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Beware: Most Mobile VPNs Aren’t as Safe as They Seem

Thinking About a Mobile VPN? Be Careful Which One You Pick

Between an industry-wide push to encrypt all web traffic and the newfound popularity of secure chat apps, it’s been a boom time for online privacy. Virtual private networks, which shield your web traffic from prying eyes, have rightly garnered more attention as well.

BETWEEN AN INDUSTRY-WIDE push to encrypt all web traffic and the newfound popularity of secure chat apps, it’s been a boom time for online privacy. Virtual private networks, which shield your web traffic from prying eyes, have rightly garnered more attention as well. But before you use a VPN to hide your online shopping from the IT department at your company—or help protect yourself from state surveillance—know that not all mobile VPNs are created equal. In fact, some are actively harmful.

“These days, many people know what a VPN is and what they can do with one,” says Kevin Du, a computer security researcher at Syracuse University and IEEE senior member. “Not many people know what a bad or flawed VPN can do to their devices, because they don’t know how VPN works.”
 
VPNs have been around for years, as have their attending trust issues. But while previously VPN enthusiasts were mostly a core base of desktop users, the mobile boom and app store accessibility has created an explosion in mobile VPN offerings. And while some are genuinely looking to offer security and privacy services, plenty do more harm than good.

In a recent in-depth analysis of 283 mobile VPNs on the Google Play Store from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, researchers found significant privacy and security limitations in a majority of the services. Eighteen percent of the mobile VPNs tested created private network “tunnels” for traffic to move through, but didn’t encrypt them at all, exposing user traffic to eavesdropping or man-in-the-middle attacks. Put another way, almost a fifth of the apps in the sample didn’t offer the level of security that’s basically the entire point of VPNs.

Read the rest at wired.com

We’ve reached Peak Infographics. Are you ready for what comes next?

Data Humanism, the Revolution will be Visualized. – giorgia lupi – Medium

Originally published on PrintMag . Data is now recognized as one of the founding pillars of our economy, and the notion that the world grows exponentially richer in data every day is already yesterday’s news. Big Data doesn’t belong to a distant dystopian future; it’s a commodity and an intrinsic and iconic feature of our present - like dollars, concrete, automobiles and Helvetica.

Data is now recognized as one of the founding pillars of our economy, and the notion that the world grows exponentially richer in data every day is already yesterday’s news.

We are ready to question the impersonality of a merely technical approach to data, and to begin designing ways to connect numbers to what they really stand for: knowledge, behaviors, people.
 
Big Data doesn’t belong to a distant dystopian future; it’s a commodity and an intrinsic and iconic feature of our present — like dollars, concrete, automobiles and Helvetica. The ways we relate to data are evolving more rapidly than we realize, and our minds and bodies are naturally adapting to this new hybrid reality built of both physical and informational structures. And visual design — with its power to instantly reach out to places in our subconscious without the mediation of language, and with its inherent ability to convey large amounts of structured and unstructured information across cultures — is going to be even more central to this silent but inevitable revolution.

Complexity is an inherent feature of our existence — the world is rich in information that can be combined in endless ways. Creating new points of view or uncovering something new typically cannot happen at a mere glance; this process of revelation often needs and requires an in-depth investigation of the context.

WordPress Table Prefix: Changing It Does Nothing to Improve Security

Changing your WordPress table prefix is risky to implement and it does absolutely nothing to enhance your site security.

Data BurglarWhat if I told you that a great way to prevent burglaries is to turn off all the lights in your home? That way a burglar would be able to gain entry, but they would not be able to see where your stuff is and so they couldn’t steal it.
 

When you change your table prefix in WordPress you usually use a WordPress security plugin to do the job. Unfortunately the security plugin needs to execute as the change is taking place. That means that during execution, half your tables have one prefix, and the other half have another prefix. If execution stops for any reason you are left with a broken website that you need to restore from backups.

You’d tell me that the burglar would either bring a flashlight or turn on the lights themselves.

It’s exactly the same concept when it comes to renaming your WordPress database table prefix. Once an attacker can access your database using SQL injection, they are inside your home. If you rename your database tables using a unique prefix, you’ve turned out the lights in your home.

So what’s the first thing an attacker does? They do this:

Bypass renamed WordPress table prefix

The output of this query is:

Bypass renamed WordPress table prefix

The above query simply asks the database what WordPress table prefix is being used for the postmeta table. It turns on the lights.

Any bot, attack script or manual attack, using a tool like sqlmap, will always run a query like the above before assuming any default table prefix.

Changing your WordPress table prefix for security reasons does not make a SQL injection attack “slightly harder” for attackers. They simply run the above query before assuming your tables have a default prefix.

