How to Secure Your Personal Computer Docs & Data

CyberSecurity
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels 

Computers are amazing things. However, despite the benefits of computers and the internet, using them involves some inherent risks. There are threats like hackers, malware, viruses, cybercriminals, and more that wish to do you harm. You could even have your most personal information stolen. Thankfully, there are strategies you can use to secure the documents and data you have stored on your personal computer. 

Encryption 

One of the best and most fail-proof methods of protecting both computer documents and data is encryption. Encryption can be thought of as a way of scrambling data. It uses an encoding process that transforms data into a form that prevents it from being read as it previously was. If data remains encrypted, it is impossible to tell what that data originally contained. This can be reversed through the process of decryption, but only if you have the encryption key. Without that key, typically a password, unlocking that data again will be impossible. If you want to protect your data and documents, encryption is your best bet. Even if the data is stolen, it cannot be decrypted without the key. There are programs you can use to encrypt specific files or even entire drives. Overall, it’s the highest form of data security that exists. 

Cloud Backup 

Malware and viruses can corrupt and destroy files and data. In fact, you can even lose those files without any malicious actor intervening. If your home is hit by a lightning strike, the power surge could erase all the data stored on your PC’s hard drive. One local copy of an important file or document is never enough. You should expect that data to be lost at any point. One way to prevent data loss completely is to create offsite backups through a cloud host. Unlike traditional hosting, cloud computing involves the use of a shared server infrastructure that utilizes data redundancy and makes it virtually impossible to lose data forever on accident. Even if you lose your own files on your PC, your backups in the cloud will remain and can be quickly restored back to your computer. This is also the security choice of corporate America as 90 percent of companies implement online backup. 

Legal Document Management System 

Certain computer files are more important than others. Of all your files, the most important probably are legal documents concerning your family, finances, and obligations to the government. This can include things like a birth certificate, living will, marriage license, deed to a house, and more. In the past, all of these would only exist as paper documents and be stored somewhere in a file cabinet or safe deposit box. Today, it makes sense to keep digital copies of such important documents as well due to how intertwined modern life has become with the digital world. Keeping a digital version may also be a good idea in case the paper versions are somehow lost or destroyed since such documents are very hard to replace. Something you should use to help store, protect and manage these documents is a legal document management system. The best legal document management system should be cloud-powered and have an interface that will allow you to categorize and tag your documents so they can be easily found when needed even by a loved one if something were to happen to you. 

Malware and Virus Scanner 

Another piece of software you should take advantage of is a malware and virus scanner. If you really want to protect your data, you should be running one at all times on your computer. While running in the background, the software can scan incoming files from the internet for threats. Quite often, people only download things like malware or viruses on accident. They may be hidden within email attachments or file downloads where you cannot see them. If you can scan those files before they are allowed onto your hard drive, you can protect your computer from those threats. Make sure you have instant updating of the software switched on as well. New digital threats are introduced every day, and the software needs to be updated to know exactly what to look for. 

Overall, you can’t be lax when it comes to protecting your important documents and data on your personal computer or any other device for that matter. Bad things can happen. Whether you accidentally download malware, get targeted by identity thieves, or simply experience a power surge after a thunderstorm, those files can be put at risk. Protect them through tools like encryption, cloud backup, a legal document management system, and a malware and virus scanner. 

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Web Security: How to Keep Your Kids Safe

CyberSecurity

The internet can be very resourceful for children, whether they are doing their homework using Wikipedia, playing online games, listening to online music, and more. However, the internet also has some sites that you wouldn’t want your children to visit. Parents are always worried about how to let their kids use the internet but safely. Since it may be a little difficult to keep tabs on what your children are watching or meeting on the internet, here are a few ways you could keep them safe.

Set Rules

Most kids nowadays have internet access. They know almost everything there is to know about applications, music sites, social sites, etc. Technology is their other home. Technology is useful when you want your kids to learn, as they can use a trackpad or touchscreen for navigating some life skills. No matter how old they are, it is essential to know how to protect your child from online predators as they browse social networks such as Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok.

You can set rules by not allowing your children to use devices such as laptops and phones in their rooms. Instead, it would help if you asked them to use the device in communal areas such as the living room, as they will be discouraged from engaging in inappropriate activities while you are only a glance away. As you set the rules, be sure to know about the dangers of misusing the internet and why you are against them using the devices in their rooms. Also, encourage them to talk to you if they encounter uncomfortable things on the web that upsets them. This way, you will know the inappropriate sites to delete and add them to your parental control filter list.

