Category Archives: Awareness

Data Security: How HIPAA Rules Affect Your Organization

Every organization has to ensure that all of its data is stored securely and that any possibility of data leaks or information theft are minimized as much as possible. Healthcare providers must also ensure that they comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Here are some of the ways in which HIPAA rules can affect your practice and steps you can take to ensure you comply.


The two fundamental components of HIPAA are the Privacy Rule and Security Rule. The key aspects of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule relate to who can have access to personal health information (PHI), how it is used and disclosed. Policies and procedures should be implemented to ensure that only the minimum information necessary is disclosed and that written patient authorization is obtained prior to their information being disclosed. Failing to follow the HIPAA Privacy Rule can lead to civil and even criminal penalties. The HIPAA Security Rule requires that all ePHI which is created, sent or received be kept confidential, that data integrity is maintained and that data is available when needed.

Safe Storage Of Electronic Records

Most patient healthcare information is now stored digitally, making it easier for clinical data to be access between providers. However, this data is still subject to the same HIPAA rules. It may include information about the patient’s medications, medical history and billing information. Crucially, this means that all electronic health records need to be stored securely and that adequate security measures need to be in place to prevent improper access.

Adequate Encryption

It is essential that safeguards are put in place to ensure that security threats and breaches are minimized.

One of the most important safeguards to implement is secure encryption of data. To ensure maximum security, it’s essential that you use software that encrypts the data when you back up health records. The same applies to any platforms you may use to transfer patient information with other healthcare professionals or patients themselves.

Prevention Of Data Breaches

Whenever anyone without authorization accesses personal health information, this is considered a data breach. This may be a hacker, a member of the team with malicious intent or just a curious employee. Organizations need to take steps to protect patient information from being improperly accessed, as far as they reasonably can, to prevent avoidable data breaches. Whenever a data breach is discovered, it is imperative that the organization provides a breach notification, as specified in by the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.

Safeguard Against Cyber-Attacks

Organizations also need to ensure that they have adequate safeguards in place to protect against ransomware and cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks involve malicious software encrypting the data on a computer or network and denying access to the data until a ransom payment has been made.

Healthcare providers are particularly vulnerable to ransomware and cyber-attacks.  Most of these attacks aim to steal electronic healthcare data which can then be sold on. The best strategy to ensure you can recover from any sort of cyber-attack is to have offline backups. You also need to ensure that any data kept on the cloud is stored securely. You risk fines, damage to your reputation and even poor healthcare outcomes if you don’t have proper security in place.

Safeguarding Public Health

Whilst individual privacy must always be adhered to, there are instances in which PHI can be released en masse. These will be specific instances which impact on public safety. For example, any situation which requires disease or death to be identified, monitored and responded to. Other situations include terrorism, surveillance, outbreak investigation and research. You need to be clear about what information can be disseminated and used in each case.


In order to ensure that you and your business associates are complying with HIPAA and properly and securely protecting PHI, you need to minimize the risk of any health information becoming compromised, improperly disclosed or stolen and encrypted. Ensure that you have the latest security management initiatives in place in order to protect your digital platforms and ensure that patient information remains secure and uncompromised.

Beatrix Potter is a cybersecurity writer at Essay Services website. 

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How To Keep Your Mac Secure Even If You Use Public Wi-Fi

Taking a moment to bolster up your Mac security is always a smart move. It becomes absolutely essential if you regularly access public networks, be it in your campus or your favorite cafe. 

The internet is vast and can sometimes be unsavory. There are plenty of hackers and malicious bots out there trying to steal your information. But never fear! We are here to give you a few easy tips to make sure your MacOS remains impenetrable. 

Public Wi-Fi Threats

Before moving on to the solutions, you should know what kind of security issues come from using public wi-fi. Here are some of the risks.

Unencrypted Networks

Encryption ensures that the information passed between your device and the router stays secure by using a code. However, most routers have encryption turned off as a default factory setting, and unless an IT professional has set up the public network, it might be unencrypted and vulnerable.

Malware Distribution

If you have a software vulnerability, it might get targeted while on public wi-fi. Hackers often try to exploit these breaches by slipping in malware designed for that specific vulnerability. 

Man-in-the-Middle attacks

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM) attacks are one of the most common threats that plague public networks. When you connect to the internet, data is sent from your device to the website. Hackers use security vulnerabilities to step in between and alter the information as it passes through. 

Packet Sniffing

When you log into an unencrypted wi-fi network, hackers can potentially intercept and read any information, including your login credentials. This digital eavesdropping is called packet sniffing.

Malicious Hotspots 

You might log in to a wi-fi with a  familiar name, only to find out later that it was a malicious hotspot mimicking another network. Your software might not always spot the difference if both of these networks are named the same.

How to Protect Your Mac?

The security risks of public wi-fi are substantial. But that does not mean you have to swear off public networks altogether. Here are a few steps to ensure you can freely roam around the internet without worry.

