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Information Security Mistakes Employees Make

Today, companies are increasingly adopting innovative cybersecurity and privacy safeguards. They make every possible attempt to safeguard the sensitive information on the company’s network and as a result every year billions of dollars are spent on upgrading and installing latest security systems across US. Though, efforts are made to circumvent security threats but the fear of Cyber-attack still haunts even the largest firms that use sophisticated security solution. What could the reason probably be???

According to a 2017 Insider Threat Report, 74 percent of companies feel that they are vulnerable to insider threats, with 7 percent reporting extreme vulnerability. This clearly means that human error is one of the leading causes for IT security breach.  Laxity on the part of employees can pose serious threat to company’s databases and digital information. Here are some common information security mistakes that employees often make.

  • Common Passwords – The most common mistake the employees make is use of very simple and predictable passwords. Employees often set passwords like ‘password123’, ‘name. birthdate’ that can be guessed without much effort. Malevolent attackers can gain access to sensitive information of the organizations that use a single sign-on system. This makes meticulous password protection indispensable, as a strong, unusual password can deter attacks to some extent. Also, there should be different passwords for different login credentials.
  • Using Insecure Devices & Networks – With the proliferating BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) culture, devices are increasingly being connected to networks of the company. Often, employees neglect the company’s security measures and go ahead with downloading stuff and applications. It becomes easier for the third parties to exploit the company’s sensitive information when insecure applications are introduced into the company’s network. Also using unknown network sources and Wi-Fi connections is a serious threat to information.  These risks can be extenuated by adhering to minimum security standards on all devices connected to the company’s network.
  • Opening Junk E-mails – Email attachments sent by people you don’t recognize and have an illegitimate domain are more likely to be a spam or malware. To prevent any information loss, immediately send the email to your email administrator for verification. Also do not forward the email to anyone else in the organization as that may increase the chance of a malicious attachment being clicked accidently.
  • Unnecessary Users – More the number of users who have access to sensitive information, more are the chances of security breach. User privileges should be given to few trusted members only. 
  • Negligence in handling Sensitive Information – Employees are unable to remember passwords and login credentials for various programs, and delinquency in handling them can pose serious threat to company’s informational sources. Having no passcodes or same passcodes that pass on for years is risky. Printing sensitive information, writing down passwords on sheets, whiteboards or Sticky notes can cause a serious Security Havoc.
  • Disabling Security Features – Some employees intentionally disable the security features. If these employees have access to administrative privileges, then it can be deleterious to the crucial information on the company’s network. To prevent this, it is important to educate users about security measures, their purpose as well as the terms and conditions.
  • Clicking on Advertizements – It is an Ad-Mad world, but in the plethora of online advertizements, not all ads are harmless. Clickbait advertizements often lead to a site with malware, making it easier for the attacker to access sensitive information and database. Educate your employees about how to identify ads which have dubious content.
  • Phishing Bait – Phishing is done to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy site. Employees must be vigilant and should open only those links and attachments that come from a trusted sender. One can also check URL of a webpage before entering any login credentials.

Follow these simple security hacks as a part of cyber security defense mechanism -

  • Imparting data security training and awareness to employees.
  • Installing data loss prevention software.
  • Full encryption of devices.
  • Minimizing Access rights and privileges

We, at Centex Technologies, provide IT security solutions to all types of business firms. For more information, call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Steps To Improve Your Public Wi-Fi Security

In the recent years, dependency on internet connectivity has increased manifold. People want to stay connected to internet 24X7, be it at their offices, colleges, airports, hotels or even coffee shops. Seeing this rising trend, many public places are now offering free Wi-Fi hotspots to attract more customers. Most of these don’t even require passwords, one just needs to connect to the hotspot and start browsing the internet.

Though ‘free-Wi-Fi’ may sound appealing, but if not wisely used, it may expose the sensitive data of your device to cyber-criminals. To avoid connecting to fake wireless networks, also known as ‘Wi-Fi honeypots”, you must be aware of whose network you are connecting to. Here are some rules that you must consider.

Avoid Connecting To Wi-Fi Networks That Require No Passwords

A good thumb rule is to never connect to a wireless network that doesn’t ask you to enter any password.  A network without WPA or WPA2 password is termed as an unsecure network. Connecting to these may easily make your personal information, contacts, photos, logins and other data in your phone/laptop vulnerable to hackers.

