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Balancing Humans And Society

There are no shortage of philosophies when it comes to computer and network security. Keeping data secure and private should be the number one priority for all those philosophies. One thing that is usually missing from these philosophies are the human component.

As IT Technicians, most of the time we forget that the users we help are just trying to do their job with minimum amount of interruption. Users most of the time will prefer efficiency over security when it comes to their computer system. If a security measure stands in their way, clever users can find a way around it. An example is when computers started to become popular, yet they were not as mobile as they are now, hospitals started having computers on carts so that doctors could have access to patient’s digital records when the doctor visited them in the hospital room. However, doctors forgot to lock the computer when they walked away, leaving the patient’s health records exposed to anyone passing by. The hospitals IT Staff responded by adding proximity sensors to the carts that will lock the computer when the doctor walks away. This meant that the doctor would have to type in the computer password (if they remembered it) again when they returned, even if they only left for a very short time. To prevent it from locking, the doctors would put their coffee cup on top of the sensor, thus preventing the computer from locking if they moved away. This took security back to square one. Listening to the Doctor’s feedback and some education on the IT staff’s part was crucial to solving this issue.

In an office setting, it’s common for users to forget their passwords, especially if the Sys Admin have stringent rules like password change every 90 days, along with high complexity requirements. Getting calls about resetting passwords, on top of other usual calls can amount to a lot of unnecessary calls. Even on the user’s side, they want to avoid calling the sys admin to get their password reset. A common way users prevent forgotten passwords is to write it down on a post-it note and keeping it somewhere secure (like taping it to the lower right quadrant of the monitor). Frivolity aside, this is a security risk for that system. If this is at a reception desk, anyone who walks in can get a glimpse at the login credentials. For a hacker, this is enough to get in to their system and do what they please.

There are ways around this issue, like a fingerprint scanner, or having a facial recognition software on the computer to make sure only the person that is assigned to that computer can unlock it. This can be expensive, like needing to buy software, accessories, or even upgrade the whole system. However, the financial benefits of having a secure computer are on a long-term basis. Skimping on security solutions and ignoring the human element can be an atrocious combination for a company. Being aware of both and knowing how to strike a balance is key to protecting from outside threats as well from unintentional internal ones.

TRA consulting not only focuses on Home Personal security, but also in SOHO (Small Office/Home Office) security. Our goal is to provide full IT support to growing small businesses who are too small to have a full time IT staff, yet big enough that they need one. We have many highly satisfied customers in the Long Beach, Orange County, San Diego, Southbay, and Los Angeles area. Contact us today, and let us take care of all of your computer security needs. Our prices are reasonable and our services are top notch. Call us today for a free consultation!

 

The Threat Within

What’s the biggest threat to a company’s network security? Viruses? Hackers? Worms? The NSA? It’s none of the above. The weakest point are the users. That’s right, the same people that you trust to use the computers that you want to protect are the ones that are putting it at risk, according to a recent study by the Ponemon Institute. 78% of companies that took part in this study blame their employees for being careless or negligent when following the company’s security policies. Think about it; no matter how secure a computer is (within reason, otherwise the user cannot do their job) the user is the one making security decisions every minute they spend in front of that computer. “Should I click on this Facebook banner ad?”, “This email looks official, let me download the attachment and unzip it”, “Looks like I won the Lottery, even though I’ve never played”

Email is one of the most likely vectors to get a computer infected. Some estimates say that 90% of all email traveling through the internet is spam. Even though that statistic is probably overblown, the amount of spam out there keeps growing by the day. A lot of that spam is not just trying to sell you prescription pills or knockoff watches, but they are also trying to get your personal information and/or delivering an infection. The worst thing is that they spammers are getting smarter and making some of their emails more and more difficult to tell from the real deal. This method of spamming is called Phishing, which is very common and can even evade most spam detectors.

Educating the users is the best solution to keep computer and networks safe. There are many ways to keep a network safe with different devices and programs that will do an excellent job. However, at the end of the day, it’s the user who holds the power with their keyboard and mice to keep the computer out of dangerous situations. Now that companies are beginning to realize just how important is for their employees to be aware of the responsibility they have keeping the company safe from intrusion, it’s up to the company to find a way to better educate the employees at staying safe. This does not mean that traditional methods of security need to go out the window; these two philosophies are complimentary, not orthogonal, to each other.

