Posted by Kalyani M. on Feb 13, 2014
With healthcare data doubling every year, it can be extremely difficult for medical institutions to manage such a huge amount of information using traditional IT systems. This is one of the reasons why the healthcare industry is gradually moving towards the use of cloud services. A cloud storage system allows organizations to place data on a centralized electronic system that can be accessed anytime from anywhere. Cloud services can help the healthcare industry to access and manage health records effectively in order to provide better patient care. A properly implemented cloud storage system allows hospitals to process tasks effectively and quickly, without causing a drop in performance. Cloud computing has proven extremely beneficial and cost effective for patients and healthcare providers.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Feb 11, 2014
Cloud computing has become the driving force of today’s IT industry. More and more enterprises are moving towards this technology because of its flexibility, cost effectiveness, and easy deployment. According to the technology researchers at Gartner, the cloud services are expected to grow to $210 million by 2016. However, cloud computing is vulnerable to several security breaches and cyber attacks. The fact that the cloud hosts a tremendous amount of data makes them an attractive target for the cyber criminals. It is also extremely difficult to track or investigate cyber attacks on cloud services because of an ever changing set of users and data centers.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Feb 7, 2014
Security researchers have devised a unique method to trick the hackers trying to crack encrypted information. As you may know, encryption is one of the most effective methods of protecting data. However, it is seen that in many cases intruders are successful in getting into the system by trying different encryption-cracking methods. There are several sophisticated pieces of software that are capable of deciphering secure data. Keeping these security concerns in the forefront, two security researchers, Ari Juels and Thomas Ristenpart, from the University of Wisconsin Madison, have come up with a new encryption system called “Honey Encryption”.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Feb 4, 2014
The Point-of-Sale (PoS) malware attacks seem to be on the rise since last year. Many retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus became victims of such attacks. Recently, the RSA brought into light another PoS malware called “ChewBacca”. In the past three months, this Trojan has stolen credit and debit card information from dozens of retailers. While the majority of the retailers are based in the U.S., the attack has also been noticed in few other countries like Russia, Canada, and Australia. Due to lack of security controls on the PoS machines, they have become the easy target of financially motivated attacker, who is able to access millions of customer’s data. Let’s take a look at how the ChewBacca malware works. Continue reading…
Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 28, 2014
The Internet of Things has become an emerging trend in today’s age. As the number of devices connected via Internet grows, the risk of cyber attacks also increases. By connecting so many unsecured smart devices like TVs, refrigerators, etc. to the Internet, we are opening the doors to many malicious activities. Recently, a security research firm, Proofpoint, revealed an Internet of Things cyber attack that compromised more than 100,000 Smart TVs, refrigerators, and other smart appliances; 750,000 malicious email communications were sent out from these devices. Proofpoint noticed this attack during the holiday season, from December 23,2013, to January 6, 2014. The researchers observed thousands of malicious email messages coming a particular range of IP addresses. When they conducted further investigation, they realized that these messages are not coming from PCs, which are the most common medium for launching these attacks, but from unidentified devices running on the standard Linux platform. On pinging those devices, they found out that they were smart appliances connected within households.
According to Proofpoint, just as personal computers are compromised by botnets to launch attacks, cyber criminals are exploiting the vulnerabilities in smart home appliances by transforming them into “thingbots” to carry out malicious activities. One of the major intentions behind such kinds of attacks is to collect personal information about the victim. The more information the attackers have in their hands, the more powerful they become. Another reason why Internet connected devices have become more appealing to the attackers is because they have poor security controls and can be infected easily. The researchers of Proofpoint noticed during their investigation that the majority of the smart appliances were not configured properly or used default passwords. Unfortunately, when we talk about Internet security, most people visualize securing their laptops or tablets. We forget that other than our laptops, PCs, or Tablets, there are many more household appliances that are connected to the Internet, and it is equally important to implement security controls to protect them from attacks.