Use a VPN

Using a VPN can solve most of your security issues. VPN creates an encrypted tunnel connecting your Mac to an off-site VPN host or provider.  A good VPN will ensure that all information between your computer and the internet is safe even when you log in to a public WiFi.

There are plenty of VPN providers to choose from. But be aware of its encryption capabilities before you choose. Most ‘Free VPNs’ are unreliable and tend to inject advertisements on top of web pages you may visit. A trusted VPN provider like MacKeeper will hide what you browse and from where. You can read reviews on MacUpdate about this tool.

If you do not prefer VPN then there are still a few steps you can take to minimize the risks.

  • Always make sure that the website you visit starts with ‘https://’.  This means that the website is taking measures to secure the transfer of data between your Mac and the website through some form of encryption.
  • Be sure of the network you are logging into. There are plenty of free-to-use wi-fi hotspots trying to lure unsuspecting users into giving up their information. Avoid connecting to unknown networks.
  • Avoid sensitive sites while on public networks. Even with https:// encryptions it is best not to log in to social media sites or purchasing sites where you have to input your card details. Wait till you have access to your secure private wifi before you log in to such sites. 


The default Mac firewall can be a bit annoying with its constant notifications for permissions. But it is very useful when you are logging into a public network. But you need to configure it properly. 

You have to go to System Preferences and select the Security and Privacy icon. You can alternatively search for ‘firewall’ using the search box in the System Preferences window. Once you find the firewall settings turn it on.  

If your firewall is locked then you have to unlock it by entering your admin password after you click the lock icon in the lower-left corner of the window. After turning it on click the Firewall Options and select “Block all incoming connections” from the drop-down menu. 

This will limit certain functions like file sharing but it will also reduce the threats of an outside attack while on public WiFi. You switch the firewall off when you are on a private network.  

You can also opt for other trusted Mac firewall providers. Usually, these are more elaborate in design and offer a range of functions. Security software like MacKeeper features ID theft guard and ad blockers along with encryption. 

Encrypt Email Passwords

Some of the mail service providers do not by-default encrypt your passwords. This means that anyone intercepting your information can view your passwords as plain text. Make sure that your email client is configured to use SSL while connecting to the mail server. You can with your email provider for the configuration procedure. If your email client does not provide SSL, then do not access it while on a public wi-fi.

Better DNS

When you search for any website, your Mac contacts a Domain Name System (DNS) to find that website. The DNS server connects your Mac to the IP address that hosts the webpage you are looking for. This process only takes a fraction of a second. 

You should configure your Mac to connect a reliable and fast DNS server that filters out malware, botnets and other malicious websites that attempt to infect your Mac. There are plenty of options when choosing a DNS service. The setup instructions are specific to the service providers.

Bottom Line

Public WiFi comes with its own risks. With just the basic protection enabled, try to avoid using sensitive information like credit card details while logged on to a public network. And always log out when you are not using the internet.  But if you follow these tips and get a trusted internet security provider then public wifi can be just as safe as any network.

About author:

Naomi Stone (<a href=””>@Naomi99Stone</a>) is a cybersecurity enthusiast and Mac aficionado. She’s passionate about covering topics like Mac cybersecurity, Mac tips & hacks, Mac’s how-to guides. She is a contributor to Cyber Experts and Cybers Guards.

The post How To Keep Your Mac Secure Even If You Use Public Wi-Fi appeared first on CyberDB.

The Cyber Security Guide For Small Business Owners

Cybercrime isn’t limited to large corporations or wealthy individuals; it also targets small businesses. According to the U.S. Congressional Small Business Committee, a significant amount of cyber-attacks targeted businesses with less than 100 workers. A related study by the SMB CyberSecurity Report established that 50% of SMBs had experienced a security breach in the past.

The reason small businesses are targeted more than large corporations is that they’ve vulnerabilities in their networks. This means it’s easier to breach the networks of small businesses than it’s to penetrate large corporations. Small businesses don’t allocate sufficient time and funds to secure their networks. They also lack expert personnel, have outdated security programs, and fail to secure their endpoints. The following are some of the basic cybersecurity best practices for small businesses.

Use a Firewall

Setting up a firewall is one of the basic ways of defending your business against a cyber-attack. The Federal Communications Commission urges small businesses to have firewalls to prevent data breaches. Some organizations have a standard firewall and an internal firewall for additional protection. Employees working remotely should also set up firewalls on their home networks.

Put Your Cybersecurity Policies In Writing

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s advisable to put your policies in writing. To get started, you can attend online training through the Small Business Administration Cybersecurity portal. You can get help with drafting your policies from the FCC’s Cyberplanner 2.0. Alternatively, you can request a comprehensive toolkit for cybersecurity best practices through the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses.