Spending money in security is not the waste of money a lot of SMB’s (and even some big corporations) think it is. In fact, it’s the opposite; it helps the business to not lose money. Just like the saying, there is more than one way to skin a cat, there is more than one approach towards network security. Whatever your philosophy is, making sure it is well implemented is the biggest hurdle.

At TRA consulting, our philosophy is to be proactive when it comes to desktop and network security. We combine end point tools which can monitor, alert, patch, script, and have the ability to provide remote support. All these tools and more can help you keep your computer and network safe at a fraction of the price of a full-time IT staff. We have many satisfied customers in the Long Beach, Orange County, Southbay, Greater Los Angeles Area, San Diego, Arizona, and Midwest.

Our Motto is “Maximum Satisfaction, Minimum Fuss”. Call us today for a free consultation!

 

Beware of the Predator

As if there weren’t enough challenges for growing small and medium size businesses, there is another one to add to their list: Enterprise level malware software at affordable prices. Up to recently, the majority of Data breaches have been targeted at big corporation (Target, Staples, Home Depot, etc.), however now the targets have shifted to smaller companies due to the commercialization of similar malware/keyloggers. Predator Pain and Limitless are two keylogging malware programs that can be bought from underground markets for cheap prices and can be used to attack and spy on anyone. The majority of targets of these keylogging software has been small and medium size businesses, as shown by TrendMicro research. Even though the software can be bought for an inexpensive amount, it is not a rudimentary in its execution. It can steal web (including banking) and email credentials, as well as reconfigure the email account so that it send the victim’s emails directly to the hacker. It can also capture keystrokes and screen shots of the computer. On top of that, it will encrypt all the communications between the infected computer and the criminal’s computer.

The method that criminals use to infect the computers is usually a drive-by download or phishing. Once the computer is infected, the malware will start collecting data, keystrokes and screenshots of the computer. If you are infected with this keylogger, what can you do? Well, there is not much out there in the form of removal of this specific malware. A quick google search for “How to remove Predator Pain” reveals very little on how to properly remove this nasty keylogger. In fact, a lot of the results are about how to use the keylogger and where to get it (paid or free). The only one I was able to find is a bit complicated, and it includes editing the registry, something the average user is not recommended to do, as it could lead to even more problems. There are tools out there that can help get rid of this and other nasty malwares, like Malwarebyes, Spybot, SuperAntiSpyware, but the best solution is prevention.

Just like the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. At TRA Consulting we specialize in IT Managed services geared for Small and Medium size businesses (SMB’s). We take care of all their IT needs, including but not limited to: Desktop support, server administration, Cloud Services integration, Network Administration/Security, etc.

With all the threats out there in the cyber-world, having us in your corner is one of the better decisions a growing business can do. . We have many highly satisfied customers in the Southern California area, including San Diego, Long Beach, Orange County, Southbay, and Los Angeles area. Contact us today, and let us take care of all of your computer security needs. Don’t let security threats stifle your business’s growth. Our prices are reasonable and our services are top notch. Call us today for a free consultation. At TRA Consulting, our motto is “Maximum Satisfaction, Minimum Fuss”

Beware of the Predator

As if there weren’t enough challenges for growing small and medium size businesses, there is another one to add to their list: Enterprise level malware software at affordable prices. Up to recently, the majority of Data breaches have been targeted at big corporation (Target, Staples, Home Depot, etc.), however now the targets have shifted to smaller companies due to the commercialization of similar malware/keyloggers. Predator Pain and Limitless are two keylogging malware programs that can be bought from underground markets for cheap prices and can be used to attack and spy on anyone. The majority of targets of these keylogging software has been small and medium size businesses, as shown by TrendMicro research. Even though the software can be bought for an inexpensive amount, it is not a rudimentary in its execution. It can steal web (including banking) and email credentials, as well as reconfigure the email account so that it send the victim’s emails directly to the hacker. It can also capture keystrokes and screen shots of the computer. On top of that, it will encrypt all the communications between the infected computer and the criminal’s computer.

