mobile security

Mobile security – Is your mobile phone being used to attack the Internet

Sometimes we get the question of why does my mobile phone need protection? Its just a phone right? Why do I need mobile security? Sometimes people also believe the same about their internet connected devices such as TVs and video cameras. But what many people might not realize is that any device that is attached to the Internet can be hacked into and used to attack other devices or computers on a network.

A recent attack on web hosting company Akami was performed using 145,000 web connected devices such as routers, phones, and cameras. Hackers had broken into networks world wide to take over these devices. Once they had built up and enormous collection, they were able to use the devices to attack Akami. Akami is a very large web hosting company and has enormous bandwidth resources of its own. But even they weren’t able to defend against such a massive attack that these hackers were able to perform.

So that’s the technical explanation of what happened. Here is what that means. hacker s broke into home routers like the kind you use for your DSL or cable connection. They took over these devices and then used them to send large amounts of random data to the Akami’s network. These devices also included mobile phones, network cameras, and network attached storage such as backup drives (not the USB kind). So once the attackers had taken over enough devices, in this case, 145,000 such devices. they were able to send enormous amounts of random data to Akami. Akami wasn’t able to block all of this data and eventually, it was knocked off the Internet. To be specific, it was a particular website that was being hosted by Akami that was being attacked.

How does this relate to mobile security and your personal phone?

Mobile phones are becoming much more complicated devices and now are basically tiny computers in our pockets. Add to that the fact that most are always connected to the Internet either via a WiFi or data connection and you can begin to see why this is an important issue. A device that is always on the Internet, lacks the protection software that almost all computers have installed, and gives no warning of when it has been infected? It’s a target too tempting for hackers to pass up. Its far easier to take over an unprotected mobile phone or internet camera than it is to take over a computer.

Mobile Security the easy way

This isn’t device specific, so I won’t be discussing iPhones vs Androids. Most of these tips will be useful for both devices.

  1. Install an antivirus package software. Most mobile security products will include antivirus, a firewall, and even a location service for your device. Install it and let it handle keeping your mobile phone secure.
  2. Never install software from sources that you don’t know. Generally this isn’t an issue, especially on Apple. But its still possible for people to get around this and install bad software. Make sure you only install software from either the Apple store or Google Play.
  3. Make frequent backups. Just in case something happens, you can always reset your phone to factory standards and then reinstall your data. This is more of a “Worst case mobile security” but its always best to have a plan B.

As we get more and more dependent on our phones, mobile security will become increasingly important. If you follow these basic steps, then you will go a very long way to making sure your phone is protected.

You can read all the details here at Healthcare IT news.

 

 

Sexting – is your child doing it?

Sexting, or sexual texting, has become a huge thing with the modern world. What grown adults of legal age do in their own time is their business, unless its with a minor.

Recently, there have been numerous scandals across the United States involving minors and sexting. Some involve people of note such as Anthony Weiner who was caught having a sexting relationship with an underage teen.

In recent months, there have been numerous scandals involving high schools across the country.

Newtown High school students charged in sexting ring

20 current, former students charged after Holmes County high school sexting scandal

Police investigate sexting scandal at 2 Suffield schools

Students at Boiling Springs High School facing charges for sexting

These are all recent events where students were charged with crimes due to the texting. Wait, arrested and charged with a  crime for simply texting? What was the crime? Possession of child pornography. The law doesn’t distinguish between taking a picture of yourself or someone else. If the subject of the picture was under the age of 18, then the picture is child pornography. So it means if your underage child takes a nude picture of herself, the photo of herself on her own phone then becomes a felony crime of possession of child pornography.  The crime becomes even more serious when your child then shares the picture with others. Then they are also now in possession of child pornography.

