Improve internet security with these easy tips

Improve internet security with these easy tips

With over three billion internet users around the globe totaling roughly 40% of the population, the internet is rife with opportunities for hackers to steal users’ information. And with technology constantly evolving and the internet growing, it’s not likely to get safer anytime soon. It therefore pays to take extra precautions when surfing the web. We’ve compiled these three easy tips that can amp up your online security.

Tip #1: Use HTTPS

Short for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, HTTPS indicates that a website has an extra layer of security for its users. This layer encrypts data exchanged between a user’s browser and the web server that delivers the data that the user requests. To use a simpler comparison, imagine someone tapping your landline, but instead of getting to listen in on your conversations, they’ll hear people speaking in tongues instead.

In August 2014, Google Chrome, the world’s most popular browser, announced that having HTTPS makes your website rank higher in its search algorithm. And since October 2017, the browser began flagging non-HTTPS websites as not secure whenever users try to fill out something as simple as a contact form on it. In July 2018, Chrome started showing a “not secure” warning on any website that does not implement HTTPS, whether or not users are filling out a form there.

Because of Google’s measures, the security protocol has been widely adopted. Even if your website does not contain or ask for sensitive information, implementing HTTPS on it engenders trust and a sense of security among internet users, while staying left behind security-wise will make web visitors abandon or avoid you sooner or later.

Tip #2: Embrace multifactor authentication (MFA)

Since account credentials can be easily stolen via phishing attacks, username and password combos are no longer enough to keep bad actors at bay. To ensure that the one accessing an account is truly that account’s owner, additional identity authentication steps must be implemented.

These steps can involve the use of the account holder’s device — the one logging in must first verify their phone number, receive a one-time password on their smartphone, then enter that code in the access portal before the validity of the code lapses. Alternatively, MFA may ask for a face, retina, voice, or fingerprint scan for authentication. MFA can be a bit of a hassle for your internal and external users, but a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for immensely effective cybersecurity.

Tip #3: Update browsers and devices

Did you know that dated versions of browsers, operating systems (OSs), and even other software packages can create an easy entry point for hackers? Often, new updates are created specifically to fix security holes. And hackers are ever aware that people can be lazy, saving that update for another day that never seems to come. They’ll often try to take advantage of this, searching for outdated devices to infiltrate while their victims watch YouTube on last year’s version of Firefox.

Yes, installing an update might take 15 minutes of your time. But it can pay dividends in preventing a security breach that could cost you or your business thousands.

Looking for more tips to boost your internet security? Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Improve internet security with these easy tips

Why you should care about HTTPS

One basic internet security habit that everyone should remember is to avoid websites that aren’t secured with the HTTPS protocol. This is as simple as looking at your URL bar to check whether the URL string starts with “https” and whether there is a symbol of a closed padlock beside it.

HTTPS Encryption

When you visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS, which is common with older websites that have been left on its domain with minimal intervention, everything you type or click on that website is sent across the network in plain text. So, if your bank’s website doesn’t use the latest protocols, your login information can be decrypted by anyone with even the most basic tools.

HTTPS Certificates

The other thing outdated web browsing lacks is publisher certificates. When you enter a web address into your browser, your computer uses an online directory to translate that text into numerical addresses then saves that information on your computer so it doesn’t need to check the online directory every time you visit a known website.

The problem is that if your computer is hacked, it could be tricked into directing www.google.com to the address 8.8.8.255, for example, even if that’s a malicious website. Oftentimes, this strategy is implemented to send users to sites that look exactly like what they expected, but are actually false-front sites designed to trick you into providing your credentials.

HTTPS creates a new ecosystem of certificates that are issued by the online directories mentioned earlier. These certificates make it impossible for you to be redirected to a fraudulent website.

