their site that they are supporting “identity & access management for the cloud”.
  • Could work wonders for those with disabilities. Having a disability may limit you from typing a lot of words at one time, or typing fast enough. If a single-sign-on system were in place, one login means much saved time.
  • Reduces the chance of forgetting your password. By having your one-set master password, it will be a lifesaver to not have to remember a ton of passwords.
  • Reduces IT help desk costs, by reducing the number of calls to the help desk about lost password.
  • Newer technologies are being implemented to help detect the attempt to hack a certain system, in which it would lock out the hacker from the remaining systems. But, this has more studying to prove how good it works.

Disadvantages

  • Vulnerability problems, such as with authentication, privacy keys, etc.
  • The lacking of a backup stronger authentication, such as smart cards or one-time password tokens.
  • The SSO is a highly-critical tool to keep up always. If the SSO goes out, the user would lose access to all sites.
  • It would be critical to have a good password, one that is very hard to crack. With the reduction of accounts, particularly the fact that SSO is in play, it’ll be easier to find and hack accounts. Once the SSO account is hacked, all others under that authentication are hacked as well.
  • SSO is bad news for a multi-user computer, especially if the user stays logged in all the time. This is more prevalent of an issue in plant operations, business floors, etc. where multiple users can access the computer (if the original user left their desk).

Examples of current implementations

  • Log-in with Facebook
  • Log-in with Twitter
  • Log-in with Linked-In or Apply with Linked-In
  • OneLogin
  • ANGEL Learning Systems

And many more.

Worth reading: Building and implementing a SSO solution

Conclusion

Overall, the usage of SSO systems are good and bad. Based on your organization or personal life, it is your choice on whether to use it or not. Based on how potentially problematic it may be, you will have to be on your toes about a lot of it. But, I guess the time you save trying to figure out or remember your passwords, you can spend on staying guard for SSO systems.

 


Get the review of Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware

 

If this has saved you money or your organization money, or potentially provides savings, please donate to further our cause.

What We All (in IT) Can Learn from Anonymous Hacking & Activism (mini-whitepaper)

Overview

When talking with several other IT professionals, they happened to know who Anonymous was. Based on hacking, activism, and other protesting events particularly online, Anonymous has become very well known around the IT world. But, the questions today have to do with how all of us (in the IT and business world) can learn from these motives by Anonymous.

Here are some automatic principles that can be learned that applies to all of us in the IT world:

  1. Anonymous will not ever cease function, because it is an awesome principle. It requires the hacker to be anonymous, and to not admit identity. Tons of people worldwide do not display their picture with their name online. Ask a “private” person to put their full name online, and they will cower in fear. That is why Anonymous can get away with their motives that are done in secret.
  2. The target to bring down Anonymous, is to get them to stop their hacking, and to stop the activism in the streets. It’s not getting anywhere. The collective thinks that we need a perfect world, but sadly, it won’t happen!
  3. Membership in Anonymous is a “free-for-all”. Which means that even if your code name gets banned, you can come back as a different code name/IP address and continue contribution on hacking, projects (software), etc.
  4. There is probably not a grand-master or leader, just people keeping the same old mission going year after year. It all began with a few voices on 4chan years ago, and keeps on going (8 years now?).
  5. Time is of the essence. These people spend countless hours hacking. That means you have to work countless hours fighting back and on prevention.

What Businesses can learn

  1. Anyone entering your organization with anonymous identity ideas, or asks to be anonymous (by preference), has probably bad motives.
  2. It’s about time to implement better password security policies.
  3. It’s also time to implement better database encryption.
  4. Ensure good reputation across the entire spectrum of business…why? It attracts awesome workers, makes income rise, and makes the overall feeling of running the company a great type of feeling.
  5. Ensure the host server has excellent firewall technology and antivirus. It should not allow even the tiniest of malware threats onto a client server.

What Developers can learn

  1. “There may be developers smarter than me in Anonymous, so I need to step up my coding skills and get better encryption.”
  2. Encrypting files and databases has never been more important than now. Don’t think it cannot happen to you. That’s what Philips thought, or even AMD thought. You’d think AMD would have proper protection for their WordPress databasing since they know how to engineer root-level microprocessing chips. What gives?
  3. If the network is running one or two servers to operate a website, then it DOES need antivirus/firewall software. Don’t think just because your skills in database administration or server management are very good that malware can’t trump your server…you’re wrong. Some of the best administrators/managers have trouble with their server keeping free from malware.
  4. If you must get an unknown application from the web, or download it from an “anonymous source”, then run it in a sandbox or virtual machine. Execution of malware could be the end of the life for a server…don’t be tricked…stay protected.
  5. Just because your programming skills are awesome doesn’t mean anything. There are a lot of others that think their programming skills are awesome, however, the first time you let your guard down or get prideful – expect trouble.