The method that criminals use to infect the computers is usually a drive-by download or phishing. Once the computer is infected, the malware will start collecting data, keystrokes and screenshots of the computer. If you are infected with this keylogger, what can you do? Well, there is not much out there in the form of removal of this specific malware. A quick google search for “How to remove Predator Pain” reveals very little on how to properly remove this nasty keylogger. In fact, a lot of the results are about how to use the keylogger and where to get it (paid or free). The only one I was able to find is a bit complicated, and it includes editing the registry, something the average user is not recommended to do, as it could lead to even more problems. There are tools out there that can help get rid of this and other nasty malwares, like Malwarebyes, Spybot, SuperAntiSpyware, but the best solution is prevention.

Just like the saying, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. At TRA Consulting we specialize in IT Managed services geared for Small and Medium size businesses (SMB’s). We take care of all their IT needs, including but not limited to: Desktop support, server administration, Cloud Services integration, Network Administration/Security, etc.

With all the threats out there in the cyber-world, having us in your corner is one of the better decisions a growing business can do. . We have many highly satisfied customers in the Southern California area, including San Diego, Long Beach, Orange County, Southbay, and Los Angeles area. Contact us today, and let us take care of all of your computer security needs. Don’t let security threats stifle your business’s growth. Our prices are reasonable and our services are top notch. Call us today for a free consultation. At TRA Consulting, our motto is “Maximum Satisfaction, Minimum Fuss”

POODLE in the middle

Looks like the trend of security flaws in encryption protocols continues. Heartbleed, Bash Shellshock, and now POODLE. POODLE stands for Padding Oracle On Downgraded Legacy Encryption. This basically means that on encrypted HTTPS connections, applications like browsers will be forced to default down from TLS to SSL 3.0 even when the application supports all the versions of TLS. SSL 3.0 has been shown to be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks since about 15 years ago. However, many applications and servers still use it because they have not adopted the TLS standard for encryption. An example of this is Internet Explorer 6. Many servers still allow browsers to connect using SSL 3.0, like IE 6, which cannot support TLS. If servers or websites dropped connections that did not support TLS encryption, the applications that only had SSL 3.0 would be dropped as well. Even though the majority of currently browsers support TLS, there are still some people who use older browsers. Even newer browsers use the SSL 3.0 protocol as backup, and this is the mechanism that the POODLE attack uses to hack a computer. In order for a hacker to be able to listen in and intercept your private data with the POODLE attack, they have to be within the same network as you, usually in a public Wi-Fi setting, and then have to inject malicious JavaScript code in your computer from visiting a compromised website, then they can start their man-in-the-middle attack to intercept your cookies and other data.

Browsers like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox have already patched this flaw by using the mechanism of TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, which prevents the automatic fallback down to SSL 3.0. Google engineers are the ones that found the POODLE Vulnerability, which will effectively kill any future use (finally!) of SSL 3.0. Chrome will go beyond patching this vulnerability and will get rid of SSL 3.0 from their browser in the next version of the browser (good riddance!). Internet Explorer released a fixit to Even Sony is patching this on their PS3 and PS4 consoles, permanently getting rid of SSL 3.0 as a form of encryption.

There are still some servers (websites) that still rely on SSL 3.0 to authenticate with the clients, but this is slowly getting patched. Even OpenSSL (which was victim of the Hearbleed bug earlier this year) has patched their code with the included the TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV mechanism. However, the good news regarding POODLE vulnerability stop there. There is a Variant that affects TLS connections as well, but that’s a topic for another blog post.

TRA consulting not only focuses on Home Personal security, but also in SMB (Small to Medium size Businesses) security. Our goal is to provide full IT support to growing small businesses who are too small to have a full time IT staff, yet big enough that they need one. We have many highly satisfied customers in the Long Beach, Orange County, South bay, and Los Angeles area. Contact us today, and let us take care of all of your computer security needs. Our prices are reasonable and our services are top notch. Our motto is “minimum fuss, maximum satisfaction”. Call us Today!!

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