Computer & Network Security

How To Check A Sketchy Link Without Clicking It

Let’s say you’re working through your dozens of emails, responding to clients or customers or business partners and you come across this one email from your bank informing you that you need to reset your password. This email comes completely out of the blue and to top it off you don’t recognize the senders email address. Do you click it?

Maybe…maybe not.

Did you know that you can investigate if that link is sketchy or not without clicking on it?

When it comes to hyperlinks, sometime’s it’s really obvious it’s sketchy, but other times, in the case of look-a-like domains, it can actually be a bit tricky.

Here are a few things that make a link sketchy, when visibly looking at it.

  • Links that end in uncommon top level domains (TLD). Because the cost to purchase domains within these TLDs are pretty inexpensive, they are very frequently used for spamming and malicious activity. Aside from which is a web site owned by Google’s parent Alphabet I don’t know of any legit domains with these TLDs.

    • Commonly used for spamming/nefarious activity:
      • .xyz
      • .buzz
      • .live
      • .fit
      • .tk
  • Links that are knock-offs (known as look-a-like domains) of major brands. These are popular because the domain closely resembles that of real brands domains. Depending on how the URL looks in your browser and if you’re on a mobile device or on your computer, you may or may not be able to spot these very easily.

    • Examples:
      • netflix-mail[.]com
      • t-mogbile[.]com
      • googlre[.]com

      Note, these domains may or may not be valid at the time of you reading this

  • Links that contain random numbers and/or letters. These are pretty obvious. Not all are malicious, however, anytime I see a url like this I immediatly get suspicious. It’s not a trustworthy link in my opinion and should be investigated further.

    • Examples:
      • eqbqcguiwcymao[.]info

There is definitely no shortage of URL and website scanners out there. I’ve tried dozens of them. None of them seem as good to me as URLscan. It’s fast, extremely detailed, provides a live screenshot and it allows you to link out to other scans to check them as well.

URLScan –

My go-to move with any sketchy links is to pop them into URLScan and see what comes up. To do that, just head on over to Then just simply copy and paste the link you want to scan into the scan field. Once there you can also click Options and make your scan Private, which sometimes is nice to do, since Public scans will show up on the front page and in searches.

Now that you have your link pasted in, click Scan! Once URLScan is finished checking your link, doing it’s analysis and fingerprinting, it will bring you to a results page that looks something like this.

Note, this is an example results page of a known malicious site.

1. Live Screenshot. This allows you to visibly see if there might be anything weird going on with the site. This is good for sniffing out things like misspelled words on login pages.

2. Google Safe Browsing rating. This is a nice quick view of if the website is safe or potentially nefarious.

3. Lookup the URL with other scanners. The lookup tab allows you to pick any of a number of other website scanners. This can help you glean additional information about the site you’re scanning in case you’re still not sure about it.

Caution when Clicking

It’s a bit cliche by now but, think before you click! It only takes a few minutes to pause, copy and paste the link into URLScan and check it out first before clicking.

If you’re at work and have an IT Department or Security Team, send it over to them and ask them to investigate it for you. It’s better to wait 10 minutes to get a link checked out than spend 10 weeks recovering from a security incident.

Additional Information

I did some googling on this topic and found some good articles related to suspcious and or malicious domains. The articles below go into much more detail on TLDs and their use for malicious or spammy activity. If you’re into the technical nitty gritty these would be great reads.

Computer & Network Security

Endpoint Detection and Response: Monitor and Mitigate Your Cyber Threat Environment

There’s one lasting cybersecurity misconception that’s misled many: that perimeter security is sufficient in itself. 

While preventing attacks using tools like anti-malware, access management, anti-phishing training, and SIEM are effective, they’re ultimately insufficient on their own. Endpoint protection and monitoring (EDR), paired with managed detection and response (MDR), provides the missing element here, pairing prevention (EDR) with response (MDR) to curtail any attempted intrusion before serious damage is done.

