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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 awayWhat 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?
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Poodle Attack – What is It and How Can You Safeguard Yourself? First, What is Poodle Attack?
Yes, it did and this brings us to –How Does A Poodle Vulnerability Attack Works?
When an attacker carries out the Poodle attack, it intercepts the connection between your web server and browser, either or both of which are running an outdated protocol.
Security experts recommend using TLS 1.3 which is an industry standard now.What Can Be Stolen In A Poodle Vulnerability?
An attacker can lay hands on every bit of communication that’s exposed after the attack. Such information may include passwords, session cookies, login details, files, etc. When under a Poodle attack, both organizations and individuals are also at the risk of identity theft.How To Save Yourself From A Poodle Vulnerability Attack? Be Cautious of The Links and Attachments You Are Opening Upgrade Your Browser And Never Neglect Updates
You shouldn’t just update your browser to get your hands on the latest features. Though, yes, that’s one of the reasons to update your browser, but, there are several reasons why you should update your browser and one of them is to prevent yourself from Poodle vulnerability or man in the middle attacks.Please Use A VPN On A Public Wi-Fi
Most of us love to work even while we are traveling, even while we are enjoying a hot cup of cappuccino at our favorite cafe’ or while we are commuting through a metro. The reason being Wi-Fi here is free!
But, here’s something you should know (rather you might not know) that your hotel’s, cafe’s, airport’s or whosesoever’s Wi-Fi you are using might be unprotected. Attackers love to exploit an unprotected network.
A VPN is one such tool that can protect you against a man-in-the-middle attack on an unsecured network.
Here’s how –
A VPN like Systweak VPN encrypts your internet traffic with AES -256 military-grade encryption. With this encryption, it is highly unlikely that an attacker will be able to hack it. Do read our post on how easy it is to use Systweak VPN and strengthen your presence on the internet.
Systweak VPN comes with over 4500+ servers spread in 200+ locations, as such you will be able to surf through a server in some other part of the world and you will be assigned an IP address accordingly. So, even while you are surfing the web at an airport in Australia, you could attain an IP address of a server that is based out of the USA.
Download Now Systweak VPNProtect Your Website
Just because a Poodle attack downgrades a protocol to SSL v3.0 does it mean you should disable SSL?
No! What this means is that –
You should update your system to enable it to support more secure and newer protocols.
As for TLS, use TLS 1.3 as the older TLS protocols are vulnerable.
Also, use TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV which solves the problem of a failed connection and at the same time, it thwarts an attacker’s intent to downgrade your protocol to SSL v3.0.Wrapping Up
As they say that prevention is always better than cure. To save your hard-earned data and your presence on the internet from a Poodle attack, ensure that the protocols your web server and browsers are using are strong. Also, when using the internet on an unsecured network, use a shield like VPN to keep miscreants away.Quick Reaction:
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Ideas to humanise your online communications
As we all now become digital natives, it makes you step back and think and ultimately realise that those who follow us, will be born into a purely digital society, where eBooks and augmented reality will have gone from exotic to everyday.
Thinking about what this means in the future is intriguing, but it’s equally interesting right here and now in 2013. Technology, software and the devices we use, have of course shaped our social and human behavior on a number of levels, from shopping, to leisure, to business. Lives are lived online, and the opportunity to have a live feed into the minds of those you care about is becoming a clearer reality. People are more willing to share and consume horizontally through their social networks, rather than vertically. The organic spread of ideas, relationships, and trade can now be observed and measured on scales of unprecedented detail.
Amongst all the positive aspects of instant global communication, accessibility of information, improved efficiency and the potential for learning, it is clear that there are negative “de-humanisning” aspects of the Digital World now and this will likely continue in the future. People see less of other people, there can be a lazy attitude inherited as a result.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. I want to highlight how in the context of business to consumer communication practices, organisations can act, appear and deliver more human aspects of behaviour both through, and alongside their digital communications, to complement each other.
Online Business Communications
Show the people within the business on their website people pages and social channels, e.g. LinkedIn profile page and Facebook
Personalise their twitter with a unique or range of staff administrators assigned to social media, giving a personal tone to the messages and responses given
Ensure sales and support emails are from staff addresses and use appropriate signatures to show real people behind the customer service aspect and gain trust
Deliver video and audio content including staff and to connect with the audience on real terms and improve brand personality.
Personalise marketing emails both through whom it is addresses but also based on preferences.
In the case of Twitter, a number of companies place images of their help team on their
background image to show people what they look like. It’s a small move, but is effective in showing that there are people there who are going to engage with you, regardless of the query.
A high street retailer that also has an “inevitable” online presence can also humanise their consumer’s digital experience and simultaneously complementing the real in store experience by:
Promoting specific exclusive offers and promotions online, but only available in store to drive footfall and human interaction
Building knowledge of the online offering amongst staff to help deliver in – person sales and consumer loyalty
Use social media to help profile the products, local team(s) and staff to consumers
Have real staff actively engage with customers online through customer service and social media contexts
Ensure telephone numbers are clearly promoted online and personalised where possible to ensure more voice contact.
I think we all know the inevitability of an increased trend for more digital consumption and communication out of necessity, but this doesn’t mean we have to be any less human. It’s about balance. We must continue to act, sound and appear human even online and I hope that the norm isn’t that we get lazy and devalue personal contact by default over a more convenient digital equivalent or alternative.How Starbucks humanise
I often reference Starbucks as a stand out brand who seem to make all the right moves in terms of their digital brand strategy, and in context to humanisning their experience, they do the following very well indeed.
Promote a wide range of in cafe specific promotions online
They have a highly personal and responsive social media presence that is led by fans, not the brand.
Their global presence is strong, yet they have great local online content and activity
Starbucks rewards on mobile for in – cafe benefits
Humanising and socially engaging and accessible content.
A great example of this last point is in the “Join Us” section on the chúng tôi website. The content on this page helps paint a picture of an inclusive, social and people – centric brand built on community. This is what their product and experience stands for yet here it is simply using social media and technology as the delivery mechanism. This avoids many of the big mistakes many brands make, by adopting technology and digital platforms, yet they have no brand supporting or strengthening content strategies.
Related to this discussion from a social media perspective is a really good Q&A worth checking out with Nicholas Christakis from the TED series, entitled: “Our modern, connected lives.” It’s interesting as it raises many points around our influence and behaviour driven by our modern connected online social experiences. It’s a well-balanced series of responses to topics of friendship, social influence and even online dating from a real world vs digital perspective.
One things is for sure, digital media has the potential to dehumanise our lives as we live our lives increasingly online, interacting with devices rather than people. We do know that as inevitable as this is, we can take positives from how it can help us connect with people instantly on a global scale. We can also be encouraged by the activities of brands delivering people centric and accessible digital content and engagement strategies, initiating and motivating regular real life personal and brand contact.
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.
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
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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
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Recommended By VPN MentorPhysical 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
How to Set Two Factor Authentication for Facebook
Enable Two-Factor Authentication For Apple ID
How To Enable Two-Factor Authentication On Microsoft AccountQuick Reaction:
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Is VPN safe for online banking? [Complete guide]
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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Fortect is a tool that does not simply cleans up your PC, but has a repository with several millions of Windows System files stored in their initial version. When your PC encounters a problem, Fortect will fix it for you, by replacing bad files with fresh versions. To fix your current PC issue, here are the steps you need to take:
Download Fortect and install it on your PC.
Start the tool’s scanning process to look for corrupt files that are the source of your problem
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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
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:
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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:
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