What this means for daily browsing

Most people hop from site to site too quickly to check each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, HTTPS is way too important to ignore. Here are a few things to consider when browsing:

If your browser marks a website as “unsafe”, it is always best to err on the side of caution; do not click “proceed anyway” unless you are absolutely certain nothing private will be transmitted.
There are web browser extensions that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites (HTTPS Everywhere is a reliable Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with websites).
HTTPS certificates don’t mean anything if you don’t recognize the company’s name. For example, goog1e.com (with the “l” replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy site. Many unscrupulous cybercriminals utilize similar spellings of legitimate websites to fool people into thinking that they are in a secure site. Always be vigilant.
Avoid sites that don’t use the HTTPS protocol — it can be as simple as that.

When you’re ready for IT support that handles the finer points of cybersecurity like safe web browsing, give our office a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Improve internet security with these easy tips

5 Simple but effective cybersecurity tricks

Can you name five cybersecurity best practices? Most people can’t, and few of those who can, actually follow them. Unfortunately, cyberattacks are far too common to be lax about staying safe online. Your identity could be stolen, or even worse, you could expose private information belonging to your company’s clients. There are many ways you can protect yourself, but this list is a great starting point.

1. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

This tool earns the number one spot on our list because it can keep you safe even after a hacker has stolen one of your passwords. That’s because MFA requires more than one form of identification to grant access to an account.

The most common example is a temporary code that is sent to your mobile device. Only someone with both the password and access to your smartphone will be able to log in. Almost any online account provider offers this service, and some let you require additional types of verification, such as a fingerprint or facial scan.

2. Password managers

Every online account linked to your name should have a unique password with at least 12 characters that doesn’t contain facts about you (avoid anniversary dates, pet names, etc.). Hackers have tools to guess thousands of passwords per second based on your personal details, and the first thing they do after cracking a password is to try it on other accounts.

Password manager apps create random strings of characters and let you save them in an encrypted list. You only need one complex password to log into the manager, and you’ll have easy access to all your credentials. No more memorizing long phrases, or reusing passwords!

3. Software updates

Software developers and hackers are constantly searching for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Sometimes, a developer will find one before hackers and release a proactive update to fix it. Other times, hackers find the vulnerability first and release malware to exploit it, forcing the developer to issue a reactive update as quickly as possible.

Either way, you must update all your applications as often as possible. If you are too busy, check the software settings for an automatic update option. The inconvenience of updating when you aren’t prepared to is nothing compared to the pain of a data breach.

4. Disable flash player

Adobe Flash Player is one of the most popular ways to stream media on the web, but it has such a poor security record that most experts recommend that users block the plugin on all their devices. Flash Player has been hacked thousands of times, and products from companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google regularly display reminders to turn it off. Open your web browser’s settings and look for the Plugins or Content Settings menu, then disable Adobe Flash Player.

5. HTTPS Everywhere

Just a few years ago, most websites used unencrypted connections, which meant anything you typed into a form on that site would be sent in plain text and could be intercepted with little effort. HTTPS was created to facilitate safer connections, but many sites were slow to adopt it or didn’t make it the default option.

HTTPS Everywhere is a browser extension that ensures you use an encrypted connection whenever possible and are alerted when one isn’t available on a page that requests sensitive information. It takes less than one minute and a few clicks to install it.

If you run a business with 10 or more employees, these simple tips won’t be enough to keep you safe. You’ll need a team of certified professionals that can install and manage several security solutions that work in unison. If you don’t have access to that level of expertise, our team is available to help. Give us a call today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Improve internet security with these easy tips

HTTPS matters more for Chrome

HTTPS usage on the web has taken off as Chrome has evolved its security indicators. HTTPS has now become a requirement for many new browser features, and Chrome is dedicated to making it as easy as possible to set up HTTPS. Let’s take a look at how.

For several years, Google has moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt the Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTPS) encryption. And last year, Google began marking some HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) pages as “not secure” to help users comprehend risks of unencrypted websites. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of a Chrome update, Google’s browser will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure.”

Chrome’s move was mostly brought on by increased HTTPS adoption. Eighty-one of the top 100 sites on the web default to HTTPS, and the majority of Chrome traffic is already encrypted.

