Safe Internet Day 2017: Few handy tips to stay secure in world of web

Safe Internet Day 2017: Few handy tips to stay secure in world of web By Manas Dwivedi  Available from <> First Published: Tuesday, February 07, 2017 11:34 AM; Updated On : February 07, 2017 12:10 PM Photo Source:
February 7 is celebrated as Safer Internet Day to promote NetSafe tricks and some useful fixes.

In the world of internet and information technology, data safety and security is a vital aspect of everybody’s life. After all, it’s a matter of privacy and once any outright sabotage happens, it really is tricky to deal with and fix the mess caused by hacking, malware and ransomware.

Continue reading “Safe Internet Day 2017: Few handy tips to stay secure in world of web”

IoT Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business

IoT Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business by Drew Robb.  Available from<> [Posted November 07, 2016]

This article examines the recent Internet of Things (IoT) attacks and offers expert tips on how to secure IoT devices.

Last month on October 21, millions of people could not connect to websites like Twitter, Netflix, Spotify, Airbnb, Reddit, Etsy, SoundCloud and The New York Times—due to what’s known as a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. The culprit? Tens of thousands of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that contain wireless sensors to connect to the Internet. Hackers compromised cameras, coffee makers, web cams, DVRs, surveillance cameras, routers, anything they could get their hands on. And they used these devices—without their owners knowing—to unleash a flood of overwhelming Internet traffic that took down all these sites.

“The latest DDoS attack used connected devices such as smart refrigerators and thermostats,” said Frank Scavo, president of Computer Economics. “They flooded the network with a large number of transactions, until these websites were unable to process legitimate transactions.”

Understanding the Need for IoT Security

The IoT is the subject of tremendous hype of late. Analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than twenty billion devices will be connected to networks worldwide. The vision behind this includes: smart traffic lights that don’t leave you idling at a junction for several minutes when nothing is coming the other way; coffee makers networked to the front door or to your phone so coffee is ready and waiting upon your arrival; and fridges that send reminders to order grocery items in short supply.

The problem is that every wireless sensor and each networked device represents a possible entry point for an attacker. And if hackers can use them to bring down the Web, how difficult do you think it will be to use them to infiltrate a small business network?

Unfortunately, most of these IoT devices contain little in the way of security features. If even when they do, they’re neglected. People never change the factory set password—such as 0000 or 1234—when they are installed, so millions of devices end up with the same easy-to-hack password.

For example, a security conference called Black Hat Europe recently discovered a security vulnerability between IoT devices and Android phones. Belkin home automation devices—such as electrical switches, cameras, light bulbs, coffee makers, and air purifiers—could be used access the phones that program and control the devices.

“Hackers can use the IoT device to hop right into the network,” said Chris Coleman, senior engineering manager at VeeDog, a small business ransomware-prevention vendor. “Anyone using such devices in a small business could find their servers suddenly overcome by malware.”

He said that wireless Internet routers in small businesses are particularly prone to attack if they’re not well protected. But there are also known cases of business cell phones being hacked via the office coffee maker.

“A lot of devices out there have intelligent connections to the Internet that represent a real and persistent danger to your business,” said Coleman.

IoT Security Tips

We spoke to security industry experts who offered their best IoT security tips to help you prevent your business from falling victim to an IoT attack. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Software Updates: Keep the software for your computer network, servers, laptops, desktops, network switches, wireless routers, and any other devices up-to-date, particularly with the latest manufacturer security updates.
  • Strong Passwords: Never use default passwords for devices once you set them up. Change them and keep them secure. This means no sloppy password construction: like using your name, the actual word “password,” or other easy-to-hack terms. Remove Post-It notes stuck on screens or cubicles that serve as password reminders.
  • Wireless Security: Wireless devices use certain security methods, and some are easier to hack than others. Coleman recommends disabling Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) and using only Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2).
  • Home Security: Make sure that you and your employees take safe practices home, especially if any of you conduct business from home. The bad guys like to comprise home computers. They find the ones that connect to business networks, capture passwords, and quietly move into the business. From there, they can wreak havoc.

    “Hackers rely on security ignorance, and they take advantage of your business by mining for choice nuggets [e.g., data, usernames, passwords] in home computers,” said Coleman.

  • Data Backups: Invest in a data backup strategy, and make sure that you or designated IT person/team—knows how to restore your data in the event of disaster. If you lose a computer or a server that’s critical to your company survival, proper backup and restore procedures will help you turn a potential disaster into a mere nuisance.
  • Get IT Help: Hackers rely on ignorance. If you have an IT person in your business, hold her responsible for security and encourage her to gain expertise—fast. If you have enough personnel, appoint someone to solely look after IT security and justify it by the fact that the bad guys are hitting everyone right now. If you don’t have enough staff or in-house expertise, hire outside help to handle that responsibility.

