How to Recognize Malware

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How to Recognize Malware?

Due to rapid advancement in technology and the use of digital devices, the risks of cyber attacks on individuals, organizations, government, and private sectors are increasing. A cyber attack attempts to access a computer system, a group of computers, or a network infrastructure to cause harm. Electrical blackouts, military equipment failures, and national security secrets leaks are possible outcomes of cyber strikes. They can lead to the theft of valuable and sensitive information, such as medical records. They can paralyze or interrupt phone and computer networks.

Cyber risks include computer viruses, data breaches, and DoS attacks. Malware is an example of an escalating cyber threat. Malware has been used to cause disruptions, make money, conduct cyber warfare methods and much more since the early 1970s.

  • Last year, 34% of firms had malware-related security issues.
  • Following March 2020, Google found roughly 600-800 malware-infected sites weekly, compared to around 3000 infected sites between January and March.

People have a habit of using loose security terms. However, it’s critical to understand your malware categories. Understanding how different types of malware spread is essential to containing and eradicating them. This article will help you know how to recognize malware.

 

What is Malware?

Malware or malicious software is software used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, or access private computer systems. Malicious software, or malware, is designed to damage or disrupt computers and computer networks.

Malware comes in various forms and often varies in sophistication, but some things are common to most types of malware. They’re usually small programs trick people into installing them on their computers. Once the computer has been infected with malware, it may be slowed down, destroyed, or made vulnerable to malicious attacks from other sources.

 Malware includes computer viruses, keyloggers, and other malicious programs that damage or disrupt computers and networks. Malware attacks can range from simple annoyances such as pop-up messages to extremely damaging programs that cause financial loss or identity theft.

 

How-to-Recognize-Malware-middleWays to Tell if You’re Infected with Malware

The best way to tell if your computer has been infected with malware is to look for specific symptoms. Here are some tips on how you can tell if your device has been affected by malicious software:

  • Slow performance: If you notice that your device is performing slower than usual, there might be a problem with malware. When malicious programs run on your PC, they can affect its performance and make everything take longer than usual. For example, opening files or programs might take longer, and web pages may not load properly.
  • Unexpected behavior changes: If anything that generally happens on your PC starts happening when it shouldn’t — or doesn’t happen when it should — then this could be a sign of malware infection. For example, if your browser opens new tabs without permission or downloads files without asking permission, these could be malware infection signs.

If you have malware on your computer, it can lead to various problems. Some malware displays pop-ups and advertisements, some steal personal information stored on your computer, and some even try to access your bank account. If you believe your system contains malware, you must use an effective anti-malware program to remove the threat.

If you experience these symptoms, you may have malware on your computer. You are in danger when the virus starts to harm your system. You need to know how to know if you have malware or if malware will keep affecting your system.

 

How Malware Gets on Your Device

Malware can get onto your device in many ways. Here are some of them.

 

1.    Malicious Websites

Hackers often create malicious websites that trick you into downloading software onto your device by appearing as legitimate sites. For example, they may create fake social media pages for popular websites like Facebook or LinkedIn, containing malware links embedded in the website code.

2.    Email Attachments

Malware is delivered by email in 94% of cases. Phishing assaults are becoming more common. To steal personally identifiable information, cyber hackers imitate trustworthy institutions. These attachments often appear as files you need to open to view their contents (such as an invoice or document). A typical example of this type of attachment is a PDF document containing an executable file hidden inside it. It automatically downloads and installs malware on your computer without knowing when you open it.

3.    Downloading Apps from Unknown Sources

If you’re downloading a file from the Internet, you must be careful where you get it from and what kind of content it contains. Ensure you only download files from reputable sources — such as official developer websites or other trusted sources — and avoid peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

4.    Not Updating Your Apps Regularly

While updating your apps on Android isn’t easy — you need to ensure that every app is compatible with the latest version of Android before doing so. It’s still important to keep up with updates to protect against new malware threats. Suppose you’re unwilling or unable to update your apps regularly. In that case, the best thing you can do is scan your device for malware once in a while using anti-virus software.

 

Effects Of Malware

Malware has become an increasingly serious threat in today’s business landscape. The bad guys are getting more innovative and creative as they develop new ways of getting into your systems. Malware can cause many problems that affect your company’s daily operation and long-term security. They could steal passwords and credit card numbers or make your computer inoperable by deleting files. In addition to these apparent problems, malware can cause company data to be lost or corrupted.

The following are some common symptoms of a malware infection:

  • Unexpected pop-ups in your browser or other applications. These are usually advertisements but can also be attempted by malicious software to trick you into installing more malware.
  • The presence of suspicious files on your computer. These may include executable files (.exe), dynamic link libraries (.dll), or scripts (.vbs). If you find any of these on your computer, it’s good to delete them immediately.
  • There are frequent crashes, program freezes, blue screens (BSODs), or other system errors. In some cases, these issues might be caused by a hardware problem, but they could also result from malware that has taken over part or all of the operating system (OS).

Conclusion

In this digital era, corporate device and network malware attacks are rising. Cybercriminals are spreading advanced variants of robust malware to infect endpoints. Not only have these attacks increased, but the level of sophistication has also improved.

Protected Harbor offers extensive protection from viruses, ransomware, spyware, and other malicious software. It also includes a firewall to prevent outside threats from compromising your computer. One of the most helpful features of this program is its real-time cloud scanning which keeps your computer safe even if you download a malicious program. In addition, you can schedule scans to make sure that your computer is always protected. With Protected Harbor, you get access to helpful 24/7 support as well. An ideal solution for such scenarios with complete protection against malware attacks. What are you waiting for? Get protected from malware today with a free IT audit.

Understanding Cyber Attacks in The Cloud

Understanding Cyber Attacks in The Cloud

In today’s world of rapidly advancing technology, the need for understanding cyber-attacks in the cloud is paramount. Cloud computing has revolutionized how we store and access data, allowing faster and more efficient workflows and collaborations. However, it has also created a new avenue for cybercriminals, who can target cloud-based systems with sophisticated attacks. As such, organizations need to understand the various types of cyber-attacks that can occur in the cloud and develop strategies to protect against them.