To make matters worse, threats have risen 400 percent since before the coronavirus—with a 40 percent growth in ransomware specifically. What’s more, the explosive growth of workers performing their jobs at home has greatly expanded attack surfaces. Here, we’ll delve into endpoint protection and response, its place in modern cybersecurity, and the benefits it supplies.

Why EDR is Relevant to Today’s Threat Landscape

Much of the internet and IT technology was not designed with security in mind. As such, security approaches are enormously varied, often unsophisticated, and rely on mistaken assumptions about today’s threat landscape.

Case-in-point is the industry’s overwhelming reliance on perimeter security or network security, often referred to as the castle-and-moat approach. The thinking is simple, use a few different technologies like firewalls, anti-malware applications, and other security tools to prevent each potential attack vector.

There’s no such thing as perfect defense against an unknowable threat landscape. Each year, organizations face a roughly a 50/50 chance of experiencing a cybersecurity incident. Between malware, ransomware, advanced attacks, insider attacks, and social engineering attacks, such incidents occur so often they’re almost predictable.

Social engineering attacks are a good example. Approximately 91% of data breaches start with a phishing email, according to a Deloitte study. One might assume that effective education and training could prevent most social engineering attack attempts. However, such attacks are incredibly sophisticated, often taking the form of a court notice, IRS refund, fax notices, and are successful through repetition. Falling prey may be a statistical likelihood.

In test attacks from cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies, a whopping 17 percent of employees fell for the fake scam (Done with permissions from leadership). Among those: 25 percent of managers, and 3 percent of security personnel.

While EDR itself can’t prevent an employee from an ill-advised disclosure of data to a phishing email, their later activity in the system—in elevating their privileges and moving across their system—would be visible to effective EDR.

What’s more, EDR serves another important function: reducing the crucial time period between network penetration and the discovery of compromise. Currently, companies take an average of 197 days before discovering an intrusion, according to a Ponemon study. Reducing discovery time can significantly decrease the cost of containment.

Given the extremely high volume of these attacks and the predictability with which they occur, then it follows that cybersecurity must not only prevent attacks but also focus on responding swiftly by containing or removing any such vulnerabilities.

How Endpoint Detection & Response Works

EDR complements typical network security by adding visibility in activity occurring on endpoints, analyzing the resulting data for signs of malicious activity or compromise, and issuing automated responses that contain or remove threats, and alert administrators.

Note that the added responsibility and technical sophistication necessary for effective EDR may be too much for many IT departments. That’s why managed detection and response, a service provided by many cybersecurity managed service providers, may be necessary to cover these responsibilities, 24/7 monitoring, and any necessary maintenance. Together, EDR and MDR combine to form a comprehensive incident response program.

Personal Devices in the Workplace Are On The Rise

The explosion in personal devices in the workplace forms one of the most pressing security concerns today. Approximately 90 percent of US employees use their smartphones at work, while 50 percent of companies with permissive personal devices usage policies had such devices breached, according to Trend Micro.

Given their enormous cost savings benefit and their preferred status amongst workers, this is unlikely to change. Still, this growth means business networks are hosting a high volume of endpoints that aren’t likely to be secure.

Popular operating systems, whether we’re talking about Windows, MacOs, IOS, Android, or others, rest on a foundation of insecure code and contain a wealth of vulnerabilities to boot. Also, the software they run may not be secure, and they’re easily able to download malicious resources from the web.

If such devices can be manipulated and controlled by hackers, either directly or through malware, one can’t assume trustworthiness. Attackers depend upon this weakness and use it to escalate their privileges to gain access to the resources they’re after.

Endpoint protection’s deep visibility shows which user owns the endpoint, the location in which it’s currently being used, any applications running on it, and any content it’s creating.

EDR greatly minimizes that risk, ensuring that, if and when a cybersecurity event occurs, it can be quickly shut down, through deletion, containment, and rapid notification of relevant personnel.

This is crucial as it currently takes organizations an average of 197 days to identify a breach and another 69 to contain.

Continuous Monitoring and Forensic Analytics

As we mentioned up top, perhaps the most transformative aspect of endpoint services is the greater visibility they lend to endpoint activity.