Use The CIA Model

When it comes to establishing cybersecurity policies, you should use the CIA model to guide you. This model helps keep your business secure by protecting your data. The elements of this model are Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. First, you should make sure information can’t be accessed by unauthorized personnel. You can do this by encrypting the information.

Secondly, you need to protect data and systems from being altered by unauthorized personnel. This means you should ensure that the information is unchanged from the time you create it to the time it reaches the end-user. Lastly, ensure authorized personnel have access to information when they need it and that you update your applications whenever necessary.

Train Employees In Cyber Security Measures

After you have established security policies, the next step is to train your employees on how to incorporate these measures. For example, you should train your employees on how to create strong passwords. It would help if you also established rules that penalize employees for violating the business’s Cybersecurity policies. Make ground rules on how to manage and protect client data and other important information. For example, you may establish rules that all machines should have the latest security software, operating system, and web browser to guard against malware, viruses, and online threats.

Device a Plan For Mobile Devices

According to Tech Pro Research 2016 BYOD, 59% of businesses allow BYOD. There’s a high surge in the use of wearables like wireless fitness trackers and smartwatches. For this reason, small businesses should establish BYOD policies that emphasize the need for security precautions. Norton by Symantec also urges small businesses to encourage employees to set automatic updates and use a strong password policy for mobile devices that are tapping into the company’s network.

Back up Your Data Regularly

You may still be breached after observing all the necessary security measures. This is why you need to back up data regularly. You also need to back up data that is kept in the cloud because those servers could also be compromised. Store your backups in a safe place to guard against fire outbreaks and floods. Make sure your backups are up to date.

Apply Multifactor Identification

No matter how secure you think you’re, mistakes are inevitable. An employee can make a mistake that leaves your network vulnerable. Using the multifactor identification settings provides an additional layer of protection to your network. You can use employees’ phone numbers because it would be unlikely for a cybercriminal to have both the pin code and the password.

Secure Your Wi-Fi Network

If your business has a Wi-Fi network, you need to secure it. Encrypt and hide the Wi-Fi network, so it’s not accessed by unauthorized personnel. To hide the network, set up a wireless access point to prevent it from broadcasting the name of the network, also called the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Protect access to the router using a password. 


Many businesses downplay the threat of cybercriminals, arguing that they don’t have significant assets or that their data is not worth a security breach. However, cybercriminals target the weak networks of small businesses more than the heavily secured networks of large organizations. For this reason, it’s important to observe cybersecurity practices to ensure your business and clients are secured from cyber thieves. The above measures will help you tighten the data security of your organization, making it more difficult for hackers to breach your systems.

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8 Types of Security Threats to the IoT


The IoT industry is currently booming at a rapid scale, allowing for insights backed by data to provide value to industries and enterprises. For instance, in supply chain, IoT is helping track the exact locations and condition of the cargo shipments to ensure that goods in transportation safely reach their destination. In agricultural sector, IoT devices help farmers to monitor changes in weather near crop fields to enhance labor, harvest health and water usage. Travel industry is making use of IoT sensors to notify on-arrival passengers when their luggage reaches the airport.

These and many more opportunities offered by IoT are making our lives easier and provide us with limitless services to enable increased work productivity and efficiency. However, its adoption is still not as widespread as anticipated. The reason is the security obstacles associated with IoT devices. In the year 2018, according to a survey by Bain & Company, security was the top reason for industrial and enterprise respondents to not adopt IoT technology. These security challenges can be overcome, but to understand how to do that, it’s important to first know what these challenges are.

Let us look at some of the many security threats faced by the Internet of Things.

  1. Radio Frequency (RF) Jamming

Hackers can use radio jamming to block wireless IoT devices by interfering with wireless communications to hinder their functionality. This can be done by getting hold of an RF Jammer, causing IoT devices to limit their communication ability by losing connectivity. For instance, residential and commercial wireless security alarms that are connected over a cellular network can be easily jammed and enable an intruder to break in without the knowledge of the security provider.

  • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks

A DDoS attack happens when all network devices are precariously made to send limitless messages that eventually cause congestion in the IoT network shut it down. Cyber criminals use DDoS attacks to control numerous compromised devices, thus preventing important information from reaching its destination.

  • Privacy Leakage

An unsecured IoT device that leaks its IP address, if identified by a hacker, can be misused to point to any location. It is recommended that IoT connections should be secured using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). Just as an Internet Service Provider’s network can be secured by  installing VPN on a router to encrypt all traffic passing through (see HughesNet Internet for the best satellite internet services), the same can be applied to an IoT device to ensure that your IP is private and your smart network is protected.

  • Network Hacks

A network hack takes place when an IoT device is compromised through the network that it is connected to. This kind of security breach allows a hacker to access and control the device. For instance, they can gain control of the thermostat of an industrial furnace and start a fire or cause an autonomous vehicle to crash by controlling its driving.

