Tag: security bytes

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Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update?

Are You Planning to Download Windows 11 Free Update? Here’s a Quick Guide

Microsoft’s new operating system has generated considerable interest from users and tech experts. Windows 11 brings many key new features that enhance the overall user experience. From October 5, 2021, Microsoft will roll out the update to eligible Windows 7 and 10 users. The OS will also become standard in new devices.

Once the rollout commences, you can upgrade your personal computer using the default Windows update feature. However, the upgrade is only available for computers that meet the minimum system requirements. If your PC does not meet the requirements, you can opt to implement the recommended workaround. However, the workaround uses solutions outside of the Windows ecosystem.

On the other hand, the Windows Insider Program is already offering access to a preview build. This preview is available exclusively to Windows Insider Program members. Microsoft recently released an ISO file to allow members to install the new operating system directly. As a first build, the preview version does not come with a complete set of Windows 11 features.

Installing Windows 11

Downloading Windows 11 Using an ISO File

If you opt to download the Windows 11 preview build, you can copy the operating system directly from the file to a compact disc or a USB drive. With the external drive, it becomes easier to install Windows 11 to a virtual machine, dual-boot system, or personal computer.

Since this option is only available to Windows Insider Program members, you need to register if you are not already a member. Once registered, you are eligible to download the ISO file via the Windows Insider Preview downloads page. Microsoft offers two preview versions from which to choose: the Beta channel and the Dev channel.

With the Dev channel, you gain access to the latest updates and Windows 11 features. On the downside, this preview build is typically buggier. For a more stable version, opt for the Beta channel. The downloads page allows you to choose a product language before proceeding with the download.

Installing the ISO File

The installation process varies, depending on the target device. You can install the file directly to a virtual machine using the VM application. Meanwhile, the installation process differs significantly when the target device is a dedicated PC or a dual-boot system. In this case, you need to copy the file to removable media using the Windows USB/DVD download tool. Experts recommend this utility because it makes your DVD or USB drive bootable.

It is vital to choose an external drive with adequate space to accommodate approximately 5GB. Thus, consider using a USB drive rather than a DVD. Standard DVDs typically come with roughly 4.8GB of storage space. Dual-layer variants provide up to 8.5GB of space.

Downloading Windows 11 After the Official Release Date

If you opt to wait for the official Windows 11 rollout, you can upgrade your PC the traditional way. Microsoft allows you to download the files via the Windows update feature. You simply click the install updates button in Windows 7 or check the updates button in Windows 10, and you will get a new OS.

However, the new OS may become available on your device several months after the official rollout date. So the quickest way to get your hands on the final build is to buy a new computer.

Microsoft will complete the rollout process by mid-2022. Factors that determine when Windows 11 will be available for your PC include age and hardware. In addition, the free upgrade is only available to licensed Windows 7 and 10 operating systems.

What to Expect From Windows 11

The upgrade brings many useful features, such as access to Android apps via the Microsoft Store. In addition, you can also look forward to enhanced communication capabilities, thanks to the integrated Microsoft Teams app. Windows 11 also boasts a revamped design, incorporating pastel colors, a centralized Start button, and a new startup sound.

Microsoft also introduces a wide selection of new desktop tools, including widgets. The new OS simplifies virtual desktop creation for added convenience. On the gaming front, Windows 11 leverages the full power of advanced technologies for a superior gaming experience.

Examples of the gaming technologies that unlock your device’s full gaming potential include DirectX 12 Ultimate, Direct Storage, and Auto HDR. These technologies enhance graphics quality and loading time for a captivating visual experience.

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If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

If You Own These Four Small Business Cisco Routers: It’s Time to Replace Them

A security flaw discovered in RV110W, RV130, RV130W, and RV215W Cisco routers creates significant vulnerabilities. Traditionally, these UPnP (universal plug and play) routers would receive security updates from the vendor. However, Cisco recently announced that it has no plans to release a security patch for the devices. As a result, the company recommends replacing the routers.

Security experts noted that the four devices fell victim to the remote command execution vulnerability. Improper validation of inputs triggers the vulnerability (CVE-2021-1459), which has a common vulnerability scoring system (CVSS) score of 9.8 out of 10. This issue affects the router’s management interface.

If you fail to replace the routers, you create an opportunity for a cybercriminal to execute code on the router. The remote attacker can exploit the device without authentication by delivering specially designed HTTP requests. In such cases, the bad actor assumes the root user status on the underlying operating system. As a result, it becomes easier to execute arbitrary code or launch a denial of service (DoS) attack.

Experts believe that replacing the routers forms part of a more comprehensive cybersecurity measure to harden network defenses. Failing to heed the recommendation is not an option, irrespective of company size.