For instance, EDR can validate that packets coming from an endpoint have been created by a legitimate application. It can also monitor the file integrity of key resources, which are automatically flagged in the case of improper access to secure files and theft of sensitive data.

What’s more, this monitoring is continuous, meaning EDR is always on the hunt for signs of compromise, recording, and storing all related data.

The latter is essential in providing usable forensic data that can help security professionals understand circumstances surrounding any attack, and thus how to prevent the next one. Such investigations could uncover patterns of behavior behind such threats to predict future ones.

Real-time monitoring leverages file integrity monitoring of key data, applications, and devices to find compromise. This includes activities like changes to a malware-related registry, improper access to secured files, and sensitive data theft. EDR is also capable of monitoring critical system events like startups and shutdowns, license changes, hard disk failures, and changes to the systems clock. And with automated policy enforcement, any such event can be rapidly contained.

Single Source for Endpoint Management

The unprecedented visibility that EDR extends is crucial; users will find that having a centralized location to monitor network endpoints is immensely valuable and educational.

From here, policies can be set and automatically enforced. Historical data across each endpoint can be investigated, which can uncover routes to penetration not previously considered; every endpoint, affected user, and step in the hacking process.

Since EDR systems are tasked with monitoring all devices within a network, they’re often much easier to integrate into network infrastructure. Many EDR solutions are compatible with a wide range of security tools, allowing endpoint data to be analyzed alongside other security network data.

This accessibility is further enhanced by the simplicity and ease of use of many modern endpoint solutions. Drag-and-drop interfaces and easy-to-read analytics make them layperson-friendly—crucial if they’re to be understood by stakeholders.

Perhaps the most compelling, and necessary, component of an EDR solution is its ability to be remotely managed by cyber security professionals.

EDR remote management options allow trained and certified experts to monitor network activity, flag and respond to anomalous activity, and stop cyber attacks that would otherwise compromise your organization. Having experienced and trained security professionals on your side is a superior alternative to installing a piece of software and hoping the built-in software is sufficiently up-to-date and nuanced enough to effectively identify and respond to threats.

Where to Go From Here

The combination of endpoint monitoring with traditional network security gives organizations an unprecedented and holistic view of their organization’s threat surface—and the once-invisible activity occurring on it.

At SecurIT360, we are a team of skilled cyber security professionals that can partner with your organization to provide an EDR solution that is customized to protect your business, its data, and your bottom line. EDR can integrate with minimal lift from your team or changes to your existing security architecture.

Oh, and if you’re curious: the proper way to respond to a cybersecurity incident.

SecurIT360 is a managed services provider proficient in monitoring and incident response, assessments and penetration testing, compliance, and general cybersecurity consulting. Contact us to learn more.

Computer & Network Security

Artificial Intelligence Advancements In Healthcare: The Needed Next Level of Cyber Security

How is Artificial Intelligence being used in healthcare?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is having a dramatic effect on the healthcare sector. At its core, artificial intelligence seeks to mimic the unique processing capacity of the human brain. Using algorithms, pattern matching, deep learning, cognitive computing, and heuristics, AI is able to quickly sort through masses of raw data. This is incredibly helpful in the medical field. In addition to the millions of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) at the center of our healthcare system, medical practitioners must also incorporate data from studies, data from testing, and past patient records when diagnosing and treating a case. AI can use predictive models to find irregularities or similarities in raw data that doesn’t have to be pre-sorted. This helps doctors improve diagnosis accuracy, patient care, and outcomes. AI’s ability to find meaningful relationships in data is being used as a powerful tool to aid in drug development as well as patient monitoring and treatment plans. Artificial Intelligence is becoming more common in many parts of the healthcare system, and it is estimated that $36.8 billion will be invested in AI systems across the US by 2025. AI is poised to be the main force that drives improvement across the healthcare industry.

Why is this a big deal?