Using a Virtual Private Network

A Virtual Private Network prevents your location from being tracked and protects your family on the networks. The VPN will connect your devices to a secure server that will use an encrypted connection to keep your data safe while browsing. Virtual Private Networks masks the users’ IP addresses so any person online cannot track the location of your children. The secure connection will also protect your children on risky public networks; therefore, information can never be intercepted. Installing a VPN on your children’s smartphones and computers is essential to keep them protected.

Control the Router

Suppose you would like to control the type of websites and internet services your children can access at home, change your router settings. For example, you can block specific sites, prevent the adult content sites and sometimes schedule the time your young ones spend on the internet to avoid too much screen time.

Know your Kids’ Passwords

If your kids are young, create an account using your name rather than exposing theirs. This way, you will have the password. However, it would be best if you respected the accounts’ age limitations. If you visit a site that requires you to be over 18 years, then you should probably wait if your kid hasn’t reached that age. Whatever you choose, let your children know that you have their passwords and warn them you will see what they post or watch from time to time to ensure everything is okay. It is not advisable to spy on your children’s accounts without letting them know because their trust in you could weaken.

Always check the Browsing History

You must check your kid’s web browser history to see which sites they have been visiting. You can also check the recycle bin as they may have deleted some items. You never know what they are doing and deleting.

Know your Children’s Friends

Many dangerous people online don’t say who they are, and therefore if you are naïve, you could fall into their traps. Such people befriend children and take advantage of them, pretending that they can be trusted. Your children should be cyber wise and learn not to talk or meet strangers from an early age. You can become your child’s friend to see who they are friends with and monitor what they post and what the friends post. Although your kids may not like the idea, let them know you are doing this to protect them.

Final Thought

The internet has made parenting a little more complicated. Since we cannot ignore the fact that your children will use the internet at some point, you must keep them safe always by monitoring their activity online. Although it may be completely impossible to keep them safe totally, the tips we have discussed above will help you to some extent.

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Why Cyber Security Is Integral for eCommerce Success

CyberSecurity

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Why Cyber Security Is Integral for eCommerce Success

There’s a lot of money to be made in e-commerce. This is demonstrated by the fact that online shopping continues to expand even while other sectors of the economy do not. However, operating an e-commerce business is extremely different from running a brick-and-mortar store. Unlike brick and mortar operations, many of the biggest threats to your business may be completely invisible to you and originate from thousands of miles away. If you want to succeed in e-commerce, cybersecurity is absolutely integral to your business’s long-term survival.

Your Customers Could Be Targeted

While upholding high standards for cybersecurity is important for any business, it is even more important for companies that sell goods and services over the internet. These businesses are especially at risk of having sensitive data connected to customer accounts and transactions accessed and leaked after a security breach. When this happens, the results can be disastrous. Your customers could be defrauded of thousands or even millions of dollars after their identities are stolen using this information. After that occurs, you may end up on the receiving end of a class-action lawsuit. If you did not uphold high cybersecurity standards in your company, you will likely be found negligent in court and be forced to pay out large sums of money for the damage that was done by those hackers and cybercriminals. Your business may not be able to survive the fallout. The average cost of a business-targeted hack is $200,000.

You Need to Have a Cyber Security Framework in Place

Unfortunately, most business owners lack the expertise to institute working cybersecurity protocols for their own businesses. That is understandable. The technology and software in question is extremely complex and requires a high level of technical expertise and knowledge to understand and operate. This is why you should consider implementing the NIST cybersecurity framework when developing your cybersecurity programs instead of going about it on your own. NIST stands for National Institute of Standards and Technology. The NIST is part of the US Department of Commerce and helps to create standards, regulations, measurements, and more for the benefit of technological advancement in the United States in both regards to the government as well as American businesses.

In regards to your own business, using the NIST cybersecurity framework can be extremely advantageous due to the functions it provides for your company. NIST CSF functions should include the ability to better identify potential gaps in your own network, systems, and assets that could lead to a security breach. The system can allow you to better protect the confidentiality of sensitive data. It can allow you to detect threats in real time and allow you immediately respond to cybersecurity events before they cause significant damage. It can allow you to immediately restore any services or capabilities after such an event as well. You will be able to much better weather any kind of security event, intrusion, or attack.

You Could Lose Your Credibility as a Business

Business relationships of any kind involve a great deal of trust to maintain. The relationships customers build with the businesses they purchase products or services from indeed involve a good amount of trust. Those customers trust that they will receive what they pay for without any unexpected negative consequences. After a significant hack, this trust can quickly evaporate. Consumers may assume it is too risky to even visit your online store to make a purchase. The same can be said of other companies you do business with. Vendors, suppliers, and other partners expect that you will run a professional operation in which the sensitive data they share with you will not be leaked to bad actors. If that trust is broken, it could lead to the loss of business relationships you need to compete in your market.

