Ensure your business’ digital infrastructure survives the 2017 Kenyan elections 0 1571

  • Ensure you can verify the backup plan. You MUST be able to test your Disaster Recovery plan. Do not let a disaster be your first test.
  • Make sure that your whole environment / workforce is being backed up – including your remote workers and any SaaS applications you are using (e.g. Office 365 / G Suite)
  • Do not leave external storage used for backups connected to your computer to eliminate the risk of infecting your backups.
  • It is essential that you replicate your backups off site to ensure business continuity in the event of a site issue.
digital-infrastructure-survives-2017-kenyan-elections

The high point of any democracy is the opportunity for citizens to participate in their State’s leadership through elections, general or otherwise.

In Kenya, the 2017 election has been met with immense expectation, with citizens eager to air their political views and politicians stepping up their campaigns to attain office. Politics remains the lifeblood of the Kenyan people, who seem at their best when discussing who deserves and who doesn’t deserve to sit on the Nation’s throne and why the circumstances are so.

Kenya’s elections, however, are haunted by the dark memory of 2007, when politics plunged Kenya into chaos resulting in brother turning against brother, with the monumental destruction of property and lives. The latter has resulted in a phobia of democratic elections as the threat of violence looms with just as much as probability as peaceful elections.

This is evidenced by numerous organisations commitment to either physically fortify their local tangible assets, or to close shop locally for the duration of the election period.

Local cybersecurity experts are particularly intrigued

Cybersecurity researchers are equally intrigued by the nature of Kenyan elections. This is due to certain viruses socially engineered to specifically target Kenyan users during this period and how savvy organisations are leveraging cybersecurity to guarantee the physical security and the data integrity of their consumers and staff.

Moreover, competent organisations are investing in crucial business continuity solutions to enable businesses to survive the risks which could be realised by the political situation in the nation.

The Kibaki Virus: a Product of the 2007 elections

One of the enigmas of the 2007 elections was the proliferation of the “Kibaki” virus throughout Eastern and Central Africa. The latter virus, W32.Baki.C, struck Kenya’s digital ecosystem with impunity, due to the self-replicating nature of the worm.

Notably, once a computer was infected, the virus modified the registry such that the website associated with the threat would be displayed when the computer starts or whenever Internet Explorer is opened.

The page includes: an unsolicited request to vote for the then incumbent President Mwai Kibaki, for another five years as well as a summary of his manifesto. The latter highlights that the malware author was politically motivated and intended to use the virus to spread political propaganda.

One of the fundamental elements of the Kibaki virus was its ability to disable various antivirus brands. These included: Panda software, AVG and Avast4 brands whose registry subkeys were promptly deleted by the worm upon infection.

Removal of the Kibaki Virus:

The method of removal of the virus, includes the following steps:

  • If you are running Windows Me or Windows XP, we recommend that you temporarily turn off System Restore. Windows Me/XP uses this feature, which is enabled by default, to restore the files on your computer in case they become damaged. If a virus, worm, or Trojan infects a computer, System Restore may back up the virus, worm, or Trojan on the computer.
  • Windows prevents outside programs, including antivirus programs, from modifying System Restore. Therefore, antivirus programs or tools cannot remove threats in the System Restore folder. As a result, System Restore has the potential of restoring an infected file on your computer, even after you have cleaned the infected files from all the other locations. Also, a virus scan may detect a threat in the System Restore folder even though you have removed the threat.
  • Inventory reputable antivirus software, in order to update the virus definitions, to run a full system scan and delete the worm from the registry.

With the growth of ransomware in 2017:

There exists the probability that a new ransomware outbreak particularly tailored against the Kenyan digital market could break out. The malware authors of the Kibaki virus clearly had the agenda to spread political propaganda, however, with the development of evolved malware such as Wannacry and Petya, much more ominous cybercriminals could take advantage of Kenya’s election fever and may wreak havoc on the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Business Continuity and Cybersecurity:

With the threat of violence looming during this election, Kenyan businesses should take the following steps i to safeguard their businesses:

  • Ensure that you inventory reputable
  • Ensure you can verify the backup plan. You MUST be able to test your Disaster Recovery plan. Do not let a disaster be your first test.
  • Make sure that your whole environment / workforce is being backed up – including your remote workers and any SaaS applications you are using (e.g. Office 365 / G Suite)
  • Do not leave external storage used for backups connected to your computer to eliminate the risk of infecting your backups.
  • It is essential that you replicate your backups off site to ensure business continuity in the event of a site issue.
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How To Easily Set Up a VPN at Home 0 224

Woman working at home

As the COVID-19 pandemic has many organizations switching employees to remote work, a virtual private network is essential for countering the increased security risks

Probably, you have been forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak (recommended to reduce the spread of the virus). However, you are wondering how you will set up your VPN to enable secure communication.

Well, don’t agonize too much; we shall first explain to you what a VPN entails. And then, provide you with a step by step procedure for setting a basic Virtual Private Network. Here we go!

First, what is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

Essentially, a VPN is a private channel within a wider (open) network that enables you to communicate with your peers (other nodes with similar settings) without leaking your information through the use of encryption.

Besides, you can utilize a VPN to initiate communication through any network without revealing your location. In any case, a significant number of vendors deal with clients needing such services to avoid being tracked or be able to bypass particular network filters. 

However, in our case, we shall consider a home office VPN that will create a communication tunnel for your practical and secure home office communication.

Is it necessary to set up a virtual private network?

For there to be any communication between two endpoints ─ your pc and the computer in the main office –, they must be configured.