Computer Network Firewall Cisco

End of Support

Cisco is not releasing a security patch because the routers are nearing the end of their working life. Additionally, support is ending for the devices. Although there are no known exploitation instances and proof of concept exploits, you should take risks posed by the security flaw seriously. If you need more time before replacing the devices, consider disabling the virtual private network (VPN) service. Doing so mitigates the risk of an attacker remotely exploiting this feature.

According to Cisco, you can determine the status of the VPN by opening the web-based management interface. In the Basic Settings, find the UPnP feature and tick the Disable box.

Benefits of Using a Business-Class VPN Router

A VPN router is a practical solution for small businesses looking to ensure secure communication. By investing in this type of device, you take advantage of a VPN tunnel that safeguards communication between two networks. The router can also handle secure connections for remote teams, irrespective of location.

Some manufacturers offer devices that enable your team to manage VPN functions centrally. It is also possible to configure individual routers to suit your specific needs. The ideal devices come with failover and load balancing capabilities. If you need more flexibility, opt for devices that run open-source software.

Doing so makes it easier to replace the router’s OS and create additional features. On the downside, this option is not ideal for all businesses. Thus, choose your router carefully.

Advanced routers support up to 45 tunnels and come with robust firewalls to filter traffic in both directions. They also set minimum password complexity standards and incorporate encryption keys. Vendors like Cisco offers wide-ranging VPN routers for small businesses. The devices are more affordable and secure. Some business-class VPN routers are easier to configure, while others require advanced tech skills to set up and manage.

On the other hand, mesh wireless network solutions maximize coverage using nodes and satellite modules. These modules and satellites expand coverage throughout your business premises.

How to Bolster WiFi Network Security

A business WiFi network is an essential component of doing business in today’s connected world. However, an unsecured network compromises your company’s ability to operate smoothly. Cybercriminals can launch denial of service attacks or steal sensitive business information. Thankfully, there are various ways to safeguard your WiFi network.

One of the effective ways to improve security is to keep your router’s OS up to date. Also, replace any routers nearing their end of life or support. By keeping the devices up to date, you take advantage of the router vendor’s security patches and bug fixes.

Additional measures include:

  • Invest in a business-class VPN router with advanced security features
  • Harden cyberdefenses by doubling your firewall
  • Store the route in a physically secure area
  • Employ advanced encryption protocols
  • Eliminate unofficial access points
  • Disable WiFi Protected Setup or WPS

On another level, it is crucial to ensure that your router’s firewall is active. Some routers require manual activation. The manufacturer may list the firewall under network address translation (NAT) or stateful packet inspection (SPI). You can find the feature in the device’s settings.

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Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer?

Do You Want to Speed Up Your Computer? Here are Top Tips

A slow computer can undermine productivity and become a source of frustration. Fortunately, there are several ways to boost speed and overall performance, irrespective of whether your computer is relatively new or older. You can achieve the desired performance by following specific tips unless your device is experiencing considerable hardware problems.

Installing the latest version of the operating system (OS) is one of the best ways to supercharge your device’s performance. Updating the OS also allows the system to search, download, and install the latest device drivers.

Here are proven ways to boost your computer’s processing power.

Speed Up Computer

Uninstall Redundant Applications

Software or applications that you no longer need consume system resources unnecessarily. Uninstalling redundant apps frees up space and system resources, contributing to improved performance. Dormant apps occupy critical space in your computer’s directory structure and registry. For this reason, you need to uninstall the software properly via the control panel.

To get rid of unwanted files and other unnecessary registry entries, consider using apps like CCleaner. These programs can remove unwanted apps, even if they do not appear in the control panel. Proper removal is vital if you want to prevent them from reloading after rebooting.

Defragment the Hard Drive

Defragmentation provides an effective way to reorganize information on your computer’s hard drive. In doing so, you gather scattered pieces of data and combine them in proper order. Operating systems are constantly dealing with files being written, resized, and deleted. These activities result in considerable fragmentation. The best part about defragmentation is that you boost PC performance.

Add More RAM

Increasing random access memory (RAM) is another surefire way to speed up a slow PC. However, this option is viable on some gaming and business laptops. Most detachable and convertible laptops cannot add RAM. On the other hand, desktop computers make it easier to increase RAM to suit your needs.

Delete Temporary Files

Temporary files can hog your computer’s performance and undermine your productivity. You should consider deleting them from the PC. However, you may need to skip some files if the system prevents you from removing them. This approach frees critical space on the hard drive, boosting overall performance. Emptying the entire temporary internet files directory is possible, but you need to exercise caution.