WordPress Table Prefix: Changing It Does Nothing to Improve Security

This entry was posted in WordPress Security on December 28, 2016 by mark 1 Reply There is an idea that was popularized a few years ago that if you change WordPress table prefix in your database, it helps protect your WordPress website from attackers.

Huge Increase in Brute Force Attacks Against WordPress

Last week, WordPress security firm WordFence revealed it detected over 1.65 million brute-force attacks originating from an ISP in Ukraine that generated more malicious traffic than GoDaddy, OVH, and Rostelecom, put together. A week later, after news of WordFence’s findings came to light, Ukrainian users have tracked down the ISP to a company called SKS-Lugan in the city of Alchevs’k, in an area controlled by pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. All clues point to the fact that the ISP’s owners are using the chaos created by the Ukrainian civil war to host cyber-crime operations on their servers. Some of the criminal activities the ISP hosts, besides servers for launching brute-force attacks, include command-and-control servers for the Locky ransomware, [email, comment, and forum] spam botnets, illegal streaming sites, DDoS stressers, carding sites, several banking trojans (Vawtrack, Tinba), and infostealers (Pony, Neurevt).

More details have surfaced regarding a recent wave of brute-force attacks (dictionary attacks to be more accurate) that have targeted WordPress sites over the past few weeks.

Huge Increase in Brute Force Attacks in December and What to Do – Wordfence

Update: We posted a follow-up to this post on Monday December 19th which goes into more detail about the Ukraine IP block where these attacks originate from and we discuss possible Russia involvement. At Wordfence we constantly monitor the WordPress attack landscape in real-time.

TA16-336A: Avalanche Crimeware Alert

TA16-336A: Avalanche (crimeware-as-a-service infrastructure)

Systems Affected

Microsoft Windows

Overview

“Avalanche” refers to a large global network hosting infrastructure used by cyber criminals to conduct phishing and malware distribution campaigns and money mule schemes. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), is releasing this Technical Alert to provide further information about Avalanche.

Description

Cyber criminals utilized Avalanche botnet infrastructure to host and distribute a variety of malware variants to victims, including the targeting of over 40 major financial institutions. Victims may have had their sensitive personal information stolen (e.g., user account credentials). Victims’ compromised systems may also have been used to conduct other malicious activity, such as launching denial-of-service (DoS) attacks or distributing malware variants to other victims’ computers.

In addition, Avalanche infrastructure was used to run money mule schemes where criminals recruited people to commit fraud involving transporting and laundering stolen money or merchandise.

Impact

A system infected with Avalanche-associated malware may be subject to malicious activity including the theft of user credentials and other sensitive data, such as banking and credit card information. Some of the malware had the capability to encrypt user files and demand a ransom be paid by the victim to regain access to those files. In addition, the malware may have allowed criminals unauthorized remote access to the infected computer. Infected systems could have been used to conduct distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.

Solution

Users are advised to take the following actions to remediate malware infections associated with Avalanche:

  • Use and maintain anti-virus software – Anti-virus software recognizes and protects your computer against most known viruses. Even though parts of Avalanche are designed to evade detection, security companies are continuously updating their software to counter these advanced threats. Therefore, it is important to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. If you suspect you may be a victim of an Avalanche malware, update your anti-virus software definitions and run a full-system scan. (See Understanding Anti-Virus Software for more information.)
  • Avoid clicking links in email – Attackers have become very skilled at making phishing emails look legitimate. Users should ensure the link is legitimate by typing the link into a new browser (see Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Attacks for more information).
  • Change your passwords – Your original passwords may have been compromised during the infection, so you should change them. (See Choosing and Protecting Passwords for more information.)
  • Keep your operating system and application software up-to-date – Install software patches so that attackers cannot take advantage of known problems or vulnerabilities. You should enable automatic updates of the operating system if this option is available. (See Understanding Patches for more information.)
  • Use anti-malware tools – Using a legitimate program that identifies and removes malware can help eliminate an infection. Users can consider employing a remediation tool. A non-exhaustive list of examples is provided below. The U.S. Government does not endorse or support any particular product or vendor.

ESET Online Scanner

          https://www.eset.com/us/online-scanner/(link is external)

F-Secure

          https://www.f-secure.com/en/web/home_global/online-scanner(link is external)

McAfee Stinger

          http://www.mcafee.com/us/downloads/free-tools/index.aspx(link is external)

Microsoft Safety Scanner

          https://www.microsoft.com/security/scanner/en-us/default.aspx(link is external)

Norton Power Eraser

          https://norton.com/npe(link is external)

Revisions

  • December 1, 2016: Initial release

 

Avalanche (crimeware-as-a-service infrastructure) | US-CERT

Cyber criminals utilized Avalanche botnet infrastructure to host and distribute a variety of malware variants to victims, including the targeting of over 40 major financial institutions. Victims may have had their sensitive personal information stolen (e.g., user account credentials).

