You are an integral part of the IOT

What is ‘IOT’ and How are you an integral part of it?

Let me explain –

‘IOT’ is an acronym for the ‘Internet of Things’

The ‘Internet of Things’ means the machines connected to the internet.  In the today’s digital world, everything is connected to the internet.  Let it be mobile phones, smart phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, iPhones, iPods, iPads, etc.  Even offices, houses and cars are today online.  Online in the sense, many people opt for converting simple operated utilities like power connections, telecom, locks, etc. in their offices, houses and cars into Wi-Fi connections thinking that it would be safe and would be under their control even when they are not present at that place.  In many five star hotels as well, iPods are used to control all the things that require power including room locks considering ease and convenience of the users.  Indeed, they are useful even in houses and cars.  However, when you connect to the internet from anywhere, it becomes your responsibility to first know the pros and cons of connecting everything online and then be accountable for the security and safety of your houses, cars, hotels visitors and their personal information, employees at work and all your belongings.  The simple act of using a mobile or a smart phone needs your vigilance while accessing internet for any purpose.

In today’s digital world, cyber crimes have increased because of lack of knowledge and vigilance on the part of the users of the internet and the connected devices.  There are numerous intrusion prevention and detection systems available in the market today.  There is not scarcity of expert engineers who are dedicated to information security day in and day out.  There are so many organizations that are working for the security of this digital world in one or the other way, however, day by day cyber crime is taking a speed every year at an increasing rate.  The main reason for this increase in cyber crime is lack of knowledge and vigilance on the part of individuals using the internet and the connected gadgets, and the lack of seriousness regarding information security among the business houses.

Everyone who is connected to the internet is an integral part of the IOT and so you are not an exception.  You too are an integral and the most important part of the IOT.  The fast you acknowledge this fact, the fast you would be able to learn about the pros and cons of the internet and the IOT, and thereby prevent yourself and your belongings from cyber threats.

Internet is a boon because it gives you so many benefits connecting you to the world at the tap of your fingers; however it will not take any longer for it to become a threat if you are not vigilant while being online.  It is wise to have at least a basic knowledge about the web and the gadgets that connect you to the web.  Expert knowledge is not expected from everyone but basic knowledge is because when you are online, only you are responsible for your actions that you take online and the consequences of those actions and the parties affected online as well as offline.

So today for every individual, the businesses, the local authorities, the governments and every other person connected to the internet, the need of an hour is being vigilant online.

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‘DuckDuckGo’ doesn’t track you

Hey guys!

I am back with another interesting and useful post about cyber security.  For past many months I have been using ‘DuckDuckGo’ as my default search engine and I am really satisfied with the results.  Earlier I was using Google search engine which I stopped when I came to know that Google tracks our search behavior and manipulates results based on that.  Also, I read that Google sells our data to third party for providing better services.  I don’t know how much factual this information is about selling the data, however, I decided to go for alternate search engine that doesn’t track my data.  While reading an article about cyber security, I came across the search engine ‘DuckDuckGo’ that doesn’t track data.  I thought to try it and made it my default search engine, thereafter I did not go back to google.  I seldom visit google and that is only for google maps but it is extremely rare.  I am very much satisfied with this alternative search Engine.  Recently I read an article regarding advantages of duckduckgo over google.  The article was really helpful to know important features of duckduckgo search engine which I was not aware of.

I am glad to share that article with you all.  Do read and let me know your view on this.  If you are using duckduckgo, I would like to know your experience with this search engine and if you are using google and desire to change it, try duckduckgo.  It is amazing.

https://gadgets.ndtv.com/internet/features/12-things-duckduckgo-can-do-that-google-cant-596526

Love

Gargi

 

Should you delete ‘Cookies’ stored during your online activities?

Hey guys,

I was wondering if ‘Cookies’ **can be harmful for our privacy online since they are stored during our online activities.  As you know, cookies are important for smooth functioning of our browsing activities, we need to allow cookies to be stored on our computer.  Some cookies are temporary and some are sort of permanent that need to be deleted manually through privacy setting options.  It is good to delete some cookies that enable third party tracking.  While studying about cookies, I came across a good detailed information about various kinds of cookies and if they should be deleted to protect our privacy.  I am pleased to share here the website that gave a really good information in the regard.

https://security.stackexchange.com/questions/97536/should-i-regularly-erase-cookies

Visit this website if you want to know more about cookies and how to handle them to make your online activity more efficient and safe.