  • Home Intrusion

This is one of the reasons why smart homes are not ideally seen as a reality and adapted far and wide till now. It is also one of the scariest scenarios which can turn a device meant for an individual customer’s convenience into a major threat to their home privacy. Unsecured IoT devices that are shipped to a user with default username as ‘admin’ and password as ‘12345’ are very vulnerable to home intrusion. This can not only be used in planned burglaries but also invades complete privacy of a residential household. This is why it’s very important to secure a device’s credentials and connect them through a VPN.

  • Lack of Device Updates

Companies are manufacturing IoT devices at an increasing rate due to the growing demand. However, since their focus is on production and competition, manufacturers are not very careful with handling IoT device-related risks and security issues. Many of the devices in the market do not have considerable security updates, and some of them are never updated at all. Even if a device initially caters to security requirements, it becomes insecure and vulnerable after the emergence of new technologies and new cyber security challenges, making it more prone to cyber-attacks, especially if it is not updated.

Some manufacturers deliver Over the Air (OTA) firmware updates but stop doing that once they start working on next generation devices, thus leaving the older devices exposed to security threats. 

  • Unsafe Communication

Most of the IoT devices do not encrypt messages while communicating over a network, which makes it one of the biggest security challenges of IoT. To prevent from intrusion, companies need to secure and encrypt their communication between cloud services and devices. Using transport encryption and standards such as TLS can ensure safe communication. Also, device isolation using different networks can ensure a secure private communication.

  • Difficulty in Determining a Device’s Compromised Status

Another one of the challenges of an IoT device is that it is very hard to ascertain if a device is hacked or not.  Especially when there are a large number of IoT devices, it gets very difficult to monitor the security status of all the devices. This is because IoT devices need services, apps and protocols to communicate; and with more devices, it’s becoming unmanageable to find out which of them are compromised. As a result, many such hacked devices continue to work without the user’s knowledge and their data and privacy keeps getting compromised.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt that IoT promises a change that can bring more convenience to our lives and is destined to get bigger with time. However, the bigger it is going to get, the more headaches it will progressively carry along with itself as the accompanying IoT trends and threats also get bigger. This can only be overcome if device manufacturers and IoT industry stakeholders take security seriously and make it a top priority instead of joining a competitive race towards more production and short-term profits.

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How to improve web application security

It is extremely common for business websites to use web applications. However, when these applications contain vulnerabilities they can be exploited by hackers. This makes it essential that companies start taking web application security more seriously. 

There are countless examples of poor web application security that have led to extremely serious data breaches and the loss of significant amounts of money. The well-publicised data breach at Equifax was caused by a failure to patch a flaw in a web application – this ended up costing the business in excess of $1.38billion.  

Here we take a look at some of the most important ways that you can improve your web application security. 

Encrypt your web traffic

One of the most important aspects of web application security is through the encryption of web traffic. This can be achieved by acquiring a TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificate. If web data is not encrypted, then functionally it is possible for anyone to read it, if they can intercept the data at any point. 

Using a cryptographic key, TLS encrypts the data in a way that makes it impossible to reverse engineer. This effectively ensures that your data cannot be read by hackers that find a way to access it. 

Properly manage user permissions

The next step in keeping your applications secure is by managing user permissions. Many businesses make the mistake of providing every member of staff with full access to the company system – assuming this is necessary to ensure staff are productive. However, in reality, full access is typically not needed by everyone in order to do their job. Reducing user permissions instead makes applications far more secure.

This is because when all members of staff have full access, it only takes one breach for criminals to have access to the whole system. The well-known cyberattack on Ticketfly is a good example of poor user permission management. More than 26 million customers had their data stolen when criminals were able to breach the account of a webmaster with full system access. 

Provide staff training sessions

Another vital aspect of security comes in the form of your employees themselves. Staff can be an extremely useful resource in the battle against cybercrime, but many organisations aren’t doing enough to provide their staff with the skills and knowledge they need to be able to combat web application breaches.

Staff need to understand the best practice cybersecurity steps they need to take to help ensure the security of web applications. Too many companies simply provide an introductory training session with cursory information on cybersecurity. This isn’t enough on its own – you should have regular sessions updating the information and keeping staff aware of changes.

Work with pen testing specialists

You should have web application penetration tests carried out. Sometimes called pen tests, this involves cybersecurity professionals using the techniques and tactics employed by cybercriminals in order to understand if there are any vulnerabilities in your applications which could be exploited if a genuine cybercrime was to take place. 

These tests can be conducted on very specific aspects of applications, or they can be broader – encompassing all elements of your system and network. You can use the results of the test to help you understand how to improve your applications and mitigate the risk of them being breached. 

Monitor systems and assets

As well as putting investments into preventative security measures, such as penetration testing, it is also important to monitor your system at all times. Security information and event management (SIEM) software is an ideal choice if you are looking for technologies that can help to protect and watch over your systems. 

