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Tips To Prevent Phishing Attacks

Phishing is one of the most prevalent forms of cybercrimes targeted at stealing personal information and financial data. It involves tricking the users into opening spam URLs or entering sensitive details in malicious websites that have been disguised as legitimate ones. Such attacks are usually launched through pop-ups and false emails.

Here’s how one can protect against phishing attacks:

  • Be wary of emails: Make sure you do not respond to emails that ask for your bank account details, credit card number or other financial information. Legitimate organizations do not request such information through emails. Phishing emails aren’t usually addressed directly to the recipient and create a sense of urgency in order to elicit quick response.
  • Never click on links embedded in emails: Hyperlinks or URLs attached in the emails may be spoofed to direct you to a malicious website. Hence, you should never click on links, open attachments or download files that you receive from an unknown sender. Instead, type in the URL directly into your web browser to ensure that the website you are visiting is authentic.
  • Be cautious of pop-ups: When browsing a website, be careful if you see too many unrequired pop-ups. You should not click on the pop-up or copy any link to your browser’s address bar. Also, do not enter any personal details as credible organizations do not ask to submit such information in pop-up screens.
  • Confirm security of the website: Before entering your personal or financial details, conduct a complete security check to protect yourself from phishing attacks. The website URL should start with “https://” instead of “http://” and there should be a padlock icon in the address bar. This signifies that the website uses encryption to ensure privacy of your confidential data.
  • Enhance the security of your computer: Keep your computer protected with the most up-to-date firewall, spam filters, anti-virus and anti-spyware software. You should also update your operating system and web browser regularly. Make sure all the software on your computer is downloaded and installed from credible sources.
  • Check bank details regularly: Keep a check on all your online transactions, bank accounts and credit card statements to identify if any unauthorized transactions have been made. If there are any irregularities, you should immediately report it your bank or credit card provider.

For more tips to prevent phishing attacks, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Types Of Malware Commonly Found Online

Malware, or malicious software, is a broad term used to describe a set of programs intended to carry out unauthorized activities. When a malware is injected into a computer system, it can affect its functioning, steal important files, dodge access controls and track the user’s online activity. In order to prevent these malicious programs from infecting your system, it is important to understand the different types of malware found online. Some of these have been discussed below:

Virus

A computer virus mainly infects a computer system through a malicious code embedded in a software or program. It can be used to steal information, damage hard disk, relay spam email and advertizements, create botnets etc. When a user launches the infected program, the virus can spread on to other computers through email attachments, IMs, shared network, removable storage devices etc.

Trojan

A Trojan typically comes disguised as useful software in order to convince the user to download and install it. Once executed, it can give remote access of your computer system to the hacker. The program is designed to take complete control of the victim’s system with the purpose of causing damage or pilfering confidential information. A Trojan allows the hacker to delete or modify files, steal financial information, install more malware etc.

Spyware

This type of malware works by anonymously tracking a user’s online activity and transmitting it to a cybercriminal. Stealing financial information, such as bank account numbers, online banking and credit card details, is the main target of most spyware. It can also slow down the infected computer, particularly when there is more than one program running.

Rootkit

A rootkit is designed to function remotely so as to avoid being detected by the users or anti-virus software. Once installed on a computer system, a rootkit can steal or gain access to your information, execute program files, modify security software, install another malware and alter system configurations. It can even block installation of anti-virus software or lock the system to prevent detection.

Worms

Computer worms may spread in a disguised form by exploiting security vulnerabilities in the operating system. They can create a backdoor in your computer which allows a hacker to access the system remotely, making it vulnerable to a Denial-of-service (DoS) attack. Unlike viruses, worms can self-replicate, without the need of a host and can send out its copies to several other systems, by infiltrating contacts in your email or phone book.

It is important that you follow the requisite security measures to avoid malware attacks and protect your identity online.

Social Networking Safety Tips

As the popularity of social networking websites has increased through all these years, the risks of using them have also augmented. A lot of people do not follow proper security measures and fail to identify the potential consequences of sharing too much information on these websites. Hackers, virus writers, spammers as well as other cybercriminals constantly track the activity of users and manipulate the information for malicious purposes.

