Our Guide to Navigating TOR

When it comes to browsing safely and securely, who can we rely on other than our very own Onion Router (TOR). Internet is becoming the life and soul of modern living; it is also becoming insecure and risky, as large scale surveillances by NSA are taking over. So, to save you from such activities, TOR has come up with a system which is secretly routing your Internet history on other parts of the Internet so that no one can track down your identity or the real source of your browsing.

However, just having TOR installed on your computer won’t guarantee you a safe browsing experience. It is crucial to know how to use it properly, as actions taken within the program can mean the difference between creating a complicated user experience and disabling the program from protecting you altogether.

The Do’s

A few things should be taken into consideration when working with TOR:

  • In order for it to function fully, you should always update your system at all times. TOR is a software fully functioning on top of your operating system, if your system is not fully updated and functional, then hackers can easily take over your computer and disable TOR.
  • Try not to use Windows, as it has certain security bugs and vulnerabilities which might lead to TOR not being able to be fully functional.
  • It should be noted that TOR is only a traffic router, and it will only be able to hide the root of your communication. It can only do this from within your network.
  • The exit nodes of the TOR networks can only read plain unencrypted data; always using end-to-end encryption such as SSL or TLS and using add-ons like HTTPS everywhere is crucial.

Online privacy should be a top priority for any Internet user, so do use TOR, for in this era, no one can be trusted when it comes to internet safety.

There are a few other techniques that need to be performed with TOR,  such as encrypting data storage, disabling flash and java, deleting cookies and local data of the site. Always try to use data protection services so that you are protected from certain threats, as TOR can only hide your Internet’s origin, not the data in your computer.

Software like JavaScript might not be very reliable; they are very powerful and their websites can track you in many ways.

It’s a good idea to try and remove the cookies and site data; websites might have hidden terms or clauses that make it legal for them to store your browsing history on their servers, facilitating their ability to pinpoint your location. If manually doing this becomes a hassle, invest in an add on like self-maintaining cookies and your security is restored!

Things Not to Do

There are a few crucial things you should not do when working with TOR on your computer.

  • Don’t use the TOR browser bundle as it is not at all reliable (FBI has recently taken down Freedom Hosting due to faults in the browser).
  • Avoid P2P, as it is not meant for sharing files; downloading torrent through BitTorrent might prevent TOR from doing its work, (the exit nodes are there to stop the file sharing) and it will make it unable to protect your identity, because the client of the torrent uses your IP address for the tracker and the peers.
  • Lastly, try to avoid Google as it uses the user’s information for the growth of its revenue. Use alternatives such as Startpage and DuckDuckGo, and while you use them and TOR, please don’t give your real email address. As it is your REAL email address,  you will kind of be giving away all your information by yourself.

Try to be safe. Internet safety is of utmost importance in this era, and you never know who is tracking and doing harm to unsuspecting users. Follow these rules, because just installing the software won’t provide a full security experience, much like setting an alarm on your clock but not turning it on, won’t offer a fully functional experience.

 

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Cybercrime Affects Airline Flights

Cyber crime is usually noted as being limited to harassment, the theft of financial information or the infiltration of viruses into the victims computer. However, recently cyber crime has veered off into a realm with no precedent on how to legally tackle the issue; the airline industry.

In the past three days a series of violent and threatening tweets have surfaced aimed directly at airliners and particular flights; these tweets have resulted in the diversion of flights across the board and panic among national security officials. The red issue at hand here, however, is not the tweets themselves, but rather the inability of officials to do anything about the situation.

Recent years have seen many cyber crimes end in a non-satisfactory manner, as the US currently does not have many laws in place regarding such internet offenses. With no cyber crime precedents to go by, its not only hard to convict someone, but its hard to pinpoint where and who these tweets come from.

The most recent tweet read, “Guys, flight 321 and 334 have explosives on board and you don’t care? It’s going to be funny watching them fall out of the sky.” But the past 72 hours have been witness to many more hair raising threats.