SIEM monitors servers, logs, and web traffic to understand if there is any unusual activity surrounding your web applications. This might include unauthorised connections or potentially malicious activity. 

Final thoughts

Cybercriminals are constantly becoming more sophisticated, so it is essential that businesses put in the right defences to keep their web applications secure. If you run web applications you must not only put time and energy into security measures but also provide staff with help to reduce the risk of an attack. 

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Cybersecurity advice and tips for the remote workers

Sarah, an associate employed with EduWorldUSAsays that with the global pandemic of COVID-19, the entire dynamics of how we communicate, work, and collaborate with people has changed. A lot of government, private, and public-sector companies have made it a mandatory requirement for their employees to strictly work from home. For a lot of employees, it is the first time that they are working from home. Now, this might bring in a lot of challenges. In addition to the uncertainties and the stress of this pandemic, we also need to struggle every day with this transition in our work-life habits. It is going to be equally tough for the students who are told to take all their classes from the home online. So, in the tips cybersecurity practices that we have listed below, we not only target the remote workers but also the students. 

You must already know how difficult it is for you to ensure that you and your employees are cyber secure when they work in an office environment, where cybersecurity is already a quintessential part of the day-to-day culture. But, now when the employees are working from home, it has become twice as challenging as you need to make them aware of safe and cyber-secure habits and practices. 

Now, to help the employees, and the security leaders to fare well through this transition phase, we have come up with a list of tips that are exclusively dedicated to keeping the remote employees cyber secure.

Things employees and the remote workers should do to be cyber secure

To ensure that you and your employees are cyber secure, you need to adopt a bunch of practices. These include:

  • When you try connecting to your company’s network, only use a highly secure connection. You need to further ascertain that company’s Virtual Private Network is configured with a multi-level authentication. 
  • Do your office work only from your home Wi-Fi. Do not ever connect your office computer with a public or an open Wi-Fi. 
  • Never exchange or transfer the files, information, or the work data from your work computer to your personal devices or home computer. Robin, who works with a website that does your homework,says that he never does his office work on his home computer because that would put a lot of private and confidential data to risk. It so happens because your home computer’s browsers and systems do not have the high-end security software, and are thus, exposed to risks.
  • Ensure that you are only using the latest operating systems, applications, internal software, and network tools. Furthermore, at all times, on your work computer, you should get your office’s IT support cell to install anti-spam and malware protection software.   
  • Only use passwords that are strong for your email, laptop, and even your work phone. 
  • Only use the cloud applications that are approved for both storing or the sharing of the data. 
  • Do not ever print or store paper documents, which might have sensitive data at your home.  

At all times, the organizations should adopt and promote best security practices and tools. You can also leverage nano learnings, newsletters, micro learnings along with the other awareness tools. This ensures that the security stays a top-of-the-mind issue.  

How to ensure that the home computer is cyber secure?

To ensure that your and your employee’s home computer is cyber secure, you need to aware about the following:

Have all the software updated

Firstly, tell them that all their software and applications should be updated.  Furthermore, ensure that only the latest browsers, operating systems, or the apps are present in the devices or the computers, which you connect to the internet for your office work.

Use secure connection

Always use a Wi-Fi connection that is 100% secure. If possible, get a home firewall installed. It is important to be alert to ensure that all the important company assets are protected from all types of cyber-attacks. 

Have an antivirus software installed

You need to use antivirus software. It will help you automatically scan the files that you download, the websites that you visit, the email attachments that come in your mail, and the data that save on the USB sticks, hard drives, and memory cards. Jacob, an expert who works with a homework writing agency and offers online assignment help Sydney, says that when he associated with this agency, they installed the Anti-Virus in his system to ensure that the data stayed safe. 

Use stronger passwords

You need to have stronger passwords not only on your work devices but also on your home computers. Never use something as your partner’s name, your phone number, date of birth, favourite colour, or anything similar as your password.

Be click aware

Natasha, an educator who offers the best front end web development courseonline, says that though she works from home, she is always sceptical and vigilant but all the unsolicited text messages, emails, attachments, or the social media DMs that she gets. You have to follow the same. If there’s even a slight doubt, do not click on that link.  

Always ensure that your employees know, understand, and acknowledge the fact that they are the first line of protection against all forms of cyber-attacks. The best way to stay protected is by staying cautious. Always look at every unknown email, message, chat, or attachment as something that might be illegitimate. So, beware. 

Mobile Cyber Security Tips

The thing with cybercriminals is that they can attack you anytime and anywhere. That’s the reason even mobile cyber-attacks are common these days. Here, are a few things that you need to do for your mobile cybersecurity.

  • Disable the auto-discovery feature of Bluetooth

Rega, an online reviewer, who did an excellent ThanksForTheHelp Review, says that she always keeps the Bluetooth of her home and work phone off to keep it protected from cyber-attacks. Well, it is true, the cybercriminals always look for Bluetooth signals and use it to hack into your devices.

