Secure Your Router from Internet of Things (IOT) Takedowns 0 620

Internet of Things Takedowns

The Communications Authority (CA) fourth quarter report for 2015-2016, notes Kenya has about 10.8 million broadband internet subscriptions.

This means that slightly over a quarter of Kenyans now connect to the Internet on 3G connections or higher, mostly via affordable smart phones and broadband charges.

On the other end of the spectrum Internet Service providers (ISP) have provided attractive packages to home users on the back of Fiber to Home (FTH) connections, mostly in the urban areas.

Thus, we are witnessing the advent of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. As technology advances, Kenyans are now adopting and buying vastly interconnected devices for the home, enticed by the prospects of IoT.

Supported by a duplicity of applications and online platforms all accessible and available on a 24/7 basis, examples of these include smart phones, computers, Internet Protocol (IP) security cameras, Video games, smart televisions and digital video recorders (DVRs) among others.

Perhaps second to smart phones, the most universal connectivity device in the home are internet broadband routers. These act as the gateways to whichever ISP network we subscribe to and are necessary for successful signal distribution, making them attractive targets for cyber-criminals.

“Poorly configured or managed internet broadband routers could be the biggest cyber-risk targets locally. We know from experience that unsecured routers can easily fall prey to cyber-attacks”, says Teddy Njoroge, Country Manager for Internet Security company ESET East Africa.

In November as many as 900,000 Deutsche Telekom customers in Germany were taken offline over a two-day period, as cyber-criminals attempted to deliver a huge Distributed Denial of Service (DDos) attack by hijacking the ISP’s internet broadband routers into a botnet.

A DDos occurs when cyber-criminals access and commandeer devices, networks and systems into a group of connected and coordinated computers (botnet) for malicious purposes such as to drive immense traffic (request for service) towards a targeted site to the extent of causing a temporary or permanent collapse (denial) of service.

In this instance the attack could fool the vulnerable routers into downloading and executing malicious code. The aim was to crash or exploit them through commands to change settings, steal Wi-Fi credentials, or bombard target websites with unwanted traffic.

The Deutsche Telekom attack was only thwarted when users were advised to switch off their devices and download newly-released firmware updates to patch the exploits. The router being the frontline gate pass to your network, it is important to take extra precautions during set up and configuration.

The key best practice in safeguarding against attacks is carrying out regular updates for your router and IoT devices. These provide patches from manufacturers that take care of any potential vulnerabilities.

Ensuring your router is well configured and not relying on the default manufacturer settings such as usernames and passwords could help curb this menace.

“Failure to change these is a huge risk since default login details can be hacked online, allowing cyber-criminals to take over your connected devices. Always Change and provide Strong passwords with a mix of Upper case, lower case, numbers and special characters for all your devices as necessary”, says Njoroge.

Related to this is the need to implement a strong password for your Wi-Fi Connection. If supported by encryption the better your security against potential attacksPasswords should only be accessible to the authorized people using the connection.

These should be reset regularly and which also applies to the Access Point (AP) credentials. It is good practice to change the name of your AP to make it difficult for hackers to easily identify who it belongs to, or what router is providing the service.

Another weak spot is the Remote Management function. Ensure this feature is only turned on when you are certain that you are accessing a safe internet connection. Disable the Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) feature and which is a weak point that can allow access to hackers as it potentially may bypass authentication.

Lastly, always do some research on routers before you make purchases so that you can determine the ones that have adequate consideration on security.

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5 Surefire Ways To Create a Cybersecure Home Office Experience 0 546

Man working on computer at home

For the next few weeks, you will probably find yourself working from home due to the coronavirus. Make sure you don’t forget about cybersecurity best practices that can help defend you against a cyberattack.

It’s no longer a secret that the current upsurge of the Coronavirus pandemic has disrupted normal operations in a lot of companies. An increasing number of workers are being forced to work from home or any other convenient places away from their company premises.

However, due to a sharp increase in the search volumes for the term Coronavirus, malicious developers are updating their toolkits with malicious links, sites, and Coronavirus-themed scams to capitalize on unsuspecting victims.

Therefore, as an employee working from home, you need to enforce adequate measures to counter such cybercrime threats. In this post, we take a look at five sure tips that can help you secure your home network. Let’s dig in!

1.     Check the default settings in your home router

Your home router is the engine of your home network. Without it, your PC can’t communicate with others on the net. This makes them a primary target for any cybercriminal out there.

In most cases, hackers will try to hack into your home router, and if successful, hijack your Wi-Fi traffic and finally have access to your network.

To prevent such an occurrence, you need to check your router’s settings and change the defaults. This means that you will first need to gain access to your router’s control panel before you make the changes.

Here are the steps:

  1. Open your browser and switch on your home network
  2. Type something like http://192.168.1.1 in your browser
  3. From the router configuration center page, you will be directed to change all the settings that can affect your security. For instance, your default user-names and passwords currently in your router. 
  4. Change your SSID (name of your home network), which stems from the fact that cybercriminals can use it to launch an attack. Case in point, taking a look at the SSIDs of Wi-Fi networks detected from my apartment shows that many of my neighbors are using Huawei routers; which can be free fodder for an attacker.
Screenshot of wi-fi networks on home laptop

To create strong and unique passwords, you can utilize the ESET password manager. One significant advantage of using such is that you don’t need to remember a lot. A single long phrase can be used to manage all your other account passwords with a few clicks.