Welcome to another episode of Uptime with Richard Luna! We are thrilled to have you with us. We explain best practices, highlight critical issues in the current threat landscape, and provide guidance on how to keep safe and secure online. This blog will overview the different types of cyber-attacks in the cloud and discuss what organizations can do to safeguard their data and systems.

 

Types of Cyber Attacks in the Cloud

There are several types of cyber-attacks in the cloud, including Denial of Service (DoS), Data breaches, Digital extortion, Viral infections, Theft of data, and Access control attacks. Let’s take a closer look at each attack to understand better the risks involved.

  • DoS attacks occur when a hacker floods a website with so many requests that the site cannot keep up with the load and goes offline. A hacker who wants to take down a website may use a DoS attack. This type of attack can be launched against websites that are hosted in the cloud, as well as on-premise systems.
  • Data breaches occur when a hacker is able to gain access to sensitive data stored on cloud systems. A data breach can occur through various attack vectors, such as malicious code, malicious insiders, and improperly configured security systems.
  • Digital extortion involves hackers obtaining access to sensitive data and threatening to publish it on the internet or sell it to others if a ransom is not paid. While this type of attack can occur on-premise and in the cloud, it is more common in cloud environments due to the lower barriers to entry.
  • Viral infections occur when a hacker uploads malicious code to a cloud service, such as a file storage system, and others unknowingly download and distribute the code. This attack can spread quickly as others download and upload the infected files, creating a viral infection.
  • Thieves can steal data from a cloud system by hacking into the system or by tricking users into downloading malicious code or applications that steal data.
  • Access control attacks often work around or bypass access control measures to steal data or user credentials. Malicious actors can easily bypass access control by logging in as authorized users and using their resources after obtaining the latter.

 

Strategies for Protecting Against Cyber Attacks in the Cloud

Given the different types of cyber-attacks in the cloud outlined above, it is clear that organizations must employ a comprehensive security strategy when using cloud-based systems. It is important to note that no single security strategy will completely protect against cyber-attacks. It is necessary to employ a multi-layered approach that includes a combination of security tools and processes, such as the following.

  • Strong passwords are essential to any security strategy, particularly in cloud environments where accounts are shared across different organizations and individuals. Follow these password best practices to create strong, secure passwords for all cloud accounts.
  • Two-factor authentication is another critical part of any security strategy. This feature requires users to enter a password and perform an additional verification step, such as entering a PIN or scanning a unique barcode with a smartphone. Two-factor authentication provides a significant additional layer of security against cyber-attacks by requiring two forms of authentication.
  • Firewalls provide an important layer of security between an organization’s network and the internet. This centralized system can be configured to block or allow specific data packets based on their destinations and types.
  • Encryption – Organizations should use encryption for all sensitive data to prevent hackers from accessing it and can breach a system. SSL/TLS certificates are a common form of encryption used by cloud computing providers to secure data between a user’s computer and a website.
  • Data audits are essential to any security strategy, particularly in cloud environments where users’ data is stored and shared across different organizations and individuals. Make sure to conduct regular data audits to identify potential security risks and find ways to mitigate them.

 

Final Words

In conclusion, cyber-attacks in the cloud are a significant threat that organizations must be prepared to defend against. By following the above best practices, organizations can better protect against cyber-attacks in the cloud and keep sensitive data safe.

Protected Harbor offers enterprise-grade hosting, 24/7 monitoring, and high availability to keep your business online. Our data centers are U.S.-based SOC 2 certified to meet the strictest data security requirements. Our expert engineers work around the clock to keep your data safe. Our private clouds are designed to provide secure, reliable hosting of virtualized corporate data and applications. Private cloud hosting is scalable and offers high availability. It also enables data backup and recovery, as well as system redundancy.

Protected Harbor’s mission is to make hosting your business online as simple and secure as possible. Sign up now to try our services risk-free.

Third-party Vulnerabilities: Stay Protected from Software Supply Chain Security

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Third-party Vulnerabilities: Stay Protected from Software Supply Chain Security

The global economy is becoming more interconnected, making it easier for hostile actors to carry out these assaults, which take advantage of the trust businesses and their partners have in one another. Supply chain cyber-attacks are on the rise.

In the past 12 months, 45% of respondents to the 2021 Global Security Attitude Survey by cybersecurity company CrowdStrike experienced a supply chain assault. This increased from 32% of respondents in 2018, indicating that hackers are becoming more comfortable using this sophisticated cyberattack.

Attacks on the supply chain increased by 42% in the first quarter of 2021. Surprisingly, 97% of businesses have had a supply chain breach, with 93% experiencing a direct violation due to a supply chain security weakness.

If you are well-prepared, you could be positively affected by a software breach you use or have an essential service or supplier of goods fall offline for several days due to a cyberattack.

Let’s take a closer look at software supply chain security.

 

What is a Supply Chain Attack?

A supply chain attack is a type of cyberattack in which malicious actors attack a company’s supply chain, which can be as simple as stealing money from an e-commerce site or as complex as stealing intellectual property.

In some cases, hackers wait for a company to make a purchase and then try to steal information about that transaction. In other cases, hackers might try to steal money directly from the company’s bank account.

The goal of a supply chain attack is to disrupt the flow of goods from the factory to the store shelf. This can allow attackers to take advantage of the lack of visibility into their supply chains and move more quickly than companies would otherwise be able to do on their own.

 

How Do Supply Chain Attacks Work?

Supply chain attacks are not just about stealing intellectual property like trade secrets or confidential data; they also involve stealing physical assets such as manufacturing equipment or companies.

Supply chain attacks work by taking advantage of vulnerabilities within the supply chain itself. These vulnerabilities could be in the form of human error or poor security practices for the companies involved in making and shipping products.

 

Different Forms of Supply Chain AttackThird-party Vulnerabilities & Software Supply Chain Security middle

Supply chain attacks can take many forms, including firmware, hardware, and software attacks.

