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Watering Hole Attack

A watering hole attack is an opportunistic cyber security attack where the attacker targets a specific group of end users, usually an organization.

What Does ‘Watering Hole Attack’ Mean?

The attack gets its name from a wildlife predatory tactic. Many predators in a forest lurk around a watering hole or an oasis to wait for their prey. As the prey comes to drink water from the oasis, the predator grabs the opportunity to attack. The cyber-attack follows a similar approach and is thus named as ‘Watering Hole Attack’.

How Is The ‘Watering Hole Attack’ Executed?

For executing the attack, hacker traps a single user to gain access to a corporation’s server. The attack is executed in a stepwise process:

  • Finding The Waterhole: The attackers begin the process by finding the waterhole. They conduct thorough research and observe their target user to find out the website that is frequently visited by him. This website acts as the waterhole.
  • Compromising The Website: Once the attackers identify the frequently visited website, they look for existing vulnerabilities in the website. They inject malicious JavaScript or HTML code in the ads or banners displayed on the website. When the end user accesses the compromised website, this code redirects him to a separate site where the malware is hosted.
  • Infecting the server: When targeted user accesses the site, a script containing the malware is automatically downloaded on the user’s system. This malware collects personal information from user’s device and sends it to the C&C server. In some cases, the malware script may allow complete access of the victim’s system to the attacker. The infection is then spread across other systems on the organization’s server.

Avoiding ‘Watering Hole Attack’

In order to increase the impact of an attack, hackers choose trusted websites for launching the infection. Also, they make use of zero-day exploits for infesting these websites. This makes it difficult for traditional tools like antivirus to detect these attacks at an early stage. Thus, employing preventive measures is the best way to keep yourself safe from Watering Hole Attacks.

  • Keep your system updated with latest software patches.
  • Configure firewalls & other network security protocols.
  • Monitor the popular websites visited by your employees to ensure that these sites are not infested with any malware.
  • Regularly monitor your organization’s websites to detect any malware at its earliest stage.
  • Use browser’s private settings and VPN services to hide your online activities.
  • Configure your security tools to keep users notified about compromised websites.
  • Educate your employees about ‘Watering Hole Attacks’ and ways to avoid them.

For more information on Watering Hole Attack, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Cyber Security For E-commerce Portals

In simple words, an E-commerce website is an online portal that facilitates the exchange of goods (or services) through transfer of information & funds over internet. Common examples of E-commerce websites are shopping portals, ticket booking websites, auction websites, music portals, etc.

Need For Data Security In E-commerce:

E-commerce operations involve exchange of user’s data like payment details, delivery address, contact information, etc. If there is an instance of data leak, the users can become victims of serious financial frauds, privacy violations and identity thefts. This makes it vital for e-commerce portals to keep the data secure through advanced cyber security solutions.

Below are a few most common security measures that e-commerce portal should adopt:

Choose The E-Commerce Hosting Service Wisely: The hosting service plays an important role in keeping the website secure. Following are some factors that should be considered while choosing a hosting service for an e-commerce portal:

  • The hosting company should have a strong cyber security policy and should deploy required solutions to keep the servers safe.
  • Hosting server should be configured by keeping in mind the security level desired. The configuration should allow advanced cyber security solutions to work well without compromising the performance of the portal.
  • The hosting provider should have a good backup management.
  • The hosting server company should provide technical support 24/7.

Use HTTPS: It is recommended to buy SSL certificate and move your E-commerce website to HTTPS. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer encrypts the traffic and creates a secure layer between user’s browser and your server to prevent data breach by hackers.

Secure User Information: An important aspect is to keep user login information secure as hackers tend to steal it. Also, it may help to have unique password requirements like using a combination of alphabets, numerical values and special characters.

Store Selective Information: It is understandably important to store the data required to contact customers or plan your marketing strategies. However, avoid storing data that is not required. Also, it is advisable that E-commerce websites should not store sensitive user data like credit card details.

Audit Your Website: Regularly audit your E-commerce platform to keep a check on vulnerabilities. Also, keep an eye for security updates and patch up your settings accordingly. It is important to have a stringent security policy and update it on regular intervals as new threats arise.

For more information on cyber security solutions for E-commerce portals, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

What Is Hybrid Cloud

Cloud computing offers an array of benefits to organizations and thus, it has become a popular choice for data storage and computing. Depending upon individual business requirements, organizations can choose between private cloud and public cloud solutions.