Here’s how the transition to security has progressed, so far:

  • Over 68% of Chrome traffic on both Android and Windows is now protected
  • Over 78% of Chrome traffic on both Chrome OS and Mac is now protected
  • 81 of the top 100 sites on the web use HTTPS by default

HTTPS: The benefits and difference

What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS? With HTTP, information you type into a website is transmitted to the site’s owner with almost zero protection along the journey. Essentially, HTTP can establish basic web connections, but not much else.

When security is a must, HTTPS sends and receives encrypted internet data. This means that it uses a mathematical algorithm to make data unreadable to unauthorized parties.

#1 HTTPS protects a site’s integrity

HTTPS encryption protects the channel between your browser and the website you’re visiting, ensuring no one can tamper with the traffic or spy on what you’re doing.

Without encryption, someone with access to your router or internet service provider (ISP) could intercept (or hack) information sent to websites or inject malware into otherwise legitimate pages.

#2 HTTPS protects the privacy of your users

HTTPS prevents intruders from eavesdropping on communications between websites and their visitors. One common misconception about HTTPS is that only websites that handle sensitive communications need it. In reality, every unprotected HTTP request can reveal information about the behaviors and identities of users.  

#3 HTTPS is the future of the web

HTTPS has become much easier to implement thanks to services that automate the conversion process, such as Let’s Encrypt and Google’s Lighthouse program. These tools make it easier for website owners to adopt HTTPS.

Chrome’s new notifications will help users understand that HTTP sites are less secure, and move the web toward a secure HTTPS web by default. HTTPS is easier to adopt than ever before, and it unlocks both performance improvements and powerful new features that aren’t possible with HTTP.

How can small-business owners implement and take advantage of this new interface? Call today for a quick chat with one of our experts to get started.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Improve internet security with these easy tips

HTTPS is something to care about

For all the time we spend discussing the complexity of internet security, there are a few simple things you can do. Avoiding websites that aren’t secured with the HTTPS protocol is one of them. It’s a habit that can be developed with a better understanding of what the padlock icon in your web browser’s address bar represents.

HTTPS Encryption

Older web protocols lack data encryption. When you visit a website that doesn’t use HTTPS, everything you type or click on that website is sent across the network in plain text. So, if your bank’s website doesn’t use the latest protocols, your login information can be intercepted by anyone with the right tools.

HTTPS Certificates

The second thing outdated web browsing lacks is publisher certificates. When you enter a web address into your browser, your computer uses an online directory to translate that text into numerical addresses (e.g., www.google.com = 8.8.8.8) then saves that information on your computer so it doesn’t need to check the online directory every time you visit a known website.

The problem is, if your computer is hacked it could be tricked into directing www.google.com to 8.8.8.255, even if that’s a malicious website. Oftentimes, this strategy is implemented to send users to sites that look exactly like what they expected, but are actually false-front sites designed to trick you into providing your credentials.

HTTPS created a new ecosystem of certificates that are issued by the online directories mentioned earlier. These certificates make it impossible for you to be redirected to a false-front website.

What this means for daily browsing

Most people hop from site to site too quickly to check each one for padlocks and certificates. Unfortunately, HTTPS is way too important to ignore. Here are a few things to consider when browsing:

  • If your browser marks a website as “unsafe” do not click “proceed anyway” unless you are absolutely certain nothing private will be transmitted.
  • There are web browser extensions that create encrypted connections to unencrypted websites (HTTPS Everywhere is great for Chrome and Firefox).
  • HTTPS certificates don’t mean anything if you don’t recognize the company’s name. For example, goog1e.com (with the ‘l’ replaced with a one) could have a certificate, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trustworthy site.

Avoiding sites that don’t use the HTTPS protocol is just one of many things you need to do to stay safe when browsing the internet. When you’re ready for IT support that handles the finer points of cybersecurity like safe web browsing, give our office a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.