 

Supply Chain Attack on Software

One compromised application or piece of software is all needed for a software supply chain assault to spread malware throughout the whole network. Attackers frequently aim for the source code of an application to introduce malicious code into a reliable program or computer system.

Supply Chain Attack on Hardware

Similar to the USB keylogger we previously stated, hardware attacks rely on actual physical objects. To maximize their impact and harm, attackers will aim for a device that travels through the entire supply chain.

Supply Chain Attack on Firmware

An attack that introduces malware into a computer’s booting code can be launched instantly. The malware starts to run as soon as a computer starts up, endangering the entire system. Attacks on firmware are swift, frequently unnoticed if you’re not looking for them, and very destructive.

 

Best Practices to Counter Supply Chain Attacks

Companies can implement various strategies to combat supply chain assaults, from fixing problems with their overall cybersecurity infrastructure to ensuring endpoints are protected against intrusion.

Attacks on the supply chain can be challenging to identify and prevent because they take advantage of organizations’ confidence in their suppliers. Fortunately, there are still methods companies may take to prevent or lessen the effects of a supply chain attack.

 

Install Backup Vendors

You run a considerably more significant chance of downtime if you sell widgets and only have one supplier for a particular component needed for that widget than if you had two vendors.

For instance, most businesses would view themselves as inoperable and unable to function without their internet. If your primary ISP goes down, having a backup provider will help prevent extended downtime.

Use a Model of Zero Trust

Businesses should request that their IT department use a zero-trust approach whenever possible. This restricts the kinds of activities carried out within a network because it presumes that no user or application should be trusted by default.

Implement Security Tools

Firewalls and antivirus software are security solutions that can only sometimes stop supply chain attacks. They might be able to let you know if an attack is happening. For instance, firewalls may be able to identify and halt significant volumes of data from leaving a network, which would indicate a breach. Still, antivirus software can identify malware, such as ransomware.

Include Third-party Threats in Your Threat Intelligence Program

Vendors, suppliers, service providers, resellers, agents, channels, joint venture partners, and intermediaries like payment processors, utilities, nonprofits, subscription services, contractors, affiliates, rating agencies, governmental organizations, and trade associations are all your supply chain.

In the supply chain, businesses and applications work together to deliver products. Security measures in software or physical form could be used to achieve this. On the other hand, more high-risk endpoints result from each additional link. Make careful to double-check all integrations and risks. After all, you cannot defend that which you do not comprehend.

Impose Stringent Shadow IT Regulations

All IT equipment that a company’s security staff has not vetted is called “shadow IT.” As a result of the recent widespread acceptance of a remote-working paradigm, many employees are setting up their home offices with their own personal IT equipment.

All IT equipment should be registered, and there should be clear rules regarding what can and cannot be linked, according to IT security agencies. To identify DDoS assaults conducted through the supply chain, all authorized devices (particularly IoT devices) should be monitored.

 

Conclusion

Although attacks on the software supply chain have increased recently, they have been around for almost a decade. Software developers must follow the best practices to safeguard their build, deployment, and delivery systems.

When protecting the software supply chain, you need to be proactive. For most organizations, security isn’t something they do but rather something they have. They’re likely not setting up or implementing the right solutions and need to address security concerns in their software supply chain. And when the issues arise and are exploited, they’re forced to deal with them later.

You require a well-organized and experienced third-party risk management staff like Protected Harbor to handle supply chain vulnerabilities. The team should frequently and early involve essential suppliers. And to secure the entire supply chain, your technology team should consider blockchain and hyper ledger technologies.

To ensure that your developers and vendors always provide certain products, the best defense is one you build yourself. To delve further into this topic or for more information about software security, contact us today!

How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records

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How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records?

Schools handle numerous sensitive pieces of information about students and their families. Administrators must actively secure the data from unlawful disclosure by following laws, regulations, and ethical commitments.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which gives kids control over their educational data, is one of the statutes that the U.S. Department of Education is dedicated to upholding to protect students’ privacy. Schools, faculty, and employees must follow regulations governing internet safety and the protection of student data.

Data on students can easily be accessed thanks to technology. All student data must be strictly confidential to safeguard students’ rights, security, and dignity. Federal and state laws and regulations may have requirements governing the kinds of security measures that must be implemented concerning this data, but they might not list specific actions.

Unluckily, not all school districts might offer a more thorough analysis of those rules and regulations. As a result, particular precautions must be taken when protecting student data.

 

What is Student Data Privacy?

Student Data Privacy is a term used to describe the protection of student data, which can be anything from academic records to health information.

It aims to ensure that only authorized parties have access to student data and that it is used for the purpose for which it was collected.

State and federal governments enforce Student Data Privacy laws. The U.S. Department of Education has policies regarding student data privacy, and each state has its regulations.

 

Why is Student Privacy Important for Schools?

A school’s policy on student privacy should include information about what can and cannot be recorded, how often cameras will be used, and how long data will be stored. Schools should also provide students with clear information about exercising their rights under the law when school officials or third parties violate their privacy.

Students who feel their privacy has been violated should have an avenue for recourse available to them through their school’s disciplinary process.

Because there are ethical and legal limitations on the acquisition, use, distribution, and treatment of student data, protecting student privacy is crucial. Press the Tab to write more…

  • Make tailored adverts or email scam contact lists.
  • Find the emails and other contact details of your family members.
  • Grade adjustment for a student
  • View private information that should be kept confidential, including prescription medicines and learning and physical problems

Therefore, protecting student privacy is essential to averting issues like these.

 

Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records Middle7 Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records

Let’s look at some strategies schools can do to safeguard students’ privacy better.

 

1.    Purge Unnecessary Student Records

Purge unnecessary student records from your system so hackers cannot access these accounts. This is important because if hackers manage to break into your network and steal data from student accounts, there is no way for you to know who accessed it or for what purpose.