Turn Wi-Fi Off When Not In Use

When you are not using the internet, disable the Wi-Fi on your device. This will not only keep your data safe, but will also increase the battery life of your system. Ensure that the option to automatically connect to an available Wi-Fi network is turned off.

Do Not Perform Sensitive Or Financial Tasks When Using Public Wi-Fi

It is strongly recommended not to access online banking websites or perform any financial transactions (such as on online shopping websites, bill payments etc.) on open networks. Through Wi-Fi snooping and sniffing techniques, hackers may gain access to all your online activities and capture your login credentials. If you need to perform any urgent transaction, you can always opt to use your mobile internet connection.

Disable Public Sharing

Laptops and similar devices usually have an option to share their resources within the same network. If you are using such devices, make sure that the ‘’File and Printer Sharing’ option is turned off before you connect to a public Wi-Fi. Not doing so may provide hacker easy get access to important files and documents stored in the cloud as well as in other connected devices.

Connect To Websites That Open With HTTPS

Whenever you open a website on a public Wi-Fi, check if the address bar shows “https://“at the beginning of the web address. Such websites are relatively secure as all the communication is encrypted. Browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera provide certain extensions that help to encrypt the data i.e. by default provide secure connection while browsing.

For more information about public Wi-Fi security, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Data Encryption: Types And Benefits

Encryption is one of the most effective and popular data security methods used by business organizations. It translates data into a different encoded form which can only be accessed by those people who have the secret key. Data Encryption is widely used in securing information that is submitted over internet. Almost all ecommerce portals, online businesses, portals where financial and personal information is processed utilizes different methods of data encryption.

Types Of Data Encryption

Symmetric Data Encryption:
In this type of encryption, only one private key is used to encrypt and decrypt data. The sender encrypts data with the help of a key and receiver decrypts it with that same key. However, the encryption key must always be protected to prevent data from being decoded by the unauthorized users.

Asymmetric Data Encryption:
Also known as Public-key Cryptography, this is most commonly used encryption. It uses two separate keys to encrypt and decrypt data. The key used to encrypt data is a public key which is generally available to everyone and the other key, called private key, is provided only to recipient to decrypt the data.

Hashing:
Hashing generates a unique, fixed-length value summarizing the contents of a message or a file. Each hash is unique to a specific message, so even a little bit of tampering with it can be easily tracked. Although hashing is not a technical term for data encryption but it can still be useful to check whether the data has been tampered with or not.

BENEFITS OF DATA ENCRYPTION

Data encryption has changed massively in past few years. Here are few benefits of data encryption:

  • Data Encryption techniques relies on global standards that can guarantee mitigation of flaws.
  • Data Encryption systems are affordable and can even provide a military level security.
  • Data Encryption protects sensitive information whether on mobile, laptop, desktop computer or any external storage device. This helps you to access your data wherever you go.
  • Even if the data is stolen, the information will be protected by data encryption mechanism. It can also free up your resources being used for security perimeters.

To know more about the benefits of data encryption for your organization, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Big Data Analytics: What It Is And Why It Matters

With the recent advancements in technology, data analysis has entered a new phase in which large amount of data can be harvested and processed. Big data analytics refers to the process of examining this data set to uncover existing patterns, trends, demands and correlations between various factors, which further helps to make informed business decisions. For instance, Netflix uses big data analytics to improve its video streaming services and improve user experience.

Big data is basically characterized by 3Vs i.e. Volume, Variety and Velocity.

  • Volume: Different Machine-to-Machine and Human-to-Machine communications result in large amount data, which need to be analyzed to extract useful information.
  • Variety: All the data that is generated is of the unstructured nature. It needs to be processed, curated and annotated to bring out important piece of information or facts from it.
  • Velocity: Large chunk of data is being generated every second and needs to be processed. Therefore, there is need for tools that can handle the flow of this data and produce required results.

Why It Matters?

Big data analytics can provide valuable business intelligence by harnessing the company data and use it to identify new opportunities. This helps the company to make smart decisions, increase profits and most importantly, satisfy the customers. Few of the advantages of big data analytics are as follows:

  • Big data analytics frameworks like Hadoop have started to bring significant cost reduction when it comes to storing huge amount of data.
  • The ability to analyze new data can help the companies to break down every bit of information into something useful and make decisions based on the results. 
  • Big data analytics is important for firms that have a large amount of data flowing every second. The analysis can provide useful information from that data and in turn, gives them a competitive edge over others.

