I have been involved in providing automated solutions for companies for years. I have prepared detailed presentations and have spoken at events, repetitively warning clients and our staff how to avoid being hacked. Yet, a couple of weeks ago I came seconds close to being a victim myself!

What happened? I was at a Chicago parking meter attempting to use my charge card to get a parking ticket for my car. The card failed the first time but after a few tries it finally went through. I chalked the incident up to the zero-degree weather and a frozen parking meter. Seconds later I received a text stating, “Your card has been restricted. Please call us at 312-985-5635.” I had received a similar email from VISA in the past when my card had been hacked.

“312” is a Chicago area code, and I figured that VISA was concerned about the multiple tries at the meter so I was about to call the number but got suspicious. Instead, I called the VISA number on the back of my card. VISA said my card was not on hold and that everything was fine. Always call the number on the back of the card! Case in point – never let your guard down. A simple coincidence like above can make it seem real and logical. I did a web search on the phone number and sure enough it is a known scam phone number.

What are some of the common ways that you can protect yourself?

  • Avoid Phishing Emails. 156 Million are sent globally daily. 10{fd51974170a87c680671aa476a5830fb5ee8e4e08d65be1b6d52bac67f81326c} fall for a scam and share their personal information. Any email suggesting great urgency or entertainment value, especially with a link should be avoided. One clever trick that is used is emulating a popular email address with just one letter changed. When in a hurry (and who isn’t) it is very easy to click on these. Would you click on an email from DisneyyWorld.com, complete with a picture of Mickey to check out a tempting vacation offer?
  • Avoid Smishing Text Messages. Same as phishing but to text.
  • Use several security programs and update frequently. Do not rely on just one program. Not performing the updates is the same as not having it because new viruses come out every single day.
  • Stay out of “creepy sites” when surfing. If you have a terrible feeling that something is wrong but have already clicked to the site there is a simple way to check if it is safe. In Internet Explorer® click on the picture of the lock on the top right of your browser. That will check the site validation certificate to let you know if it matches. If the site is OK it will say, “This Certificate is OK.” This means whoever says they own it does. If you are on Chrome® you have to click on the 3 dots and go to More Tools then down a few layers in order to find this in Security. Some browsers do not support this function. Be very careful what you click on when power surfing.
  • Build a better password. Use 2-factor authentication. Never store passwords on your computer. Routinely refresh and vary passwords. Use 20 characters or longer. If you can’t live with doing all of these things, at least pick a couple items which will be better than doing nothing.
  • We all know about the phantom messages from friends. Some are responding to emails that you did not send. Most contain a tempting link that you never want to click on. Oddly, while writing this I just received one of these. Very common. Easy to click on in a hurry. Look carefully before you click.
  • Locked computer. While surfing you receive a scary message of how law enforcement has detected a virus on your computer. You have been locked out by Ransomware. Don’t pay. It won’t make a difference.
  • Ignore “pop-up” ads that tell you that a computer virus was detected. Often these tell you to click and the virus will be removed.

Hacking/viruses are a very serious problem. Generally, all circumstances can be avoided by incorporating a simple thought process before you proceed and taking proper precautions. Everyone is hurriedly making it through their day so quick clicks are very common and hackers know this. It is always best to fully read the content and assess all emails and text messages before responding in any way. If you do not have time to thoroughly assess, leave the message until you have time to read it thoroughly. Keep your anti-virus up-to-date and surf safely!

Welcome to the world of overflowing regulations and compliance standards, of evolving infrastructure and the ever-present data breach. Each year, fraudulent activity accounts for $600 billion in losses in the United States. In 2017, more than 1 billion account records were lost in data breaches – an equivalent of 15{fd51974170a87c680671aa476a5830fb5ee8e4e08d65be1b6d52bac67f81326c} of the world’s population. 72{fd51974170a87c680671aa476a5830fb5ee8e4e08d65be1b6d52bac67f81326c} of security and compliance personnel say their jobs are more difficult today than just two years ago, even with all the new tools they have acquired.

Within the security industry, we are constantly searching for a solution to these converging issues – all while keeping pace with business and regulatory compliance. Many have become cynical and apathetic from the continuous failure of investments meant to prevent these unfortunate events. There is no silver bullet, and waving a white flag is just as problematic.

The fact is, no one knows what could happen next. And one of the first steps is to recognize the inherent limits to our knowledge and faculties of prediction. From there, we can adopt methods of reason, evidence and proactive measures to maintain compliance in a changing world. Dethroning the myth of passive compliance is an important step to achieve security agility, reduce risk, and find threats at hyper-speed.

Let’s debunk a few myths about IT security and compliance:

Myth 1: Payment Credit Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) is Only Necessary for Large Businesses

For the sake of your customers data security, this myth is most unequivocally false. No matter the size, organizations must meet with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). In fact, small business data is very valuable to data thieves and often easier to access because of a lack of protection. Failure to be compliant with PCI DSS can result in big fines and penalties and can even lose the right to accept credit cards.