In this case, you’ll require the services of your IT department (if you have one), who will guide you regarding the applications to install, as well as provide you with VPN credentials depending on your needs. Upon installing and configuring the said app, you can automatically establish communication through the provided link. Easy-peasy, right?

On the other hand, if you don’t have an IT department behind your back, then you may have to do it yourself. These shouldn’t; however, scare you at all; it’s not as tough as you might imagine.

But before we explore the nitty-gritty of setting up the VPN, we first need to identify the options we have. In our case, we shall examine two options:

  • Open VPN: standard in small office/home office and business-class routers
  • IP Sec: Is Built-in and commonly used by desktops, smartphones, and laptops

The Open Virtual Private Network

This type of VPN has been around for a long time and has proved itself secure and reliable. It is ideal for small office/ house offices, as well as business-class routers, thanks to its open-source nature.

Procedure for installation

  1. On a contemporary device, go to the router’s configuration screen and click the relevant buttons to access your office network
  2. Download the configuration file generated by the router
  3. Use this file to configure/setup the OpenVPN in your pc, smartphone, or desktop that you want to use to access the Network behind that particular router. In case you get stuck somewhere, you can download or follow an online tutorial for your specific router.
  4. Download the required apps that will enable you to access your new home office VPN from this website.
  5. Install the downloaded applications and then configure them using the files generated when setting up the Open VPN on your office router.

In the event you find the going tough, you can always consult with an online tutorial or IT personnel.

Internet Protocol Security

IPsec is also another technology that has been in use for an extended period to provide reasonable security. It utilizes the same working principles as the OpenVPN; however, it is mostly used on lower-cost routers. Besides, it is a built-in technology in most desktops, laptops, and smartphones; therefore, it eliminates the need for installing another application on your device.

The installation process is similar to that one of OpenVPN. However, implementing a particular router IPsec can sometimes be a little more complicated compared to installing an open VPN.

Fortunately, with the use of native tools on your remote endpoints, you can offset this by just typing in a few things, such as the required IP address and credentials.

Final thoughts

Conclusively, these are some of the simplest virtual net protection options you can install on your home system without requiring massive/no input from IT experts.

Importantly, you will need a beefier than standard broadband for quick communication over the VPN. Also, you may experience slower connections due to the much horsepower required to keep the connection encrypted and tunneled. Nevertheless, this is a small price to pay in exchange for a secure home office communication.

In case you required any advice regarding VPN options or installation services, then 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 security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-days trial for free.

How To Improve Communication Security with MFA 0 625

Person working on two factor authentication

Remote work can be much safer with the basic cyber-hygiene practices in place – multi-factor authentication is one of them

If you are working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is essential to integrate two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication in your daily login routine. That way, you can beat fraudsters at their own game, since the security of your essentials isn’t wholly dependent on passwords alone.

The interesting bit with this technology is that you may have already seen it in action; for instance, when requesting access to your bank account via your smartphone. In this case, you must enter the one-time code sent to you in addition to your password to gain access.

See, enabling such double authentication processes on all your logins can make it difficult for scammers to access your accounts even if they compromise your passwords.

That said, you may now want to know which MFA option to use? Well, we take a look at some of the ways you can utilize MFA to bolster the security of your connections when working remotely.

  1. First, the use of a physical token

To implement this technique, you will require a physical device such as a security USB key, a key fob, or a similar item that will generate a secure code for verification purposes.

You’ll mostly be required to integrate this method if you need access to your cloud-based applications, online office applications, or corporate office technology. The YubiKey or Thetis is an example of such a device that you can purchase with less than US$50.

For convenience purposes, most of these devices are designed tiny; you can carry them in your pant pocket or hang them on a keychain for safety purposes. 

2. Use of a mobile phone

Most likely, you own a smartphone, right?

If yes, you can use it to boost your MFA security capabilities. For instance, you can download an authentication app such as Google Authenticator, ESET Secure Authentication, or Authy for your use.

The only caveat here is to ensure your source has a reputable security background. This is informed by the fact that the app is going to reside inside your smartphone, which is also vulnerable to security threats; therefore, robust security is required to avoid pre-emptying your security efforts.

Importantly, be on the lookout for spam messages when using your phone as they can trick you into compromising your accounts.

Fortunately, if you download applications from reputable sources, you can be offered a solution in case you have an issue with the platform itself.

3. Use of Biometrics

Factually, no single human being shares a fingerprint or retinal scan with another. This unique feature has been conveniently utilized overtime to provide robust multi-factor Authentication. 

You can also utilize the same to secure your connections.  For instance, you can take a picture of your face or scan your fingerprint using a biometric reader – currently, a common feature in smartphones or other devices ─, and then integrate it in your login procedure. These will prevent any other user from accessing your accounts or private information.

On the flip side, some folks feel that the technique is somehow creepy; therefore, give it a wide bath. Besides, it can present a challenge when you need to reset your bio features if your service provider is hacked.

Final thoughts

When scouting for a suitable MFA option for your needs, it is vital to consider one that can easily fit your routine. This stems from the fact that without proper utilization, an MFA option can’t protect you.

Similarly, an MFA technique can allow some side benefits as well. For instance, in the event of a security breach, you will be notified that your password has been interfered with; this can enable you to implement mitigation measures. Not only that, but you also get protected from the would-be attack since the fraudsters wouldn’t have access to your other factors.

In case you require a secure authentication application or consultation regarding MFA options, then 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 security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software. 

Try our extended 90-days trial for free.