Reduce Startup Programs

Startup processes play an integral role in your computer’s performance. Launching a high number of applications during startup eats up system resources. Thus, you should manage your PC’s startup processes to limit active programs during booting. However, it is vital to choose carefully the programs you disable.

Applications like antivirus programs deserve to launch during startup, while word processors and browsers are removable from the list. Ultimately, the final list depends on your specific needs. You can manage startup processes via the task manager in Windows 10.

Scan for Malware

Viruses and spyware can compromise your device’s performance. Thus, scan the computer regularly using antivirus programs like Comodo, Norton, Windows Defender, and Avast. You should select the ideal software carefully to avoid installing a heavy antivirus program that slows down your PC.

Ideally, you need a light program that scans the system efficiently without occupying large spaces on your computer. Some applications can protect your PC and monitor performance. These programs are capable of resolving performance issues.

Choose the Right Browser

Your choice of a browser is also crucial in achieving the desired processing speed. Browsers like Chrome are resource-intensive, compromising overall PC performance. The ideal browser does not affect your computer’s speed, even if you open multiple tabs. As a result, you also enjoy improved browsing and page loading speeds.

Opt for Startup Solid-State Drive (SSD)

A startup solid-state drive (SSD) aids your processor in handling resource-intensive tasks. In doing so, it boosts performance, allowing you to run multiple applications simultaneously. Photo and video editing software eat up a significant amount of memory. Thankfully, SSD enhances your PC’s processing power, making it easier to run these applications without undermining performance.

A solid-state drive enables resource-intensive apps to load faster and run optimally. You can install it on a desktop computer or a laptop. SSD can operate internally or externally, depending on your device’s hardware status.

External units connect to your device via a USB port. Once you install an SSD, your computer performs better at startup.

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Employee Surveillance: Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

Amazon Exploring the Feasibility of Keystroke Tracking Plan

An internal document obtained by Motherboard revealed Amazon’s plan to track employee’s keystroke entries. The tech and e-commerce giant plans to curb ever-increasing data leaks using this type of surveillance. Imposters, rogue employees, and hackers routinely compromise customers’ confidential information.

Amazon is considering deploying advanced keystroke tracking tools. A company known as BehavioSec is working with the e-commerce firm to license specialized tools capable of enhancing system surveillance. The vendor’s software relies on behavioral biometrics to determine the nature of user activity. Behavioral biometrics eliminates the need to depend on static data or personally identifiable information.

Profiles generated by BehavioSec’s software make it easier to detect suspicious activity. Amazon shortlisted BehavioSec’s product based on privacy considerations. Other tools considered by the firm presented privacy challenges linked to keystroke data collection.

Amazon Keylogger

Closing Security Gaps

According to the internal document, Amazon detected several breaches that compromised customers’ sensitive data. In one of the incidents, an imposter illegally accessed customer data by posing as a service agent. For this reason, the company is looking to deploy an effective IT security solution to verify users’ identities and monitor device usage.

The security gaps present a serious threat that could damage customers’ confidence and Amazon’s reputation. Data exfiltration is a major concern for the management team since many employees work from home. Amazon plans to thwart threats that arise under various conditions, including unauthorized access via a device that an employee forgot to lock.

It aims to eliminate imposter takeover by 2022 since employee and customer data security is a top priority. The company stated that it regularly explores and tests wide-ranging cybersecurity technologies to bolster data protection measures. However, it is mindful of the need to achieve a delicate balance between monitoring employee activity and remaining compliant with privacy laws.

Managing Employee Activity

The internal document also revealed that outsourced workers in the Philippines and India present a higher risk of data exfiltration. Most of the recorded incidents happen in these countries. Hence, Amazon is hoping that BehavioSec’s solution will address the problem.

In general, companies rely on the employee-manager team to enhance security controls. However, the remote work trend introduced a new dynamic that compromised companies’ basic security controls. When employees work from home, it becomes difficult to detect all unauthorized access to sensitive data.

Under such circumstances, companies need to find viable solutions to compensate for the reduced controls. Experts believe that keystroke monitoring is a security feature that remote workers should expect to find on company devices in the future. BehavioSec’s profiling mechanism plays an essential role in helping companies detect sophisticated cyber attacks.

Highly skilled hackers often gain access to corporate systems and remain undetected for lengthy periods. Behavioral profiling detects such intrusions by monitoring anomalous patterns and user behaviors. This approach detects patterns in one or more connected devices. For instance, security software will raise a red flag if a video surveillance camera connects to a suspicious domain.

In Amazon’s case, behavioral profiling makes it easier to identify compromised devices. Many of the company’s customer service agents work remotely in shared residences. Meanwhile, some agents store their devices on properties with poor physical security.