Overall, you don’t really have a choice when it comes to whether or not you should place a strong emphasis on cybersecurity for your e-commerce business. If you don’t, you will certainly be targeted by hackers and cybercriminals. The results of that negligence could be disastrous for your company. If you want to survive in the long term, implementing strong cybersecurity protocols is an absolute necessity. Consider integrating the NIST cybersecurity framework and other measures to ensure that your company is protected.

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Why Governments Should Invest in Cybersecurity

CyberSecurity

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Cybersecurity is on the minds of every decision-maker in major organizations on the planet. Digital transformation, identity transformation, zero-trust security, and identity and access management are terms you hear talked about by IT and C suite level professionals all the time.

It is not just the private sector that is concerned about cybersecurity. The government also is investing in cybersecurity. There are several reasons why this investment is a must.

Cybersecurity Threats Are Increasing

Cybersecurity threats are increasing at a rate that has never been seen before. One reason for these increases is the changes in work environments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More government employees are working from home than ever before. Bad actors are taking advantage of the fact that people are working from home to breach their systems, thereby gaining access to government systems.

Cyber attacks are not being carried out by just a random person in their basement. There are government organizations that are actively backing cyber attacks against other governments. These cyber-attacks have led to lost information, disruption of utilities, and potential national security breaches.

Cybercrime not only means big money for cybercriminals, but it is also giving them away to strike at major government organizations they would not be able to attack otherwise. The financial and reputational consequences of data breaches on governments are difficult to calculate. It is expected that the number of cyberattacks that target the government will rise drastically over the next few years.

This will lead to loss of productivity, theft of intellectual property, fraud, government disruption, and hacked data. This is why governments must invest in cybersecurity.

Cyber Attacks Are Increasing in Severity

It is not just the number of cyber attacks that are growing in intensity. It is also the degree of attacks. They are becoming progressively more destructive and impacting greater attack vectors.

It is not just government institutions that are at risk. Politicians are at risk. In the 2016 election, one of the biggest talking points was that one of the candidate’s emails was hacked and became front-page news during her presidential campaign. This is just one example of politicians who have access to sensitive information becoming the victims of cybercriminals.

Webmethods is one of several platforms designed to help government agencies secure important data while simultaneously allowing those with the right provisions to access data when and where they need it. It allows governments to leverage information to improve service levels. It allows increased transparency between agencies and improves digital and online services.

The threat posed by cyber attacks on the government has not been lost on those tasked with keeping the country safe. In 2018, the chief of homeland security said that cybersecurity was the biggest threat the country faced. In that same year, the government released a defense policy bill that focused on cybersecurity. It called for stronger security measures to protect against cyber threats.

In 2020, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act. According to this act, the US Department of Homeland Security will appoint cybersecurity coordinators for each state. The thought behind this is that state governments need to have the same protection and cybersecurity coordination as seen in federal governments. Unfortunately, state governments lack the know-how and the financial resources to secure their cyber landscape adequately.

Is Cybersecurity Important for Governments?

The answer is unquestionable: yes. The private sector is investing billions of dollars every year in cybersecurity because they know that it impacts customer trust. Governments are doing the same thing because they want to increase the trust and confidence of their constituents.

Recently, ransomware brought the flow of gas the certain parts of the United States to a halt. The result was that gas prices skyrocketed to a level that has never been seen before. There was panic, fear, and frustration. The news was full of images of people hoarding gasoline. There were gas stations with signs on the pumps declaring that they were out of gas. It was an unprecedented and harrowing situation.

Conclusion

Cybersecurity is a must for governments. If governments do not immediately take steps to improve security awareness and shore up cybersecurity vulnerabilities, the results for the governments and their constituents could be catastrophic.

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Windows Update April 2021 Edition

