October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which has been celebrated annually following a declaration from both the US President and Congress in 2004. It is celebrated as a continuing call for individuals to increase awareness on online cyberattacks and other related threats and to familiarize themselves with Houston cybersecurity solutions that can be easily implemented to prevent them. In BHT Solutions, we believe in individuals harnessing the power of technology and making it work for them. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous individuals prey on the unsuspecting by propagating corporate cybersecurity attacks such as phishing and identity theft. In this article, our IT Solutions expert shall discuss additional Houston Cybersecurity solutions that will help further protect individuals from said attack.
Houston Cybersecurity Solutions: One-Time Pins (OTPs) Centralizes Security in Your Phone
In our previous articles, we have discussed what makes a password strong, and how multi-factor authentication (e.g. OTPs) as a Houston cybersecurity solution adds another layer of security to your online accounts. However, the problem with this is the tendency of your security checks to become centralized in one gadget (i.e. your smartphone). What if your phone gets stolen? PINs and pattern security checks in mass-produced phones are relatively easy to break into.
Imagine this scenario. Someone gets a hold of your phone and is able to access its applications. They can easily change the password of your Facebook account because they can initiate a password recovery tied to your primary email account, which they also have access to through your phone. Now you are locked out of your Facebook account.
This next step may be quite convoluted but bear with us. Through your primary email, they can check which secondary email it is paired with. With the knowledge of your secondary email account, they can initiate another password recovery (this time for your secondary email) that will get sent to your primary email. Now that they can access your secondary email, they can now change the password of your primary email. After changing the passwords of your Facebook, primary and secondary emails, they can then change the emails associated with all of these accounts which blocks you from ever recovering them, ALMOST.
Just because they had access to your phone, without ever learning your passwords, they were able to change the passwords of your most important accounts. But all is not lost if only you were able to generate Recovery or Backup Codes. Recovery or Backup Codes are simple yet ingenious IT solutions that most users are not even aware of and even less are utilizing.
Houston Cybersecurity Solutions: Recovery or Backup Codes Are Great Multi-Factor Authentication Augmentations
Recovery or Backup Codes are another form of multi-factor authentication. They are a one-time use, non-expiring randomly generated string that users can use to log on to their accounts. They were first conceptualized as alternative multi-factor authentication options to OTPs to allow users to gain access to their accounts even if they currently don’t have access to their phones.
But in the scenario mentioned above, it is the last recourse for individuals in case of a total security breach. Login Recovery or Backup Codes can be used to initiate an account recovery process. It will take less than 5 minutes to generate a set of Recovery or Backup Codes but they are a handy Houston cybersecurity solution tool that you can utilize at no extra cost.
You Need a Houston Cybersecurity Solution Company That Can Guide You in the Ever-Changing Domain of Cybersecurity
Corporate Cybersecurity has always been a game of cat and mouse between Houston Cybersecurity solutions companies and digital fraudsters. We have seen how adaptation of multi-factor authentication and the proliferation of smartphones have opened another weak spot that hackers can exploit. However, a simple yet effective IT Solution in the form of Recovery Codes can easily trump them.
Cybersecurity attacks should not hinder individuals from utilizing technology. We believe that unequal access to technology is a far greater injustice because technology is the great equalizer. Access to the internet allows smaller businesses to compete. In BHT Solutions, it is our commitment to utilize IT solutions to solve problems across all industries. If you are ready to employ technology to transform your workflow, BHT Solutions can solve your IT dilemmas efficiently and effectively. Call us now to avail of your free 1 hour consultation.
In our previous article about Blockchain Technology, we have discussed the Distributed Ledgers where transactions in a platform is validated, recorded, and monitored by all participants in a decentralized, self-regulating manner, as opposed to traditional systems where a central entity performs all of the aforementioned functions. However, the challenges associated with distributed ledgers revolve around the act of broadcasting transactions, validating transactions, and ultimately upgrading all public ledgers. This is the original problem addressed in the original Bitcoin paper through the use of Blockchain Technology.
Before we can start discussing the elegant solution to this problem, we need to first understand how transaction data is recorded in the Blockchain. As part of our commitment to educate our clients on emerging technologies, our cybersecurity solutions experts will discuss the basics of Blockchain Technology in this article, with particular emphasis on Blockchain Blocks.