Lack of security awareness among the users of smart appliances it the most important reason why connected devices are more attractive to cyber criminals than PCs or laptops. People need to educate themselves about the vulnerabilities in the Smart appliances and implement recommended security controls to ensure protection. They should make sure that they change the default passwords of these devices before putting them to use. Users should always choose strong and complex passwords for better security, and change them on a regular basis. Often times, the industries developing these devices find it difficult to find and fix vulnerabilities compared to PCs and software appliances. They do not have the expertise or ability to patch the weaknesses in these devices. According to security expert Bruce Schneier, most common home routers run on old version of Linux operating system. The vulnerabilities may have been patched earlier, but it is extremely important to apply patches to them more frequently, because as the systems age their security vulnerabilities increases.
In order to apply patches the users need to manually download and apply them. It is rarely done because the users are never alerted about security updates, nor do they have the expertise to monitor the systems regularly and update patches. So, the best way to ensure protection from malicious attacks is to change your default password, and replacing them with strong, difficult-to-crack passwords. Keep your appliances connected to the Internet only as long as required; if you do not need your devices, disconnect them from the Internet. The 24/7 availability of connected devices makes them more vulnerable to attacks. Lastly, take the security precautions of connected devices just as seriously as your PCs or laptops.
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Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 21, 2014
As has been the trend of businesses, the makers of malware are also moving towards cloud services because of its flexibility, cost effectiveness, and easy maintenance. Malware distributors are embracing cloud services as a method of hosting malicious codes and adware. They are doing so either by buying services directly from the cloud service providers, or by compromising them. By hiding behind the names of legitimate cloud service providers like Amazon and GoDaddy, they can effectively serve malware to millions of Internet users. Hackers can use the trusted IP addresses of these major cloud service providers to initiate malicious activities without getting blacklisted. The cloud enables them to quickly and cheaply develop malware-infected sites, and bring them online. Some of these benefits of cloud computing have made cloud one of the attractive places for these malicious actors.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 20, 2014
“Knowledge may be priceless, but a higher education is clearly not”.
– Peter Thiel, Cofounder Paypal
Over the years there has been a significant hike in the tuition fees of many U.S. universities. Students are struggling under the burden of student loans to achieve their career goals. Some of them have had to make career changes or postpone their dreams just because of the expenses of higher education. Washington Post had invited some researchers, thinkers and analysts to submit their favorite graph of 2013. The graph submitted by PayPal’s Cofounder, Peter Thiel showed how over the years the student loans have increased with respect to the income level of the majority of people.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 17, 2014
Don’t you wish you could browse YouTube or Facebook without encountering those annoying advertisements? They have become impossible to ignore these days. Many websites rely on online advertisements to generate revenues. They are annoying for sure, have not caused any harm to our systems. Unfortunately, this is not the case anymore. Online ads can be manipulated to launch cyber attacks, called Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS). An intruder can simply embed an attack ad within a Web page. The attacker tricks advertising networks to accept compromised ads and display those ads on legitimate sites. When you click on one of these malicious ads, your browser gets enlisted in a botnet, which carries out denial of service attacks.
Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 16, 2014
Well-known technology companies like Google and Facebook are planning on bolstering the security of their users by introducing physical tokens. These physical tokens are very easy to use, and provide an additional level of protection along with your passwords. You just have to plug in the token directly to your computer ‘s USB drives and then type in your password. A correct combination of the password and the number on the physical token will give you access to your account. Both companies are planning on making their employees use physical tokens to access their accounts. John Flynn, security engineer at Facebook, said, “We’re keeping an eye on emerging authentication technology. Hardware authentication is one of those.” This latest tactic is a great move by Facebook and Google towards maintaining user privacy. Continue reading…
Posted by Kalyani M. on Jan 15, 2014
Last month retail giant Target suffered a massive credit card breach that affected approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts. As per recent investigations, the breach appears to be even worse than what was estimated earlier. The company confirmed that personal information like names, email addresses, mailing addresses, and phone numbers of an additional 70 million people were compromised in the data breach. This makes the Target data crisis one of the biggest security breaches of 2013. In an interview with CNBC, Target CEO, Gregg Steinhafel has revealed that the reason behind this massive attack is a malware that infected Target’s point–of-sale registers. Malware programs that are designed to infect the point-of–sale (PoS) systems are known as RAM scraper malware.