Here are some tips to stay safe while using social networks:

  • Share Limited Information: Make sure you do not post sensitive personal information on your public profile, such as contact number, birthday, home town etc. It will safeguard your online safety and protect you against identity theft. Hackers may use this information to find answer to your security question and gain access to your account. Also, maintain caution while sharing photos and information that you do not want everyone to see.
  • Customize Privacy Settings: Social networking websites offer various privacy options to give users complete control over their profiles. Customize your account’s settings to restrict access to a limited number of people. Filter the people or groups who can see your basic information, photos, friends and updates.
  • Be Wary Of Third-Party Applications: Many social networking websites allow you to download and install third-party applications. You must be cautious while downloading which apps to install. These may be targeted at stealing your personal information or infecting your device with a malware. Make sure you read the privacy policy of the app to know what information it needs to access.
  • Be Cautious While Clicking On Links: Do not visit a social networking website through a link that you received in an email or text message. It may redirect you to a fake website intended to steal your login details. Also, links shared by friends or acquaintances should not be clicked. Instead, you should manually enter the URL into your browser’s address bar to ensure that you are visiting a legitimate website.
  • Accept Only People You Know: Social networking websites make it easy for people to fabricate or hide their identities. Cybercriminals may create fake profiles to contact you and access sensitive information. Hence, you must accept only those people whom you know in person. While interacting with strangers, be careful on the type of information you share.

For more social networking safety tips, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Essential Cyber Security Tips For Healthcare Industry

The healthcare industry has undergone a massive transformation in the past few years. With most of the services and information available online, it has become a lot easier for the hackers to infiltrate as well as exploit highly sensitive data for malicious purposes. Therefore, it is extremely essential for the healthcare facilities to implement comprehensive security practices to avoid putting sensitive medical and personal information at risk.

Given below are some useful cyber security tips for the healthcare industry:

  • Implement Basic Security Tools: At the minimum, hospitals and clinics should follow the basic cyber security practices. These include regularly updating firewalls and malware definitions as well as installing intrusion prevention systems. Virtual private networks should also be protected for a secure transmission of data over the hospital’s network. It will also ensure that only the authenticated users are able to access the network.
  • Stay Updated: As the hacking attacks have become more sophisticated, it is important to keep your system updated to prevent against any security flaws. Frequently check for updates for your operating system and firmware and download them from credible sources. Also change your router’s default configuration and password to block and unwanted traffic on your hospital’s internal network.
  • Strengthen Authentication Measures: Whether a patient or administrative staff logs in to the network, make sure their identity is properly verified before allowing access. Use multi-factor authentication so that the user has to provide the password along with an additional security element, such as a one-time password, to log in to the system.
  • Limit Access: Make sure you limit network access by restricting users from downloading unwanted software or applications on their computer systems. When using Wi-Fi routers, all the data sent or received should be properly encrypted. Physical access to computers should also be restricted by restraining administrator privileges. Systems containing the important information should be stored in locked rooms where only a few employees can enter. Educate employees about their responsibility towards safeguarding the organization’s information.
  • Change Passwords Regularly: Passwords for all the networked computers and online resources accessed for official purposes should be changed frequently. It is particularly important when an important employee leaves the job. It may be possible that he might access your old accounts and manipulate data.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete cyber security solutions for businesses across Dallas, TX. For more information, you can call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Common Mobile Application Vulnerabilities

With the increasing use of mobile devices in the organizational setting, it has become more important to pay attention towards common security vulnerabilities found in smartphone applications. Irrespective of the operating system and the device on which the app is installed, even a minor flaw can bring about enormous risks for the company’s security. Whether it is an internally developed app or a third party software used for business purposes, here are some of the common security vulnerabilities to look out for:

Insecure Data Storage

A lot of mobile apps store sensitive information such as users’ login credentials, banking details, credit or debit card numbers, social security numbers etc. Failure to store this data in a properly encrypted format poses a serious threat to the security of the application users. When the phone is lost, stolen or accessed by anyone, the data stored in clear text can be easily retrieved. Storing unencrypted data on removable devices such as an external SD card can be particularly risky from security point of view.

Malware

As a result of Google Play’s open format, Android apps are much vulnerable to security flaws. Hackers break down the malware code into small fragments to avoid detection and use names similar to credible developers to compel users to download the app. To avoid this, you must download and frequently update anti-malware software on your mobile device.

Unauthorized Access

Another common security risk posed by mobile applications is the unauthorized access to the users’ personal data. Employees should be informed about access permissions whenever they install an app on their device. User approval is essential before an app can use the information stored on the mobile phone. Hence, requests from apps to access data they should not be using should be dealt with very cautiously.

Improper Session Handling

This vulnerability comes up when the session tokens are, voluntarily or involuntarily, shared with the hackers. When the sessions are not handled properly at the server side, it may result in information theft or data leaks. Integrity of the session tokens should be protected by ensuring secure data transmission through SSL/TLS connections.

Poor Authorization and Authentication

Mobile apps and the resources they connect to should have proper authorization and authentication practices implemented. This will ascertain that only the legitimate users and devices are able to transfer as well as receive data through the app. The unauthorized users, scripts and codes should be identified as well as blocked.