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Over the weekend a few flights were diverted, some even forced to make unexpected landings in airports with crew and officials fearing that there were bombs and explosives onboard. Atlanta in particular, was one of the cities with the most activity, having two of its flights escorted by fighter jets to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. At least one more flight was escorted to Orlando.

The threats are expected to continue and get worse before the problem is resolved. Most of these accounts cannot be traced or proven to come from any one particular person or one particular location. Many officials are leaning toward a verification system that would require certain information before an individual can create a Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook account; hinting at possible monitoring of civilian populations.

We brought you a previous article regarding a new national security plan that could possibly be used for things of this nature if written into law. Under this new plan, the government would offer companies such as these social media giants and commerce sites to share consumer information with them in exchange for a liability package that would reduce their chances of being sued by consumers for breach of privacy.

As these airline threats continue, its hard to tell if laws may be set into place that monitor the activities of civilians in order to keep the skies safe from attacks. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from history, whenever crime outwits the times, precedents must be set, laws rewritten and new concepts introduced for the sake of National Security.

Should these new measures take place, consumers can protect themselves from severe intrusions using simple VPN support and software that can protect your IP information and your computer from intruders.

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Cybercriminals Re-Engage Dridex to Steal Banking Credentials

Cyber criminals will always be targeting institutions that will offer them profit; whether its stealing actual funds or stealing financial information and selling it forward. With tens of malware and virus applications that design daily, the current threat is Dridex; a malware designed using a notorious technique last seen in the early 2000s. Using it, malware can take advantage of the macros function is Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Word and Excel’s Macros function integrates commands and instructions into a singular task, making it an indispensable feature. Users get superb shortcuts for frequently performed activities vis Macros, but as appealing as it may be, it is extremely susceptible to attacks from cyber criminals who use this as a tool to let Dridex infiltrate your personal computer.

Where is Dridex Hidden?

Dridex comes hidden with attachments in malicious emails that appear as invoices or financial documents from real life companies worthy of your trust. Upon opening the attachment, you are recommended to use macros to view the information. This is where you stomp on your own foot. By enabling macros on the document, you are inadvertently allowing Dridex to be downloaded on your personal computer. Dridex is usually kept hidden in Microsoft Word documents, but it can also be stored in other formats.

In short, Dridex can hit you from anywhere, sometimes from places where you least expect it to. For instance, before being shifted to Microsoft Word, Dridex was spread by executables by email.

Why is Dridex so Dangerous?

Your first question, which is a legitimate one, would probably be “What makes Dridex a major threat to our personal computers?”  The answer is that Dridex is designed to tap into your online bank information and steal your online banking credentials. Every time you log into your bank account, the hidden Dridex is activated in full form. HTML fields are created by Dridex, where you are asked to insert additional information such as your security number. This is an example of MITB or man-in-browser-attack.

MITB attacks are dangerously deceptive. Nothing looks suspicious or even out of the ordinary with these attacks. The URL that users view in the address bar makes it very clear to them that they are logged in on their legitimate banking account. If you do not have extensive knowledge about these attacks, you will be easily deceived into revealing your personal information via additional fields. Once you have typed in the precious information, cyber criminals will have complete access your online banking credentials. They will also possess other forms of information that you may have revealed in the process of filling up the additional fields. The safety of your information is now entirely jeopardized.

How to Combat Cyber Criminals?

Cyber criminals are either coming up with new tactics or bringing back the old ones to contaminate your PC with malware. As a result, it is imperative for you as a user to take the necessary precautions that will keep you well out of their reach. The following is a list of important advice that will guide you on how you can keep your PC protected from malware that steals your banking credentials.

1) Detect Spam Emails

You must keep an eye out for malware infection or phishing emails. As mentioned before, you will be tricked into unknowingly downloading malicious attachments or opening malicious links that seem as if they have come from a legitimate company. If these emails try to create an unnecessary or unexplained sense of urgency or curiosity, then become cautious immediately. Do not jump into performing all the requested actions.

