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How Safe Is Two Factor Authentication? How Can A Hacker Bypass Two-Factor Authentication? SIM Swapping

SIM Swapping is an attack in which a hacker can impersonate you and then he convinces an employee at a carrier to switch the phone service that you have to that of a carrier. Once that happens, the hacker has access to all your messages. Do have a look at two of these instances –

The phone number associated with the account was compromised due to a security oversight by the mobile provider. This allowed an unauthorized person to compose and send tweets via text message from the phone number. That issue is now resolved.

In another instance, a hacker was able to hack into a user’s text for just a matter of USD 16. Here the case was different from regular SIM swapping. Instead, the hacker utilized a service that is intended to help businesses do mass messaging and SMS marketing. These are the whereabouts of the case.

Social Engineering

In a second way, the hacker might send you a phishing mail or rope you in a legit-looking website. Once you log-in on this website, the hacker gets access to your credentials which he then uses on a real website, after which the real website sends you a code. Once you enter the code on the fake website, the hacker can bypass the two-factor authentication.

Now, that we have stated the problem, let’s have a look at some of the probable ways to prevent ourselves. Read on!

Is Two Factor Authentication Safe? Add An Extra Layer Of Protection Too

Kudos if you have enabled two-factor authentication, but consider arming yourself with options the likes of which are mentioned below –

VPN

You should invest in a quality VPN that can encrypt data traffic and even helps in securing browsing sessions. It is even able to evade session hijacking and phishing attacks as well. Here are some of the best VPNs available. In any case, if the 2-factor authentication has been invaded because of some social engineering attack, a VPN will for sure act as a guard against it.

Looking for a VPN for your PC, you can consider investing in Systweak VPN. Here are some of the features –

4500+ servers across 200+ locations spread in 53+ countries

AES-256 military-grade security

Kill switch that drops the connection as soon as VPN drops

No DNS leaks

IKev2 and Open VPN protocols

30 days money-back guarantee

Here’s our comprehensive review of Systweak VPN

Price: US$ 71.40 yearly or US$ 9.95 per month

Operating System: Windows 10/8.1/8/7

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Physical Security Keys

If you can get your hands on physical security keys, there’s nothing like it. These prove to be a more secure second step. Hardware-based keys have several passwords stored in them and as one of their features are also able to easily discern between real and fake websites. They are positively more secure and stronger than software or SMS-based options.

Use A Password Manager

Consider this – your smartphone is lost or stolen and now it is in the hands of a probable hacker, who can easily look into the code being sent. Scary, right?

If you use a password manager like LastPass, each time it will generate a very strong password because of which the hacker will have a hard time bypassing, say, your authenticator app. Secondly, a password manager like LastPass eliminates the need to manually typing in the password.

Don’t Ever Give Into Phishing Mails Wrapping Up

Recommended Readings:

How to Set Two Factor Authentication for Facebook

Enable Two-Factor Authentication For Apple ID

How To Enable Two-Factor Authentication On Microsoft Account

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Is Vpn Safe For Online Banking?

Is VPN safe for online banking? [Complete guide]

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If you use online banking, you might be wondering if a VPN can make the entire experience feel safer. Find out why you should use a VPN for Internet banking anywhere in the world.

Discover 6 simple ways to correctly use a VPN for safe banking on the web by understanding what a virtual private network solution can and can’t do.

To learn more about this topic, check out our Online Banking section.

Join our Security Hub to see what else you can do with a VPN.

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Online banking is a risky business because you have to enter your login credentials and credit card info on the web. If you’re directly connected to the Internet, you might accidentally leak them and compromise your data. But you can use a VPN to stay safe.

A virtual private network creates a secure tunnel and uses it to isolate your data traffic from the public web, all thanks to encryption. In case of a man-in-the-middle attack, a hacker might obtain your data but can’t unscramble it.

Should you use a VPN for online banking?

Yes, you should definitely use a VPN for online banking since it makes you safer on the Internet.

Although most banks are doing the best they can to make you feel as safe as possible when making online transactions, sometimes they fail.

