Hackers are getting more resourceful at getting online users’ details. This means that one needs to become more savvy when browsing the Internet. GERHARD OOSTHUIZEN, CIO of Entersekt, shares his tips on how to be more cyber savvy and secure online.
For the everyday internet user, becoming more cyber savvy is vital. Just as we invest in personal security and keep our wits about us as we move around, so too must we be alert to threats online. Fortunately, becoming more better informed and protecting our online assets doesn’t require huge investments of either time or money. By simply keeping a few golden rules in mind, we can go about our daily internet activities with greater peace of mind, says Gerhard Oosthuizen, CIO at Entersekt.
1. Be smart about your passwords
The most commonly employed line of attack is email phishing. By persuading you to enter your username and password into a fake site or app through a cleverly crafted email, hackers can use these details to access legitimate sites or applications you use. If they have your name, hackers can simply go onto your social sites – such as Facebook and Instagram – and use clues there to guess your passwords.
For example, they might use your dog’s name or mother’s maiden name, your birthday or hometown, to answer security verification questions. The key here is to never repeat a theme, pattern or “recipe” in any of your passwords. It is advisable to use lowercase phrases as passwords (theappletree or ienjoysunsets), instead of merely using different versions of the same password. Work from the assumption that at least one site you have been on – LinkedIn, for example, or a service you may no longer even use – has been breached and your password there is being sold by hackers with tens of thousands of others.
2. Always use two-factor authentication
If an online service gives you the option, implement two-factor authentication, where you confirm your identity or specific intentions through a combination of two different touchpoints. Instead of relying solely on email to reset your password for a certain website or mobile app, two-step verification requires you (or a potential hacker) to provide more information – such as a one-time password (OTP) or an answer to a security question over a separate communication channel. This option is always available for any online platform where a transaction is taking place, although it is very rarely the default security setting. It is, therefore, up to you to ensure that two-factor authentication has been activated for the websites and mobile apps that you regularly access and on which you share personal information. This reduces the risk associated with weak, predictable or stolen passwords.
3. Use your discretion with password managers
Password managers are undoubtedly a very helpful and important tool in an age where we maintain scores of online accounts and depend on several mobile apps daily. They are generally very secure and dependable, but it is worth putting up another line of defence on certain websites that can leave you vulnerable. Use password managers for the bulk of your frequently visited sites or apps (and thus use random/complex passwords that are difficult to remember each time) but also create entirely new and unique passwords for two or three important financial/banking sites. Keep these independent of your password manager.
4. Always be a sceptic
Whenever you are working or transacting online, employ a healthy dose of scepticism and good common sense. Hackers tend to use personalised emails, for example, to lure you into clicking on an unsecure link. So if you haven’t heard from an ex-boss for five years and you receive an unexpected (but friendly) email from him or her, don’t open it. In cases like this, it is best to call the supposed sender or organisation attached to the email directly – don’t simply assume that a familiar tone means it is safe. The same applies to emails about winning or retrieving money – these should immediately trigger alarm bells. It’s always best to delete those “too good to be true” emails.
5. Employ the many tools at your disposal
There are countless tools and apps available to help you become more secure and cyber savvy. For example, websites such as have i been pwned allow you to check if you have an account that has been compromised in a data breach. You can also use VirusTotal, a free service that analyses suspicious files and URLs and “facilitates the quick detection of viruses, worms, trojans, and all kinds of malware.” It is also very important to check the validity of the security certificate on any site through which you will be transacting (if the URL starts with “http” instead of “https”, beware). Finally, always keep your devices updated with the latest software – there is a good reason why the big tech companies work so hard to continually find patches and improve their software: your safety.
Password managers don’t protect you from hackers
Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…
Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).
“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”
In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass. ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.
Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite.
Click here to read the findings from the report.
MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled
Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.
These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.
“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.
“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.
Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.
The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic.
Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.
“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.
The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.
The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/
The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.