 

2.    Establish Transparency with Laws and Guidelines

Another thing that schools can do is establish transparency with laws and guidelines. These rules vary from state to state but often include policies for how long students’ records can be kept and what they can be used for after graduating high school or moving away from their home state.

This type of transparency will help ensure that students’ rights are being protected and help clarify terminology when discussing matters with parents or teachers.

 

3.    Choose Who can Access the Data

Yes, in daily life, your data must be protected, but what would happen if you had an electrical problem, perhaps in the thick of an emergency? Do you have access to the files and registers of every student?

You can purchase an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit, allowing you to continue working or accessing your files while on the premises. Alternatively, you might want to think about how to go outside the building to access your records.

 

4.    Encrypt Data

Likely, schools will still need to keep some sensitive information about children and their parents after completing minimization and cleansing efforts. Careful security should be maintained for those records using a combination of technical and administrative safeguards.

Adopting robust encryption technology to safeguard the information that is either at rest saved on a server or device or in transit, being transferred over a network, is the most significant technical control schools can apply to information. Schools should recognize equipment that houses sensitive data and implement encryption at the file and disc levels.

 

5.    Train Your Staff

Accessing student data comes with much responsibility. A school system cannot rely on the fact that staff workers always know how to handle this information in specific ways. Employees must understand how to access information safely, how to use a breach reporting system, and what to do in the event of a breach.

 

6.    Carefully Manage Data

You ought to be aware of the information that each individual or company has access to. If you handle the data correctly, you can ensure that it is treated correctly. Publishers of textbooks, for instance, do not require student addresses or phone numbers.

The precise forms of data that are required must be synchronized. Automated bi-directional data sharing is necessary for many contemporary learning management systems and can give you finer control over the data you send.

 

7.    Create a Student Data Policy

Make a plan to regularly assess the organization’s data privacy requirements since data privacy is a never-ending process. Make sure the schedule is consistently updated. Learn the fundamentals of the data gathering, storage, and sharing procedures used by your company first.

Create procedures for handling any data produced by the Internet of Things gadgets. There are more gadgets, which means there are more online targets. Preventive actions can be helpful, such as limiting bandwidth access and ensuring that devices are correctly patched and segmented.

 

Conclusion

Schools must use discretion and prudence to prevent inappropriate use of student and family information. Several basic security procedures can help educational institutions maintain public trust.

As such, a college or university must follow specific federal and state laws when handling student information. However, these laws can be tricky, especially when sensitively handling student information. For instance, a school may be required to follow specific privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) when handling student information. However, there are particular ways you can work with a school to help ensure that their student information is dealt with in a manner that complies with FERPA laws. One way to do this is to work with a cybersecurity provider expert to protect student records.

Employing a professional IT solution, such as Protected Harbor, is the best way to handle your data digitally, monitor it, and safeguard student privacy. Rated by Goodfirms as the top cybersecurity and cloud service providers in the US, we have been protecting data for all industries, including schools, for the last two decades.

From anti-malware protection, ransomware protection, and identity and access management to threat detection and response, we have you covered. Our 24×7 tech team and proactive monitoring redefine security. Contact us today to get a free cybersecurity audit.

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

As the digital world continues to grow, so do cyber threats. Cyber-attack is on the rise, and businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly aware of the risk of a cyber-attack. Whether operating in a small business or managing enterprise IT systems, it’s essential to understand why cyber-attacks occur and how you can protect your organization from them. To achieve optimal cybersecurity and reduce risk from cyber-attack, businesses need to understand their threat level and know how attackers might infiltrate their systems. This article will explain why cyber-attack occur and what you can do as an individual or business owner to prevent them from happening again.

We are excited to welcome you to another video in the series Uptime with Richard Luna. We focus on important topics in today’s threat landscape, discuss best practices, and offer advice on staying safe and secure online. Today’s video will discuss cybersecurity, how cyber-attacks occur, and how to protect yourself against these attacks. Stay tuned.

 

What is a Cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack is any attempt to breach the defenses of a computer system. It’s a broad term describing malicious activity toward an organization’s network and data. A cyber-attack can be a denial-of-service attack, ransomware attack, phishing attack, or any other malicious activity. These types of attacks can cause damage to data and systems and can disrupt or shut down a business entirely. To protect your organization, it’s important to understand why cyber-attack occur and how to prevent them from happening again.

 

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

There are multiple reasons why cyber-attack occur. They can be carried out by curious teenagers, state-sponsored hackers, or cybercriminals. All of these scenarios pose serious threats to businesses of all sizes. Cyber-attacks occur in three ways:

  1. Theft of Information – Cybercriminals may want to steal your valuable information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other sensitive data.
  2. Damage to Systems – Hackers might want to damage your systems by deleting information, corrupting files, or shutting down your systems.
  3. Extortion – If hackers have taken your systems hostage, they might demand ransom in exchange for releasing them.

 

Why Are Cyber-attacks So Successful?

There are a few reasons why cyber-attacks are so successful. First, it’s hard to identify an attack in real time. It’s difficult to know if your systems are under attack because it happens outside your network.  Another reason why cyber-attacks are so successful is that it’s hard to predict who will be targeted next. Economies of scale have made developing and executing large-scale cyber-attack more economically viable.

 

How to Protect Your Organization from Cyber-attacks?

Implementing a solid cybersecurity plan is the best way to protect your organization from cyber-attack. This includes conducting thorough risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities in your systems, and implementing best practices for your employees.

Conduct a Risk Assessment – Before implementing a cybersecurity plan, you must perform a thorough risk assessment. This involves identifying your organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Identify Vulnerabilities- After identifying your organization’s weaknesses, you can determine where you’re most vulnerable. Common vulnerabilities include being attacked online, having unsecured devices on your network, or being hacked through a mobile app.

Implement Best Practices – Once you’ve identified your vulnerabilities, you can implement best practices. For example, you can use two-factor authentication on your online accounts or install antivirus software on your computers.

 

Final Words

Whether you’re operating in a small business or managing enterprise IT systems, it’s important to understand why cyber-attacks occur and how you can protect your organization from them.