Children need to be taught how serious this is. I won’t go into the moral implications of this. That isn’t the purpose of this article. This is simply about the legal dangers of using technology in an inappropriate way. Children need to be taught about just how serious of crime this. The four links above show that children can, and do, get in trouble for sexting. Once a picture leaves your phone, you have no control over where it goes and who sees it. Eventually it will find its way to someone who will report it. It also doesn’t matter if the person is now of legal age. If they weren’t when the picture was taken, then its still a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a nice page for talking to your kids about the dangers of social media and sexting. You can read it here.

The page cites a survey that was done recently and found that 20% of all teens had already sexted and sent inappropriate pictures. That’s quite a bit of crimes being committed out there.

Reach out to your kids before they get caught up in this and end up on a sex offender’s list for what they probably think is a harmless event in their lives.

mobile security

Mobile protection – 5 ways to protect your mobile phone

In just a few short years, motile devices have become more common than our computers.  We use our phones for everything from taking pictures, calendars, organizing our lives, Facebook, and even as health trackers. Because of this, we have put more and more of our lives onto these mobile devices. Many users record their own medications o use apps such as Walgreens or Walmart pharmacy to renew their medication information. Another common use is for two factor authentication. This is where a website you are logging into will send you a text message and you need to enter into the site to gaina ccess. Without your phone, its very hard to get access. Every day, we put more and more information on our phones.

It doesn’t matter if you use an Apple iPhone or an Android device. All devices suffer from security weaknesses that need to be addressed.

5 ways to protect your mobile device

  1. Use a password – Make sure your device is password protected. You can use finger prints also if your device supports it. However, be aware that some fingerprint scanners are easier to hack. But by setting a password, you can make your device protected in the event you lose your mobile device or of its stolen. If you use a password, make sure you use a more complex password that
  2. Encrypt your data – If your device supports it, make sure you encrypt your data. This will further protect your data in the event your phone is lost or stolen.
  3. Install a locating software (or use Find my iPhone) – This can help you locate your device if its stolen or you simply lost it. It can often allow you to remote wipe your device. This is useful in the event the device is stolen, you can make sure no one gets access to your data.
  4. Install protection software – this will protect against virus and other forms of malware. This is becoming more and more prevalent as attackers focus more on mobile devices. It also protects against web born attacks, email attachments, and other forms of attacks to your phone.
  5. Be careful where you access the internet – when you are out in public, be careful about what WiFi networks you connect to. Attacker are setting up fake access points to get you to connect to them. Then they will capture your passwords and traffic to the sites you visit. And in this type of attack, SSL encryption in your browser won’t help you.

One extra free tip – make frequent backups of your phone

Make backups of the data on your phone. Its becoming as important as having backups to your computers. You can use automated software to handle it or manual sync software like iTunes. Just make backups.

If you need help protecting your mobile device or just have questions about what threats you may be facing, give us a call at 770-506-4383. We can help you protect your phones or other devices quick and easy.

 

computer virus

Employees download viruses every four seconds

A new study released by internet security firm Checkpoint found that virus (malware) attacks increased a staggering 9 fold in 2016. At the current rate, virus outbreaks occur at a rate of 971 per hour. In 2015, it was 106.

Researchers discovered an amazing 12 million new variants of malware – each month. They have discovered more viruses in the last two years than in the previous 10 years. Employees are downloading new malware every 4 seconds onto corporate networks the study found.

The biggest target to attackers was healthcare records. These have the highest current value on the black market. They are currently valued at 10 times the value of credit cards or other financial data. The report found that 9% of all healthcare or insurance organizations had experienced a data loss as defined by HIPAA. For healthcare organizations, there was a 60 percent increase in security incidents in 2015. In the last year, the cost of these security incidents rose 282 percent.

The most common method of attack was found to be email. The virus would be allowed onto the network by employees clicking on links in malicious emails. 75 percent of the attacks used this form of entry to find there way into the corporate networks. Using this method, attackers were able to bypass corporate firewalls a whopping 39 percent of the time. In 85 percent of those cases in the study, the breach wasn’t even discovered until after the organization was already compromised.

The study found that most organizations weren’t keeping up with security updates for the anti-virus software  and other software like Windows and electronic medical records.