  • Turn off auto-connect Wi-Fi feature

Keep the Wi-Fi auto-connect feature off as that can get your phone connected to a public open Wi-Fi.

  • Enable Face ID or Touch ID

Instead of using passcodes, use visual and fingerprint authentication to ensure that your mobile phone data is safe. If you are using a password, pick one that’s unique and strong.

  • Have all the latest apps and software on your phone

Make sure all the apps are updated, and the latest software is installed. New updates are launched to keep you protected from all types of cyber threats.

The post Cybersecurity advice and tips for the remote workers appeared first on CyberDB.

What to Know About the Approved Scanning Vendor Program


New vulnerabilities, security holes and bugs are being discovered daily. It is vital to have Internet-facing systems scanned regularly for vulnerabilities to help identify new threats so they can be addressed as soon as possible. Gill Woodcock, VP Global Head of Programs, answers common questions about the Approved Scanning Vendor program.

We Are All in This Together: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic


Global representatives of the PCI Security Standards Council recently came together, via a virtual video platform, to discuss how the Council is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as best practices for the payment industry during this unprecedented time.

SQL Server Security Basics

Security is of paramount importance in any IT context today, especially when you are looking to protect something as precious and potentially vulnerable to attack as an SQL server.

Here is a quick primer on the basic aspects of security which matters most for SQL server solutions, since the cost of a breach will vastly outweigh the effort of learning and following best practices.


There is no doubt that encryption should be part of any modern DataOps strategy, particularly given the scope and scale of the threats that exist in the age of unfettered connectivity.

You can encrypt data stored on your SQL server, and indeed you should make sure that this is enabled as standard. You also need to take into account how the data is protected when it is in transit, when it might be exposed to exploitation while passing through public networks and devices.

There are different types of encryption to consider, with SSL encryption keeping data safe when it is on the move while cell-level encryption will allow comprehensive protection even while the data is cached on server RAM. The greater the level of encryption you choose, the more potential complications can arise, so it is a matter of balancing your needs against the risks.


All the security measures in the world will be for naught if your SQL server is breached, damaged or otherwise compromised in such a way that leaves the information it contains inaccessible or unrecoverable for some reason.

This is why a good SQL server backup solution needs to be factored into your security efforts, providing you with a lifeline to restore mission-critical data in the direst of circumstances.

There are quite a few points to consider when selecting a backup strategy. Opting for a differential backup, for example, will allow you to perform the backup process faster and without the same penalty in terms of storage requirements. A full backup will form the foundations of a differential backup as well as being used to underpin transaction log backups, which allow for time-specific restoration.

All backup varieties take time and require a commitment of hardware and network resources, while also posing a security risk in their own right, so remember not to overlook this aspect.


Managing access to your SQL server is vital, not just in terms of taking control of which users and apps can retrieve data or make changes to the database, but also with regards to the physical hardware itself.

This is not something that will immediately seem obvious, especially at a time when more and more organizations are choosing to migrate to remotely hosted or hybrid cloud setups, but even if your IT resources feel nebulous, they are still founded on tangible servers.

If you are directly responsible for housing this hardware, restricting physical access to it is just as crucial as vetting digital access. Locking server rooms is a minimum; making sure that only employees with a legitimate reason to access them should also be part of your security protocols.


Although cybersecurity threats are growing and evolving all the time, software firms do a good job of fixing vulnerabilities and patching problems whenever they rear their heads.

This means that it is the responsibility of SQL server specialists to keep their software up to date, installing vital security patches as soon as possible. Failure to do so will leave you exposed unnecessarily and could lead to breaches that would have been entirely preventable. Both the SQL software and the OS it runs on need to be updated as a matter of urgency.

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Apple Phishing Is on the Rise

Whereas Apple computer infections show a growing trend, users can fall victim to other cyber-attacks that involve phishing and may lead to identity theft, financial losses, and other serious issues. Phishing is one of the dominating forms of today’s online attacks. With social engineering at its core, it mainly relies on booby-trapped links, typically arriving with emails, to hoodwink recipients into disclosing their personal information to fraudsters.

The particularly unnerving thing is that phishing kits available on darknet sources can be easily accessed by individuals who don’t have a solid programming background. It means that even people with basic computer skills may zero in on you.

Here’s some food for thought: there are currently about 1.5 billion Apple devices in use worldwide. All of them require unique Apple IDs to access the manufacturer’s proprietary services such as iCloud, App Store, iMessage, Apple TV, Apple Music, FaceTime, and many others. It means the potential attack audience is huge and the entry point is the Apple ID password, one secret combo of characters and numbers.

Why may fraudsters want to steal your Apple ID?