For more useful tips on mobile application security, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Common Security Mistakes In Web Applications

While developing web applications, there are a lot of security vulnerabilities that may come along. The complex interactive elements of an app, including server-side PHP, Python or client-side JavaScript, increases the risk of inaccurate coding that may lead to breach of sensitive information.

Given here are some common mistakes that must be avoided while developing web applications:

  • Incomplete Input Validation: Validating user input on both the client side and server side is a must to keep your application protected against hacking attacks. Some of the most common consequences of an inconsistent input validation are buffer overflow, remote file inclusion, SQL injection and cross-site scripting attacks. Though implementing validation can be time consuming, it will help to set clear standards for the type of data your application should accept as well as its minimum and maximum length.
  • Injection Flaws: These may be a result of failing to filter unreliable input. When any form of unfiltered data is passed to the browser, SQL or LDAP server, the hacker can easily inject malicious codes into these elements, leading to a security breach. To prevent this, all the data received by an application must be from credible sources and should be filtered.
  • Storing Passwords In Plain Text: Failing to secure user login credentials is another common mistake made by web application developers. User names and passwords should never be stored in plain text. Rather, they should be properly encrypted and stored in a secure database that is accessible to only a restricted number of employees.
  • Cross Browser Incompatibility: Many web developers use only one web browser during the development phase and fail to test its compatibility with other browsers. Though cross-browser testing at every stage of development can be time consuming, you can fix this issue by switching to a different browser after every few days. You should avoid using a browser specific code as well as statistics to justify not supporting any particular browser.
  • Not developing for different screen sizes: Developing responsive web applications has become the need of the hour. Increase in the number of smartphone and tablet users have transformed the way of accessing online content. Hence, in order to ensure an easy access to content and seamless navigation, developers should make sure to optimize the apps for different screen sizes.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide complete web development services to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Top Web Design Trends For 2016

Web design trends keep on changing and it is important for the businesses to implement the best practices to stay a step ahead of their competitors. Though most of the web design trends have been present for many years, owing to their user-friendly approach, a lot of changes are expected to come about in the New Year that will bring a touch of innovation.

Here are some of the web design tends that businesses must follow in 2016:

  • Responsive Design: With Google’s algorithm update, responsive websites had become more of a necessity in 2015. With people constantly switching to tablets and smartphones to access websites, having a responsive web design is the key to a successful business. It is a simple and cost-effective way to create websites that can automatically adjust to any screen size. The web design trend will continue to stay for quite a longer time.
  • Long Scrolling: This technique is also targeted towards the convenience of mobile users in which they have to simply scroll down to explore a business’ products or services rather than visiting different web pages. Long scrolling design is specifically beneficial for businesses that want to embed a storytelling approach in their website.
  • Video Backgrounds: Using a video or an animated background can add to a website’s visibility. When executed in the right manner, it can compel the visitors to actually pause and explore other pages of your website as well. Displaying a gently moving video as a full page background with overlaying headlines and buttons can add a sense of vitality to your website.
  • Material Design: With the introduction of Google’s new style language, Material Design, businesses can now implement the principles of a good website design along with the innovations of technology. It allows you to create a simple website design, making the use of shadow effect to give depth to certain elements.
  • The Hamburger Menu: This UI pattern is more valuable for mobile websites and looks quite appealing. By hiding the entire navigation under the hamburger menu, the website looks cleaner and more organized. However, this web design technique may not work efficiently for all types of websites as it reduces the discoverability of menu. 
  • Simplicity: Simplicity is probably the one of the most important elements of a good website design. You should not have any unnecessary elements on your home page and the call-to-actions should be clearly visible as well as strategically placed above the fold.

We, at Centex Technologies, provide comprehensive web design solutions to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, you can call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) Explained

Cross-site scripting or XSS is a common security exploit that allows hackers to run a malicious client side script in trusted and credible websites. When a user visits the infected website, it will automatically execute the malicious script code which can allow access to cookies, session tokens, steal accounts, spread web worms, initiate phishing attacks, or even remotely control the browser.

Types Of Cross-Site Scripting Attacks

  • Stored XSS: Also known as persistent XSS or HTML injection attack, this is probably the most damaging type of XSS. It involves an attacker injecting a malicious script that is permanently stored on the target server in the form of a blog, forum post, in a comment field etc. When a user navigates to the affected web page, he inadvertently runs the script as a part of the web page.
  • Reflected XSS: In a reflected XSS attack, the injected script is sent back to the web server in the form of a search result or error message. Also known as non-persistent XSS, a reflected attack is distributed to victim through an e-mail message, social networks or some other website containing a malformed URL. When the user performs the desired action, i.e. clicks on the link, submits a form or simply browse the spam URL, the code gets redirected to the vulnerable website. As the script comes from a credible server, the browser executes the code. 
  • DOM Based XSS: This attack involves exploiting vulnerabilities within a web page’s code. It is carried out through an inappropriate handling of the HTML data of a web page through its associated DOM (Document Object Model). The most commonly manipulated DOM objects in an XSS attack include document.referrer, document.url and location.hash elements.