Patches

Patch Tuesday includes updates patching 110 vulnerabilities, of which 88 are important and 19 critical. There are 19 Elevation of Privilege, 17 Information Disclosures, 55 Remote Code Executions, 9 Denial of Service, 6 Security Feature Bypass, and 2 Spoofing Vulnerabilities patched with this update.
Some of the most interesting patches are yet another update of the Microsoft Exchange server. Some of these vulnerabilities were brought to you courtesy of the NSA rating the high end of the CVSS rating system at 9.8 each. The other two rank 8.8 and 9.0 respectively. All Four of the vulnerabilities that affect the Microsoft Exchange server are considered critical Remote Code Execution vulnerabilities, but also are labeled to include High Compromise in Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability of the affected product. These Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities are addressed in CVE-2021-28480(9.8), CVE-2021-28481(9.8), CVE-2021-28482(8.8), and CVE-2021-28483(9.0). These affect Microsoft Exchange server versions 2013, 2016, and 2019.
The CISA has issued an alert to Patch Microsoft Exchange Servers Immediately and wishes to clarify these patches are in ADDITION to the Patches from last month and are just as dangerous, but just have not been exploited yet.
The update patch for Windows 10 does have some interesting updates. One update includes a patch which “(a)ddresses an issue in which a principal in a trusted MIT realm fails to obtain a Kerberos service ticket from Active Directory domain controllers … This occurs on devices that installed Windows Updates that contain CVE-2020-17049 protections and configured PerformTicketSignature to 1 or higher. These updates were released between November 10, 2020 and December 8, 2020. Ticket acquisition also fails with the error, “KRB_GENERIC_ERROR”, if callers submit a PAC-less Ticket Granting Ticket (TGT) as an evidence ticket without providing the USER_NO_AUTH_DATA_REQUIRED flag.”
Another patch resolves an issue in CVE-2020-1036 brought up by a security researcher concerning the RemoteFX vGPU feature and this patch actually deprecates the feature. Microsoft if wanting to use vGPU use the Secure vGPU feature that is included in the Discrete Device Assignment (DDA) in Windows Servers 2016 and 2019.
An elevation of privilege vulnerability addressed in CVE-2021-27092 This is an Azure Active directory Web sign-in vulnerability which “allows arbitrary browsing from the third-party endpoints used for federated authentication”.
CVE-2021-28310 is a “Win32k Elevation of Privilege Vulnerability” in the Windows Desktop Manager discovered by Boris Larin of Kaspersky which is currently being exploited in the wild with a CVSS score of 7.8. This vulnerability is an out of bounds write vulnerability in the Desktop Windows Manager that allows an attacker “to write controlled data at a controlled offset using DirectComposition API. DirectComposition is a Windows component that was introduced in Windows 8 to enable bitmap composition with transforms, effects and animations, with support for bitmaps of different sources (GDI, DirectX, etc.) ”. Full writeup of this vulnerability is in Boris’ blog post here.
There are a total of 27 Vulnerabilties in the Remote Procedure Call Runtime with 15 Important and 12 Critical Impacts listed. All of these vulnerabilities are remotely exploitable and all have a CVSS score of 8.8. A remote attacker maybe able to make a specially crafted RPC request that allows for Remote Code Execution on the targeted machine. It is possible that the higher Criticality levels of these RPC vulnerabilities are for higher privileged access, though it is unclear due to the description of these vulnerabilities provided by Microsoft. Microsoft has listed Yuki Chen as the security researcher who found 26 of the 27 vulnerabilities.

Important Critical
CVE-2021-28434CVE-2021-28343
CVE-2021-28358CVE-2021-28339
CVE-2021-28357CVE-2021-28338
CVE-2021-28356CVE-2021-28337
CVE-2021-28355CVE-2021-28336
CVE-2021-28354CVE-2021-28335
CVE-2021-28353CVE-2021-28334
CVE-2021-28352CVE-2021-28333
CVE-2021-28346CVE-2021-28332
CVE-2021-28345CVE-2021-28331
CVE-2021-28344CVE-2021-28330
CVE-2021-28342CVE-2021-28329
CVE-2021-28341 
CVE-2021-28340 
CVE-2021-28327 
Remote Procedure Call Vulnerabilities

A couple of Windows Media decoder vulnerabilities in CVE-2021-27095 and CVE-2021-28315 allow for an attack to host a specially crafted website and trick a user into visiting it to exploit these vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities rank a 7.8 on the CVSS rating system. These Vulnerabilities were discovered by yangkang(@dnpushme)
There is an Azure Active Directory Web Sign-in vulnerability addressed in CVE-2021-27092 “Addresses a potential elevation of privilege vulnerability in the way Azure Active Directory web sign-in allows arbitrary browsing from the third-party endpoints used for federated authentication.” This vulnerability has been assigned a CVSS score of 6.8.
Other windows component updates include Microsoft Office, SharePoint, DNS Server, Microsoft Edge (Chromium), Windows Speech, Windows Diagnostics Hub, Visual Studio, AppX Deployment Extensions, Event Tracing, Windows Installer, Windows Kernel, Windows Resource Manager, Portmapping, Registry, Remote Procedure Call Runtime, NTFS, Network Files System (NFS), SMB, and TCP/IP.
Microsoft removed the old Microsoft Edge web browser in this update, if it hasn’t already been removed and installed the new Microsoft edge in its place.
Also a note, if you are using Windows 10 version 1909 it goes end of life next month at the next windows update Patch Tuesday. So, may be a good time to upgrade your version 1909 to the latest version of windows 20H2.