Apple ID is your key to using all Apple services and implies unlimited access to a plethora of sensitive information. Here’s a brief overview of its common use cases:

  • No matter if you own an iDevice or a Mac, you use your Apple ID to sign in to it and unleash its full potential and features. It’s within the realms of possibility that it will also be a way to log in to Apple’s future self-driving electric car, which is rumored to be a work in progress at this point.
  • Apple ID retains your payment and shipping details to facilitate the process of buying apps, service subscriptions, and devices from Apple.
  • Your Apple ID is the conduit to accessing your security settings and extensive details on all app and service purchases you completed with it.
  • You use Apple ID to access your iCloud account, a place where you store your photos, videos, and other personal data. If stolen, these files can be mishandled to perpetrate blackmail attacks.

Techniques used to dupe you into visiting Apple ID phishing pages

The scammers’ repertoire spans quite a few types of Apple ID phishing mechanisms. Familiarize yourself with some of the most widespread methods to make sure you don’t fall for them down the road.

  1. Spoof payment statement email

You should be able to identify this phishing attempt by looking at the subject line of the received email. It says “Payment Statement,” “Receipt ID,” “Receipt Order,” or something similar. The goal of this phony message is to make you think your credit card has been used to pay for some products or services.

The natural reaction of most users is to plunge headlong into canceling the order they are clueless about. The email contains a link you can click to supposedly go to the appropriate billing information page. Instead, you will be redirected to a phishing site that instructs you to verify your personal data, including your credit card number and Apple ID password.

There are usually a few giveaways in these emails. First off, the sender field will contain a string that isn’t a valid Apple email address. Furthermore, the message may contain an attachment in MS Word format, a type of file Apple wouldn’t send to its customers. Also, pay attention to the URL that shows up when you hover the mouse over the “Cancel and Manage Orders” (or similar) link – it’s typically something absolutely unrelated to Apple.

With that said, you should refrain from clicking any suspicious links received via email. Unfortunately, there are payment-related phishing messages that look really true to life and feign urgency. They may forward you to a web page that looks just like the legit Apple site, except that some words can be misspelled and the navigation icons at the top aren’t clickable. You should exert caution with dubious emails like that.

  • Apple ID fraudulent phone calls

Hoaxes aimed at wheedling out Apple IDs don’t only revolve around sketchy emails. Some of them may cash in on scam phone calls. To instill a false sense of legitimacy into users, crooks often take advantage of the caller ID spoofing trick so that the phone number displayed on your phone looks like a real Apple number. When you look at the call details, they may even include the authentic company logo and official website. The impostors will usually ask you to provide your sensitive details for account validation or to ensure that you comply with the purportedly updated Terms of Service and can continue to use certain features.

  • Bogus text messages

Apple ID phishing campaigns can also involve text messages sent to your phone. They typically say something like “Your Apple account is suspended” and instruct you to follow a link to find out how to sort out the alleged predicament. You’ll be asked to enter your personal information in a fake form on the linked-to website mimicking an Apple support page.

  • Misleading pop-ups

This type of phishing originally surfaced as a proof of concept, and fortunately, there have been no reports about real-world attacks of that sort so far. However, a researcher named Felix Krause has demonstrated that it’s a viable exploitation vector, and therefore such phishing attempts may appear in the wild anytime soon.

The idea is simple: a malicious app triggers a rogue dialog asking the victim to enter their Apple ID password to sign in to the iTunes store. The authentication details go to the attacker once typed in. Most users take such pop-ups for granted and don’t mind entering their sensitive information to keep using an app they like. To top it off, the alerts look identical to ones routinely generated by iOS.

To check whether the dialog is legit, the above-mentioned security enthusiast recommends tapping the Home button. If the application quits, then you are definitely dealing with a spoof pop up. If it doesn’t close, there is no reason to worry because it’s a genuine iOS request. The difference is that regular system pop-ups like that stem from a separate process rather than posing as a component of an application.

Best practice tips to identify Apple phishing attempts

Although some phishing hoaxes may be harder to pinpoint than others, all of them share a number of telltale signs. Here are some common red flags to look out for:

  • Spelling and grammar inaccuracies;
  • Incompetently designed an email or web page;
  • Dubious sender address unrelated to Apple;
  • Requests to verify sensitive info over email or phone (something Apple never does);
  • Suspicious-looking or shortened hyperlinks;
  • Dodgy email attachments.

How to avoid falling victim to Apple ID phishing scams?

In order to be a moving target, adhere to a number of practices that will help you keep your Apple ID intact and strengthen your personal security posture overall.

  • Stay abreast of cybersecurity news covered by reputable sources.
  • Opt for web browsers equipped with anti-phishing features (Google Chrome is a good example).
  • Abstain from opening email attachments sent by someone you don’t know.
  • Get into the habit of hovering your mouse over hyperlinks before you click. If you notice the slightest hint of danger, don’t click the link.
  • Set up 2FA (two-factor authentication) for your Apple ID and other personal accounts.
  • Make sure you are using the latest macOS or iOS version supported by your device.