 

How can you protect your business from virus attacks?

The first step is keeping all of your software fully updated. This includes Windows and all other critical software such as electronic medical records and accounting packages. These updates fix bugs and holes that have been found in the software. That’s why its so important to download and install them.

Install a virus protection software the scans in real time. This will protect against attacks like malicious email attacks. Most free anti-virus software doesn’t offer this feature. The anti-virus software must also be kept up to date.

Lastly, you can educate your employees about clicking on links in email that they aren’t sure about. If they are in doubt, don’t click it. Better safe than sorry.

 

If you need any help on this or have questions, contact Iron Comet at 770-506-4383 and we can give you a run down on how you can protect your company, free of charge.

 

 

 

 

500 MILLION Yahoo accounts stolen

yahoo-hacked

What happened?

Yahoo confirmed late Thursday that they had been breached. Data from 500 million accounts was stolen. Yahoo claims it was a victim of a state sponsored attack, or a foreign government was responsible for the theft. Here is the part that is so terrible. The breach occurred in late 2014 but Yahoo is just now releasing the information.

 

What does this mean to you?

“The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers,” Yahoo said in a statement.

This means a good deal of your personal information has been stolen if you have a Yahoo account. The good thing is that no financial data like credit card numbers or banking information was stolen.

 

What do you need to do now?

Log into your Yahoo account and immediately change your password. Make sure it’s a complex password using both upper and lower letters, numbers, and special characters like !@#$%%.

Also change your security questions. These are the questions that you can use to reset your password if its lost. Changing only your password won’t be enough. You must also change these questions since the those that stole the data could just use these questions to reset your changed password.

If you  use the same security questions and answers for other online accounts, you will need to change those as well.  With that information, hackers could use the information taken from Yahoo to gain access to your other online accounts. These accounts could contain even more sensitive information.

Don’t choose obvious questions and don’t use answers that are easily found about you during an online search like Google, social media sites, etc.

Here are step by step instructions on how to do this from Yahoo.

You can also enable two-factor authentication. A password alone isn’t a strongest defense you can have for your accounts. Most services like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo offer two-factor authentication. This is a second code that is generated only once and can only be used at that moment to log into your account. The code will usually be sent to your mobile phone via text message. Yahoo is

Yahoo has recommended that everyone enable two-factor authentication using the Yahoo Account Key. Using this will eliminate the need to memorize your Yahoo account password.

 

If you’d like more information on what may be the largest data breach of all time, head over to CNN for all the details.

Change the flashlight brightness in iOS 10

Android has had this for a while and iPhone users have been jealous. You can finally change how bright the flashlight is on iOS 10. In this Quik Tip, we’ll show you how.

You will need to be using an iPhone 6S or newer device because this needs the 3D touch sensor to work.

To change the brightness of your flashlight, you will need to access the Control Center.  To do this, swipe your fingers from the bottom of your iPhone’s screen. The bottom row will contain the following icons – flashlight, timer, calculator, and camera. Press and hold the flashlight icon and you will be able to change the brightness. There are 3 levels: low, medium, and high. Select your desired level. iOS will save it and you can come back here at any time to change it.

ios10-flashlight

computer virus

Viruses in online advertising

hhhThis is an ongoing trend that we really want to make our customers aware of. Yes, we make money from cleaning out commuters infected with viruses. but we want to do whats best for our customers. Teaching you how to keep yourself from getting infected in the first place is the just good customer service. This article will show you this new trend in drive by virus infections. We will show you how to keep from getting infected from these viruses that don’t even require you do anything to get infected.

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Save money on office IT – ways to refuse old equipment

It never fails. Almost as soon as you purchase computer related equipment for your office, its already obsolete. And if you want to stay on the cutting edge, you have to pay the high process to do so. That leaves you with an ever growing pile of office equipment that seems unusable in the modern business. We have put together a list of ways you can save money by re-purposing and reusing this old equipment.

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