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Computer Hacking Methods and Protection

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Protecting your computer against hacking is different from protecting it against viruses that you accidentally or unknowingly invite into your computer that then cause damage in one form or another. Anti-hack is about protecting your computer against external entities that are deliberately trying to get into your computer to cause damage and to steal from you – or cause damage. Viruses are impersonal and hacking is personal.

Anti-Hack software is now out there for sale in addition to anti-virus software. These products protect you in ways that anti-virus software does not. Following are some examples.

DoS (Denial of Service) Attacks:

DoS attacks occur when too much traffic is directed to your company website at once. The web server essentially ‘chokes’ on the amount of traffic trying to squeeze into it’s network hardware. Attack scripts are easily downloadable and you do not need to be an experienced engineer to launch an attack. Upset customers seeking some sort of revenge or disruption, competitors interrupting your site, or these days, as in the recent major hospital attacks, the trend is to hold your web site hostage until some ransom is paid or some demand met. “Ransomeware” is a relatively new term, but it is gaining a lot of visibility in recent times.

SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) Attacks:

Akamai’s Prolexic Security Engineering and Response Team (PLXsert) recently issued a threat advisory warning of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks abusing the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) interface. PLXsert SNMP DDoS attack campaigns target various industries including consumer products, gaming, hosting, nonprofits, and software-as-a-service, mainly in the US (49.9%) and China (18.49%). The attackers used an online tool posted by the hacker group ‘Team Poison’. This latest wave of attacks targets devices running SNMP which by default is open to the public Internet unless that feature is manually disabled. Anti-hack software is now being created that help prevent SNMP attacks such as this by preventing the attacker from forcing network switching to secondary gateways.

SYN/AWK Attacks:

This is a little complex but basically, a SYN flood attack is similar to a Denial of Service attack in that there is request made to the web server that ties up its resources and makes it unavailable to other connections. When a computer or web browser tries to connect to a web site, what’s called a 3-way handshake is used to establish the connection between the two computers. In a SYN/AWK Flood attack, the computer offers its hand (1-way), the server reaches out to meet it (2-way) but the offered hand is quickly withdrawn. The server waits for the hand to come back until it ‘times-out’ and then the cycle repeats millions of times. The 3-way handshake is never established and all other connections are refused while this is happening.

USB Auto-Run Attacks:

By default, Windows runs any executable, program, or script on a USB drive the second it is inserted into any computer or laptop. This means that anyone* with unauthorized code, like a virus or a key-logger or backdoor program – all of which are easily downloadable – can walk past any computer in your building, insert the USB drive for just a second or two, and take control of your entire business without you knowing about it. Anti-virus software knows this and will try to block known vulnerabilities, but what about the unknown ones that were created this morning?

*I want to get them thinking locally here too. Friends could do it, your wife could do it, your kids could do it, the babysitter, your priest, etc…

Remote Connections:

Here’s a test; right-click on My Computer and select the Remote tab, or, in Windows 8, right-click This Computer and click the ‘Remote Settings’ link on the left side of the System panel that opened. Is ‘Allow Remote Assistance connections to this computer’ checked? Click the Advanced button and you will see how far this goes and how easy it is for your computer to allow others to connect to it. You can actually allow others to take complete control of your system.

This was designed for a helpdesk in a major corporation to connect quickly and easily without a lot of authentication fuss. The average home, school, and SOHO system is obviously not on a corporate helpdesk so closing these interoperability ‘features’ will help protect your system against external intrusion. If you ever need them back on, you can explicitly turn them back on. But we don’t believe they should be on by default. Neither does the NIST, the USAF, The DoHS, or even the NSA. Check for the current settings on your computer – then update if necessary – I’ll bet you find that this setting is on, allowing remote control to externals.

Microsoft Program Inventory:

In Windows 7, Microsoft quietly introduced a feature they call ‘Program Inventory’. A direct quote from Microsoft states: “The PDU inventories programs and files on the system and sends information about those files to Microsoft”. Not only are you constantly sending information about every installed program on your machine, but also information about every single file that a program can open. Read that quote again: Microsoft ‘inventories all of the programs and files on your system’ and they admit it somewhere buried in the guts of the operating system.