Private Cloud: It is a model of cloud computing where IT services are provisioned on-premises over private IT infrastructure for dedicated use by single organization. It is managed by internal resources of the organization.

Public Cloud: In public cloud model, computing services are offered by a third party over public internet to multiple client organizations as per their capacity or usage requirement. It is managed by the service provider and organizations have to pay according to the storage or bandwidth consumed by them.

However, a new term ‘Hybrid Cloud’ has emerged in recent years. A hybrid cloud combines the services of a private and public cloud to allow seamless sharing of data between them. The organizations can run their workloads partially on private cloud and rest in public cloud. This prevents public or third party service providers from gaining access to entire data of the business.

Working Of Hybrid Clouds

  • Private and public clouds work independently in a hybrid cloud setup.
  • The resources are abstracted and pooled into private and public clouds by virtualization.
  • These abstracted resources are then allocated by automation.
  • Management tools provision new environments.
  • A hybrid cloud functions properly when APIs, VPNs or WANs connect the private & public clouds as seamlessly as possible.
  • The interconnectivity between public and private clouds is the underlying concept for a functional hybrid cloud.

Benefits Of Hybrid Cloud Infrastructure

  • It is a cost effective approach. Organizations can use private cloud for managing regular workloads and pay for extra usage on public cloud only when there is a need for scalability arising due to an occasional increase in workload.
  • The approach helps in separating sensitive or critical workloads from regular data. Organizations employing hybrid cloud approach have the benefit of storing critical financial data, customer information, etc. on their private cloud while utilizing public cloud to run general applications.
  • Public cloud resources can be used for allocation to short-term projects, instead of spending money on buying on-premises hardware and infrastructure for temporary use.
  • The availability of private cloud resources facilitates testing of applications as it grants back-end access to the developers.
  • Hybrid cloud infrastructure integrates the public cloud computing and private cloud which allows the organization to have control over security and regulations.
  • It offers excessive flexibility. A hybrid cloud setup can be scaled up to the use of public cloud or scaled down to private cloud as per the demand.

For more information about hybrid cloud, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Pros & Cons Of Serverless Computing

Although the term ‘Serverless Computing’ implicates the existence of a computing architect with no server, it actually defines a cloud based execution model. The server is hosted by cloud service providers and users are not required to buy it or set it up onsite. The cloud service provider manages the server and machine resources are allocated to users.

As most businesses are making a shift towards serverless computing instead of traditional approach, it is necessary to understand the pros & cons of this approach.

Pros Of Serverless Computing:

  1. Cost-effective: Serverless computing is a cost-effective approach for businesses. The users are required to pay as per the amount of resources consumed by their application instead of pre-purchased units of usage capacity.
  1. Easy To Scale Up: In case of serverless computing, application developers are not required to implement a code for scaling up. Also, it rules out the need and cost for upgrading existing servers or adding new server units. When considering to scale up, businesses can request additional resources from the service provider and pay according to their consumption. Also, cloud systems are more elastic as they are capable of scaling up and down inherently according to the demand.
  1. Low Human Resources Cost: Serverless computing eliminates the need for onsite servers. Thus, businesses are not required to hire staff for managing and operating the hardware. This helps them save cost that was traditionally incurred on human resources.
  1. Enhanced User Experience: By switching to serverless computing, the businesses and application developers can save time and resources required for server management. These resources can be used on other tasks such as improving productivity and user experience by developing as well as improving customer-friendly features.
  1. Decreased Latency: Depending upon the services offered by the provider, businesses can choose to run the application functions on a server node close to the end user. Thus, it reduces latency as the requests initiated by a user are not required to travel to origin server and can be reverted from the nearest available node.

Cons Of Serverless Computing:

  1. Testing Becomes Challenging: A serverless environment cannot be easily replicated to check how an application code will respond after being deployed. Also, developers do not have visibility into backend processes and the application is split into separate functions for running on the cloud. This makes it challenging to debug any arising issues.
  1. Vendor Lock-In: When using a cloud based server, the developers are restricted to adapt the rules set by the third party vendor such as using a specific coding language.
  1. Multitenancy: In order to avail maximum benefit, cloud service provider may run applications or software for numerous different users on a single server. Although workloads of different customers are isolated, there may still be bugs in initial offerings. This gives rise to data security risks.

For more information on serverless computing, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Guide To Technology Buzzwords

Rapid advancements in every field are giving birth to numerous new technology buzzwords regularly. Basic understanding of these technological terms assists you in keeping abreast with the current changes.