Internet banking is particularly dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic when most people stay home and pay taxes or shop exclusively online. But a VPN helps a lot.

Here are some legit reasons why you need a VPN for online banking:

Keeps you safe from cybercriminals when using public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Amps up your security level when traveling and connecting to the airport, hotel, or restaurant Wi-Fi.

Shields your mobile apps since they’re most vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Adds an extra layer of security to your home network and protects your router.

Excellent in combination with HTTPS websites.

How to use a VPN for safe Internet banking 1. Say no to free VPN

A VPN is only as good as its privacy policy. If you stumble upon a legit service with a strict, no-logging policy, that’s great! But you can’t trust a free VPN with your data. In fact, it’s safer to use online banking without a free VPN.

Even if the VPN provider won’t collect your data, there are still dangers since free mobile apps are usually ad-supported. Any ad or banner to a third-party website is a door left open for malware injections. But a premium VPN is worth it.

2. Don’t use VPN servers from other countries

If your bank is actually doing a good job and monitoring your account for any suspicious activity, it will flag and freeze it if you try to connect from another country. Plus, it will probably call you soon to let you know.

Clearing this issue with the bank BEFORE won’t do you any good if you keep connecting to various countries through the VPN. And it’s never a wise idea to ask your bank to stop doing this, in case an authorized user actually attempts this.

Instead, limit your VPN server options inside your own country. It doesn’t matter which one you use, anyway, since all bring the same level of security.

3. Set the VPN’s security settings to the max

VPNs have numerous benefits, like circumventing geoblocks and unlocking streaming services like Netflix. But, when it comes to online banking, what you’re looking for is the highest level of security.

Set your VPN service to use a highly secure protocol, like OpenVPN with 256-bit military-grade encryption, WireGuard, or SSTP. Keep in mind that more encryption means a slower connection.

If you have trouble maintaining your Internet connection stable over VPN, dial it down a notch until you find the balance between encryption and speed. Whatever you do, never use a VPN over PPTP or L2TP because they provide low security.

Besides encryption, enable the app’s kill switch, activate its built-in ad and malware blocker, and switch to its private DNS servers, depending on what features are supported by the VPN service (unlike encryption, they won’t slow you down).

4. Don’t use weak passwords or turn off 2FA

A VPN can’t keep your online banking account safe from illegal logins, so don’t compromise when it comes to passwords and two-factor authentication. Set a strong lengthy password made out of a random combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols (or use a password generator).

If you have trouble keeping up with your passwords, use a reliable password manager to keep track of them, especially since it’s recommended to change them often. Furthermore, check if you have two-factor authentication enabled.

5. Use a secure browser

Unless you use a mobile app to access your banking account, consider switching to a secure web browser for online banking. You don’t have to get rid of the current browser if you’re fond of it since you can install a new one to use for banking purposes, such as Tor Browser, Brave, or Firefox.

6. Use security-focused browser addons

If you want to continue using your current web browser, even if it’s unsafe, you can amp up its security level by turning to security-focused extensions like DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials, Ghostery, Privacy Badger or HTTPS Everywhere.

What’s the best VPN for safe online banking?

Made by Kape Technologies, Private Internet Access (PIA) is the top-ranked VPN for Internet banking, thanks to its excellent security features. It uses OpenVPN with up to 256-bit military-grade encryption to redirect your entire network traffic through VPN.

This VPN app has its own ad and malware blocker for web browsers called PIA MACE, which keeps you safe from phishing and other scams. It runs private DNS servers and cuts off your Internet access in case the VPN connection drops to ensure your data isn’t compromised.

What else you must know about PIA:

Fully transparent with a zero-logging privacy policy

No IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks

Works with Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, routers

Static and dynamic IP addresses

24/7 live chat support

30-day money-back guarantee (no free trial)

Private Internet Access

Use this awesome VPN for online banking to stay safe and make secure transactions anywhere.