Credit cards are used for more than simple retail purchases. They are used to register for events, pay bills online, and to conduct countless other operations. Best practice says not to store this data locally but if an organization’s business practice calls for customers’ credit card information to be stored, then additional steps need to be taken to ensure to ensure the safety of the data. Organizations must prove that all certifications, accreditations, and best practice security protocols are being followed to the letter.

Myth 2: I need to have a firewall and an IDS/IPS to be compliant

Some compliance regulations do indeed say that organizations are required to perform access control and to perform monitoring. Some do indeed say that “perimeter” control devices like a VPN or a firewall are required. Some do indeed say the word “intrusion detection”. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean to go and deploy NIDS or a firewall everywhere.

Access control and monitoring can be performed with many other technologies. There is nothing wrong in using a firewall or NIDS solutions to meet any compliance requirements, but what about centralized authentication, network access control (NAC), network anomaly detection, log analysis, using ACLs on perimeter routers and so on?

Myth 3: Compliance is All About Rules and Access Control.

The lesson from this myth is to not become myopic, solely focusing on security posture (rules and access control). Compliance and network security is not only about creating rules and access control for an improved posture, but an ongoing assessment in real-time of what is happening. Hiding behind rules and policies is no excuse for compliance and security failures.

Organizations can overcome this bias with direct and real-time log analysis of what is happening at any moment. Attestation for security and compliance comes from establishing policies for access control across the network and ongoing analysis of the actual network activity to validate security and compliance measures.

Myth 4: Compliance is Only Relevant When There Is an Audit.

Networks continue to evolve, and this remains the most critical challenge to network security and compliance. Oddly enough, network evolution does not politely standby while compliance and security personnel catch up.

Not only are network mutations increasing, but new standards for compliance are changing within the context of these new networking models. This discrete and combinatorial challenge adds new dimensions to the compliance mandate that are ongoing, not just during an impending audit.

Yes, the latest generation of firewalls and logging technologies can take advantage of the data streaming out of the network, but compliance is achieved when there is a discipline of analyzing all that data. Only by looking at the data in real-time can compliance and network security personnel appropriately adjust and reduce risks.

Tightening network controls and access gives auditors the assurance that the organization is taking proactive steps to orchestrate network traffic. But what does the actual network tell us? Without regularly practicing log analysis, there is no way to verify compliance has been achieved. This regular analysis happens without reference to when an audit is forthcoming or recently failed.

Myth 5: Real-Time Visibility Is Impossible.

Real-time visibility is a requirement in today’s global business environment. With legislative and regulatory change coming so rapidly, network security and compliance teams need access to data across the entire network.

Often, data comes in multiple formats and structures. Compliance reporting and attestation becomes an exercise in ‘data stitching’ in order to validate that network activity conforms to rules and policies. Security and compliance staff must become de facto data scientists to get answers from the ocean of data. This is a Herculean effort.

When implanting a new compliance requirement, there is an assurance process where the standard is tested against the access the new rule allows or denies. How do you know if a given rule or policy is going to have the desired effect (conform to compliance)? In most organizations, you do not have the personnel or time to assess network activity in the context of compliance standards. By the time a new compliance standard is due, the data stitching process is not complete, leaving us with no greater confidence that compliance has been achieved. No matter how fast you stitch data, it seems that the sheer number of standards will keep you spinning your wheels.

Of course, the other side of this dilemma is that these standards genuinely do prevent data compromises. But while a good chunk of your resources is tasked with testing and rolling out standards, another part of the team is implementing even more permutations of the network. This is what physicists call a dynamical system.

The holiday season has arrived, and it is high time that consumers and retailers make arrangements for staying one step ahead of the prevalent holiday scams. With trouble lurking in the shadows due to multiple spikes in spending habits, it is important to avoid any that financial frauds and identity thefts. Apart from that, the winter holidays bring along possible opportunities for impersonation and data breaches which can easily take down systems and IT networks.

Previously, IT administrators concentrated more on the consumers but in due course of time, even the retailers have started getting the attention. While customers can lose a specific part of their payment and confidential data sets, retailers can face harmful catastrophic consequences when and if a holiday cyber security attack hits their systems. Once the retailers have are safeguarded their systems and network, they can add specific security measures to protect the interests of the prospective consumers.

How Retailers can Stay Protected?
It is common for hackers to ramp up their activities during the holiday seasons. Spear phishing and data breaches are at an all-time high which in turn calls for increased vigilance and improved cyber security practices. Retailers offer a wider landscape to the hackers as a lot of financial and personal records are usually at stake.

1. Amplifying Threat Detection Capabilities
While most retailers already have preventive security measures in their repertoire, the holiday season requires them to beef up their detection and threat monitoring capabilities. A host of additional authentication steps are usually preferred during the peak shopping season which blocks suspicious transactions. However, additional verification steps can thwart the customers and this is why retailers must try to implement functional threat detection techniques. This approach towards cyber security keeps malicious activities at bay, identifies threats quicker and doesn’t even negatively impact the user experience.