Some of the industries that benefit from big data analytics are:

  • Public Sector Services
  • Healthcare
  • Learning Services
  • Insurance Services
  • Industrialized and Natural Resources
  • Transportation Services
  • Banking Sectors and Fraud Detection

If used wisely, the analytic tools can help to make predictions and explain the entire growth pattern of your business. For more information about the importance of big data analytics, contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

What Are Backdoors And How To Remove Them

Backdoors can be defined as malicious programs that provide a convenient way for the hackers to sneak into your corporate network. If they gain access, they may exploit the security vulnerabilities in the computer system to steal personal information, modify or delete files and install additional software. A backdoor is probably one of the most harmful types of malware as it allows the hacker to get complete control of the infected computer.

Once a computer system is infected, a backdoor may perform the following activities:

  • Delete, rename, edit or copy any file stored on the computer
  • Make changes in the Windows registry and execute or terminate certain applications
  • Record keystrokes, gather confidential data, capture screenshots and send it to a remote host
  • Reduce internet speed and performance or consume extended bandwidth
  • Initiate attacks against other systems connected to the same network

How Does Backdoor Infect Computer Systems?
The typical characteristic of a backdoor is that it installs itself sneakily without being detected by the user. It operates in the background and stealthily transmits all your information to a remote server.

Here are some of the ways in which backdoors spread themselves to the computers systems:

  • A user may inadvertently install backdoor through email attachments or file sharing programs. Hackers send the malware in the name of a legitimate file attachment to trick users to download or execute it.
  • A backdoor may also get installed when a system is already infected with a virus, spyware or Trojan.
  • Unknown remote access features in certain applications may lead to installation of backdoor on your computer. The hacker connects to the computer that has the software installed to gain complete control over its functionality.
  • Unpatched software vulnerabilities are another common means through which backdoors spread themselves.

Tips To Remove Backdoor

  • Though it is difficult to detect the presence of a backdoor on a computer systems, here are the steps that should be taken if you find one.
  • Download and install the latest anti-virus software
  • Update the operating system to its latest version
  • Disconnect the computer system from the internet network
  • Run a complete scan of the computer and remove all the infected files
  • Once the process is complete, restart your computer before accessing the internet or opening any file

For more information on backdoor and other malicious software, you can contact Centex Technologies. We can be reached at (972) 375 – 9654.

How To Make Sure Your Network Is Ransomware-Proof

Ransomware is undoubtedly one of the most harmful types of virus attacks for any corporate network. When a computer system is infected with the malware, it locks down all the files stored on the local hard disc, demanding a certain amount of ransom from the victim to get access to the data. Over the last few years, ransomware attacks have increased and have become a lot more targeted. Therefore, you need to stay proactive and protect your network from getting infected with this malware.

Here are some steps you need to take to ensure that your network is ransomware proof:

Perform Regular Backups

Though this is the most basic defense against ransomware, performing regular backups goes a long way in minimizing the consequences you have to face in the event of an attack. Create and implement a policy that requires the employees to backup their files at frequent intervals. When you have a copy of the files, your business activities would not be hampered due to a ransomware attack.

Disable Remote Access

In most cases, ransomware exploits the vulnerabilities in the computer systems or mobile devices used to access your network remotely. Though remote access allows employees to work from anywhere, it also increases the chances of a hacker being able to infiltrate the corporate network. Therefore, you should disable remote access, particularly on the systems where it is absolutely not required.

Deploy A Firewall

Install a reliable firewall software to prevent ransomware from getting access to your network. When you have set the rules on what type of content can or cannot be accessed on a computer system, you can significantly limit your network’s attack surface. It will also scan all the file downloads in real time and block the ones that potentially contain a malicious code.

Setup correct file and folder level permissions

Just like a firewall software protects you from external attacks, setting up file and folder permissions is important to secure your network internally. Make sure that the employees have access to only those files which they need to perform their tasks. For instance, marketing employees should not be able to view, modify or share the HR department folder. This will not only provide protection from ransomware, but lead to a more secure network environment on the whole.

For more information on ransomware and how you can safeguard your corporate network, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.