    “Network consulting firms, security consulting firms, and managed service providers will assess your network, your website, and any connected devices that you have,” said Scavo. “They can help you decide what security measures you need to take to protect your company.”

  • DDoS Protection: If your website lies at the heart of your business, and it makes you a lot of money, consider securing additional protection against a Distributed Denial of Service attack. Attackers can either target you directly or you may just get caught in the crossfire when they go after your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

    “If you want to be sure you website cannot be shut down by a DDoS attack, your website needs to be hosted by special Internet hosting companies that specialize in DDoS mitigation,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO of security awareness training vendor KnowBe4. There is an industry that does this, but it’s not cheap. If you can’t afford it, call your ISP and ask how they mitigate against DDoS attacks. Find the ISP that has the best measures in place.

  • Credit Cards: Small business owners have complained about being forced to buy the latest credit card payment machines that include a chip reader. But the Smart Card Alliance believes this adds another layer of protection against hackers. Every IoT device serves as a potential entry point onto the network, and that includes credit card machines and bank accounts.

    “These recent DDoS attacks, one of which was more than four times the size of the largest reported attack last year, are comparable to the massive payments data breaches that have been in the spotlight over the past few years,” said Randy Vanderhoof, executive director of the Smart Card Alliance. “This is just the latest example of the IoT vulnerabilities that exist today, and it demonstrates why IoT security is so critical.”

  • Physical Security: Amir Sharif, co-founder and vice-president of business of Aporeto, a cloud security company, pointed out that even with all of the above safeguards in place and with top-of-the-line security practices in force, a business could still become a victim due to one insecure IoT point.

    Hackers could use an innocuous device sitting in the corner to unlock a company’s physical doors remotely. They could then send in a local person to install sophisticated snooping devices that map keyboard strokes, record voice data, steal video streams off of computers, and so forth. With that information they can silently siphoned bank accounts over a long period with what would appear to be a series of legitimate transactions. “Buy IoT devices only if you have a good business need for them,” said Sharif. “Buy devices from well-known companies that stand behind their product and provide some indemnity.”

  • Video Cameras:Surveillance technology has become incredibly affordable, and it’s been deployed by many small businesses. Increasingly these devices can connect to the Internet, and that poses a threat. “You should keep Internet-enabled devices—like video cameras—on a separate network from the primary business network that deals with customer financial transactions, like point of sale systems, intellectual property, or any form of regulated data,” said Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra Networks.

    Mat Gangwer, chief technology officer at Rook Security, takes this a step further. He advises small businesses to keep all IoT devices off the corporate network except those that are absolutely needed. “It doesn’t require a huge IT budget to make an organization a little more secure, to make it a more difficult target,” said Gangwer. “Most hackers go after the really the easy targets.”

  • Security Technology: Of course, small businesses still need the usual security technologies place: anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls, encryption and, especially these days, ransomware protection. VeeDog, for example, is designed for small businesses. It monitors the network data flow, flags suspicious files, and analyzes them for destructive or malicious intention. It disables any file verified as malware, and then it submits the malware file to the customer’s anti-virus provider so that it can distribute a fix to all their customers.
  • Educate Employees:Most breaches, hacks, and ransomware result from human error; someone somewhere within the organization got sloppy or lacked proper security education—or both. And it’s shocking how easy it is to trick employees. One company hired an outside organization to pretend to be its IT department. It sent employees emails asking for their user passwords. Out of 200 employees, 113 their passwords immediately.

    Opening email attachments or links from unknown or unverified senders is a poor practice, yet it remains an easy, viable way to gain unauthorized entry. Employees need training on how to spot suspicious emails.

    How can you tell if the email is NOT from your bank or from the IT department? Hover your cursor over the name shown as the sender. Hackers can make something look like a legit email yet when you put the cursor there, the actual email address shows up as something along the lines as

    Security experts agree that ransomware attacks will only increase, which makes security awareness training a sensible defense. Employees learn the various tricks of the hacking and ransomware trade so they don’t get conned. Training programs also send out spoof email links to see how many employees click on them. They track the percentage, and the training helps to reduce the number over time. It’s shocking how many people, including bosses, get fooled.

Don’t Let IoT Fear Paralyze Your Business

Yes, our highly connected world can seem much too scary. One in 40 small businesses is at risk of a cyberattack, according to a Symantec report. This translates directly into dollars lost—the National Small Business Association found that, on average, cyberattacks cost small businesses more than $7,000.

“Businesses that have connected devices, such as smart-factory or smart-warehouse equipment, need to be aware of the threat and to make sure their devices have security protection,” said Scavo. “Otherwise criminals could take down your factory or your warehouse and demand ransom to get it back up and running.”