What IT Security can learn

  1. Hackers can get in to nearly anything. Keep up on top standards in IT security. Being one step ahead of the hackers is a good thing.
  2. Keep the defense-in-depth method in mind. If you can get it to work, it will help for miles and miles (or kilometers and kilometers).
  3. Don’t expect security to be a piece of cake anymore. It’s now the top challenge in IT, and people are being recruited all across the IT stage to work in security. There just isn’t enough warriors on the scene. It’s time to step it up a notch in all aspects of your work. Don’t procrastinate and don’t be pessimistic. Be optimistic about all outcomes of your work, and see the improvement before your eyes!
  4. As stated above for businesses: password security is extremely important! Push password security big time. It’s the only chance at keep information secure in personal, business, and enterprise aspects.
  5. Push internet security software like there’s no tomorrow. Because for some people’s computers, personal or business, there will be no tomorrow. Not just for computers now, but also for devices such as smart phones, tablets, and PDAs.

Conclusion

There may be no more way to stop Anonymous, but at least we can be 5-10 steps ahead of them. If we do that, we’re showing them they have no future. It will also make it more challenging for hackers, and improve the best of technologies all across the IT spectrum. See for yourself, and try these principles on your specific spectrum. You won’t be sorry!

 

Protection

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Rakshasa Case Study: Really Undetectable?

By Jay Pfoutz
Editor

Apparently, the new showy security threat is Rakshasa… At Black Hat Las Vegas, this new security technique was unveiled.

This new malware by researcher Jonathan Brossard is apparently ‘impossible to disinfect’.

Now, FIRST OF ALL!! – Anything created with man’s hands can be destroyed. I’d like to see this opinion last: undetectable, can’t be disinfected, etc.

The paper on Rakshasa can be found here. It describes a hardware backdoor. Unbeknownst to this artist researcher, companies like Kaspersky or ESET have already begun to craft hardware antivirus drivers. So, this backdoor hardware malware scheme is a bit late, but maybe just in time, too.

Will it be used? Who knows. That’s the scary part!

It is realistically a BIOSkit, a rootkit that infects the BIOS of the computer. What’s wrong with this…? It can be easily disinfected by flashing all of the devices of the computer, which apparently would be infected.

However, this malware has not been tested in an enterprise-based beta, which means just because it worked on a couple of machines does not mean it would work on any other computer. Impressive? Yes! But, not at all scary, yet.

What makes me more shocked, is that people will actually believe that this malware will not be able to be disinfected. But, this is the turnaround: it can be! This is nothing more than a BIOSkit, and we have seen BIOSkits removed in our leagues many times.

But, then again, people commonly believe rootkits are impossible to be removed too. Look…we proved them wrong!

By inflicting code signing for BIOS, just like all other hardware driver signing, can easily keep it blocked. Also, if BitLocker evolves in Windows 8 and further technologies, it could easily secure the OS. Also, things like device encryption, could be taken to a new level.

This is not a new vulnerability, and Brossard agrees.

I’m sure we’ll have more on this story as it develops in the future. Stay tuned to seCURE Connexion!

Avoiding Digital Disasters (mini-whitepaper)

What is a data disaster?

Data disasters are the acute or chronic loss of data due to any of the following:

  • Virus or malware infection
  • Hard drive failure
  • Hacked computer
  • Computer being improperly shutdown

How do you value your data?

What are ways to recognize data loss?

It is best to protect your data by coming up with your own insurance plan. The data insurance plan.

What are ways to do this?

If you find it difficult to automate these tasks and want a continuous backup of your files, try this:

Defense-in-Depth PC Strategy (mini-whitepaper)

Defense-in-depth is a security strategy that provides multiple layers of protection for a network. Security strategy like this involves making an attacker have to work through a bunch of issues before he/she can have access to your network. The idea is to make them give up before they get too far.

We’ve provided a few tips on doing a defense-in-depth strategy (works for home/small business):

  1. Virtual Private Network – This is a tool to be used to allow all traffic in/out of your network to be encrypted. This makes it impossible for any data to be read easily. This is the best first layer, and should provide the top protection for your data. Many services offer VPN services for as little as $5 USD per month: StrongVPNWiTopiaoverplay. It is best to note that you need a VPN capable router for VPN to work.
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  2. Network Firewall – Using your router’s firewall will help prevent incoming attacks.
  3. Install antivirus software and firewall software – See a list of the best antivirus/anti-malware software
  4. Install a second opinion anti-malware scanner – Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware Pro or HitMan Pro.
  5. Create a strong password for all devices and accounts online, etc.
  6. Encrypt your files. Use BitLocker or similar tools.

There is not a perfect defense-in-depth strategy, but hopefully this will work out for you!

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