Stay ahead of upcoming trends with this guide on important technology buzzwords:

  • 5G: It is defined as the next generation of cellular network technology and is one of the most trending buzzwords. It offers faster speed & reliable connections on mobile devices and even home networks.
  • 8K: A beginning to new era of picture quality. It refers to TV’s overall resolution of 7,680 x 4,230 pixels and is a step up from the current 4K resolution that will elevate home entertainment experience.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): It is a term used to define machines that display human like intelligence by using machine learning to perform tasks such as cooking, driving, etc. They have the ability to make decisions through capturing & analyzing data in their environment.
  • Virtual Reality (VR): A VR encompasses user’s senses to create a digital world through headsets or eyewear. It has become a promising trend in gaming & entertainment industry.
  • Augmented Reality (AR): In this technology, real world objects are superimposed with computer generated images like graphics, sounds and touch feedback.
  • X Reality (XR): It is a cross over between both augmented and virtual reality with widespread applications in architecture, medicine, healthcare etc. It allows content creators to create common content for users of AR & VR headsets.
  • Organic LED (OLED): An organic light-emitting diode emits visible light in response to electric current so that pixels can light-up independently. The result is that OLED screens display pictures that are brighter and have better contrast levels.
  • Wearable: They are smart electronic devices with micro-controllers that can be worn as implants or accessories. It stays on the body to perform a particular task like sensing heart rate or keeping a track of your fitness.
  • Eye-Tracking: It is a sensor based technology that makes possible for a device to know where a person is looking. It basically detects reflections in both the pupils and cornea.
  • Ray-Tracing: It calculates the color of pixels by tracing the path that light would take to create realistic lighting effects. Applications include home computer gaming and developing computer graphics imagery for films and TV shows.
  • Biometric: It measures people’s unique physical and behavioral characteristics. The technology uses an aspect of your body like thumbprint or face to authenticate yourself or for unlocking a personal device.
  • Haptics: Technology of adding sensation of touch and feeling to VR via vibration or by exuding pressure to make virtual objects seem real and tangible.

For more information on latest technology trends and how to incorporate them in your business, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654. We are located in Dallas, Killeen, Atlanta and Austin.

Bursting Myths Surrounding Blockchain

A Blockchain is a transparent and publicly accessible ledger that is shared among a network of computers called Blockchain Network. It contains a growing list of records called blocks that are linked in chronological order to form a chain. The data is secured using public key encryption which resists the modification of information. Thus, data stored in blocks can be viewed or accessed by the users but it can’t be tampered with. This advantage has led to a rapid growth of Blockchain technology.

However, with the growth of Blockchain technology, some myths and disillusions have also developed around it. Following are some common myths surrounding Blockchain technology:

  1. Blockchain Is Same As Bitcoin: Blockchain is the root technology for bitcoin; but they are not interchangeable terms. Blockchain is a technology that allows recording of peer-to-peer transactions on a distributed ledger throughout a network. However, bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. It is used to make direct exchange of currency between two people omitting the involvement of a third party such as a bank.
  1. Cryptocurrency Is The Only Application Of Blockchain: Cryptocurrency is a major application of Blockchain, however the technology has numerous other applications. Some common applications of Blockchain include monitoring supply chains, data sharing, digital ids, copyright & royalty protection, etc.
  1. Information On Blockchain Activity Is Not Public: A prevailing misconception about Blockchain technology is that the information on the ledger is hidden. On the contrary, reality is that the information can be viewed by anyone. Users can connect their computer to the Blockchain network and receive a copy of ledger on their system. This copy is automatically updated whenever a new block is added to it.
  1. Cryptocurrency Transactions Are Anonymous: It is a misconception that crypto transactions are anonymous. In actual, cryptocurrency transactions are recorded in a public ledger and many government agencies tie up with numerous cryptocurrency exchanges to access the ledger & map the address back to the owner.
  1. Blockchain Is Fundamentally A Storage Mechanism: Most users consider Blockchain to be essentially a storage mechanism. Undoubtedly, it offers unparalleled advantages for data storage; however, the technology has other advantages such as facilitating convenient exchanges.
  1. Tokens & Coins Are Same: Tokens and Initial Coin Offerings are two important terms used in Blockchain terminology. They are often confused to be same but there is an inherent difference between these terms. Coins store simple values; whereas, tokens are used for storing complex levels of value such as property, utility, income, etc.

For more information on Blockchain Technology and its applications, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.