2. Prioritizing Employee Awareness
Adding new employees to the existing staff during a holiday season is probably not the smartest move of all time. Most of the temporary workforce looks to make quick money and some can even cause data breaches, deliberately or accidentally. Therefore, employee awareness in the form of training is extremely important, preferably as a part of the staff on-boarding process.

3. Sharing Threat Data
When criminals can easily share attack methodologies and breach through multiple databases, even retailers can share the threat data for procuring an additional layer of safety. They can make use of automated methods to share the threat data followed by some semi-automated strategies like threat intelligence and closed groups. Once the threat data is publicly shared, it becomes easier for other retailers and organizations to implement the strategies and stay protected.

4. Implementing Incident Response Plans
Retailers must have a functional incident response plan for every threat scenario. These shall typically include rebuilding systems, isolating the systems and having technical controls in hand. That said, these plans must be both communicational and procedural for adding value to the scheme of things. Apart from that, retailers must also have a backup plan in place lest the aforementioned security tips fail to detect and counter the attacks.

Can Consumers stay Protected?
Majority of online and offline consumers have already improved the existing security awareness; thanks to the increasing media coverage of cyber incidents. However, there are a few cyber security tips which can help them safeguard their hard earned money and shop freely during the holiday shopping season.

1. Assessing Convenience against Risk
Consumers need to assess the security risks before establishing connections with servers. Not just the retailers, but the consumers are also responsible when it comes to striking the perfect balance between privacy and personalization. Saving card details or working with the stored customer data can lead to catastrophic cyber-attacks in the form of SQL injection threats and even database compromises.

2. Looking out for Phishing Emails
Consumers must look out for suspicious email attachments before proceeding with any download or click. Unexpected links, for example, a mail reading ‘Track Package’ when you haven’t order anything, must be refrained from.

3. Using Multi-factor Authentication
Password security and hygiene are often ignored by consumers which in turn compromises their confidentiality and privacy. The preferred avenues for staying safe would include multi-factor authentication like OTPs, having a digital vault and even using paraphrases.

4. Checking Card Statements
The period of holiday shopping often misleads the consumers into shopping beyond limits. However, the spending spikes must be paired with periodic statements checks. This approach allows consumers to keep a close eye on their expenses and track the card for any kind of abnormalities. This strategy nips financial frauds right in the bud.

Inference

The correct balance between awareness and vigilance is the key to a safe and yielding holiday shopping season, both for the retailers and consumers. However, the perfect strategy would be to keep the cyber security guard up, right across the year. This round-the-year approach helps imbibe the best online shopping practices; thereby safeguarding the finances and mitigating unfortunate attacks.

According to World Health Organization, in each and every year more than 1.25 million people die in the road accidents or traffic crashes, and many are injured. As we know, sudden loss of a person or a body part is very terrible to manage their whole life. Mostly teens are injured and died in the road accidents because lack of awareness about driving skills and distracted driving solutions.

Distracted driving means the act of driving while engaged in other activities, which takes drivers attention and that causes an accident. To avoid those accidents, distracted driving solutions are introduced, which are helpful to avoid and prevent the vehicle crashes.

Some of the well-known companies provide solutions for distracted driving with DriveScreen technology that can be managed by the Android mobile devices. It offers great control over your surroundings and allows you to use any application, such as block, launch, hide and etc.

The DriveScreen technology ensures a safe and secure driving at anywhere for any vehicle. This technology is very beneficial due to its excellent features. The benefits include:

• Allows applications to be seen but disables user input.
• Install any app and fill the screen with all kinds of navigation applications, it’s very useful for easy navigation.
• When the vehicle goes in motion the screen can be configured to be hidden by any graphic that you choose. The default is a blank screen.
• Motion detection can be provided by the GPS.
• Works with Windows as well as Android.
• Can work with Android devices, also work with Windows 7, 8.1, and 10.
• Requires only a configuration file to install.
• Processes cannot be stopped by limited users.

This technology works based on GPS signals, it is specially designed to work along with external and internal GPS receivers. If GPS signals are unavailable, it can also work with the help of Motion Sensing devices in the indoor environment.

Best Solutions to Prevent Distracted Driving

• Completely avoid the texting and using mobile devices while driving.
• Keep your eyes on the road and be conscious, when you’re driving.
• Wear helmet or seat belt without fail to protect yourself from injury.
• If you are drowsy or drunk, don’t drive yourself.
• Check for the safety and make an adjustment before start driving.
• Install drive mode apps in your vehicle for easy navigation and to know about the surroundings.
• Secure children and pets before you get underway.
• Avoid eating meals or breakfast while driving on the road.
• Follow the speed limits and traffic rules.