$2.85/mo. Buy it now

A lot of people believe that HTTPS is enough to stay safe when making online banking transactions. Although it’s designed to provide end-to-end encryption, HTTPS is not foolproof. But you can throw into the mix a trustworthy VPN like Private Internet Access to change that.

Your connection is not secure – websites you visit can find out your details:

Use a VPN to protect your privacy and secure your connection.

We recommend Visit Private Internet Access

We recommend Private Internet Access , a VPN with a no-log policy, open source code, ad blocking and much more; now 79% off.

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Is Using Google Analytics A Search Ranking Factor?

Google Analytics (GA) is a powerful tool that lets website owners learn how users interact with their webpages.

The amount of information we can get from Google Analytics is so in-depth that a theory has been circulating, for over a decade, that GA data is a ranking factor.

Is Google Analytics really powerful enough to influence Google search results?

Let’s take a closer look.

[Recommended Read:] Google Ranking Factors: Fact or Fiction

The Claim: Google Analytics As A Ranking Factor

In Google’s How Search Works documentation, we can see that a webpage’s relevance is one of the many factors used to rank webpages.

The most basic relevancy signal is that the content contains the same words as the search query.

Additional information about how Google determines a page’s relevance is provided.

Beyond simple keyword matching, Google says, “We also use aggregated and anonymized interaction data to assess whether search results are relevant to queries. We transform that data into signals that help our machine-learned systems better estimate relevance.”

What is “interaction data,” and where does Google get it?

That makes sense because those are the metrics marketers are familiar with and understand to represent the interactive data Google may be looking for.

Marketers may also notice a correlation between the metrics improving as their position in the SERP improves.

Is it possible that we are somehow improving Google’s understanding of our website’s user experience using Google Analytics?

Like some sort of SEO bat signal?

Can we directly influence rankings by giving Google more “interaction data” to work with?

[Ebook:] Download The Complete Guide To Google Ranking Factors

The Evidence Against Google Analytics As A Ranking Factor

While we don’t have direct access to Google’s algorithm, evidence shows Google Analytics as a ranking factor is not a plausible theory.

First, Google representatives have been clear and consistent in saying that they don’t use Google Analytics data as a ranking factor.

As recently as March 16, 2023, John Mu has responded to tweets about Google Analytics impacting rank.

In jest, a marketer suggested if Google wanted people to use GA4, they could just say it would improve ranking.

John Mu replied, “That’s not going to happen.”

Google seems to continuously be batting down the idea that its analytics services influence ranking in any way.

Back in 2010, when we were tweeting to snag the top spot in results for a few moments, Matt Cutts said, “Google Analytics is not used in search quality in any way for our rankings.”

And you don’t have to take Google’s word for it.

Here are three websites ranking in the top 10 for highly competitive keywords that do not have the Google Analytics tag on their site.

1. Ahrefs, an SEO tool, famously does not use Google Analytics.

Tim Soulo, CMO at Ahrefs, tweeted in December 2023, “Every time I tell fellow marketers that we don’t have Google Analytics at chúng tôi they react with ‘NO WAY!’”

And the Ahrefs domain ranks in the top 10 positions for over 12,000 non-branded keywords.

2. Another famous example is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia articles dominate Google search results, ranking very well for definition-type searches such as computer, dog, and even the search query “Google.”

And it ranks for all this with no Google Analytics code on the site.

3. One more example is Ethereum.

Ethereum is ranking in the top 10 for [nft]. NFT is an enterprise-level keyword with over one million monthly searches in the United States alone.

Ethereum’s website does not have Google Analytics installed.

[Discover:] More Google Ranking Factor Insights

Our Verdict: Google Analytics Is Not A Ranking Factor

Google Analytics is a powerful tool to help us understand how people find our website and what they do once there.

And when we make adjustments to our website, by making it easier to navigate or improving the content, we can see GA metrics improve.

However, the GA code on your site does not send up an SEO bat signal.

The GA code is not a signal to Google, and it does not make it easier for Google to assess relevance (whether your webpage fulfills the user’s search query.)

The “bat signal” is for you.