Screenshot of ESET Password Manager on home laptop

2.     Kick-off any unwanted devices from your home network

Unrecognized devices hovering around your home network pose a significant threat to your system, as they can access your vital documents and credentials without your knowledge.

To fix this situation, you can subscribe to ESET Smart Security Premium, where you’ll enjoy the services of a home connected scanning tool, which can identify pesky neighbors who have been secretly using your Wi-Fi connection. After which you can flush them out from your network and finally change your passwords.

Screenshot of ESET Smart Security Premium on home laptop

3.     Get the latest firmware for your home router – or purchase a new one in case you have a legacy router

A recent discovery by the ESET team of how Wi-Fi chips are vulnerable to attacks brings to the fore, the importance of continually updating your home router’s system software to the latest manufacturer’s standards.

If you discover that you’re utilizing a legacy router, then it’s time you should opt for a new home router.

As a rule of thumb, grab one that has better security measures; such as those from the Gryphon brand that integrates threat intelligence.

This impressive technology provided by ESET enables the router to detect and block malware, phishing sites, as well as other threats that might invade your home network system.

For more information about the current configuration options for your home router, you can check out this blog post.

4.     Communicate through a virtual private network

To discreetly pass information over public networks to evade the ever-present prying eyes, you can enlist the services of a VPN.

It provides a safe tunnel for communication by encrypting your data and sending them in small packets across the network. Decryption only happens at the end of the tunnels, which ensures that your data is safe. 

5.     Make use of the two-factor authentication (2FA) to secure your remote access

Factually, the Remote desktop protocol (RDP) responsible for the security of remote systems has often been prone to attacks, especially where no proper protection is in place.

Cybercriminals, for instance, can hack a system’s RDP through brute-forcing their way in or social engineering passwords out of employees.

Fortunately, with technology such as the ESET Secure Authentication or ESET’s two-factor authentication (2FA) solution, you can secure doubly remote access technologies such as the RDP and VPN, as well as employee credentials.

The double layer of protection emanates from the fact that a 2FA solution requires an employee to enter a one-time code that is delivered to them through an authentication app or SMS, in addition to the usual corporate user-name and password.

As a result, an attacker can not have access to your information or credentials even if they compromise your password.

Final thoughts

Having a cyber secure home office is the way to go if companies are to realize their end goals without suffering significant setbacks due to the prevalent data security threats. ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too. Protect yourself from threats to your online security with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.

Safer Internet Day 2019 0 477

Working together with your children for a better online experience

Beginning in 2004, Safer Internet Day has grown to become one of the landmark events in the online safety calendar. And this year’s theme, ‘Together for a better internet’, encapsulates a lot of the discussion we are seeing around online safety and cybersecurity. The topic is too complex a minefield for any of us to bear sole responsibility and, like all good things in life, we need to work together to bring about the best possible future.

What does it mean to work together where online safety is concerned? It could be an IT security company working closely with a consultation of parents to develop products, or parents and teachers working to ensure the online education of our young people. But what about children themselves? We put a lot of onus on finding the right solutions and products to protect our kids online, but one day those kids will grow up and live without online parental control. We should think about the best way to prepare them; ‘together for a better internet’ should mean working with our children to educate, inform and protect them, so they can stand the best possible change of making the right decisions for themselves.

That’s not to say that software doesn’t play a crucial role, and ESET would encourage all parents to take care over choosing the right parental control software on the family computer. When you are doing this though, we advise you do it together with your kids. Talk them through the programmes you’re installing and select your privacy settings together, discussing why you are doing it and the kinds of threats you’re protecting the family against. As part of this conversation you can talk to your children about what they’re doing online, who they’re talking to and what kinds of things they need to be careful about in day to day online. Many kids see control settings on the internet as a block to them having fun; what they need is someone to explain their function and reasoning. By having this discussion, you’re giving your kids an element of control and responsibility over their online activities which, when paired alongside the rules and software we all need to protect ourselves, should produce better results when it comes to their internet education.

The internet is such an integral part of our lives that the earlier you start talking to kids, involving them and teaching them about their online worlds, the better the results. Creating an open dialogue will always be more effective than just putting your foot down.

Set an example; whatever you expect your kids to do, make sure you are also doing. The online world represents dangers for all of us and we can all benefit from a few more precautions. If you’re asking your kids to cover their webcam when they’re not using it, then make sure you also do it. If you’re restricting their screen time, then think about setting yourself some boundaries as well. With the damaging effects of too many screens on our health and wellbeing, it’s unlikely to have any negative repercussions.

ESET’s software, such as its ESET Parental Control, places a large emphasis on parents and children working together. It helps them to navigate online, manage what apps and websites they use, and decide – together – what’s good for them. One of the key features is age-based filters which helps to manage which apps children can and cannot access, allowing parents to consider the right restrictions for their children and to not just impose a blanket ban. Other features include setting time limits on when children can play on their devices and creating exceptions that kids can request. Parents can even send their children messages which they must acknowledge before they can continue to use their devices.

It’s elements such as these that allow children to be involved in the monitoring of their safety, and truly help parents to work together with their kids for a better internet and the best possible online world.