Cyber Security Shopping Tips

Senior couple doing shopping on internetBy Paul Romeo, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

Being a safe and secure shopper starts with taking security precautions and thinking about the consequences of your actions online. Remember the following tips:

  • Use websites with trusted names and strong reputations. Well-established retailers usually have more robust online security.
  • Use credit cards instead of debit cards. A compromised debit card will enable access to your money, but a compromised credit card will only expose the bank’s money, and the consumer is typically not responsible for purchases they did not make. Just be sure to regularly check your statement and notify your credit card company of any suspicious charges. Whenever possible, use a payment service like PayPal.
  • Look for the “https” URL and the padlock symbol.  The “s” in “https” stands for security. It signals that the site uses encryption.

https-url-padlock-symbol

  • Avoid using public WiFi for online shopping. Public WiFi is easily compromised. In public, you are better off using your cell phone network with WiFi disabled.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t click on links in emails, texts, or social media posts. Links are the most popular means for cybercriminals to install malware on devices.
  • Make your password a sentence. These days, your password should be more than 15 characters long. Using a remembered sentence mixed with letters, numbers, and symbols is a good way to create a password that’s difficult to crack. Avoid using birthdays or anniversary dates.

Example: #y0uCantH@ckM3!

  • Use different passwords for different accounts. Don’t use the same password twice. If you reuse the same password, hackers need to steal it only once to access all your accounts.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication. Use strong authentication tools. Google and Apple allow two-step verification by sending a one-time PIN to your cell phone coupled with a password while logging in.
  • If possible, use a separate computer for online shopping and banking. Most viruses and malware are transmitted through casual web browsing. If possible, use one computer or device for web surfing, email, and social networking, and a different computer for online banking and shopping.

How to Develop Security Policies and Standards in Five Steps

Business People In Meeting

By Alan Kowlowitz, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

If you are an information security professional, at one point you will probably be expected to write security policies and standards for your company or agency. You already know why such documentation is important: failure to produce sound policies and standards could lead to a lack of compliance or security awareness—leaving your data vulnerable to security breaches.

Many excellent guidelines, models, and resources are available, making it relatively easy for you to develop sound policies. However, it remains difficult to write policies and standards that can be readily implemented and actually improve your organization’s security posture. Continue reading

Link: The Year of Online Extortion

catena d'oroAccording to one security expert, “2016 is proving to be the year of online extortion.” Attackers, he says, are no longer interested in just your credit cards: they want your personal information so they can hold it for ransom — or even sell it to the highest bidder. Continue reading

Network Forensics 101

elektronischer FingerabdruckBy John Mounteer, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

A cybercriminal has just wiped all traces of an attack from your server. Now you’ll never know the source of the attack or the extent of the damage, right?

Not if you have a network forensic investigator on the trail.

The ability to interpret the data in log and capture files and recognize malicious activity in the data is a special skill that requires in-depth knowledge of network and application protocols. This article provides a short introduction to network-based forensic investigations of suspected criminal activity related to information technology systems.

Continue reading

The Internet of Everything: What Are the Risks?

The Internet of things market connected smart devices tag cloudBy Paul Romeo, NYSTEC Information Security Consultant

I recently attended a training class where, during the break, one of the instructors told me how excited he was about the new refrigerator he’d just bought, which was going to be part of the Internet of Everything (IoE). From his smart phone, he said, he would be able to inventory the items in his refrigerator and know when he ran low on key items such as milk, eggs, and, of course, beer.

I said he might want to rethink putting beer in the new refrigerator, because he might not be the only one with deep insight into his dietary purchases. His health insurance company could have access and observe his sugar, fat, and sodium intake by monitoring his purchases—and even potentially raise his health insurance rates based on that data.

The instructor replied, “I never thought about that. I’ll have to keep my old refrigerator for my beer and junk food.”

What is the IoE? Is it something great, or should we be worried? The answer is likely a little of both. Continue reading