Google Analytics is not a ranking factor, but it can help you understand whether you’re heading in the right or wrong direction.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

How To Check If A File Is Safe For Downloading

The internet has many websites that claim they have the correct file. Most of the time, you have to open the file to confirm the file is safe. And by that time, it may be too late to protect your PC from malware and virus programs.

This type of scenario is common on many websites. The pop-up may take you to a shady website where downloading files puts your PC at risk. If a pop-up appears, it is best to close it right away and try again.

Torrents is a highly popular P2P file-sharing website. Typically files found in torrent sites are copyrighted or commercial material. Most of them are provided by anonymous sources and there is no telling if the file is tampered with.

Applications downloaded from torrents may or may not be the applications you want. There is no incentive to provide the right file for downloading as a torrent. You may be downloading a malware program or a virus on your PC.

Apart from the legal aspect, torrents are highly unsafe for downloading files. You should avoid downloading torrents from unknown users. To confirm a file is safe, you have to download it from a known, trusted source.

HyperText Transfer Protocol is the backbone of the internet. Internet browsing and downloading works in a stream of HTTP requests and responses. Simply put, HTTPS is encrypted HTTP. Secure encryption ensures that the website you are visiting is trusted.

To protect yourself from download threats, always perform a safety check before downloading. Continue reading below to know some of the regular safety approaches to download a file.

Depending on the type of Antivirus you have, you can do a file check before or after performing a download.

Know your file formats. Whether a new or old Windows user, always make sure to enable file extensions in Explorer by default. It’s a security hazard that they turn it off by default. Turn it on from the explorer File options .

Many websites such as Fileinfo lets you search from their large database of file extensions. File extensions are three or four characters long. They are the last characters after the period (.) shown in the file name.

Note that these two factors are not complete indications of the validity of a file. They only tell you whether a file is trusted and downloaded by other users.

Md5 sum file hash is a popular means of verifying any file. Md5 algorithm takes a file and generates a 128 character unique hash. This way, if the download file is tampered with, the resulting hash would be different. 

Many download websites offer md5 hash along with the download link. With it, you can verify if the file you get is the same as the one they provide. This is a good approach if you trust the file provider to let you download your file safely.

Note that you would still have to download the file first before you can start checking it. You should open the file only after you’re sure it’s safe to do so.

Note down the file hash next to the download link.

Go to any online md5 hash checker tool.

Upload the file and let the tool generate hash for you.

Compare the file hashes together to make sure they are the same.

Windows Sandbox is a special feature provided by Microsoft as a testing ground. Even if you manage to break your sandboxed Windows, it won’t have any impact on your base Windows at all. So, it is a good idea to test all your suspicious download links in a sandbox environment.

Note that the feature is available in Pro and Enterprise versions only. Other Windows users can use a virtual box or VMware image instead.

Forums are the place to confirm the validity of any file. Most of the download websites provide a discussion forum for site visitors. Anyone can register for an account in the discussion forum and post their questions. Other experienced users can write answers and even upvote questions and answers.

Some users even make time to point you to the correct file that you’d need to download. Since anyone can post on the forums, you still need to be careful in believing what you read. I always recommend taking the file forums with a large pinch of salt.

Virustotal is a reliable site to perform safety checks. It has two modes, the first file mode and the second is link mode. File mode allows you to upload a file and verify if it’s safe. Link mode allows you to run a safety check even before downloading the file.

Virustotal runs virus scans against a database of multiple vendors. It then reports if the file passed all safety checks. For now, we will stick to using link mode.

To disable the automatic downloading of files, follow these steps.

Chrome Firefox Safari

Go to the Safari menu and select Preferences.

Under the General tab, select a File download location.

Select Ask for each download.

Under the General tab, select a File download location.

Select Ask for each download.

What Is A Cold Boot Attack: Explanation And Staying Safe

Cold Boot Attack is yet another method used to steal data. The only thing special is that they have direct access to your computer hardware or the whole computer. This article talks about what is Cold Boot Attack and how to stay safe from such techniques.