Sources:
https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/04/microsoft-patch-tuesday-april-2021-edition/


https://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-april-patch-download-covers-114-cves-including-new-exchange-server-bugs/


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/releaseNote/2021-Apr


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/vulnerability/CVE-2021-28481


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/vulnerability/CVE-2021-28480


https://www.ghacks.net/2021/04/13/microsoft-windows-security-updates-april-2021-overview/


https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/april-13-2021-kb5001330-os-builds-19041-928-and-19042-928-cead30cd-f284-4115-a42f-d67fec538490


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/en-US/vulnerability/CVE-2020-1036


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/en-US/vulnerability/CVE-2021-28310


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/en-US/vulnerability/CVE-2021-28315


https://msrc.microsoft.com/update-guide/en-US/vulnerability/CVE-2021-27095


https://msrc-blog.microsoft.com/2021/04/13/april-2021-update-tuesday-packages-now-available/


https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/exchange-team-blog/released-april-2021-exchange-server-security-updates/ba-p/2254617


https://msrc-blog.microsoft.com/2021/04/13/april-2021-update-tuesday-packages-now-available/

https://us-cert.cisa.gov/ncas/current-activity/2021/04/13/apply-microsoft-april-2021-security-update-mitigate-newly


https://securityaffairs.co/wordpress/116767/uncategorized/exchange-server-flaws-nsa.html


https://securelist.com/zero-day-vulnerability-in-desktop-window-manager-cve-2021-28310-used-in-the-wild/101898/


https://www.computing.co.uk/news/4029847/microsoft-patches-zero-day-bugs-april-2021-patch-tuesday-update


https://www.tomsguide.com/news/microsoft-patch-tuesday-april-21

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533 Million Facebook accounts exposed Phone numbers, Facebook ID, and other sensitive data

Data Breach

Data from FaceBook Hack Re-emerges its ugly head with free give-a-ways of the data on the Dark Web / Hacker Forums

On April 3, 2021, Alon Gal, the CTO of Hudson Rock (which is a cyberintelligence firm), reported via twitter that 533 Million records of Facebook users Is posted in a Hacker forum for free.

According to Facebook via a Bleeping Computer Article, this is a hack from August 2019.

Facebook told Bleeping Computer “This is old data that was previously reported on in 2019. We found and fixed this issue in August 2019”.

Facebook responded to this news stating that the hack is not new and they have already fixed the problem with the “Add a Friend” feature that allowed the phone #s and other data out.

It is unknown at this time if this “Add a Friend” feature gathered all the information, or if the phone #s were just added to an already existing scrape of Public Profile data. The hacker used to sell the information via a bot using Telegram messaging for just a few dollars a record. The data maybe from 2019, however, most people have not changed or cannot change the information that is in Facebook such as FaceBook ID, Birth Dates, Full names, Locations, Previous Locations, Phone numbers, Employers, some email addresses, and provided Bios from the user.

Even the Facebook Founders Mark Zuckerberg, Chris Hughes, and Dustin Moskovitz are also included in the breach showing most of the above information. But, now the Hacker is offering the information for free.

Hacker claims 106 countries were affected including the Egypt with 44 million, Italy 35 million, United States with over 32 million, United Kingdom 11.5 Million, India 6 million, Turkey 19.6 Million, Tunisia 39 Million, Mexico 13.3 Million, Germany 6 million, Saudi Arabia 28.8 million and many more records stolen from many other countries.

If you would like to see if you have been affected by this breach, Haveibeenpwned also has the information. HaveIBeenPwned is a good site to find if your information is included in a breach or not. The site also gives pertinent information about the breach and what information was exposed and when. However, the site was recently only searchable by email address. Since only 2.5 million email addresses were included in this breach, HaveIBeenPwned has now added international phone numbers to the search for breaches so you can see if you have been affected by this breach by phone or by email.

Sources / More Information

https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/533-million-facebook-users-phone-numbers-leaked-on-hacker-forum/

https://www.businessinsider.com/stolen-data-of-533-million-facebook-users-leaked-online-2021-4?r=US&IR=T

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/technology/how-to-check-if-your-facebook-account-was-hacked-in-the-massive-breach/ar-BB1fjIHM

https://www.vice.com/en/article/xgz7bd/facebook-phone-numbers-bot-telegram

https://haveibeenpwned.com/PwnedWebsites#Facebook

Previous Breach Information

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