2) Be Wary of Microsoft Documents

You may think that Microsoft Documents are the safest things in the world, but they aren’t. The ones that require you to enable macros may turn out to damage your computer and attack your personal data. Whenever a mail asks you to enable macros, get on the alert as soon as possible. Not all macros cause harm, however you need to remember that it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3) Safeguard Your PC Adequately

Your PC cannot do without basic security. Firewall and anti-virus software is the least that you can do for your computer. Ensure that these are kept active and updated as often as possible. When it comes to protecting your computer from malware, you need to beef up your security a little more. What you need is a security system that has the ability to analyze files in a cloud environment. In this way, every file that is considered to be potentially malicious will be scanned and stopped in the cloud. Your PC will not be affected and your banking credentials will be locked up safely.

Following these steps and armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to protect your banking information.

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Maximizing the Effectiveness of Threat Intelligence in Healthcare Environments

Increased Cybercrime

Cybercrimes related to healthcare information being stolen have been increasingly on the rise, with their methods becoming more sinister with each passing day. Cyber criminals in this realm are focused on infiltrating the gem that is Patient Health Information, and they’ve been increasingly successful, with records showing over 7.5 million records having been hacked last year.

While criminals evolve in their activities, healthcare IT workers continue to work harder to leverage threat intelligence systems to create a solid defense and eradicate the hackers.

A Dangerous Environment

The healthcare industry is not the only one affected by the increase in cybercrime. Most of these attacks, which are disguised in the form of spear phishing emails that are designed to trick the user into opening a harmful attachment or clicking on a harmful link, have affected educational, legal, and governmental entities as well.

However, as the appeal of the sheer amount of personal information that is compiled in medical records seems irresistible to cyber criminals, the healthcare industry is expected to be at the forefront of these phishing issues. The environment itself is severely vulnerable.

What exactly is phishing?

A spreadsheet that appears to have come from a reputable hospital is a prime example of a phishing email. Once the attachment is opened or the link is clicked upon, malware is downloaded to the user’s computer without the consent or knowledge of the user. The attackers can then stay undercover for a long period of time and smuggle out a significant amount of important PHI data, along with other sensitive and valuable data during that timeframe.

The attackers can elude traditional filters by simply using multiple ports, leverage multiple protocols and crafted malware. Underground forums offer plenty of advice, tools and services to these cyber criminals who are well equipped with all the knowledge that they need to raid these healthcare systems.

What should the healthcare industry be prepared to do?

A greater number of AV, firewall and IDS/IPS should be used by the healthcare IT workers and the hospital administrators to muster an appropriate response to these cyber attacks.

The task is made highly challenging because hackers don’t have to pay very much money to carry out these operations. The role for them seems one of minimal investment with a maximum profit per project.

Hackers tend to use high speed global internet infrastructure and keep themselves hidden in jurisdictions that are quite lenient when it comes to cybercrime. The healthcare IT staff is often not as qualified as they should be to deal with these advanced attacks.. The environment that they have to protect is rather complex, as it contains heterogeneous systems and security products, as well as social media, cloud apps and employee owned devices, all of which can be quite conveniently attacked.

Fortifying the Data

Healthcare IT managers need to realize that they are at a disadvantage, and work according to that. Once they understand the difficulty of their situation, they will be able to reach out for answers and direction. They need to be able to decipher the attacker, the data that is being attacked, the duration of the attack and the methods that can be applied to prevent the attack. Actionable intelligence is what they truly need.

If big data systems are leveraged, the threat intelligence system will gain the upper hand against hackers by automatically monitoring the entire IT environment. This includes the network, servers, desktops, any synced mobile devices and related web applications. When there is an inconsistency in the behavior of the network, then the threat intelligence system will pick up all the signals of a covert intrusion.

A threat intelligence system is not always sufficient to secure PHI. If you are looking for impenetrable fortification, then you must align it with the requirements of your organization. The following must be taken into consideration.