What is Cold Boot Attack

In a Cold Boot Attack or a Platform Reset Attack, an attacker who has physical access to your computer does a cold reboot to restart the machine in order to retrieve encryption keys from the Windows operating system

They taught us in schools that RAM (Random Access Memory) is volatile and cannot hold data if the computer is switched off. What they should have told us should have been …cannot hold data for long if the computer is switched off. That means, RAM still holds data from few seconds to few minutes before it fades out due to lack of electricity supply. For an ultra-small period, anyone with proper tools can read the RAM and copy its contents to a safe, permanent storage using a different lightweight operating system on a USB stick or SD Card. Such an attack is called cold boot attack.

Imagine a computer lying unattended at some organization for a few minutes. Any hacker just has to set his tools in place and turn off the computer. As the RAM cools down (data fades out slowly), the hacker plugs in a bootable USB stick and boots via that. He or she can copy the contents into something like the same USB stick.

Since the nature of the attack is turning off the computer and then using the power switch to restart it, it is called cold boot. You might have learned about cold boot and warm boot in your early computing years. Cold boot is where you start a computer using the power switch. A Warm Boot is where you use the option of restarting a computer using the restart option in the shutdown menu.

Freezing the RAM

This is yet another trick on the sleeves of hackers. They can simply spray some substance (example: Liquid Nitrogen) on to RAM modules so that they freeze immediately. The lower the temperature, the longer RAM can hold information. Using this trick, they (hackers) can successfully complete a Cold Boot Attack and copy maximum data. To quicken the process, they use autorun files on the lightweight Operating System on USB Sticks or SD Cards that are booted soon after shutting down the computer being hacked.

Steps in a Cold Boot Attack

Not necessarily everyone uses attack styles similar to the one given below. However, most of the common steps are listed below.

Change the BIOS information to allow boot from USB first

Insert a bootable USB into the computer in question

Turn off the computer forcibly so that the processor doesn’t get time to dismount any encryption keys or other important data; know that a proper shutdown may too help but may not be as successful as a forced shut down by pressing the power key or other methods.

As soon as possible, using the power switch to cold boot the computer being hacked

Since the BIOS settings were changed, the OS on a USB stick is loaded

Even as this OS is being loaded, they autorun processes to extract data stored in RAM.

Turn off the computer again after checking the destination storage (where the stolen data is stored), remove the USB OS Stick, and walk away

What information is at risk in Cold Boot Attacks

Most common information/data at risk are disk encryption keys and passwords. Usually, the aim of a cold boot attack is to retrieve disk encryption keys illegally, without authorization.

The last things to happen when in a proper shutdown are dismounting the disks and using the encryption keys to encrypt them so it is possible that if a computer is turned off abruptly, the data might still be available for them.

Securing yourself from Cold Boot Attack

On a personal level, you can only make sure that you stay near your computer until at least 5 minutes after it is shut down. Plus one precaution is to shut down properly using the shutdown menu, instead of pulling the electric cord or using the power button to turn off the computer.

You can’t do much because it is not a software issue largely. It is related more to the hardware. So the equipment manufacturers should take the initiative to remove all data from RAM as soon as possible after a computer is turned off to avoid and protect you from cold boot attack.

Some computers now overwrite RAM before completely shut down. Still, the possibility of a forced shutdown is always there.

The technique used by BitLocker is to use a PIN to access RAM. Even if the computer has been hibernated (a state of turning off the computer), when the user wakes it up and tries to access anything, first he or she has to enter a PIN to access RAM. This method is also not fool-proof as hackers can get the PIN using one of the methods of Phishing or Social Engineering.

Summary

The above explains what a cold boot attack is and how it works. There are some restrictions due to which 100% security cannot be offered against a cold boot attack. But as far as I know, security companies are working to find a better fix than simply rewriting RAM or using a PIN to protect the contents of RAM.

Now read: What is a Surfing Attack?

Fix Roblox Error Code 403, Authentication Failed

An error was encountered during authentication. Please try again.