Artificial Intelligence will be the engine of change by organizing masses of data and giving relevance to data points, which will ultimately improve reliability and objectivity in diagnoses. AI will provide context for patient data more quickly than ever before, allowing doctors to identify and treat diseases accurately, minimizing misdiagnosis and lowering the mortality rate. In addition, the costs for drug development will be lower, as we will more accurately be able to predict the drugs’ effects in certain patients. This all leads to an increase in doctors’ facetime with patients. They become freed from analyzing mountains of data and more able to focus on care and healing.

What concerns with cybersecurity arise when using AI?

When we open up patient records to artificial intelligence, we are opening up our systems to outside attacks. With sensitive information at risk, healthcare providers must be very careful that their rate of system upgrade does not outpace their security improvements. Installing new systems that sort sensitive patient data must be tested from all endpoints to ensure there are no flaws or vulnerabilities to attack. AI dramatically increases the complexity of assessing security threats. These new systems could be a point of entry for malware that will be difficult for systems designed to monitor human behavior to detect. 

What upgrades in cybersecurity are necessary to protect against these concerns?

Greater use of AI in healthcare systems means that we need greater use of AI in cybersecurity software to match it. Our main protection will be anomaly detection. This will mean installing these detection programs across all endpoints in the system. Anomaly detection works in the same way that the AI identifies meaningful relationships in patient data. It monitors the system and senses potential threats whenever there is unusual behavior. Anomaly detection can do more than discover malware within a system. It can also identify where the cyber attacks are coming from and what kind of attacks being perpetrated. Predictive analytics for malware detection can also stop problems before they start. These analytics can identify suspicious files and prevent them from opening, stopping problems before they start. Properly planned and configured, these new cyber security measures act like the immune system for a healthcare company. 

What are the challenges in implementing new AI/Cyber Security Procedures in healthcare systems?

Establishing new and heightened security procedures require behavior monitoring, to make sure users are complying with new systems. While some users may think that increased security measures are intrusive at first, compliance is paramount. When cybersecurity systems are implemented without factoring in the human element and allowing time for training, it can often lead to users falling back on unauthorized apps and outdated but familiar systems. These non-sanctioned entrances into the system leave it vulnerable to a breach. There are human users in your system in addition to AI, and it can take time and planning to make sure your innovations don’t outpace your cyber security procedures. A coordinated strategy that considers both human and artificial intelligence creates a healthcare system that is more accurate, faster, and cheaper for patient treatment.

Want to know more about how you can ensure your company is secure? Contact us!

Computer & Network Security

An Argument for Increased Focus on Data Backups

The necessity for backups has always existed, but the reason for backing up has changed significantly in recent years. Today, backing up data is just as important for cyber security reasons as it ever has been for disaster recovery. But our architecture must be rethought with this new emphasis.

When did we start conducting data backups?

A long time ago–in a galaxy far, far away…–backups we’re theoretically designed to mitigate against the risk of a disaster: fire, flooding, equipment failure etc. In reality, they were used primarily to correct bad decisions (we updated the server and it crashed, now we must go back to the previous version). A long standing practice of any IT change process I have been a part of has been “Back it up before you do that.” With the prevalence of virtual machines and the ease of taking a “snapshot,” back ups became very easy to do. Software and converged infrastructure have also made this increasingly robust and convenient as well.

However, with convenience comes a price. Many of our backup systems are on shared storage. We back up to the same place logically that our files are stored. And this is the underlying fallacy in our new cyber security reality. Our backups used to go to tape and get stored off-site. A return to this complexity needs to occur.

Backup Best Practices

Backups need to be on a completely separate storage volume that is not accessible to anyone or any bot, except that backup software. The credentials need to have strict complexity and policy to prevent access. Traffic should only be initiated from the backup network to the backup target and no traffic allowed to be initiated from the client network. Additionally, this information needs to be taken offline with regularity, removing it from the network.

Data Backup Illustration
Data Backup Best Practices

Here’s a scenario: Organization X is performing backups and test restores according to their risk management profile. Some info is backed up daily, some hourly. Everyone is happy with the results. Suddenly, ransomware attacks the network and begins encrypting any data that is exposed, including backup files on a shared drive. This renders the backups useless for recovery from this attack.

