With school closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, some kids are creating malware to keep themselves occupied. Such is the case with a variety of new MBRLocker variants being released, including one with a Coronavirus theme.
MBRLockers are programs that replace the ‘master boot record’ of a computer so that it prevents the operating system from starting and displays a ransom note or other message instead.
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Since countries have begun enforcing shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Zoom video conferencing software has become a popular way to keep in touch with friends and family, and even to join online fitness classes.
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It seems more and more of the general population is starting to take notice of SSL. They expect websites to use it (and are quick to point out when they’re not).
Beyond just triggering the padlock and HTTPS in browsers, there’s quite a bit more going on within the details of an SSL Certificate.
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What is HTTPS?
Hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, which is the primary protocol used to send data between a web browser and a website. HTTPS is encrypted in order to increase security of data transfer. This is particularly important when users transmit sensitive data, such as by logging into a bank account, email service, or health insurance provider.
Any website, especially those that require login credentials, should use HTTPS. In modern web browsers such as Chrome, websites that do not use HTTPS are marked differently than those that are. Look for a green padlock in the URL bar to signify the webpage is secure. Web browsers take HTTPS seriously; Google Chrome and other browsers flag all non-HTTPS websites as not secure.
You can use the Cloudflare Diagnostic Center to check if a website is using HTTPS.
How does HTTPS work?
HTTPS uses an encryption protocol to encrypt communications. The protocol is called Transport Layer Security (TLS), although formerly it was known as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). This protocol secures communications by using what’s known as an asymmetric public key infrastructure. This type of security system uses two different keys to encrypt communications between two parties:
- The private key – this key is controlled by the owner of a website and it’s kept, as the reader may have speculated, private. This key lives on a web server and is used to decrypt information encrypted by the public key.
- The public key – this key is available to everyone who wants to interact with the server in a way that’s secure. Information that’s encrypted by the public key can only be decrypted by the private key.
Why is HTTPS important? What happens if a website doesn’t have HTTPS?
HTTPS prevents websites from having their information broadcast in a way that’s easily viewed by anyone snooping on the network. When information is sent over regular HTTP, the information is broken into packets of data that can be easily “sniffed” using free software. This makes communication over the an unsecure medium, such as public Wi-Fi, highly vulnerable to interception. In fact, all communications that occur over HTTP occur in plain text, making them highly accessible to anyone with the correct tools, and vulnerable to man-in the-middle attacks.
With HTTPS, traffic is encrypted such that even if the packets are sniffed or otherwise intercepted, they will come across as nonsensical characters. Let’s look at an example:
This is a string of text that is completely readable
How does a website start using HTTPS?
Many website hosting providers and other services will offer TLS/SSL certificates for a fee. These certificates will be often be shared amongst many customers. More expensive certificates are available which can be individually registered to particular web properties.
Security company Balbix has released a 12-page printable activity book for children that introduces them to cybersecurity in a fun way.
With schools closed and parents working from home, it can be hard sometimes to find free time while keeping younger kids engaged in a fun activity.
To get some free time to do chores or to just relax while offering younger children a fun activity, parents can print out a free 12-page Cybersecurity activity book from Balbix that contains coloring pages, games, and puzzles.
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