Fortunately, you can follow some simple suggestions to fix the error.

What does Roblox error code 403 mean?

Error code 403 in Roblox typically indicates that the server denies access to the requested resource or action. The reasons can vary, including network connectivity problems, misconfigured settings, security restrictions, or other factors. Users are denied access to the game by the server.

Fix Roblox Authentication Failed Error Code 403

To fix the Authentication Failed, Error Code 403 in Roblox, restart the app, browser, and your device. Other than that, try following these suggestions:

Check the Network Connection

Check Roblox Server Status

Logout and re-login

Clear Roblox Cache Data

Temporarily Disable Firewall or Security Software

Modify DNS Settings

Disable Proxy or VPN

Reinstall Roblox.

Let’s now see these in detail.

1] Check the Network Connection

Start by checking if your internet connection is running fine. This is because a slow or unstable internet connection can be why the Roblox Error Code 403 occurs. Perform a speed test to check if your internet connection is running fine. Alternatively, try connecting to a different network to see if the error is fixed.

2] Check Roblox Server Status

Next, check the Roblox Server Status. It’s possible the servers are facing downtime or are under maintenance. You can also follow @Roblox on Twitter to stay updated on scheduled and ongoing maintenance. You can do this via a free server status detector. If the server is down, you can do nothing but wait.

3] Logout and re-login 4] Clear Roblox Cache Data.

The Roblox cache data can also be why the Roblox Error Code 403 occurs. Roblox stores cache data to allow faster access and enhance user experience. However, an unexpected system crash or malware attack can corrupt the cache folder. Here’s how to clear the Roblox cache Data:

Press the Windows + R key combination to open Run.

Type %localappdata% and hit Enter.

The File Manager will now open, here, search and open the Roblox folder.

Now, press Ctrl + A to select all the files, then Shift + Del permanently delete them.

Restart your device and see if the error’s fixed.

5] Temporarily Disable Firewall or Security Software

Antivirus software and Windows Defender Firewall can sometimes interrupt applications and their processes.

You may disable the antivirus temporarily, and if that does work, allow Roblox through the firewall. Disabling both can help fix the Roblox Error Code 403.

6] Modify DNS Settings

As Error Code 403 in Roblox could be a server-related error, switching to Google DNS can help fix it. Here’s how:

Next, select the Use the following DNS server addresses option.

Type the addresses mentioned below in the corresponding fields: Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8 Alternate DNS server: 8.8.4.4

At last, select the Use the following DNS server addresses option and enter the following addresses: Preferred DNS server: 2001:4860:4860::8888 Alternate DNS server: 2001:4860:4860::8844

7] Disable Proxy or VPN

Apart from disabling the VPN, it’s also recommended to turn off the Proxy connection, to be on the safe side.

VPN or Proxy servers hide your IP address by rerouting your Internet traffic via a remote server. This can be why the Roblox Error Code 403 occurs, as the service you’re trying to access isn’t available in your region. Nevertheless, Here is how you can disable Proxy:

Press Windows + I to open Settings.

Here, toggle off the Automatically detect settings option.

Read: Fix Roblox HTTP Error Code 111

8] Reinstall Roblox

Last but not least, if nothing could help you resolve this issue, then the error can be due to incorrect Roblox installation. Try uninstalling Roblox and then starting with a fresh installation of Roblox on the PC.

We hope these suggestions have helped you.

Is error 403 an IP ban in Roblox?

Yes, the Roblox Error Code 403 can indicate an IP ban. This mainly occurs while trying to access Roblox. To fix this, check Roblox servers and clear its cache data.

Can Roblox permanently ban you?

Roblox can ban a user permanently if they are found engaging in extreme or repeated acts of cheating, hacking, harassment, or other forms of disruptive behavior. Once this happens, the user can no longer access Roblox and any of its associated features.

Roblox has multiple banning options, including a permanent ban. So, maintaining decent behavior and decorum when using the service should be your utmost priority if you don’t want to get banned permanently.

Also Read: Roblox not launching or working on Windows PC.

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