Safer Internet Day
Tips to Stay Safe From Our Security Experts
Just like last year, KInIT decided to take part in the Safer Internet Day initiative, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. In 2023, the Safer Internet Day is celebrated on the 7th of February, besides other events like National Periodic Table Day or National Fettuccine Alfredo Day, a glorious day indeed! As a part of the Safer Internet Day agenda, our security experts provide a brief list of top techniques to stay safe online.
Passwords: Treat Them Like Your Underwear
Similarly to underwear, we should change our passwords regularly and not share them with others. We also tend to own special underwear for special occasions, and so should we do with passwords! Using the same passwords for multiple accounts creates a potential security risk.
But who could remember all the passwords with special characters and numbers? Probably not many. That’s why you should use password managers. Popular services like Bitwarden, Dashlane, or 1Password can be used to store, generate, and synchronize passwords across your devices. With a password autofill feature, the process of logging in might be even faster than typing in the credentials manually while providing much higher security.
In addition, we also suggest setting up two-factor authentication in the services that support it – e.g., Google or Facebook.
Phishing Prevention: Stay Pessimistic
Although looking pessimistic at everything makes your life bitter, it definitely helps in cybersecurity. Imagine a man with a cheap suit and a strange accent you’ve just met on the street. He tells you that he is a prince from distant lands and wants to share his fortune with you. What a stroke of luck! But first, he needs your credit card information…
Would you give it to him? We suppose not. So why do so many people trust e-mails with similar content? If you have never bought a lottery ticket, why would someone send you an e-mail that you won? We do not ask you to be pessimistic about everything in your life. Nevertheless, being on alert and thinking critically before clicking on a link or opening an attachment could save you from a lot of trouble.
Software: Keep It Fresh
Would you eat a rotten fish? We guess not. But using outdated software does not sound that dangerous, right? Still, both of them have the potential to make you, or your computer, sick.
Software developers usually update their products for a reason. When software vulnerabilities or other errors are disclosed, cybercriminals might use them to attack your computer, even when your passwords are super-strong. By updating software regularly, you significantly reduce the probability of such attacks. Therefore, think twice before you postpone your software/operating system update again.
Antivirus: Do I Even Need It Anymore?
The Internet is definitely a safer place today than it was a decade or two ago. Nowadays, various techniques for protection against malicious actors are built into software and services — e.g., e-mail spam filters or operating system native protection. Due to these factors, many consider antivirus software a relic from the past, not needed in the modern computing era anymore.
Even cybersecurity professionals seem to have different opinions on the subject [1,2]. Despite this state, the community generally considers antivirus software still relevant to this day, and so do we. Its presence is especially important on Windows platforms, the most popular target of cyber-attackers .
Even if native Windows Defender provides decent security, an extra protection layer provided by a 3rd party antivirus might create a difference in successfully deflecting the attack. Better safe than sorry, as they say.
VPN: Extra Protection For Extra Buck?
Virtual Private Network (VPN) protection has gained much attention in recent years. In essence, it redirects all the traffic to and from the device through another computer before reaching the destination.
Primarily, this technique is used to connect two computer networks securely, allowing use cases such as working from home. For personal use, VPNs are suitable for disabling your organization or Internet provider to analyze your behavior on the Internet due to encryption. As the traffic is redirected, it also allows one to virtually change a browsing location and thus bypass various geographical restrictions.
However, it is important to emphasize that by using a VPN, we simply shift the possibility of analyzing our Internet behavior from our organization/Internet to the VPN service provider. Therefore, a VPN provider needs to be chosen carefully because many, especially the free ones, log their users’ activity .
Due to the wide adoption of encryption on webpages and applications, using VPN for encryption is typically unnecessary. Therefore, unless you are sending a super-confidential document or really care about your privacy, VPNs are not mandatory to stay safe on the Internet.
What We Do At KInIT In The Area Of Cybersecurity
As KInIT, we contribute to making the Internet safer through two cybersecurity projects.
Firstly, our cooperation with our industry partner ESET focuses on detecting malware. In this research, we utilize machine learning techniques of deep clustering to distinguish between benign and malicious samples of computer programs. Malware detection is performed by antivirus software and is crucial in preventing cyber criminals from succeeding in their nefarious attempts.
The second area we help to combat cybercrime is computer network intrusion detection. In industrial cooperation with VNET, Internet Service Provider in Bratislava, we combine supervised and unsupervised machine learning techniques to increase attack detection capabilities. Supervised techniques are used to learn and detect known cyberattacks, whereas unsupervised methods allow the detection of unknown ones. Such unknown attacks are detected via anomaly detection, a mechanism flagging all events when the system behaves in an unexpected way.
We also bring you the latest news from the world of cyber security each month.
 NBC News – Chelsea Stahl. Still paying for antivirus software? Experts say you probably don’t need it. December 2021. Available at: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/security/still-paying-antivirus-software-experts-say-probably-dont-need-rcna6335
 VIGDERMAN Aliza, TURNER Gabe. Do You Still Need Antivirus?. January 2023. Available at: https://www.security.org/antivirus/do-you-need-antivirus/
 CASTRO Chiara. Are VPNs really safe? How to check your service’s security. September 2022. Available at: https://www.techradar.com/vpn/are-vpns-safe