With a partner like Protected Harbor on your side, you can rest assured that your business is protected against any threat. Our solid cybersecurity plans are flexible enough to accommodate changes in the risk environment and ever-evolving threats. Therefore, partnering with a company that offers a customized cybersecurity solution is important.

Contact our expert today to receive a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that keeps your company safe.

The Cybersecurity Minute: What is Cybersecurity?

The Cybersecurity Minute: What is Cybersecurity?

Everyone is talking about cybersecurity, but what does that mean? In simple words, Cybersecurity is the security of computers, networks, and software from attackers. It’s a combination of both technology and process. In today’s high-tech world, there are more ways than ever for someone to gain access to sensitive data. Hackers are looking to exploit any weaknesses in your digital access points.

As businesses become more dependent on computers, internet connectivity, and cloud storage platforms – cybercriminals grow more interested in acquiring information that can be used for financial gain or identity theft.

Welcome to another video in the series Uptime with Richard Luna, the Cybersecurity series. You must have heard the term Cybersecurity but what does it mean, and why it’s essential for your business? Keep watching the video, and don’t forget to download “The Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs Ebook” below.

 

What Should You Know About Cybersecurity?

The word cybersecurity is a combination of both security and computers. It protects systems and networks from attacks, damage, or disruption. Cyberattacks are a real threat from many sources, including malicious software, cybercriminals, and even nation-states.

Due to the nature of the Internet, it’s hard to know who might be behind an attack. The key to protecting data and networks is a combination of both technology and process. Organizations must have security protocols to protect their systems and data. Employees must also understand how to protect themselves while working with these systems.

 

Protect your Organization from Cyber Threats

The best way to secure your organization against cyber threats is to have a plan. You should have policies and procedures in place to secure all systems, data, and employees. This plan will require employees to follow safe practices and be diligent about securing their devices.

  • Employees should follow these best practices:
  • Install security and patch software on all devices.
  • Use multi-factor authentication for all accounts.
  • Avoid clicking on links in emails and other messages.
  • Protect login information, and don’t share it with anyone.
  • Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Delete sensitive emails as soon as they are no longer needed.
  • Regularly scan for breaches and vulnerabilities.
  • Report any suspicious activity to IT.
  • Update software and operating systems as soon as new versions are available.

These eight DIY cybersecurity solutions for small enterprises help keep your operations secure without costing a lot of money or time if you wish to try to maintain your cybersecurity on your own. Download the infographic here.

 

Conclusion

As we have seen recently, cyber-attacks have become widespread and dangerous. So every business needs to protect itself from these attacks. Moreover, cybersecurity is the most important thing for every business these days. If a business is hacked, it can cause much damage to the company. A successful cyber-attack can lead to data theft, financial loss, and reputational damage. Therefore, it is essential to protect your business from cyber threats.

Protected Harbor provides a safer environment for your business data by securing the entire data lifecycle. A robust security plan by us can prevent all types of cyber-attacks from protecting your business data. It has a host of features that make data security management a lot easier. Some critical elements of the Protected Harbor security plan are: multi-tenant architecture, deployment flexibility, on-demand scaling, works with any cloud provider, secure data transfer, data privacy, regulatory compliance, data backup and disaster recovery, workflow management, and easy integration with other tools.

Still trying to understand the best cybersecurity services? Protected Harbor was rated the top cybersecurity and cloud service provider in the US by Goodfirms. Contact our expert today and get a free cybersecurity audit.

The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

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The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

Today’s cyber threat landscape is more complex than ever before. New threats are discovered practically every day, and hackers are finding new ways to exploit those threats on an almost daily basis. This means businesses need to be more vigilant about the security of their networks, devices, and user accounts. Every organization should implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a strong and consistent security policy.

MFA strengthens your user account security by requiring users to verify their identity in addition to simply providing a username and password. There are many types of multi-factor authentication, but most involve something you know (like a username and password), something you have (such as an access code sent via text message), or something you are (such as a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint or facial recognition).

Download our infographic Security: The Power of Multi-factor Authentication to understand MFA in detail.

 

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is an access control method used to verify a person’s identity attempting to log on to a computer system or website by combining two or more authentication factors. For example, logging in with a username and password is a single-factor authentication because only one piece of information is verified to be accurate. In contrast, logging in with a username, password, and a code sent to a smartphone via an app is multi-factor authentication because multiple verification methods are used. Multi-factor authentication is a security method that requires users to provide two or more pieces of proof that they are whom they say they are before being granted access to a secured system or resource.

 

Types of Multi-factor AuthenticationThe-Power-of-Multi-factor-Authentication-middle-image

One of three additional forms of information serves as the foundation for most MFA authentication methods:

  1. Things you know (knowledge)- A passphrase, PIN, or password.
  2. Things you have (possession)- A timely, individual verification code. Typically, a mobile app or security token will produce these authentication tokens and send them to you through text message.
  3. Things you are (inherence)- These are biometrically a part of you, such as a speech pattern, iris scan, or fingerprint.

MFA Examples

Using a combination of these components to authenticate is an example of multi-factor authentication.

1. Knowledge

  • Personal security questions and answers
  • Password
  • OTPs (Can be both Knowledge and Possession – You know the OTP, and you have to have something in your Possession to get it, like your phone)

2. Possession

  • OTPs created by mobile apps
  • OTPs transmitted by text or email
  • Smart Cards, USB devices, key fobs, and access badges
  • Software certificates and tokens

3. Inherence

  • Voice, voice recognition, eye or retina scanning, or other biometrics such as fingerprints
  • Behavior analysis

 

Conclusion

MFA is an essential part of any security strategy. While protecting online accounts, your computer, or other devices, utilizing MFA is a great way to protect against hackers and malicious threats. With MFA in place, hackers will have a more challenging time accessing your accounts and will have to employ more sophisticated methods to crack your passwords. Implementing MFA isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Protected Harbor experts say MFA is a must. The company has been in the business for over a decade and is among the top cybersecurity providers in the US. It has been keeping pace with the latest technological advancements to provide top-notch cybersecurity solutions to its clients. With our cybersecurity month discussing safety measures against

It is easy to implement and can be activated for an account. You can keep your data safer and much more secure with just a few clicks. Download our infographic to learn how to implement MFA and secure your data. Contact us today for a free cybersecurity audit.