Finally, this needs to be an executive level discussion. If you were the CEO of an organization, you would immediately be informed if the network was “down.” Being operational and ensuring your employees are productive is the most important piece of information you can receive from your IT team. The second most important piece of information should be “the backup process didn’t work last night.” The amount of risk this puts you in, potentially having to replace work from an entire day or longer, should be a risk you are aware of and constantly guarding against.

Computer & Network Security

Have You Switched to Microsoft Advanced Security Auditing Yet?

Stop waiting.

Nothing is more critical during a security investigation (incident response, or “IR”) than the quality of the information coming from your log sources. During a recent incident, progress stopped due to insufficient auditing settings. The IR closed with inconclusive findings and a remediation project to standardize and enable Microsoft Advanced Security Auditing. Microsoft released Advanced Security Auditing with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008. After 12 years, I still see environments that have not configured it. In today’s threat landscape, most businesses are one incident from regretting it.

What is Advanced Security Auditing?

Here is an explanation from Microsoft:

“Security auditing is a methodical examination and review of activities that may affect the security of a system. In the Windows operating systems, the definition of security auditing is the features and services that enable an administrator to log and review events for specified security-related activities.

Hundreds of events occur as the Windows operating system and the applications that run on it perform their tasks. Monitoring these events can provide valuable information to help administrators troubleshoot and investigate security-related activities.”

Microsoft goes on to explain the difference between audit policies located in “Local Policies\Audit” and in the Advanced Audit Policy Configuration:

The basic security audit policy settings in Security Settings\Local Policies\Audit Policy and the advanced security audit policy settings in Security Settings\Advanced Audit Policy Configuration\System Audit Policies appear to overlap, but they are recorded and applied differently. When you apply basic audit policy settings to the local computer by using the Local Security Policy snap-in (secpol.msc), you are editing the effective audit policy, so changes made to basic audit policy settings will appear exactly as configured in Auditpol.exe.

There are a number of additional differences between the security audit policy settings in these two locations.

There are nine basic audit policy settings under Security Settings\Local Policies\Audit Policy and settings under Advanced Audit Policy Configuration. The settings available in Security Settings\Advanced Audit Policy Configuration address similar issues as the nine basic settings in Local Policies\Audit Policy, but they allow administrators to be more selective in the number and types of events to audit.

Image of a Local Audit Policy

For example, the basic audit policy provides a single setting for account logon, and the advanced audit policy provides four. Enabling the single basic account logon setting would be the equivalent of setting all four advanced account logon settings. In comparison, setting a single advanced audit policy setting does not generate audit events for activities that you are not interested in tracking.

In addition, if you enable success auditing for the basic Audit account logon events setting, only success events will be logged for all account logon–related behaviors. In comparison, depending on the needs of your organization, you can configure success auditing for one advanced account logon setting, failure auditing for a second advanced account logon setting, success and failure auditing for a third advanced account logon setting, or no auditing.”

Image of Microsoft’s Advanced Audit Policy Configuration

What does this mean for my organization?

Where possible, SecurIT360 recommends implementing Microsoft Advanced Security Auditing at the domain level. This, in combination, with Event Log Policies force retaining security log information as long as possible on all machines.

SecurIT360 has teamed up with the Center for Internet Security to establish best practice settings. These settings can be the difference between an IR that ends with a conclusion vs. an IR that ends inconclusively.

For more information on how SecurIT360 can assist you with Security Monitoring, Auditing, Managed Detection and Response Services, and Endpoint Detection and response, contact us.


Computer & Network Security

Everything you wanted to know about Ransomware…but were afraid to ask

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that prevents users from accessing their computer system or files until a sum of money (ransom) is paid. In the malware landscape, ransomware has earned itself a well-deserved nasty reputation.

