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How And Why Do You Need To Secure Your IoT Devices?

Why should you secure your IoT devices?

Widespread digitization has increased the convenience of using the internet, but it has also increased the risk of being targeted by cyber-attackers. Hackers can steal and exploit your personal and financial information, as well as take control of smart cameras and microphones to spy on you. As a result, your privacy and security may be jeopardized.

How to easily secure IoT devices?

Here are the seven ways to secure your IoT devices: -

Router configuration

Router ties all your IoT gadgets together and makes them useful. Don't use the default name for your router which is generally set by its manufacturer. People might find the default login and password and get access to your smart home network (if they discover the brand and model). So, set some strange name that has nothing to do with you or your place. Your router name must be very unique; also avoid revealing any personal information.

Strong access credentials

Set the router's password to something genuinely unique. Use passwords that are made up of a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. The login credentials used to log into your IoT devices must also be set complicated. It's now critical to set unique set of credentials for each IoT device's user account and smartphone or web application. This ensures that even if one device's password is hacked, the other IoT devices remain secure.

Wi-Fi Network isolation for IoT wearables and gadgets

Many routers support guest network creation. It is advised to protect the primary home network from IoT cyber risks. You can build and deploy a secondary WiFi network. This will be devoted just to the IoT wearables and gadgets. Now, the IoT gadgets are operating via an isolated WiFi network. Hence, even if the hackers intrude, they would not be able to hack into your other vital personal devices.

Disable any features that you aren't using

Many IoT gadgets allow you to control them from any location on the earth. Disable remote access if you only use them on your home's Wi-Fi connection. Smart speakers, too, include Bluetooth alongwith a Wi-Fi connection. What if you don't utilize it? It should be turned off. It may sound weird, but an active microphone might be utilized to listen in on your chats if it is hacked. As a result, deactivating features entails blocking as many of those various entry points as feasible.

Updating and patching devices

Updating the firmware on your IoT devices may not happen automatically. Essential security patches are frequently included in these updates. So, do a manual check every few months and, if any outstanding firmware upgrades are discovered, install them without any delay.

Enable 2FA and MFA

Having a password plus an MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) adds an extra degree of protection. When someone tries it hard to log in the IoT devices using 2FA (Two-Factor Authentication), they must offer extra evidence of identification every time. This proof could be an OTP or a verification code delivered to your phone or email address. MFA is activated by-default on most of the IoT devices in the market. You can use third-party apps like Google Authenticator to activate 2FA.

Installing an NGFW

A typical firewall lacks the essential security functions such as intrusion prevention and virus protection. Sometimes intercepting the SSL/SSH content and QoS management services aren’t available on traditional firewalls. The NGFW (Next-Generation FireWall) is an integrated network platform that combines a standard firewall with additional security features. An NGFW also contains almost all the features of a typical firewall. This makes it effective at detecting and defending against cyberattacks. NGFWs are an expensive investment, but the amount of security increment they provide for your IoT device network makes it quite worthwhile.

Even if you get the costliest IoT equipment from the most prestigious firms, the safety and security of your IoT devices’ network is ultimately in your own hands.

Centex Technologies provide complete network security solutions. For more information, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213-4740, Dallas (972) 375-9654, Atlanta (404) 994-5074, and Austin (512) 956-5454

5 Ways Online Businesses Can Secure Their Customer Information

Privacy, securing data, and providing end-to-end security are unquestionably important components of doing business with clients online. The dynamically changing expectations and habits of online customers’ demands adoption of the best practices of securing user data and guaranteeing seamless user journeys. Some of the ways by which online businesses can secure their customer information are:

  1. Tell the customer how the business uses their personal information - Customers may be cautious to share personal information with brands, owing to a lack of transparency between businesses and customers over how their data is handled. Transparency may go against traditional business practices. But being transparent brings genuine value to products and services while boosting brand loyalty in the current business-consumer connection. Customers can understand and subscribe to the wider picture if you are honest about how you use their data.
  2. Check the IT environment for vulnerabilities and patch them - Businesses, particularly eCommerce sites, should test their sites on a regular basis to find vulnerabilities that aren't detected by their current security measures. Businesses must hire cybersecurity specialists or ethical hackers to identify code vulnerabilities. Running daily scans to ensure that malware hasn't been planted on the site is a basic check to be done. Businesses are also advised to invest in more powerful security programs as well.
  3. Monitor and control the access to customers’ data - Software to assist the integration of devices into IT infrastructures provides extra security layers for login processes. It also provides tools to encrypt emails. While these tools can help prevent unwarranted attacks, they don't address the source of the problem. Human employees and their unpredictable behavior is the most concerning factor. The greatest strategy to reduce the risk to your data is to educate your employees about your company's data protection policies. No amount of technology innovation can insulate a business from human error and oversight. Employees must be educated about the ways to handle sensitive customer information. They must also undergo specific courses that train them in preventing classified corporate information from falling into the wrong hands. The staff must be made to think twice about sending sensitive information over email. Also, the IT teams must ensure that passwords are changed and updated on a regular basis.
  4. Encryption is the need of the hour - Less than half of firms say they encrypt critical data, indicating that it is still a serious flaw. Payment processors such as Visa and MasterCard require retailers to encrypt card information by default during transactions. If the personal data is saved on corporate servers, there is a substantially higher danger of getting it hacked. The data has to be safeguarded with rigorous industry-standard security and the newest encryption technology.
  5. Proactively prepare for a disaster and be resilient - Most businesses have a disaster recovery strategy in place to deal with human error, data center outages, and natural disasters, but cyber-attacks are sometimes overlooked. It's critical to put protections in place to ensure business continuity even after facing a data breach. Care must be taken to ensure cyber-attacks must not be able to disrupt day-to-day business operations.

It makes sense to invest the time and resources necessary to protect sensitive customer data. Businesses must build a culture of joint responsibility for securing data. Data breaches are on the rise, and their impact is expected to be seen for years to come. As a result, criminals are getting wiser about hacking their target networks. Companies are advised to prioritize customer data protection now more than ever.

Centex Technologies provides computer networking, IT security and Cybersecurity solution to businesses. For more information, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375-9654.

What Is Business-IT Alignment?

Business IT alignment refers to the correspondence between business objectives and IT requirements of an organization. As the use of technology has become eminent for achieving business goals, it has become necessary to bridge the gap between the business units and IT department.

Before understanding more about business IT alignment, it is first important to know the reasons that have led to the progress in this direction. Here are some problems faced by organizations that keep IT department separate from other business units:

  • Under performance leading to limited success
  • Expensive investments with low ROI
  • Slow or faulty deployments resulting in bottlenecks that hinder service delivery
  • Lack of coordination between processes and solutions
  • Poor communication and support for end users and potential customers

In order to achieve business IT alignment, it is important to acquire a well-planned strategy. Following an iterative process by defining one change, putting it in place, analyzing the results, and making required changes can help an organization in achieving effective alignment between business operations and IT processes. This strategy can be defined as Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle.

Plan:

  • Analyze current problem & conditions
  • Establish change objectives
  • Create processes to achieve solution

Do: 

  • Implement plan
  • Test small changes
  • Gather data on effectiveness of change

Check: 

  • Evaluate data
  • Identify deviations between goals & outcomes

Act:

  • Standardize the solution
  • Review & define next issues
  • Repeat the cycle

For aligning IT & business, consider these best practices:

  • Include all business teams along with IT team in continuous strategic loop so that all teams understand each other to function better.
  • View IT as a support to transform business results; so, add IT to other business units to offer solutions to address their problems and improve business efficiency.
  • Aligning all the business teams under common language and goals makes it easier to integrate the business and IT units. The main goal of the teams should be improve customer experience.
  • Implement equal level of transparency for all business teams and make them aware of what are the good investments the company is making, what are the problems being faced, what decisions need to be re-evaluated, etc.

Benefits Of Business-IT Alignment:

  • Reduce IT expenses by making only those IT investments that aim at business goals
  • Increase collaboration between the teams
  • Gain visibility into problem areas across the business units
  • Improve ROI
  • Speed up delivery time
  • Up-skill industry and employee knowledge

For more information on strategies and solutions for IT infrastructure management and IT alignment with business operations, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

 

 

 

What Are Deepfakes And Why Are They Dangerous?

Deepfake is a type of artificial intelligence created by combining the phrases deep learning and fake that facilitates in developing videos that have been fabricated via using deep learning techniques. It is a subset of AI that refers to algorithms that can learn and make intelligent judgments without human intervention. A deep-learning system can create convincing impersonations by examining images and videos of a target person from various perspectives and then copying their behavior and voice patterns. Once a prototype fake has been created, GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks) are used to make it more credible. The GANs method aims to find faults in the system and make adjustments to fix them.

How can you stay away from deepfake videos?

  1. Deepfake videos are much simpler to spot than deepfake photographs. And you may accomplish so with the assistance of two factors. When a deepfake video of a person is created, for example, there is little difference between the person and the backdrop. However, you may spot a false video if the attention is solely on the face in the video and the surrounding is purposefully obscured.
  2. Deepfake can be easily avoided by restricting personal images on social media and avoiding close-up photos of your face as much as possible.
  3. Advanced artificial intelligence algorithms are under development which can swiftly identify deepfake videos thereby preventing people from falling prey to fake news and fake films.