Tips To Prevent Against Cross-Site Scripting

  • Disable JavaScript when not required
  • Do not trust links in emails, message boards or other websites. They may contain malicious codes and redirect you to a spam website.
  • Manually type the URL in the browser while visiting security sensitive web pages.
  • Websites that require entering important personal or business information should not be accessed through a third party portal.

Cross-site scripting poses an immense threat to the online security and privacy of millions of users. Therefore, it is important for the developers to follow the recommended security practices to eliminate an attacker’s ability to infect the website with a malicious code.

Secure Your Web Browser Against Attacks

Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge should be configured securely in order to protect against cyber-attacks. Failing to do so may lead to various computer problems including installation of a malicious spyware or making your computer system vulnerable to a data breach.

Here are some tips to secure your web browser against attacks:

  • Keep Your Browser Updated: You must frequently update your web browser to patch any security vulnerabilities. You can either enable automatic updates or regularly check for newer versions of the browsers you use. Make sure you download software updates from credible sources only.
  • Block Third-Party Cookies: Though cookies are important to run various web-based applications, hackers can use them for malicious purposes. Disabling cookies from all websites may hamper your internet browsing experience. However, you should update your browser’s settings to block third-party cookies and prevent hackers from tracking your online activity.
  • Enable Click-To-Play Plugins: Enabling click-to-play plugins option in your web browser will help to save your computer’s battery power and CPU cycles. It will also reduce the loading time of websites on the browser. As you restrict the plugins to run automatically, the hackers will not be able to exploit minor security flaws in your web browser.
  • Turn On Popup Blockers: Pop-ups not only impede your web browsing experience but can also inadvertently download and install malware or use social engineering to make the user click on a spam website link. You should make sure that you enable pop-up blocker in your web browser.
  • Delete Unused Plugins: Uninstall any plugins that you do not use. For instance, Java and Microsoft’s Silverlight are not used by many websites and can be uninstalled. If needed, you can re-install a plugin any time if you come across a website that needs it.
  • Disable Auto-Fill Feature: The auto-fill or autocomplete feature saves your search terms, financial information and login credentials for different websites. Enabling this feature can pose a serious risk if your laptop is stolen or infected with malicious software by cyber criminals.
  • Use Browser Extensions Carefully: Though extensions can help to personalize your browsing experience, they can also be potentially dangerous if not used cautiously. Certain malicious extensions can capture your keystrokes, track online activity, insert spam advertizements into web pages etc. As far as possible, try to limit the number of browser extensions that you need.

For more tips on securing your web browser against attacks, you can contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Tips To Reduce Your Website’s Bounce Rate

If you are struggling to attract users to your website or not getting the desired number of conversions, there may be a problem with your site’s layout, navigation, design or content. It is extremely essential that you keep a check on your website’s bounce rate in order to drive targeted traffic and make them stay longer, or even convert into customers.

Here are some tips that can help you reduce your website’s bounce rate:

  • Post Engaging Content: Firstly, you must make sure that the content you post on your website is engaging and unique. It should be able to compel the visitors to read till the end. Your purpose should be to deliver valuable, informative and entertaining content, written in simple language that can be easily understood.
  • Focus On Readability: In addition to content, you should focus on making the post easily readable for the users. If you provide information in a poor format and tiny fonts without any subheadings, people are more likely to lose interest and leave your website. You must use big and fathomable fonts, with sufficient spacing to make it easy for the visitors to read the content.
  • Reduce Loading Time: If your landing page takes more than 6-10 seconds to load, it is more likely that the visitors will leave the website. Thus, you must use optimized images as well as graphics and remove all the unused style elements, to ensure a fast loading website.
  • Responsive Design: Nowadays, many people use small screen devices like tablets and smartphones to access the internet. If your website is not optimized properly, it will affect their viewing experience, ultimately resulting in a high bounce rate. A responsive website adjusts its layout, fonts and navigation according to the screen size and orientation of the device in which it is being viewed.
  • Review Navigation Menu: Your website’s navigation should be designed in a way that allows the users to reach the desired page with the minimum number of clicks. You should clearly classify your menu according to relevant categories and sub-categories. The navigation bar should also be easily accessible either horizontally at the top or vertically through the side of all web pages.

For more tips on reducing your website’s bounce rate, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.