Houston Cybersecurity Solution: Blocks of Data in the Blockchain
To facilitate our understanding of how transaction data are recorded in the Blockchain, let us create a set of scenarios to illustrate multiple sets of transactions.
A group of friends from our previous article composed of Bettina, Joshua, Miguel, and Xena, is now joined by new friends Cookie, and Pizza. The original four friends, having experienced implementing distributed ledger to monitor contributions to an account, decided to adapt the same technology for facilitating transactions within their group (e.g. splitting dinner bills, borrowing and repaying money, and more). To illustrate, the group of friends dined in a restaurant and the bill amounting to 150 dollars was paid for by Miguel but they all agreed to an even split. This set of transactions should appear in all of the friends’ personal ledgers as:
- Miguel paid restaurant 150 dollars; he is owed 125 dollars
- Bettina owes Miguel 25 dollars
- Joshua owes Miguel 25 dollars
- Xena owes Miguel 25 dollars
- Cookie owes Miguel 25 dollars
- Pizza owes Miguel 25 dollars
In the Blockchain, a group of transactions are validated and recorded in what is called a Block. You can imagine the 1st set of transactions of the group of friends as the 1st Block. The friends usually meet as a group during lunch. Over lunch these are the new transactions that took place.
- Bettina paid Miguel 25 dollars; Bettina no longer owes Miguel
- Joshua paid Miguel 25 dollars; Joshua no longer owes Miguel
- Pizza borrowed 25 dollars from Miguel; Pizza owes Miguel 50 dollars
There were three transactions in this 2nd Block. After this block has been validated (each friend consulted the 1st block to check that they each owe Miguel 25 dollars) and recorded (the act of writing the set of transactions in their ledgers) the new transactions. The ledgers should now reflect that Xena and Cookie owes Miguel 25 dollars while Pizza owes him 50.
On the next day, only Miguel and Cookie were able to meet—the other friends were too busy with work and had to take a working lunch. Another complication is that both Miguel and Cookie forgot to bring the ledgers. Miguel misremembered that Cookie owes him 50 dollars (it was Pizza) but Cookie insists that it’s only 25 dollars. In the end, they agreed to Cookie paying Miguel 25 dollars in the meantime and confirming their accounts with their friends the next day. And because both Cookie and Miguel forgot their ledgers they each created a new ledger.
The 1st ‘Block’ of Miguel’s new ledger (in quotation because it is not yet validated) shows:
- Cookie paid Miguel 25 dollars; Miguel thinks Cookie owes him 25 dollars
While Cookie’s 1st ‘Block’ shows:
- Cookie paid Miguel 25 dollars; Cookie thinks he no longer owes Miguel
Come next day, the group rules in favor of Cookie after consulting their ledgers, thus forming a 3rd Block that has this transaction: a) Cookie paid Miguel 25 dollars; Cookie no longer owes Miguel. All members of the group then update their ledgers with the validated 3rd block. From this scenario, we can say the following about Blocks in Blockchain Technology.
- Transactions are validated and recorded in the Blockchain in tranches called Blocks.
- The current block references the previous block which references its previous block and so on, forming a chain of blocks that is the history of all transactions. This chain of blocks is the basis for establishing the validity of future transactions.
- In the last scenario Miguel’s ledger only has two Blocks (his last ‘block’ was invalidated) while the rest has three (including Cookie’s 1st ‘block’ which was validated by the previous 2 Blocks). In case of conflicting block chains, the longer block chain takes precedence.
- Since the current Block references the previous Block and will be referenced by a future, tampering a Block requires editing all previous blocks and editing future blocks as they are created, which is virtually impossible.
Now that we have a basic understanding of how transaction data is recorded in the Blockchain, we can now discuss consensus mechanisms by which participants in the Blockchain agree on the current status of the public ledger. In our next article, we will discuss Proof of Work, which is the consensus mechanism employed by Bitcoin and most cryptocurrencies using cryptography.
Understanding Blockchain Technology with Your Trusted Houston Cybersecurity Solutions Experts
Blockchain Technology is being used now primarily as ledgers of payments, but it can also be used to transparently record other sets of data, which by extension also gains the properties of Blockchain, that is to say immutable, virtually impossible to hack, and decentralized. Depending on how it will be utilized, this can have significant implications on different fields especially Cybersecurity Solutions.