** Cookies are the text files that are stored on our computer once we accept cookies from the websites we visit.  These cookies are helpful for smooth functioning of the browsing session every time we visit the same websites.

More thoughts on this topic are welcomed.  Do share your thoughts here in the comment.  If you want me to write on any other cyber security topic, kindly mention in the comment box below.

Thanks & Regards

Gargi

 

How to Check the Security Certificate of the bank’s website

Hey Guy,

This post is all about secured online banking.  Online banking is very common now a days.  It is comfortable and at the tip of your finger, you can transfer funds from anywhere in the world.  Internet or mobile banking is a boon.  However, there are some good points that need to be considered before you login to your bank account.  Taking care of these points will ensure safe online banking.  Of course, keeping your login credentials safe is important for they can be misused if shared, but it is equally important for you to check whether the web page on which you enter your login credentials like User ID and Password, is genuine and not a phished [fake] page.  So now let’s see the important points here below:

  1. Check the URL of the bank’s internet banking website.  All the banks have a separate online banking website.  When you type the URL in the browser’s address bar, check well in advance that the URL is correct.
  2. If the URL is correct, you will see a padlock icon on the address bar when the web page is opened.  It is located just before the URL starts.  The padlock icon refers to the secured website.
  3. The URL will start with ‘https’. Here the ‘s’ after the ‘http’ refers to the secured site.
  4. In some browsers, the address bar turns green when the web page is opened and in some cases the padlock icon turns green.  I use Mozilla Firefox.  In my case, the padlock icon turns green.  See the screen shot here for better understanding:

SBI online webpage

Fig 1. Image courtesy: Gargi Akolkar

In this screen shot you can see the green padlock icon in the address bar before the URL https://www.onlinesbi.com

This padlock icon consists the security certificate issued to the bank confirming that the website is secured per required standards.  I have taken here the example of the State Bank of India’s online banking website.  Now after checking this padlock icon and the URL, let us see how to check the security certificate.

  • Click the padlock icon.  Then, you will see the option to check in the secured connection as shown in this screen shot below: [ I have opened the personal login page here, you can also check the certificate before opening personal login page]

SBI online security cert 1

Fig 2. Image courtesy: Gargi Akolkar

  • Now click the secured connection option [the first option in the screen shot above] and you will see a dialogue box opened [In the screen shot below].

SBI online security cert 3

Fig 3. Image courtesy: Gargi Akolkar

  • Click the ‘View Certificate’ option and the certificate will be shown

SBI online security cert 4

Fig 4. Image courtesy: Gargi Akolkar

In the above screen shot you can see the security certificate that the bank has got for this online banking website.  You will see all the details regarding the certificate. The domain name of the bank’s online website, the name of the bank, Serial number of the certificate that is unique for every bank, Period of validity, Issuing entity, and SHA 256 number.  This SHA 256 is the security algorithm that provides secured transmission of data over the internet when you open the website and login to operate your online bank account.  You can also check the validity of the certificate.  The bank regularly renews the certificate after the validity is over, however, it is better that we check it regularly before logging into our account.

These were the steps to check the security certificate of the online banking website.  Always check the security certificate before you go ahead with putting your login credentials on the web page.  In fact, you can check security certificate for any website for which the padlock icon appears.

If you have any questions, please feel free to write to me.  If I have missed any point to mention above, please let me know.  Share your thoughts about this post.  If you like this post, kindly like, comment, share and subscribe to my blog for more useful updates.

Thank you

Love

Gargi

Strava Global Heatmap is only one example – No wonder what’s coming next

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Image credit: pixabay.com

Recently Strava [A social network of athletes, a fitness app] released their long awaited Global Heat Map showing the activities of their fitness app users.  The map consisted cycling activity, runs, water and winter activities being carried out across the globe by the users.  One can find any place and the related activities on the map https://labs.strava.com/heatmap/#13.00/-98.61707/29.39043/hot/ride.  If we really see the utility of a fitness app, we can safely say that such apps are not required for tracking and maintaining our fitness activities.  I am not using any fitness app yet, however, the information about this global heat map from Strava did drew my attention towards a big question about data security of the users and the economy as a whole.  In future if other fitness apps come up with such heat maps or live GPS tracking, it will be of a great concern for every individual and not only for defense.  This map could be exploited by bad guys in every possible way and so one of the important steps that US Defense Secretary took was to review the fitness app use policies following the news this weekend that an app used by troops revealed sensitive military information, [https://www.c4isrnet.com/intel-geoint/2018/01/28/how-a-popular-running-app-could-jeopardize-military-secrets/].  Go to the links given here for the detail information.  They are worth visiting.