When and where did deepfake start?

Deep Fake was a user on Reddit in 2017 who began employing face modification technology for pornography. It was from here that the term Deepfake was coined, and videos like this were known as Deepfake Videos. 

Deepfake as a boon to technology

MyHeritage, a software program, has been in the headlines for transforming any image into a 10-second movie. With this app, you may also breathe new life into old images using this program. With the use of this program, images of prominent personalities from past were transformed into movies. And these films show that if Artificial Intelligence is applied correctly, this approach may be beneficial to humans.

Deepfake as a threat to humanity

A.  Deepfakes were used to subvert democracy in the United States 

Facebook decided to prohibit the use of deep fakes after fake videos of politicians began spreading on social media. They allowed a few loopholes, such as the ability to keep sarcastic films and photos, but distinguishing between satire and agenda-driven content is difficult.

B.  Deepfakes began to be exploited by internet predators 

People began leveraging the ability to substitute anyone's face in an image or video to make pornographic content without their consent. As the deep fake technology allows them to do so by replacing face and expressions; all cybercriminals need is a profile photograph on social media to produce fake material to produce fake videos.

C.  Deepfake to tarnishing reputation of individuals 

A Pennsylvania mom, for example, was prosecuted for harassing cheerleaders at her daughter's school by employing deep fakes. The mother used manipulated recordings to carry out a cyberbullying campaign against girls she viewed as competitors to her daughter.

Deepfakes still continues pushing the digital media envelope where researchers suggest using NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens) is the most effective strategy to combat deep fake. But NFTs, on the other hand, are still far away from being the standard on blockchains like Ethereum.

To know more about various cyber threats and methods to prevent them, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375-9654.

Wi-Fi For Smart Buildings

The capacity to tap into enormous volumes of data to enable real-time, intelligent decision-making is of crucial importance for any smart building. Builders need a dependable and adaptable communications infrastructure that can serve both current and future use cases. Security is paramount to all digital technologies as traditional WiFi deployment architecture has become vulnerable. Builders and contractors must consider addressing these constraints to improve the experience of residents using WiFi in smart buildings.

Constraints over deploying WiFi in smart buildings: -

  1. Leave no blind-spot - Someone might require network access in lobbies, meeting rooms, and other common areas. Physical security management teams increasingly require comprehensive coverage. Wireless IoT sensors could be deployed at elevator shafts, maintenance rooms, roofs, & parking garages. 
  2. Cabling and installation - Twisted pair cabling improves the WiFi 6 and 6E performance. Category 6A cable should be installed as PoE (Power over Ethernet) devices get more complex, and frequently require more power to function. Ensure safe delivery of high electric watt supply to WiFi APs (Access Points), UHD (Ultra-HD) security cameras, IoT sensors, and PoEs.
  3. Antenna and Radar - Antenna types such as yagi, panel, and parabolic are better alternatives for coverage and performance in regions with concrete or plaster walls or huge metal machinery. The interior-exterior environment such as office spaces, atriums, parking garages, maintenance, or engineering floors often decides the type of antenna to be deployed. WiFi access points with built-in antennas must be created for conventional office area deployments. This will bypass the physical obstacles such as drywall, cubicle barriers, office-grade doors, and glass panes.
  4. Network subnetting - Strict WiFi access controls must be implemented by employing micro-segmentation to mitigate malware outbreaks and service disruptions. LPWAN (Low-Power-Wide-Area Networks) provides ease of deployment, and ultra-low power consumption is required to scale with low-computing, battery-operated IoT sensor devices. LPWAN system requires a single base station to link thousands of scattered endpoints across the building utilizing the basic star topology. LPWAN utilizes sub-GHz frequencies. This helps to avoid excessive interference from old wireless systems functioning in the building at 2.4 GHz range. This ensures long-term network dependability. At the end of the day, the robustness and reliability of your WiFi systems will determine whether your smart building architecture succeeds or fails.

The range of smart building applications is enormous, and it's developing all the time. As a result, in order to take advantage of everything that this transition has to offer, both existing broadband networks and future low-power IoT connections will need to coexist in the wireless architecture.