But they didn’t tell you before they implemented it. You would be shocked at what they are doing with Windows 8 and especially the new and free upgrade to Windows 10. How on Earth could you have a sustainable business model giving away your main product unless there was some massive reward for doing so. Your information is most likely that reward. Find this window in your system settings to turn off the feature if you wish to protect the privacy of your information.

Conclusion

While no system can be completely 100% secure in today’s rapidly changing computer threat landscape, there is absolutely no reason to give intruders a helping hand. Easy-connection and interoperability features and settings need to be switched off by the dozens. The goal is to make it more difficult for intruders, much more difficult, rather than to continue to have operating systems with hundreds of open doors, windows, and step-ladders into private areas just waiting to be exploited.

Windows 10 is particularly vulnerable and there are many settings you should be considering turning off to protect yourself further so be sure to learn more about this – there are many video guides for doing this available on YouTube today.

In summary, there is a definite reason why hacking is on the rise globally. People have realized just how easy it is now to gain control of your computer – and they are doing it.

The History of Social Media Since 1994

Friday, September 15th, 2017

The story and history of Social Media
The history of social media is an important milestone for business and websites. Social networking may seem like a fairly new marvel on the Internet with Twitter and Facebook being the two most popular, but in reality, social is not and never was just devised of these two platforms. In fact, Facebook and Twitter were rolled out nearly thirty years after social started on the Internet. It’s true that it was not until 2004 and 2006 when Facebook and Twitter kicked off that social media started to change the world and the way that people communicate online, but the truth is that social media started with email, usenet, the world wide web, blogs and AOL instant messenger. The history of the Internet is the history of social networking.

Social Media History
The phenomena of social networking blossomed in 1994 with the creation of Geocities, which allowed its users to setup websites modeled after certain urban areas. At that time, more than 1,500 web servers were online in 1994 and people were referring to the Internet as the Information Superhighway.

  • In 1971, a government organization called ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) sent the first email.
  • In 1980, Usenet worldwide distributed Internet discussion system was launched and with it, thousands flocked to the message boards to discuss music, science, literature and sports.

These two events signal the dawn of social networking.

What do people do with social media?

  • Posting and sharing
  • Reading and viewing
  • Linking and commenting
  • Interacting with brands
  • Interacting with fan pages
  • Playing games
  • Chatting and messaging

What is social?

  • It’s huge. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated in the world, behind only China and India.
  • The amount of video uploaded to YouTube every minute is more than 24 hours (double from the year prior).
  • The number of YouTube videos viewed per day is over 2 billion (double from the year prior).
  • The number of images hosted on Flickr is over 4 billion (that is 13 times more than the Library of Congress).
  • The number of companies using LinkedIn to find and attract employees is 95%.
  • The number of marriages last year between people who met through social media is 1 in 6, which is twice as many people who met in bars, clubs and other social events.
  • The average number of tweets per day on Twitter is over 27 million (that is 8 time more than the year prior)..

Who is social?
More than half of the human race is under the age of 30. So if you want to a sense of where the world’s media habits are headed, it makes sense to watch what kids are doing.

Reaching customers
Social media is the best way to reach your most influential customers, and the only way to reach your most cynical ones. Social media is the crack cocaine of the Internet. We want it, we need it, and we go through withdraw when we don’t have it.

The future of business and social
Social media is a way of thinking. It’s not about sales or ads or click-through rates. It’s about pursuing relationships and fostering communities of consumers. Businesses that wish to grow need to rethink their entire business marketing process. Social requires businesses to make plans because with social, customers are in the center and they are in control.

Level the playing field
Social media is dramatically leveling the playing field and connecting us like never before. So, forget your brand. You don’t own it. You can spend all sorts of time and money trying to manufacture public opinion, but ultimately it’s up to the public.

Social media is redefining everything.

  • How we work
  • How we play
  • How we learn
  • How we share
  • How we discover
  • How we create
  • How we complain
  • How we celebrate
  • How we mourn
  • How we applaud
  • How we influence
  • How we collaborate
  • How we investigate
  • How we evaluate

The rules of social media are basically the same as media.

  1. Listen
  2. Engage
  3. Be real
  4. Be respectful
  5. Have fun

Home on the Internet
Social media is the ongoing conversation of the planet. It’s the source of news, and more often that not, social is the home on the Internet. It’s the home page and the place where most people spend time on the Internet. Social media is the mainstream. It moves the media mouthpiece and constantly distributes to the hands of the public.

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