Hackers Stole My Data: Should I Pay the Ransom?

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Hackers Stole My Data: Should I Pay the Ransom?

Ransomware attacks are surging around the globe at a mind-blowing pace. In the 2022 Cyber Threat Report by SonicWall, ransomware attacks on governmental institutions worldwide increased by about 1885% in 2021. The healthcare industry alone witnessed an increase of 755%. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the total loss incurred globally was around $20 billion in 2021. According to the same report, the loss is now projected to cross $265 billion by the year 2031.

These statistics show that ransomware attacks are imminent for most companies regardless of size; it’s just a matter of when. So, in this surge, everyone wants to know if they need to pay for ransomware or not.

 

Do We Need to Pay for Ransomware Attacks?

The facts legitimize the debate over whether the ransom should be paid once the illegal encryption has compromised your important data. The answer is not an easy one; it is a double-edged sword. The theory and practice differ in answer to the question of payment of the ransom.

You need to know both sides of the coin before you conclude.

 

Reasons in Favor of Paying the Ransom

Most of the time, the companies who fall victim to a ransomware attack choose to pay the ransom. One might feel that they should have made a better choice, but given their considerations, it is never clearly an irrational decision. The affected organizations opt to pay the ransom because of one of the following reasons:

  • To Reduce the Recovery Time

The companies have to consider the time. The time required to recover the encrypted data may exceed the limit which companies can withstand. The service delivery firms may find themselves in an extraordinary situation in this regard. They may lose revenue and clients swiftly, and prolonging the recovery may be unbearable in terms of the cost incurred. Consequently, the companies decide to pay the ransom in hopes of recovering the data quickly and easily.

  • To Save Their Reputation

The companies fear that hackers may publicize the news of their victimhood if they don’t act fast and pay the ransom. The name and reputation built over decades may go down the drain with a click. Resultantly, the companies choose to pay the amount instead of jeopardizing their reputation.

  • To Avoid Huge Recovery Costs

The companies are business enterprises, after all. Rational actors make cost and benefit analyses before making crucial decisions. If they feel that the cost to recover the data might not be rationalized in terms of the ransom amount, they decide to pay the ransom instead.

  • To Protect the Information of the Clients and the Employees

Perhaps the most valuable asset at stake is the personal information of the clients and the employees. The companies can hardly accept the exposure of sensitive information, which may risk the people associated with them. Naturally, they choose to go ahead with the ransom payment.

 

Reasons Against Paying the Ransom Hackers-stole-my-data-should-i-pay-the-ransom middle

The reasons in favor of paying the ransom may be theoretically valid, but the experience, in such cases, suggests otherwise. Most security experts agree that ransom should not be spent. They have the following reasons to support their view:

  • No Guarantee of Data Recovery

As a company, you might decide to pay a ransom to recover sensitive information, but you might never get it back. Either you might not receive the decryption key, or you might not be able to locate the data where it was before the attack. Hence, you might risk dooming yourself with a payment that might not pay you back.

  • Risk of Future Attacks

This is a natural occurrence. Once you put out your weakness by paying the ransom and the word gets out, you will become a potential prey to more attacks in the future. The hackers will use the money to come back even more powerfully. Furthermore, the hackers watching the whole episode will attack you hoping to get paid as you paid earlier. You don’t wish to see yourself in such a situation as a company or an individual.

  • Blackmailing Without Any Bounds

The hackers might ask for more payments. They might steal your data, meaning getting a decryption key might not get you over the hook. The hackers might blackmail you into paying them so they don’t publicize your data. Hence, you might be in a vicious circle of repetitive payments to save your life as a company, but such payments might destroy you rather than save you.

  • Legal Troubles

There is consensus among security experts that the proceeds of cybercrimes are used to commit even more significant crimes. Around 79% of the experts in a 2021 survey by Talion advocated criminalizing ransom payments. The money which you pay might be used used to commit terrorism. National security agencies will advise you against paying the ransom to prevent the funds from landing in the hands of those who commit heinous crimes like terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, etc. Your payment might be seen as aiding the criminals in their destructive motives by the law of your land or the country to which the hackers belong. You might end up paying for lawsuits, then.

 

Consider all the Possible Options before Paying

Let the law and the empirical evidence guide your decision. You may do the following things:

  • Paying Ransom Must Not be Prioritized

It would help if you went by the opinion of the experts. According to the empirical data, paying the hackers won’t help you in the future. Your payment will only encourage the hackers and make ransomware attacks a lucrative option for them. Don’t jeopardize your money and prestige by bowing down to the hackers, not as the first option, at least.

  • Bring Law Enforcement Agencies into Play.

Get the law on your side. You might be able to guide the law enforcement agencies(LEAs) in their quest to find more information about the hackers. Possibly, the LEAs might identify the hackers, or they might be able to prevent other companies and individuals from victimhood.

  • Look for a Decryption Key

You might be lucky enough to find a decryption key online. For this, you will have to know the attack variant first. Many online websites might help you with the recognition of the attack variant.

  • Pay Ransom as a Last Resort

After looking at all the facts and legal liabilities involved, if you believe you have no other option but to pay the ransom, negotiate wisely before paying. Tell the hackers to delete the data, if possible; otherwise, they might use it to blackmail you again.

 

Conclusion

Ransomware assaults are impossible to avoid altogether. You can best prepare for an attack and have measures in place to respond quickly. To put it in a nutshell, don’t pay unless you have to. It all boils down to proactive measures to avoid an attack in the first place rather than scrambling for help when little can be done.