Additionally, you should do your homework and peruse some security tips provided by Apple. Many users don’t bother exploring these recommendations until they have been scammed. You are better off safeguarding your accounts proactively and nurturing your phishing awareness. Here are the sources on your must-read checklist:

The post Apple Phishing Is on the Rise appeared first on CyberDB.

Cyber Defence: How Machine Learning and AI are Eliminating the Complexity

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are changing the way that businesses operate. Whether it’s on the factory floor or in back-end IT, automated services and machines are increasing speed and productivity all while freeing up workers to focus on tasks which require a totally different set of skills.

Alongside this, we are seeing the role of AI in cyber security increase as well as the number of artificial intelligence security tools being used too. This is all because AI is trained to learn, develop and grow using the data it is provided with. Essentially, an AI system is constantly in a state of change and improvement. In an environment where hackers and security threats are everywhere and constantly looking for a way into a system, protecting company data has never had such a high priority. With this in mind, it’s important to understand exactly what is AI in cyber security and just how is AI in security being implemented?    

The Purpose of Cybersecurity

AI is proving to be one of the most influential and game-changing technology advancements in the business world. As more and more enterprises embrace the digital sphere, companies are finding new and exciting ways to implement AI-based functions into every platform and software tool at their disposal. However, one of the natural consequences of this is that cybercriminals view this increasing digitization as a definite window of opportunity.

A cyber threat is basically any act that intends to steal, harm or digitally affect data in some way. They are more than just a nuisance, they can have serious and damaging effects. Cyber-attacks can cause electrical blackouts, involve the theft of valuable or sensitive data like medical records, disrupt phone and computer networks or just paralyze entire systems making any data unavailable. They can cripple a company in a heartbeat.

Some of the most common forms of cyber threats include:

  • Phishing – Email-borne attacks that involve tricking recipients into disclosing confidential information or downloading malware by clicking on a link.
  • Malware – This is usually a piece of software that performs a malicious task on a targeted device or network such as corrupting data or taking control of a system.
  • Trojans – A form of malware that enters a system looking like one thing, such as a standard piece of software, before letting out a malicious code once inside.
  • DDoS – An attacker takes over many devices at once and uses them to invoke the functions of a target system causing it to crash from an overload of demand.
  • Data Breaches – A data breach is simply where an attacker hacks or finds a way into a system before stealing data directly.

Cyber threats never stay the same for very long. There are millions of them being created every year all becoming more potent than the last and this is where machine learning and artificial intelligence is so important in regards to combatting cyber threats.

How AI Can Help in Cyber Defence?

This is where AI can help massively. Machine learning-based technologies are particularly efficient at detecting unknown threats to a network. This is where computers use and adapt algorithms depending on the data received and improve their functions. Essentially, this attempts to create a machine that can predict threats and identify anomalies with much greater accuracy and speed than a human equivalent could do.

One of the other examples of AI in cyber security involves using supervised algorithms. These can uncover threats based on the labelled data they have been trained on. Based on this, the system can then make educated decisions pertaining to new data and determine whether it is harmful or not. Thousands of instances of malware code can be used as learning data for supervised algorithms to learn from, creating an extremely efficient system for detecting incoming threats.

The Future of Cyber Defence

As it is an environment that changes at a lightning-quick pace, trying to stay ahead of technological developments as the importance of cybersecurity for digital marketing and other sectors is crucial to business sustainability. However, there are some trends to say aware of regarding cyber defences in 2020:

  • Predicting Threats Is Critical – More and more we’ll see companies concentrating on detecting and predicting cyber threats using AI. As technology and awareness develop in regards to using and adopting AI as a part of cyber defences, the need to predict and respond swiftly and accurately will increase in turn.
  • It Will Become Prevalent For Consumers – Consumers are starting to realize that passwords are not providing enough account protection and that their accounts are increasingly vulnerable. AI can recognize returning users and will be key in protecting the entire customer journey, from creation through to transaction. This should allow businesses to form trusting bonds with their customers as they are protected by more than just a password.
  • AI Will See A Sharp Rise In Usage – According to Capgemini, 69% of enterprises believe AI will be necessary in order to respond to cyberattacks. The majority of companies say they are counting on AI to help identify and thwart attacks that could cause increasingly expensive losses.

Final Thoughts

It can be a worrying time for businesses out there who are concerned about the growing threat of cyber-attacks. However, by combining security methods with AI and machine learning it is possible to protect yourself accordingly. By being proactive, staying up-to-date with the latest threats and working with industry professionals, you’ll be able to stay on top of even the most serious of cyber threats out there and ensure your data stays protected.

About the author

David Pittaway is a creative content writer for Aumcore, a digital marketing agency based in New York. He writes on a variety of topics that range from SEO, Machine Learning to crafting the perfect creative content marketing plan

The post Cyber Defence: How Machine Learning and AI are Eliminating the Complexity appeared first on CyberDB.