The Truth Behind Ink & Toners

The Truth Behind Ink & Toners

Today’s modern home and office printers are predominately based on one of two popular technologies, Laser or Inkjet. While manufacturers of printers will play up the assumption that the cost printers evolve around the machine, the true cost of printers is not in the printers, but in the supplies. With either technology, the cost of the ink and toners, are usually one half the cost of the printer or more. But if you stop to consider, it’s difficult to come to the conclusion that more than half the cost to manufacture a printer would be the printer cartridge. Especially considering that more and more of the cartridges you buy as the printer gets older, including ones sold as OEM, will be remanufactured empties that get recycled. Yes, even original equipment manufacturers remanufacture and resell the cartridges. The only difference is that OEM’s don’t discount or distinguish between first run and remanufactured cartridges.

The profit model for modern printers is based on this same basic idea, they give away the printer at an extremely low margin or even at a loss but make up for it in years of ink and toner sales. But you can’t really blame the manufacturers. When the average consumer shops, they generally just look at the initial, “out-the-door” price. Just give it some thought. If you were shopping for a new laser printer and you saw two competing models with comparable features from comparably reputable brands, if one were selling for 1150 and the other were 1350, you would probably buy the 1150 model all things being equal. But they would not be equal, because the replacement cartridges for the cheaper model would be 180 and the cartridges for the other would be 130.

Assuming you went through a cartridge a month, after a year, you would have spent a third more on the cheaper printer.

Read the rest here..
 

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Why Visitors to Your Website Don’t Donate

Why Visitors to Your Website Don’t Donate, and a Few Things You Can Do About It.

Getting visitors to your nonprofit’s online fundraising site isn’t as easy as it sounds, and then trying to convert those visitors into donors is even harder.

The M+R Benchmark Study found that, on average, only 1.1 percent of website visitors made a donation to a nonprofit. Couple that with the fact that for every 1,000 website visitors, a nonprofit raises $612, and you can see that the nonprofit sector is struggling with conversion.

Nonprofits need to start capitalizing on presence of the visitors they already have. By converting those visitors into donors, your nonprofit is bound to increase your donor base and income.

There are a number of reasons why visitors to your website don’t donate. Let’s discuss four of them in detail..

4 Reasons Visitors to Your Website Don’t Donate

Getting visitors to your nonprofit’s online fundraising site isn’t as easy as it sounds, and then trying to convert those visitors into donors is even harder. The M+R Benchmark Study found that, on average, only 1.1 percent of website visitors made a donation to a nonprofit.

Warning: Google Enables Personally Identifiable Web Tracking

Google Using Personally-Identifiable Information to Track Your Every Move?The practical result of the change is that the DoubleClick ads that follow people around on the web may now be customized to them based on the keywords they used in their Gmail. It also means that Google could now, if it wished to, build a complete portrait of a user by name, based on everything they write in email, every website they visit and the searches they conduct.

The move is a sea change for Google and a further blow to the online ad industry’s longstanding contention that web tracking is mostly anonymous. In recent years, Facebook, offline data brokers and others have increasingly sought to combine their troves of web tracking data with people’s real names. But until this summer, Google held the line.

To opt-out of Google’s identified tracking, visit the Activity controls on Google’s My Account page, and uncheck the box next to “Include Chrome browsing history and activity from websites and apps that use Google services.” You can also delete past activity from your account.

“The fact that DoubleClick data wasn’t being regularly connected to personally identifiable information was a really significant last stand,” said Paul Ohm, faculty director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown Law.

“It was a border wall between being watched everywhere and maintaining a tiny semblance of privacy,” he said. “That wall has just fallen.”

https://www.propublica.org/article/google-has-quietly-dropped-ban-on-personally-identifiable-web-tracking

Is Trying to Calculate Organic Reach on Facebook a Waste of Time?

Just because 4% of your friends/followers/customers were shown your posts in their News Feed over the last month, that doesn’t mean they actually saw and read them. That’s why organic reach is considered by many to be a nonsensical number.

A more useful metric to track is your “Engagement Rate.” Engagement is defined as people who liked/reacted, commented, clicked, or shared your posts.

Here’s how to do that..

HOW TO: Calculate Your Nonprofit’s Organic Reach on Facebook

According to Facebook , organic reach is the total number of unique people who are shown your post(s) in their News Feed through unpaid distribution and although Facebook Insights provide a lot of useful data about your fans and reach (organic and paid), the one critical piece of data not provided is your nonprofit’s weekly, monthly, or quarterly average organic reach.

10 New iOS 10 Settings You Should Change

10 New iOS 10 Settings You Should Change

iOS 10 is here, and it’s packing a number of very cool new features. To activate some of those features – like sending read receipts in Messages or having Siri announce calls – you’ll need to tweak a few settings. A few other new options will change how your device behaves with iOS 10.

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