Additionally, it’s essential to strengthen backups and test restores for all critical business operations. Assuming the backups are reliable and that recovering from a disaster would never be more expensive than paying a ransom for an uncertain result.

“In most cases, organizations only start testing restore after being hit by ransomware,” says Protected Harbor CEO Richard Luna.

Additionally, guarantee that executives are fully informed about the matter and participate in decision-making. The more they are aware of the hazards, the more equipped they will be to decide and defend it in court.

In conclusion, paying a ransom demand needs to be carefully considered because it is typically not wise to do so. As always, it is preferable to be proactive and invest in safeguarding your crucial data assets from cyberattacks than to be forced to take protective measures.

Protected Harbor offers single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), automated password resets, isolated backups, easy remote management, and much more at an affordable price to protect your systems and data from attack by cybercriminals using a stolen or phished password. And for more than 20 years, we have been defending our clients.  Additionally, we provide both trainers and trainees with an easygoing training experience.

To learn more about how our digital risk prevention platform can help you safeguard your company and your clients from ransomware threats, get in touch with the solution specialists at Protected Harbor right away. Visit Protected Harbor to get the necessary guidance and a ransomware audit that shields you from malicious attacks.

How do I Remove Malware

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How do I Remove Malware?

Cybercriminals always hunt for more advanced ways to attack your home network or business as the world moves toward a more connected digital life. According to an FBI report, cybercrime losses grew considerably in 2021. The losses, which primarily occurred in the United States but were reported globally, were estimated at $6.9 billion last year, up from $4.2 billion in 2020.

Malware has been around for years but has become increasingly sophisticated over time. The number of new malware detections worldwide increased to 677.66 million programs in March 2020, up from 661 million at the end of January 2020. With so many people connecting smart devices to their home networks, it’s no wonder that cybercriminals are looking for ways to exploit these devices, too.

This article will discuss detecting and removing malware from your mobile devices and personal computers. Let’s get started.

 

What is Malware?

Malware is a broad term for various malicious software (or “malicious code”) intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. It includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.

It can be programmed to steal your personal information or lock up your system until you pay a ransom to unlock it. If you see pop-up ads on your screen or if your browser locks up or crashes frequently, these are signs that your computer may have been infected with malware.

Malware is often distributed via email attachments or links on websites. Often people click on the links because they are curious to see what they lead to, and before they know it, they’ve downloaded malware onto their computer.

 

Finding and Removing Malware from Your Devices

It may seem impossible to remove malware from your computer once infected. But with cautious and prompt action, eradicating a virus or malware program can be easier than you think.

 

Malware from Mobile Devices

Anyone who uses the internet frequently is sure to come across the malware. Your smartphone carries much personal information, making it a prime target for cybercriminals.

Fortunately, malware can be found and removed from your Android device.

 

Signs of malware on Android

If you’re experiencing these issues, your device may have malware.

  • Your phone is slow and unresponsive.
  • You see ads or pop-ups on your screen, even after locking your device.
  • Your battery life has decreased noticeably since you got the phone.
  • Your device has become very hot while charging or after using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype for a long time (this is especially common with Android devices).
  • You see “Your device needs to be restarted” error messages on your screen more often than usual (even though no apps are running in the background).

How to Remove Malware on Android?

You can get rid of viruses and malware on Android by doing the following:

  • Reboot in safe mode. If your phone is infected with a virus, you may be able to use it usually if you reboot your phone into safe mode. This mode allows you to use your phone without any third-party apps running.
  • Uninstall all suspicious apps. If your phone has been infected with a virus, there’s a good chance that some apps on your phone are also infected. To find out which ones, tap Settings > Apps > Show All Apps > Scroll down and tap on each app one by one, looking for anything unusual (such as an app that uses too much battery or data). When you find an app that looks suspicious, uninstall it.
  • Get rid of pop-up ads. If you’re being bombarded by pop-ups while surfing the web, they could be coming from malware on your phone.
  • Clear your downloads. Make sure you check every app before you install it, and never install anything from sources other than Google Play Store (or trusted third-party stores). Also, delete any apps installed without permission — especially those with strange names or icons.
  • Install a mobile anti-malware app. Several solutions offer protection against malware for Android devices, including Avast Mobile Security and AVG AntiVirus Free. These apps scan every file stored on your device for viruses and other security threats, alerting you if anything suspicious is detected.

 

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Removing Malware from MAC or PC

 

Both Macs and PCs can be infected with malware. Although PCs are usually associated with this vulnerability, Macs can also be affected. It is critical to be aware of the threat of malware regardless of the sort of equipment you have.

 

Signs of Malware on PC or MAC

Many people will be surprised when they find out they are infected with malware. You may not realize it until you notice some strange activity on your computer or mobile device. Here are some signs that could indicate an infection:

  • Your computer takes longer than usual to start up or shut down
  • Your computer runs slowly for no apparent reason
  • Strange pop-up ads appear on your screen when you’re browsing the web
  • Your computer reboots itself more frequently than usual (this happens when there are too many applications running at once)

Get Rid of Malware on Your PC

Several options are available if you’re having problems with a PC or Mac and want to remove malware. Here’s how to do this:

  • Disconnect from the Internet

If you’re using an infected computer, disconnect it from the Internet immediately. This may stop malicious programs from spreading to other devices on your network or accessing files stored in cloud services like Dropbox or iCloud.

  • Check your activity monitor for malicious applications

Your activity monitor will show all currently running applications and processes on your system. If you see any suspicious-looking methods or applications, immediately shut down those programs and restart your computer so no more files are added to those processes.

  • Use Antivirus Software

Install an antivirus program on your computer before downloading anything from the Internet. Then keep it updated regularly with automatic updates. Many antivirus programs include anti-malware features that scan files as they’re downloaded to catch threats before infecting your system. You should also check newly downloaded files with an antivirus program before opening them to know if they contain malware or run them on your computer.

  • Run a Malware Scanner

Run a malware scanner. They are designed to search for and remove malicious software from your system. These tools are often free and can be downloaded from the Internet. You can also use a paid version of antivirus software if you already have some installed.