There are two types of ransomware identified in this branch of the malware family tree; 1) locker ransomware and 2) crypto ransomware

Locker ransomware effectively locks Windows access preventing the user from accessing their desktop or files. Typically designed to prevent access to one’s computer interface, Locker ransomware mostly leaves the underlying system and files unaltered.  A message would be displayed on the screen with instructions on how to regain access to the files. Winlocker is an example of this type of ransomware.

Crypto ransomware was designed to prevent access to specific, valuable data by encrypting the files using strong, public-key encryption. After performing the encryption, the bad actor would demand payment in exchange for a key that could be used to decrypt the files. Examples of this type of ransomware include Cryptolocker and CryptoWall among others.

Ransomware History

Modern crypto ransomware variants didn’t really come into the forefront of cybersecurity until around 2005. However, would you believe the first of this type was seen in 1989? The AIDS Trojan was identified in 1989 in England, making it the first of its kind. Also known as PC Cyborg Trojan it was propagated by mail…that’s right, no ‘e’. The creator of the virus, Dr. Joseph Popp snail-mailed some 20K diskettes through physical postage to victims under the guise of supplying AIDS research information.

The malware would replace the AUTEXEC.BAT file when the diskette was inserted into the user’s disk drive. The altered BAT file would track the number of times the computer was rebooted.  When the boot count reached 90 a splash screen informed the user of their situation; “Unless you pay me $$ you will not get your files back”. The virus worked by encrypting filenames. Relatively primitive in design it nonetheless rendered the files unusable. It didn’t take long for security researchers to reverse engineer the code and give users the ability to unlock their files.

The AIDS Trojan established the ransomware threat in 1989 but this type of malware wasn’t widely used in cybercrime until many years later. Jump forward to 2005 to see the accelerated acceptance and use of ransomware by criminal enterprises and bad actors.

Evolution of Ransomware
Ransomware in today’s threat landscape is affecting users worldwide. Different variants have evolved over the years. Driven by criminal enterprises who have seen the opportunity for financial gain, this family of malware has seen a dramatic increase in use over the last 15 years. Other direct revenues generating risks in the digital age include misleading apps and fake anti-virus.

Misleading Applications

Some of the early manifestations of revenue generating malware were called “misleading applications” and “fake anti-virus”. The first wave of these types of malware was identified around 2005.

Misleading applications intentionally misrepresent the security status of a user’s system. Fake anti-virus programs attempt to convince the user to purchase software to remove non-existent malware or security risks from the computer. Pop-up Ads would be presented to users while browsing, usually from sites which had been compromised. The ads posed as spyware removal tools, system performance optimizers or anti-virus solutions.

The ads would exaggerate the condition of the system or the impact of a discovered “threat”. The offer was to fix these issues for a small license fee. As a rule, there were no actual threats or issues and even if the user paid the extortion fee nothing was changed on their system.

These were not ransomware by the strict definition but nonetheless, they exploited a user’s lack of security awareness and fear.SpywareClear, ImproveSpeedPC, SpySherriff, and RegistryCare are early examples of this type of malware.

Locker and Crypto Ransomware

Around 2008 the attack methodology shifted from fake anti-virus to a more troublesome form of revenue generating malware. Enter the Locker Ransomware family of malware. Now, cybercriminals disabled access and control of a user’s computer, effectively holding the system hostage until payment is made.

Not only did the cybercriminals increase the impact to the user’s system with lockerware they also increased the dollar amounts they were demanding. Additionally, as the use of locker ransomware gained popularity (its use peaked around 2011 and 2012) it shifted from just reporting non-existent issues or errors to actually taking control of access to the computer.

2013 brought the next step in the malware evolution; crypto ransomware. This was the year that the first variant of CryptoLocker was identified and with it a came a new mechanic to the ransomware modus operandi; asymmetric encryption.

As was discussed earlier, locker ransomware changed access controls and prevented a user from accessing the data. This meant that the data was still on the system in a readable format but a user could not access it through the OS.  Crypto ransomware differed in that it actually rendered the data unreadable by using encryption techniques. The user still had logical access to the data files but could not read them.