Here in BHT Solutions, we dare to think differently to provide user-centric IT solutions tailored to our clients’ unique business needs. A large part of our outside-the-box thinking is looking to emerging technologies and understanding how its fundamentals can impact our field of cybersecurity solutions. Call us now to schedule a free 1-hour consultation.
Bitcoin and Blockchain are used interchangeably in today’s IT solutions jargon. Bitcoin is currently the most popular cryptocurrency. You can think of cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange such as a US dollar, but without a physical form (cash)—not hard to imagine since cashless transactions have been on the rise lately. Transactions or exchanges of value using cryptocurrency are validated, recorded, and monitored through the Blockchain technology. This is where cryptocurrency departs from traditional currency. While Blockchain was invented for Bitcoin, technology trailblazers are heralding its potential for application in different fields, especially in cybersecurity. As part of our commitment to educate our clients on emerging technologies, our cybersecurity solutions experts will discuss the basics of Blockchain Technology in this article.
Houston Cybersecurity Solution: Records that are Resilient to Hacking
Traditional systems of facilitating transactions have a central authority (banks, private companies, governments) that keeps track of the different transactions taking place. This function can be decentralized through the use of a distributed ledger.
For example, a group of friends composed of Bettina, Joshua, Miguel, and Xena promised each other to save 5 dollars at the end of each month and deposit it to a common fund so that they can buy a 240-dollar playhouse by year’s end. The group elected Xena to keep track of the monthly payments, which she records in a ledger. In this scenario, Xena is the central authority. If Xena were to lose her ledger or make erroneous entries to the ledger then the monitoring of the contributions would be compromised.
In the next scenario, each of the friends would have their own ledger and would record not just their contributions to the fund but all of the contributions made to the fund. If one of the friends were to lose their ledger or make erroneous entries then they can still consult the other ledgers. This system is an example of a distributed ledger.
The advantages of a distributed ledger over centralized ones were mentioned in the discussion above. There is no one entity that controls the recording and validating of transactions thus no one entity can impose its agenda or motivations on the transactions. When you open an account in a bank, you are putting your trust in their system of recording. Of course, there are laws and other protections in place to protect consumers but for most of the time this relationship is based on trust.
Another advantage of distributed ledgers is that they are resilient because there is no one single point of failure. A hacker can alter the contents of a centralized database but in order to achieve the same thing on a public distributed ledger, the hacker has to alter all of the existing ledgers. This makes distributed ledgers particularly interesting to Houston cybersecurity solutions practitioners.
However, one challenge associated with distributed ledgers as IT solutions—which may have been apparent in the scenario above—is updating all of the existing distributed ledgers for every transaction. Does each ledger owner have to physically witness the transaction? That would be impractical. If, after a friend contributes to the fund, they text or call the other friends to update their ledger that they contributed, how sure are they that the others would believe their claim or that the others would remember to update their ledgers? Is there an IT solution that would make the process more efficient? This is the original problem addressed in the original Bitcoin paper through the use of Blockchain Technology that we will discuss in the following articles.
Understanding Blockchain Technology with Your Trusted Houston Cybersecurity Solutions Experts
Here at BHT Solutions, we are committed to making complex technology concepts digestible for our clients. This is aligned with our principle of customer-oriented service where effective Houston cybersecurity solutions are engineered with the ease of use of the end users in mind. Call us now to schedule a free, no commitment necessary, 1-hour consultation.
It cannot be denied that cost-effective, personalized, and easy to use IT Solutions are a game changer for any business operation. It allows their organization to communicate seamlessly as well as facilitate other functions to make their operations more efficient. However, our increasing dependence on computers, especially in this new normal, led to an increase in cyber-attacks. As part of our commitment to provide extra value to our clients, our Houston cybersecurity solutions experts will discuss measures that you can implement easily to protect your company from cyber-attacks such as phishing.
Educating Your Employees is a Crucial Houston Cybersecurity Solution
Majority of cyber-attacks involve social engineering or the collection of techniques used by fraudsters to induce a victim to act in a certain way (e.g. give out their password, grant remote access). There is a whole gamut of social engineering techniques employed by fraudsters and they are ever-adapting, however you can protect your company by teaching your employees to recognize the signs of a cyber-attack. Teach them to be more vigilant and skeptic so they don’t fall prey to phishing attacks (LINK 1). Facilitate communication between your employees and your corporate cybersecurity manager so that your employees can easily consult them when they recognize an attack.