  • Clear your cache.

Most browsers store information about websites you visit in a temporary file called the cache. This allows them to load pages faster when you return to the site because they don’t have to download all the information again. But sometimes, this data can contain malicious code that has infected your computer and should be deleted before it causes more damage.

 

Final Words

Malware seriously threatens the information stored on personal computers and Macs. New varieties of malware are found all the time, and the lucrative nature of some viruses makes them particularly appealing to cybercriminals worldwide. Practicing good internet habits and recognizing the warning signals of malware infection is critical.

If you suspect your computer is infected, act quickly to prevent malware from spreading and protect your personal information. You can take help from the experts because malware can cause serious harm to you and your business. Protected Harbor has inbuilt malware detection in the cybersecurity strategy. We regularly update our database with new malware and other virus detection so that you stay ahead of the curve. You handle the business while we handle the security. Proactive remote monitoring is not just a term we implement. It’s an approach to detecting and removing any cyber threats before they may cause chaos.

To quickly identify and neutralize any dangers or if you want a more straightforward approach, contact us today for a free IT audit.

How Do I Know I Have Ransomware

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How Do I Know I Have Ransomware?

Due to an influx of reports regarding malware viruses, most of us are aware of the impact these attacks can have on businesses. Nevertheless, most of us have experienced a malware attack of some kind at some point in our careers. Hopefully, the infection was only a minor inconvenience, but malware truly has the ability to jeopardize any critical data that organizations may be in charge of protecting.

-The key is to keep both you and your system safe.

The ransomware family is rapidly expanding, with 327 new families joining in 2017 and 127 in 2020.  68.5% of firms were hit by ransomware in 2021. Making this the highest figure reported in the last three years. The frequency of these cyberattacks is appalling; 2244 cases of cybercrime emerge daily, which translates into a crime approximately every thirty seconds. This activity is a highly organized operation that considers the use and importance of technology and data for companies and organizations worldwide.

Cybercriminals operate through intrusive software, and their work can be best understood by considering the methods they use to commit crimes. This requires a brief understanding of ransomware. This article will highlight the points that can help you understand ransomware and how to recognize it.

 

What is Ransomware?

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Ransomware is a type of malware that denies access to computer files by encrypting them with the intent to extract a ransom. Ransomware is malware that blocks access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. It’s most commonly used for financial gain but can also extort people or organizations.

Ransomware attacks have become more common over the past few years. These have evolved from malicious software to more sophisticated attacks aimed at specific targets like healthcare and government organizations.

Data is virtually wealth today, and whoever controls it has leverage over other entities in today’s ultra-competitive world. Therefore, getting hands on a company’s data or their online service provider systems is equivalent to bringing it to its knees. No amount is large enough for the company to bail itself out of the situation. Therefore, it’s necessary to take the right preventive measures before an actual disaster happens.

 

Ways to Identify Ransomware

So, how do you know whether or not a ransomware attack has invaded your company’s system? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. Most cybercriminals are quite stealthy when it comes to breaking into your system, and once they’re in, the rest of the attack is done with ease. So, where does it all start?

1. All Starts with Phishing

You might receive a seemingly normal email in which the sender poses as either a legitimate third-party company or co-worker and may attach a link that will require you to enter some private details. Once you enter your information, you have allowed illegal entry into your computer system.

2. The Emergence of Unexpected Network Scanners

The popping up of network scanning tools is another sign of a potential ransomware attack. This is how hackers hold as much information about your computer network as they can.

3. Illegitimate Intrusion Into Active Directory and Presence of Suspicious Software

Software’s are a clear-cut indication that your system has been invaded through Ransomware, as hackers predominantly use this mal-software to get hold of the Active Directories within your networks and gather information about various users.

4. A Splash Screen Might Say It All

Occasionally a splash screen may appear that blocks access to your system. This screen may also contain instructions provided by the hacker, which will tell you how to pay the ransom and get access to your data again.

5. Denial of Access to Your Data Files

In other cases, you may be unable to open your data files, indicating your data encryption. The computer might keep telling you that you do not have the required program to unlock your files, and this occurrence would be an anomaly as it was not there when you opened the same file either the other day or moments prior.

6. File Extensions Become Fishy

Your files may lack their usual file extensions like .jpeg, .exe, .pdf, etc. After the dot, it might display that it is “encrypted.” Alternatively, an extension might not be there, strengthening the possibility of a ransomware attack.

7. Your Files are Renamed

Similarly, your files may be renamed as ransomware encrypts them, throwing a major red flag on the field. Remember to check your files to see if they have been to direct your doubts about a malware attack.

8. Ransom Note Eliminates All Doubts

Eventually, you will receive a ransom note requiring you to pay the amount desired by the hacker. A most common method for you to receive this ransom note is usually through email.

9. A Dry Run of Small-Scale Test Attacks

Ransomware attacks often start with a test run that does not cause any damage to the organization yet. The attackers may want to “test” their code by installing it on a few machines without causing any damage. This allows them to see any network security that may be in place and whether or not they can bypass it. If the hackery succeeds at getting past the network security, they will launch a large-scale attack that will be far more damaging.

 

Conclusion

You are never entirely safe from ransomware when using a computer. Ransomware can cause devastating consequences to an infected system and damage your company from the inside out.

Maintaining a safe system is not straightforward, but with the proper care, it is possible. Ransomware attacks are difficult to avoid, but you can easily control them with robust security measures.

Protected Harbor has built-in detections based on industry best practices and is continuously updated to provide you with the most up-to-date protection available. With various notification options, you can be sure that the people who need to know about these events will be notified. To get the most out of these features, you might also choose to invest in monitoring services as a precaution for your company to keep track of every device on your network and collect data about its activities.

You are more likely to catch a virus within its early stages before it can infect the rest of your system and cause continuous damage. If you have a dedicated IT team on the job to help detect any potential system anomalies, you are in the right direction. Contact Protected Harbor today for a free pen-testing and IT Audit.