CryptoLocker was a hugely successful but short-lived variant in this malware family. The original CryptoLocker botnet that controlled it was shut down in the middle of 2014. However, it was reported that hackers successfully extorted nearly $3 million USD before being shut down.

The old saying “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” very appropriately describes cybercriminal activity in the crypto ransomware field subsequent to CryptoLocker.  Since its launch, cybercriminals have widely mimicked and copied the CryptoLocker approach. So much so that the Cryptolocker name has become synonymous with ransomware.

Ransomware – What Lies Ahead

Ransomware is a constantly evolving threat. It is difficult to predict the direction ransomware will head in the coming years. The threat landscape is continually changing with cybercriminals always looking for new methods and vectors in which to generate revenue. The ransomware concept has matured to a healthy level so much so that “Ransomware as a Service” is an identifiable vertical in the cybersecurity theater.

The battle against ransomware is a major task that requires everyone’s participation. Engineers and production designers creating new technologies or products will need to embed security into their creation process by considering use cases that could be leveraged for malicious intent. End users will need to stay vigilant and utilize basic security best practices to help protect their data. Security awareness needs to be emphasized to end users to help them avoid clicking on malicious links and making sure their systems and software are appropriately patched.

One of the most important (and underemphasized) mitigation strategies that you can do to protect yourself and your data is making backups. At the least, backup the data that is important to you and do it on a regular basis.

Ransomware Solutions

There is no bullet-proof solution when it comes to cybersecurity.   Security is a process, not a product.  Knowledge is a powerful weapon in the fight against cybercriminals. This knowledge can be gained by both individual research and professional consultation. While reading up on ransomware and cybersecurity will increase your awareness of threats and help you better understand how to recognize and avoid future attacks, a consultation with SecurIT360 can provide valuable tools to take your cybersecurity strategy to the next level.

If you would like to learn more about how you can protect your corporate data, please click here to contact us. SecurIT360 provides audits, assessments, and analysis of systems and operations across multiple industries including legal, financial, utilities, and healthcare.  Let us help you determine where you should spend your time and money protecting your information.

Computer & Network Security

Do you really need a smart toaster?

Even though you CAN buy it, you need to ask yourself if you really SHOULD you buy that Internet-connected appliance……..

Very few people would seriously consider this question before purchasing a brand new appliance or item that has all sorts of nifty and exciting ‘up-sell’ features, such as network or direct Internet-connectivity.

But for those of us who work in the computer and network security fields, this question is neither academic nor trivial.

It’s easy to understand why Internet-connected gadgets are tempting. Who wouldn’t want a dog collar with a GPS in it, in case Fido runs away? Who would turn down a tracking unit you could put in your child’s backpack in case they get lost or something more sinister happens? And who wouldn’t find some convenience in a video-capable home security system that was able to be monitored while you were at work?

The problem is that the security of these gadgets is questionable at best. Multinational, experienced software companies, such as Microsoft and Apple, have entire divisions devoted to securing their software and hardware, and yet potential and actual compromises are announced almost on a weekly basis. Most corporations have IT security teams who monitor and test systems on a regular basis but we read about corporate breaches almost daily.

In light of those observations, can we really trust the manufacturing company that creates a product that allows you to keep track of your child or pet via an Internet-based website? How do we know they’re performing due diligence to keep the location of your child safe? How can you be assured that a potential burglar isn’t watching for the next time you kennel your pets, giving them a good idea when you’re out of town? And who’s monitoring the log data to be sure that your home security system wasn’t shut down remotely for a brief period today and then reactivated? Or who’s making sure that your “private” video feed into your house isn’t quite so private after all?

Sometimes it pays to be a little paranoid and cautious. When purchasing a product with a network connection, do some due diligence. First, ask yourself if you really need it. Is it going to simplify your life or bring a reward that’s worth the risk? Second, do a little research. Find manufacturers with a proven track record or maybe those who have partnered with a security-conscious company. And above all, be careful. Be aware of what you have and practice common sense security precautions – change passwords, watch for anomalous behavior, and review and apply software updates.