If you are using Strava or any other fitness app on your smart phone or smart watch, consider the above information and decide whether to continue to use it or not.  Remember, the data disclosed by those apps publicly is merely a fraction of the entire data set that they have about you.  You don’t know how your data is being used.  Your sensitive data is your responsibility, only yours.

Thoughts on the above post are welcomed.

Thanks

Love

Gargi

 

3 Important points worth considering for cyber security

Hey guys,

I was reading a blog on cyber security where I saw the 3 important considerations worth taking note of, for protecting our PCs from cyber threats.  Prevention is always better than cure.   I agree to what the author has mentioned here.  Check out the three rules that the author has emphasized here, they are really important.

https://krebsonsecurity.com/2011/05/krebss-3-basic-rules-for-online-safety/

Thanks

Love

Gargi

Protect your browsing with WOT

When you search for any information by putting your search query into the search engine, you get hundreds of results strings that include trusted as well as untrusted sites. Now, how do you know if any website showed in the search result comes from a trusted source. If you are familiar with the website then you would know that its genuine and reliable, however, what if the website is unknown. If you have a specific application installed on your PC to check the website’s reliability, then you might have the answer to my question. Mostly, people do not go for any such solution and keep browsing in an unsafe environment. It is vital to know which websites are genuine and comes from trusted sources because the security of your data should be the number one priority for you and your information assets at anytime.

I have been using a security application named ‘WOT’ https://www.mywot.com/en/download for protecting my web surfing and accessing websites for past more than 6 months and I would say it is amazing. I am really happy with the way it works and I am more confident now in clicking the search result links. I would like to clarify here that I am not endorsing this app but truly desire to share something that would help you protect your web browsing and make your online search experience more enjoyable.

‘WOT’ is an abbreviation for ‘Web of Trust’. WOT shows website reputation icons next to links in most search engines, social media, and many popular websites. These reputation icons appear besides each of the links in the search result in different colors based on the four kind of ratings. Green color for Safe, Yellow color for Suspicious, Red for Unsafe and White for not rated websites. These ratings are arrived at based on user ratings. It is based on crowdsourcing approach that collects ratings and reviews from a global communiy of millions of users who rate and comment on websites based on their personal experiences, as mentioned in app introduction. This application supports 4 kind of browsers; Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari. I am using it on Mozilla Firefox.

Download this application on your PC for your browser https://www.mywot.com/en/download. Once installed you will see reputation icons besides websites in the search results. Also, you will see the same color icon on the top right corner in your tool bar in your browser window. As a wise person, I know you will click only on safe links indicated by green icon once you install this app. If you click on the icon, you will see the ratings and reviews about that website for your information. This app is also available for Android phones.

If you desire safe browsing, do look into using this application. If you know any other good app for this purpose, do share here in the comment box below.

Have a happy & safe surfing.

Love
Gargi. 

Cyber Security – Breaking Bio-metrics

When there are rules, there are rule breakers.  This is the fact in today’s world and will always remain no matter what the area of life.  No one like rules however rules are important and required to some extent to create a healthy and disciplined atmosphere.  Same applies to cyber security.  In order to prevent our crucial data, we are working in and out to find new ways to come up with products and services that would ensure mitigation of cyber risks to some extent.  ‘Bio-metrics’ is one of the solutions that is used in today’s world for identity authentication.

Since, the innovation is done by humans for protecting the data from other humans, these humans with malicious intent also works in and out to break those prevention techniques and are successful in most of the instances.  However, bio-metrics are one of the strong authentication techniques and cannot be under estimated.  Many international banks are now using advanced bio-metric systems for user authentications.  However, there are many ways to break into those systems and get unauthorized access though with negligible chances of success as confirmed by the service providers.

The video below will show you how these strong authentication systems are tested for its accuracy in preventing an unauthorized access to the user accounts and also the word of caution that a user of IOT must take into account when using the devices.  This is a very informative video.  Do watch till the end and share your views on this topic.  I would be glad to hear from you.

PS:  Every user of the device must be vigilant while buying, using and selling the devices.

 

Thanks

Love

Gargi