WiFi deployment in smart buildings helps in: -

  1. Occupancy and damage detection - Integrating different systems over WiFi in smart buildings can help in regulation of safe distance measure and sanitation operations. It can also detect faults in time and prevent avoidable maintenance and energy expenditures.
  2. HVAC and access control systems - Smart building systems can reduce utility expenditures, carbon emissions and increase tenant satisfaction by installing AI-enabled HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems. Smoke detectors, window/door sensors, intrusion, and fire alarm systems can also integrate with HVAC and the system can identify irregularities proactively to resolve them early on.
  3. Monitoring of the environment & consumables - Smart building systems can monitor IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) conditions to enhance the health, comfort, and well-being of building occupants and to lower the risk of respiratory complaints. The WiFi enabled system can also monitor in real-time how much hand sanitizer, soap, paper towels, and toilet paper is being used in the building. To guarantee timely refills and the health and safety of tenants, receive notifications when products are running short.

Centex Technologies provide IT and networking solutions for establishments. For more information on deployment of WiFi for smart buildings, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Multi-Cloud For Organizations

What Is Multi-Cloud?

Multi-cloud means utilization of two or more public cloud service providers to serve the needs of IT services and infrastructure of an organization. The organizations may choose the best services from different cloud service providers based on multiple factors such as cost, technical requirements, geographic availability, security, etc. A simple example is where an organization uses one cloud service provider for development/test, one for disaster recovery, and another to process business analytics data.

Alternatively, an organization may leverage multiple public clouds in combination with private cloud deployments and traditional on-premise infrastructure.

What Is The Purpose Of Multi-Cloud Approach?

Here are the reasons why an organization should adopt a multi-cloud approach:

  • Overcoming Data Gravity: Data gravity refers to the idea that it is difficult to move or migrate large data sets and thus, it is important to store the data in proximity with applications and services used to analyze them. Using a cloud-attached storage solution that connects to multiple clouds simultaneously can help in overcoming data gravity. Efficient solutions help in reducing latency by hosting data in close proximity to cloud data centers.
  • Optimizing Work Loads: Every cloud service provider offers its own set of physical infrastructure components and application services, while releasing new features on a regular basis. Thus, no cloud service provider can provide cost-optimized services. By adopting multi-cloud approach, organizations have an option to select most suitable provider for every workload leading to enhanced application performance.
  • Avoiding Vendor Lock-In: Vendor lock-in refers to a situation where it becomes difficult for an organization to transfer its business away from one service provider to another service provider or back to on-premise infrastructure. However, by adopting multi-cloud approach, an organization has the flexibility to transfer its application to any cloud service provider which allows the organization to take advantage of new technologies.
  • Additional Benefits: Multi-cloud approach serves the purpose of enhancing disaster recovery capabilities, meeting regulatory compliance, curbing shadow IT, elevating application performance, etc.

How To Monitor Multi-Cloud Strategy?

  • Use monitoring tools designed specifically for multi-cloud environment.
  • Leverage a configuration management database.
  • Adopt a mechanism that can sense, analyze, adapt, and visualize to help admins resolve outages.
  • Use monitoring tools that support automation.

For more information on implementation of multi-cloud for organization, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.    

Reasons Why A Business Needs VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is also known as IP Telephony. It is a method of delivering voice communications and multimedia messages over Internet Protocol networks. The technology converts the voice signals into digital signals allowing the user to make a call directly from a computer, VoIP phone, smartphone or any other digital device with an internet connection and VoIP application.

Switching to a VoIP telecommunication system offers an array of benefits for businesses:

  • Low Cost-Per-Call: A VoIP telecommunication system converts the communication data into packets and sends it over the IP network as opposed to the traditional telephonic communication channels. In case of traditional methods, calls are placed using phone lines which means a line is taken up by two callers. Since there is a limit to number of phone lines, the calls are expensive, specifically if they are long distance. On the other hand, in case of VoIP, the use of office internet connection to relay communication data makes domestic as well as international calls cheaper.
  • Service Mobility: In case of traditional phone system, a line that runs to a business is assigned its own phone number. This results in limited mobility as user is required to remember right codes for accessing the messages sent to that phone number (when receiving messages on a separate device outside the office). However, VoIP system eliminates the physical limitations and the users can move freely as per the business requirements and avail the communication services on any device equipped with an internet connection and the VoIP application.
  • Efficient Client Interaction: Business needs may require employees to travel which may result in missing important client calls or communications, if using traditional phone systems that are wired to the employee desk inside the office. On the contrary, when using a VoIP system, employees can choose where the call rings and how. For example, the system settings can be made in a way that first few rings are sent to the office. If the employee doesn’t answer, further rings can be forwarded to another device, say a mobile phone or laptop. This helps employees to attend important calls irrespective of their location which improves the efficiency of client interactions.
  • Multi-Functionality: VoIP systems offer an array of additional communication services like instant messaging, presence status, teleconferencing, video conferencing, etc. The systems also allow the users to receive voicemail and faxes over their email. These services enhance the efficiency of business communication within and across the teams.

For more information on why a business needs VoIP, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.