Tag Archive | Business

How to question security at your company? (mini-whitepaper)

The following are good questions to do/answer about security at your company (some may or may not pertain):

  1. Are employees trained and appropriately monitored with how to stay safe (on the computer/online)?
  2. Are cash-handling processes, flow, etc. documented well?
  3. Are wireless communications locked down or protected?
  4. Are your cash registers, networks, and procedures correctly up-to-date with the latest software updates?
  5. Do your terminals for the call center display only necessary information about customers?
  6. Are the facilities well maintained and well-lit for safety, not only for customers but also employees?
  7. Is physical access control in place and used well?
  8. Are your defenses developed and well maintained with new updates in virtualization and private clouds?
  9. Are doors, walls, and windows properly resilient?
  10. Are there proper security measures in the parking lot, such as cameras, fencing, lighting, call boxes, patrols? (Probably best for large companies with huge parking lots)
  11. What are the hours of operation?
  12. Can the HVAC system be used as a portal to your company? (In other words, can people get in to the HVAC system and get into your building?)
  13. What are consequences of physical disruption of the HVAC system?
  14. For the loading docks, do you have a visual record of each delivery and associated personnel? Do you know each delivery person, are they commonly the one who do the deliveries, and do they deliver similar amounts of good each time?
  15. Is the loading dock ever left unattended or does someone maintain it all the time (people change shifts as needed)?
  16. Can security systems be connected to inventory systems? Does it increase efficiency?
  17. Are your employees trained to recognize and properly handle a suspicious package? Do you have common rules established for it?
  18. Are all records appropriately encrypted, locked up, or any other way protected?
  19. How does data get destroyed, if needed? Paper shredder? File deletion?
  20. How are records secured when they are transferred to you, whether physical or digital?

Thanks to CSO for inspiration!

 

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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

NCSAM official image (Department of Homeland Security)

Cyber security awareness is so important, and we’re going to display a few things you should be aware of this month, for you to try to make capable changes to your personal or business security perspective. You will notice some of the information below is linked to different posts here on the blog. This should help you understand each topic better! Please don’t be afraid to use each of the links below to learn more about protecting your system(s).

  • Email is one of the biggest attack methods. Since users are still highly dependent on email, it is so critical that email systems get fixed. Spam can be so cunning that it may disguise itself as your friend, someone you trust, or a bank. The main target in these spam attacks is phishing, which will allow an attacker to trick you into doing something or giving away personally identifiable information.The goal is to also download malware on to your computer, which can be used to take control of your computer and steal much more personal information. Some emails may claim to be a legitimate organization sending you an attachment, but it’s purpose is to distributed malware on your computer. It is best to secure email systems against spam. This can be done using a variety of products whether hardware or software. Make sure to secure your system(s) with the latest spam fighting utilities. Also, securing Outlook or Windows Live Mail is beneficial.
  • Instant Messaging still seems to be a vector for malware attacks. Just when people drop their guard about IM security, a new band of threats affects users. Most IM attacks come in the form of spam, a message from an apparent trusted friend, or a phishing attempt/scam from a legitimate looking company. A lot of the time, when the message appears from a trusted friend, it usually means that person’s IM account or email account has been hacked and the attacker has mined the email addresses or IM addresses in order to send you these attacks. It is important to have a good Internet Security product that protects against IM attacks along with network defense.
  • Exploits are the most common cause of infections on computers these days. Many of the exploits have been caused by out-of-date Java plugins or Adobe Flash Player plugins (or even fake Flash Player), among other types of plugins for your browser. Other exploits come in the form of advertisements that are catered to your interests, by the use of tracking cookies, which when you click on the ads it can lead to a site that will immediately download malware and attempt to take control of your computer.Those are just a couple of examples of why you need Internet Security protection as declared just above in the explanation for IM security. Also, having a second-opinion malware scanner can make sure that things don’t get missed, giving you maximum protection. Working on a defense-in-depth strategy for your computer can be a great way to avoid exploits.
  • Downloading and installing untrusted software products is a good way to get infected with viruses, spyware, and other threats and malware. Using tools such as Web-of-Trust for your browsers is a key idea in managing whether a site is safe. Also, reading reviews for the product you are getting ready to download and purchase will help you make an informed decision. It is important to have Total Internet Security protection, as stated above in IM security. Please refer to the “Internet Security product” link for more information on securing your system(s) with protection mechanisms.