Such possibilities could cause some business people to yearn for the good old days when they never had to worry about hackers and malware. But it’s really not much different than moving from a tiny community where no one locks their doors to large city—where you have to change your habits and take sensible precautions.

“The risk is relatively small if a business takes basic steps to protect its network,” said Mike Bergman, senior director of technology and standards at the Consumer Technology Association.

Mankind successfully made the transition from a lower-crime agrarian existence into a higher-crime industrial world. The same can be done with the Internet of Things. Just as the benefits of industry were found to outweigh the many drawbacks, so it is with a more connected world.

“At the end of the day, we’ll see that the benefits IoT provides to the small business owners outweigh the cost,” said Sharif. “Life will go on.”

IoT Security Tips to Protect Your Small Business by Drew Robb.  Available from<> [Posted November 07, 2016]

Top 11 tech tips for non-techies

Top 11 tech tips for non-techies  by Michael LaVista.  Available from <> [November 08, 2016]

If you’ve ever had a VCR blink 12:00 for months at a time, this post is for you.

For many, technology is a necessary evil, albeit an appealing one. Back in the day, you liked the idea of recording Magnum P.I., but you just didn’t have the time or inclination to figure out how to do.

More than ever before, technology is designed to make your life easier, but it takes some doing to get it working for you. Here are some things you can easily do today to get technology working for you, and to avoid some pitfalls even if you’re a little scared off by it.

Get your important documents in the cloud. Have you ever wondered what “The Cloud” really is? It’s just the new marketing term for the internet. If you use Gmail, your email and attachments are on servers that Google runs. That’s it. There’s really no reason to use Microsoft Word to create docs and save them to your desktop. My mom recently lost all of her documents because they were saved to her computer – and only to her computer. That meant when the hard drive died, so did her documents.

The easiest solution is to use Google Drive. It’s free, and has web-based programs that are more or less equivalent to Word, Excel and Powerpoint. They don’t have all of their functionality.  But if you’re like me, the last time you used Mail Merge in Word was for your wedding invites, and you only pretend to know what a Pivot Table in Excel is.

The best part?  Once they are in Drive, you can access them anywhere from any computer.

Get your photos in the cloud, too. I’ve met multiple people who lost their phones, and with them, all their photos. What? It’s really easy to have a backup plan. If you’re an iPhone user, just go into Settings and iCloud and turn Photos on. Voila! Your phone will start pushing your photos to the cloud. You can even go to and look at them. It might cost a few bucks depending on how many you have, but it’s probably worth it.

And when you get a new phone one day, the moment you activate it, all those photos will start flowing in.

Switch your email to something not tied to a service you pay for. I’m looking at YOU, people with and addresses. What happens when you switch to Uverse? That old email goes away. Don’t tether yourself to your cable provider. Get an account on Gmail or Hotmail.

Don’t click on links in emails from people you don’t know. Here’s a tip on how to see if the link is legitimate. If it looks like an email from Wells Fargo, look at what’s up in the browser address bar when you click it. Does it say Or does it say If it’s not the one you expected, what’s happening is that you put your correct user and password in the box and the fake site records the info, but returns an error that says that’s not the correct password. So you enter it again. They save it again. In the background, they now are able to log in to the real site as you.

Never. Ever. Download an attachment from somebody you don’t know…and if you get an email from a friend that is worded strangely as an attachment, don’t download it either. Email them back and tell them to change her email password because their account just got hacked.

A quick note–what does it mean to be “hacked?”  Most people think that when their emails get hacked that there is some person out there reading your emails now. That’s hardly ever the case. Generally speaking, and this is surprising to many, there are millions of programs out there just running through emails and passwords to try to guess it so they can a) get access to your contacts (to send an spyware attachment to them as you) and b) get into your account to send more spam.

Here’s a quick tip–Is your password “I love you” or “password1”? If so, you’re not alone. A study showed those are the 2 most likely passwords. Think you’re pretty clever with the old “child’s name birthday combo?” Yeah – they know about that one, too.

Log out. Ever check your email the hotel? Logged in to your friend’s computer to see pictures? If you don’t log out, the next person to show up on that computer is able to be you on the internet for long as they want.

Just Say No…to Email Requests.  When a store asks you for your email address during checkout, say “I prefer not to give it.” It might take practice – try it at home a few times. Do you really need marketing email from all those stores?

Advancing Googling. Did you know there are additional tools for Google? Try clicking here:

You can get results in a date range. This is useful if you are looking for something that would have more relevant results for last week versus last year.

You can also search only on a given site by adding “site:” and the site in front. If you want to see which pages on are about tickets – search for this: tickets.

Most of all, don’t be afraid to click around and try things. Most sites have advanced features like that. You can’t break them. Click around and find the hidden gems!

Top 11 tech tips for non-techies  by Michael LaVista.  Available from <> [November 08, 2016]