Watch Costs: It is absolutely imperative to appoint an executive/administrator for this threat intelligence system. By doing this, you can be certain that the threat intelligence system is being utilized to its full potential, and the most sensitive data in your record is being well protected.

Do Not Neglect IT Skills:  Your staff needs to have decent knowledge of how to use threat intelligence efficiently. They must be provided with the proper training and resources. Paying for their training and resources is actually an investment for upgraded security.

Connect the Dots:  Once your advanced analytics tools have detected an anomaly, it’s time for you to get your gloves on. The best systems are able to link unusual traffic with familiar threat activity. This allows you to create quarantine and at the same time put dangerous traffic on hold before the damage is already done.

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4 Ways A VPN Gives Your Business the Edge

You can view VPN services much like you would an invisible cloak; its servers will hide your location and activity from being viewed by others online. Over the past few years businesses have found that investing in VPN services provide them with a sense of security and limits their vulnerability to outside programs and hackers.

Essentially, what a VPN does is reroute all of your activity from you ISP IP address to one of their hosted servers. Here your activity will be safe, and peering eyes will only be able to see the location of that server’s current IP address instead of yours.

The core server is divided to function as an self-regulating VPN. As a result, you gain complete ownership of this space, and there are no restrictions imposed on your server environment.

Now, a VPN service can give your business the edge over competitors in 4 distinct ways. Let’s analyze them individually.

1) Enhanced Security

When you have complete ownership of your partition, you are afforded the freedom to choose the security settings of the server according to your specifications; which means foreign websites will not be hosted on your space. This restricts the spread of any shared malicious ware that may have affected your website and downgraded your system performance. This cannot be achieved on a shared server, regardless of how advanced the security system is.

Business owners who choose VPN services take one less worry of their shoulders; and that’s security maintenance. The service provider will, in all likelihood, keep your system configuration updated on a regular basis without the need for you to intervene, saving you  heaps of time and energy.

VPN systems will also give you the choice of installing custom firewalls that provide advanced security. The incoming traffic can be filtered by configuring the rules and that will eliminate the chances of any attack on your virtual server.

2) Dependable Performance

With VPNs, you can avail an isolated space with which you can use the full bandwidth, disk space and the designated RAM. Your usage of these is heavily dependent on the influx of traffic that you are anticipating to your website.

Pages are loaded much faster with VPNs, and consequently transactions can be made in minimal time. If your website is running fast and smooth, your customers’ user experience will enhance in quality, dependability and meet their expectations; offering you a streamlines average for your customer service records.

If renting a dedicated server is not a feasible option for you, then VPNs offer a great alternative. The way your site performs depends on how another site, hosted in the same physical server, performs. With VPNs, you have utmost reliability and superior performance.

3) Flexibility

Most businesses do not realize the options made available to them when browsing services, and fewer know that VPNs are scalable and will allow you to configure each resource individually when the need arises. If your estimations suggest that the traffic will be higher in the upcoming months;  you can always scale up your bandwidth to help you cope with the increased influx. This facilitates the growth of your business or content in the same server.

The general byproduct of this is also a plus as it prevents the transfer of data between servers. With the growth of your business, you are afforded the chance to allocate your resources better and make the best use of your website. With VPN, your website will acquire maximum effectiveness.

VPNs also allow you to manage multiple websites on the network, which shared networks do not offer. Furthermore, you can plan out the backup space that is needed on the server.

4) Economical Solution

What makes VPN so special is that it is well within the budget of most people. It is one of the most easily affordable services that you can subscribe to.

Start-up companies who are on a limited budget and have minimal capital will find the VPN service of great use, as it will offer them the advantages of a dedicated server minus the high rent.

VPNs give you the option to use your partition as an isolated system with variable OS and security settings. It’s worth noting that VPNs will cost you more than a shared service. However, at the end of the day, when you take the advantages into consideration, one cannot deny the fact that a VPN is indeed worth the money.

In this competitive age, a VPN is an essential service that will keep your business a touch above the rest. Start using VPN today and you will be rewarded with instant results.