There are many more vectors of cyber security problems. It is important to use the methods described above as well to secure your system(s) from attacks from cybercriminals.

Summary of mitigating most attacks:

LifeLock

Windows 8 Security Features Explained (mini-whitepaper)

Windows 8 is apparently more secure than Windows 7. Perhaps this is true, and it is best to learn what security features there are for the new operating system. Some of these security features are verified to help out very well in the security of Windows 8, and some may not be in time, or lastly some may not work at all.

One of the most discussed security features is Secure Boot. Now, Secure Boot is a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) specified in the boot process to check cryptographic signatures of kernel-mode drivers, making sure they aren’t modified or corrupted. In other words, the boot process is now made to check if the operating system has been corrupted by malware or some other issue.

This is all part of a hardware restriction process called Hardware DRM. All non-ARM devices have the option to turn Secure Boot off, however ARM devices must keep it on. Experts state that it will be resistant to rootkits, since the MBR and BIOS cannot be accessed, unless if someone working on the computer penetrates it.

Next, Windows 8 features better built in antivirus software, with a much better improved Windows Defender. The software in Windows 8 is combined with the optional tool Microsoft Security Essentials. Now, with Windows Defender super-powered with MSE, it has much more anti-malware features.

With better anti-malware features, Internet Explorer is now made with better features as well. It has the ability to prevent zero-day exploits much greater than previous versions of Internet Explorer. With the challenges of exploiting Windows 7, there was the issue risen up again for Java and Flash Player, so hackers can gain control over the operating system. Those browser plugins are now easier to exploit than the Internet Explorer’s code.

A new application sandboxing environment called AppContainer provides the ability to run all apps in a controlled environment, where it controls how apps work. This prevents apps from disrupting the operating system. Of course, this is just supplemented by Internet Explorer’s SmartScreen filter, which prevents the download/install of known malicious software. However, Windows 8 now has SmartScreen available for any app, allowing even more prevention. Of course, this means Microsoft employees are going to increase in numbers, if they really want to keep up. Now that hackers know their new challenges, they will be relentless.

The questions are still played on whether Windows 8 will be a repeat of Vista or not. The reality of the situation, is if Windows 8 has big popularity, then the security issues will also light up big time. However, many will stick to Windows 7, so the security issues for Windows users are not close to be over. Feel free to take a look at related articles below for Symantec’s opinions, which aren’t too well on the new OS.

Added October 31, 2012: Trusted Platform Module, read more

Keep up with the latest security tips on our blog here. In addition, please donate to help us continue to write these awesome whitepapers.

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!

 

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Chart Flight Reservation Spam

Once again, email users are being reminded to be wary of unsolicited email attachments – as a criminal gang spams out an attack designed to infect Windows computers.

The emails, which all have a subject line of “Charter flight reservation”, claim to be related to the reservation of a charter flight for multiple people.

However, attached to the emails is a file called Report-D9935.zip that contains malware.

Read more on this story on Naked Security

Controlling Internet Activities for Businesses (mini-whitepaper)

Today the discussion is about how to control the Internet activities of my small-or-medium business. What is to be said, however, is the loyalty of your employees to your company is what matters most, in which they will stay on task. (Won’t get into that, as that would have to do with business ethics)

Of course, employees love fast Internet connection. They love fast services. But, what can be done to control the Internet connections in your business?

Browsing

While it’s fine that most companies allow a little browsing by their employees, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the Internet. One great way to fix this issue, is to disallow browsing, or put some control on it. The best control that can be sought is bandwidth limits. Blocking heavy bandwidth sites, and disallowing an employees to use a lot of bandwidth will control their browsing a lot!

Anti-Malware & Anti-Phishing

The other way to control the Internet in your business is to have the proper protection software for each computer. It is not uncommon for a business to have security problems, so it’s a no-brainer to have security software installed for every single computer.

Some of the best tools to use would involve:

Using these tactics will be able to help control the Internet usage in your business, and ensure your employees are staying on task!

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