Utilize Houston Cybersecurity Solutions that Allow for Multi-Factor Authentication
Human error is not something we can always prevent. It may be that your employee is in a rush, stressed, distracted, or even hungry, when he or she clicked on that spoof website (LINK 2) and got phished. This is where a Houston cybersecurity solution such as Multi-Factor Authentication can come in handy. Multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security by requiring an extra factor to be authenticated before anyone can gain access to the system. Popular types of multi-factor authentication are one-time pins (OTPs) via phone, biometrics (eye, face, thumb), and physical objects (keys, security tokens, atm card).
Prepare a Houston Cybersecurity Solution Plan in Case of a Breach
Prevention is always better than cure but there should also be a corporate cybersecurity contingency plan to minimize damage in case of a breach. There should be a protocol for a breach on an email, social media account, stolen phone, stolen cards, etcetera. This might be tedious but it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Make Sure Your Company is Protected by Consulting a Houston Cybersecurity Solutions Company You Can Trust
The Houston cybersecurity solutions our experts have discussed above are just some practical measures you can easily implement for a degree of protection. For a personalized corporate cybersecurity solution, you can consult BHT Solutions. BHT Solutions believes in making technology work for you but in order to make that happen you should have IT solutions that are designed according to the unique needs of your business. BHT Solutions offers IT solutions that are cost-effective, personalized, and most of all easy to use. Call us now to schedule your free 1-hour consultation.
On the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic, practically the whole workforce was forced to adopt telecommuting. Even those working on-site are managed by their superiors remotely, thus requiring that they interface with their managers through the internet. Our increased dependence on online IT solutions to facilitate daily operations have resulted in the increase of corporate cybersecurity attacks, both in frequency and complexity. BHT Solutions—a Houston-based Cybersecurity Solutions that can work with clients all over the country—believes that the bleeding edge of computing technology should be available to everyone to make their work easier. By implementing personalized IT solutions alongside appropriate cybersecurity solutions, any company can enjoy the benefits of technology without being vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks such as phishing and identity theft.
User Education: An Oft-Overlooked Houston Cybersecurity Solution
While some security breaches are the result of brute force attacks to crack passwords, the majority of corporate cybersecurity attacks employ social engineering such as phishing and identity theft. Social engineering is a collection of techniques used by fraudsters to deceive their target. In phishing attacks, victims unknowingly divulge sensitive information to fraudsters who are posing as legitimate entities. A company can have the most sophisticated of Houston Cybersecurity Solutions and protocols in place but if it fails to educate its users against cybersecurity attacks then it will always be vulnerable.
GENERATE A STRONG PASSWORD
According to the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, a strong password is long, complex, and unpredictable. An additional feature that makes for a good password is that it is easy for its user to recall. For an in-depth discussion on generating a strong password, you may read this FAQ from BHT Solutions.
BE WARY OF SPOOF WEBSITES
Phishing attacks usually capture user passwords by routing victims to a spoof website, a site designed to look like the legitimate site of the entity requiring the victim’s credentials (bank, email service, etc.). Users should do the following to prevent cybersecurity attacks stemming from spoof websites:
- Inspect the URL – the link should start with “https” to denote that it uses secured encryption processes. Watch out for random substitutions, additions, or deletions that are designed to deceive (e.g. g00gle.com, macdonalds.com).
- Check their company’s social media accounts – this is a simple but effective way of checking legitimacy because it is verified by multiple other users in the social media. Check if the website in the company’s verified social media account brings you to the same URL.
- Bookmark legitimate websites – users should bookmark legitimate websites and provide their credentials only to bookmarked sites.
- Enable multi-factor authentication – multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security in case of a password breach.
Customized Houston Cybersecurity Solutions Designed for your Specific Business Needs
We are seeing now before our eyes how IT Solutions are transforming businesses by making them more efficient. As a Minority-Owned and Historically-Underutilized Houston Cybersecurity Solutions company ourselves, we know that harnessing technology can help small enterprises close the gap. Effective IT solutions need not break the bank. BHT Solutions can provide you IT solutions that are cost-effective, personalized, and more importantly easy to use. Give us a call now and avail of our free 1-hour consultation!