Employee Surveillance Key Considerations

Federal law allows businesses to monitor their employees’ activities under specific circumstances. Several states also provide regulatory guidelines on the subject. However, transparency is a key component of employee monitoring practices. Failing to inform employees about workplace or digital surveillance may result in legal action.

In some cases, the law does not compel companies to inform employees about surveillance activities. The (ECPA) Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 legalizes surveillance for organizations with a legitimate business reason to monitor employees. As such, employers can view emails composed and sent by employees.

On the other hand, a different regulatory framework deals with web activity surveillance. It allows companies to track keystrokes and web browsing activity on corporate devices and networks. Employers should use information from the monitoring activities for internal purposes only. Sharing information with third parties is against the law.

Similarly, the law compels employers to safeguard the collected information to prevent unauthorized access. Employees can initiate legal action against an employer if with sensitive information leaks following a data breach.

These regulatory requirements necessitate a cautious deployment of keystroke tracking tools and other surveillance software. Thus, Amazon is treading carefully when it comes to the employee monitoring tool it wants to use.

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What Will the Windows 11 Experience Be Like?

What Will the Windows 11 Experience Be Like?

Windows 11 comes loaded with wide-ranging new features, such as a revamped start menu. You can also expect to find a Microsoft Store with Android apps. This new edition also boasts a cleaner tray area and a redesigned start button. These features represent a simplified version of Windows 10, excluding live tiles.

Although the start menu comes in a central position, you can opt to move it back to the left side of the screen. In addition, Windows 11 includes a dark mode from which to choose. Microsoft has made this version easier to restart and shut down. You can also now pin your favorite apps and recent files for quick access.

A key feature of the new operating system is the ability to use Android apps via your desktop. This capability allows you to connect your desktop device to your smartphone.

Overall, the experience is ultra-modern and distinctly user-centric. Even the small details, such as the start menu positioning, focus on you, the user. The new design also highlights Windows 11’s central role in your digital life. Microsoft switched focus from offering a functional and practical OS to something more personal and emotional.

Windows 11

Enhanced Productivity and Ease of Use

Windows 11’s simplified design inspires you to become more creative and productive. Thanks to minor changes to the fonts, sound, and icons, the OS empowers you to gain more control of your digital activities. You can access files stored in the cloud via the start button, irrespective of the device you use. The best part is that it is possible to access files you worked on a mobile device.

Windows 11 provides a more efficient way to multitask and boost productivity with snap groups, desktops, and layouts. These new features help you stay well-organized by creating different desktops based on particular projects or themes.

Easier and More Convenient Ways to Connect

Staying in touch with loved ones and colleagues is easier with the Windows 11 OS. The operating system incorporates Microsoft Teams for your convenience. Teams is a video conferencing that enables you to communicate with your contacts, regardless of the device they use. Thus, you can connect to friends and family from your desktop, even if they are on Android or iOS.

Another key capability is connecting with people who have yet to install the MS Teams video-conferencing application. In such cases, you communicate via a two-way short message service (SMS). The app allows you to mute and unmute the chats from the taskbar.

This level of flexibility eliminates communication barriers associated with different platforms and devices.

A Faster and Easier to Use Microsoft Store

With Windows 11, expect a refreshingly faster and simpler MS Store experience. The store comes with a more refined appearance and improved content search function. You can now discover a wide selection of content with relative ease. Microsoft also plans to include Visual Studio, Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, Canva, and Disney+.

The most significant part is the introduction of Android apps in the Microsoft Store. This capability will undoubtedly revolutionize the way you use and interact with your desktop and mobile devices. You can download your favorite apps via the Amazon Appstore. Additionally, Windows 11 allows you to capture videos and upload them from TikTok.

Easier Access to News and Information

Widgets in Windows 11 provide access to information and news you need. The news feeds leverage artificial intelligence to deliver curated stories. In addition, Microsoft Edge enhances your browsing experience and faster access to critical information. You can take advantage of the widgets and faster browsing experience to refresh by reading the latest news.

Transparent, personalized feeds slide over the screen to minimize disruption. Widgets also play an integral role in expanding and personalizing content delivery options within the Windows ecosystem for publishers and content creators.

Superior Gaming Experiences

If you enjoy playing games on your desktop, you will appreciate changes in Windows 11. The operating system unlocks your device’s full potential by optimizing hardware performance. This capability allows your PC to work optimally with the latest gaming technology, such as DirectStorage, Auto HDR, and DirectX 12 Ultimate.

DirectStorage improves processing speed and delivers detailed gaming experiences. Thus, your games load much faster than on Windows 10. Meanwhile, DirectX 12 Ultimate boosts the frame rate to ensure immersive graphics. On the other hand, Auto HDR plays a critical role in delivering more vivid colors.