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Category: Educational

Data Encryption Explained

Data encryption

Lots of 1s and 0s…

You’ve probably heard about data encryption before, but if you still aren’t exactly sure what it is, here’s the scoop on data encryption:

The purpose of data encryption is to protect digital data confidentiality. Data encryption uses an algorithm, which translates the data into another form or code. Without a secret encryption key, this data is unreadable.

Encryption is one of the most widely used and effective data security methods used by organizations to transfer data.

Examples

• When you use your credit card online, your computer encrypts that information so that others can’t steal your personal data as it is being transferred.

• When you see the SSL image image, it means that there is an encrypted link between the website’s server and your browser.

 

 

Big Data “For Dummies”

As we embark into a fully data-driven world, it is important for technology consumers to ask questions to better understand where their personal data is going.

Unfortunately, the interminable sphere of Big Data can get really boring and confusing. This is why cartoonist Josh Neufeld and Michael Keller of Al Jazeera America collaborated to create “Terms of Service: Understanding our Role in the World of Big Data,” a comic novella sum field guide that demystifies Big Data and its implications on daily life.

The comic itself is centered around how data is handled in the United States and explores the tradeoffs between giving up personal data and how that data could be used against you. It answers many questions, such as:

• Which technologies might seem invasive today, that five years from now will seem normal? 

• As technology users, how do we keep up with the pace without letting our data determine who we are?

French newspaper Le Monde recently published the first 30 pages of the French version of the comic. Recent concerns about the collection and sharing of data have brought Big Data to the forefront of privacy discussions.

Sources

Terms of Servicehttp://projects.aljazeera.com/2014/terms-of-service/#1

Al Jazeera America, http://america.aljazeera.com/tools/pressreleases/al-jazeera-america-releases-first-graphic-novella.html

5 Frequent Types of Malware: Explained

Types of malware hackers use

You may have heard malware thrown around, but do you know what it means? Learn more about the largest types of malware we come across on the web.

What is malware?

Malware is short for malicious software, meaning software that can be used to compromise computer functions, steal data, bypass access controls, or otherwise, cause harm to the host computer. Here are explanations on the five most observed types of malicious programs to watch out for:

1. Adware 

Adware is a form of financially-supported malware that usually presents itself in the form of unwanted advertisements displayed to a user. The Internet is filled with these types of programs that can hijack your PC for profit. Most of them are hidden inside so-called “free” downloads and pop-up ads that forcibly install software on systems with active vulnerabilities.

2. Spyware

This type of malware covertly collects information and transmits it to interested parties. Information gathered includes web sites visited, browser and system information and IP address. Spyware does not have any infection mechanisms and is usually dropped by a Trojan. A hacker uses spyware to track your internet activities and steal your information without you being aware of it. Credit card numbers and passwords are the two most common targets.

3. Trojan Horses 

Just like the trojan horse from ancient greek mythology, this type of malware is disguised as a safe program designed to trick users, so that they unwittingly install it on their own system, and later are sabotaged by it. Normally, the hacker uses a trojan to steal both financial and personal information. It can do this by creating a “backdoor” to your computer that allows the hacker to remotely control it.

4. Viruses

Like a virus that can infect a person, a computer virus is a contagious piece of code that infects software and then spreads from file to file on a system. When infected software or files are shared between computers, the virus then spreads to the new host.

5. Worms

Similarly, worms also replicate themselves and spread when they infect a computer. The difference, however, between a worm and a virus is that a worm doesn’t necessitate the help of a human or host program to spread. Instead, they self-replicate and spread across networks without the guidance of a hacker or a file/program to latch onto. 

 

Surf safe with UR: all downloads are automatically scanned for viruses and if you arrive on a suspicious website, you will immediately be alerted.

Phishing vs. Pharming

fish-in-fishbowl

What is phishing?

Though phishing and pharming attacks are related, they both happen by different means. For example, phishing attacks usually involve an email that appears to be from an e-commerce company prompting you to take action and log in to your account with the link provided in the email.

The website you visit is not the real site but a well-designed imposter site. It may seem authentic to you, so you will enter your username and password, which is then obtained by the attacker. 

What is pharming?

On the contrary, pharming is different in that it can happen when you are going to a legitimate website, even when you have typed the URL of the site yourself. In a pharming attack, the criminal “hijacks” the intended site’s DNS (domain name system) server.

The end result is that you are redirected an imposter site that looks like your intended site. Most people can not tell the difference and will enter their username and password as usual, only to be captured by the attacker. 

 

UR has an integrated Safe Browsing feature which alerts you of sites that are suspected of phishing or pharming. Learn more about UR’s safety features.

Party time? A Refresher in First, Second and Third Party Data

Advertisers, websites and data brokers are having a ball with your data.

The Breakdown on Your Data

First-party data is the data you give away willingly to websites. Advertisers and publishers can extract and compile data by requiring you to register online and by then analyzing your activity.

Example: your email address, name, pages you like, ads you click, etc.

Third-party data is information that’s collected by an entity that doesn’t have a direct relationship with consumers. This data is normally compiled by specialist firms who pay websites to collect information about their visitors. This data is then used to piece together detailed profiles about users’ tastes and behaviors as they browse the Internet.

Example: an advertising tracker will place a cookie on your browser and see where you go so you see ads for things you want. (Maybe those shoes?)

Second-party data is the newcomer to the scene. It is essentially first-party data that another party obtains directly from the source. This data isn’t given away directly—it usually is obtained through a direct relationship with another entity. Deals can be made between publishers or a Data Management Platform (DMP). Or simply between two parties who could benefit from each other’s first-party data.

Example: a pet store sharing data with a veterinarian, who both have similar clients.

The Wider Scope of Your Data

Collecting and dealing with all that information requires a wide range of different players. Data brokers earn their living by helping advertisers and publishers manage their own first-party data, as well as selling them more data about users.

“Companies stress that they do not know users’ names. But they identify them by numbers, and as they build up detailed profiles about those numbered users, there is concern that the information might be traced to individuals.”

– The Economist

All this data is divided into segments defined by location, device, marital status, income, job, shopping habits, travel plans and many other factors. These segments are then are then auctioned off to buyers of ad space in real time.

While data sharing can lead to products and services that make your life easier, more entertaining, economical or even informational, it is important to be aware of your data. So, whether it’s your first-, second- or third-party data, it is important to understand where your data goes, and how it is used.

Sources

http://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21615871-everything-people-do-online-avidly-followed-advertisers-and-third-party

https://hbr.org/2015/05/customer-data-designing-for-transparency-and-trust

https://www.wired.com/insights/2015/03/internet-things-data-go/

How a VPN Can Help Protect Your Privacy

It's like an online seatbelt

Protect your online traffic with a VPN.

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a group of discrete, private networks linked together over a public network—namely, the internet. For anyone who is concerned about keeping his or her online data private, a VPN is a must-have.

A VPN scrambles all the data that passes through the networks by acting as a secure “tunnel” between your computer and the sites you visit online. By encrypting your computer’s internet connection, sites that you visit and data that you send and receive is safe from prying eyes.

Using a VPN encrypts your data.

Other uses for a VPN
  • Change your IP address and appear in another location
  • Make public wifi connections safe, which are often unprotected
  • Watch content from other countries without restrictions
  • Buy airplane tickets in a country with lower rates
  • For remote workers, to connect to a work server and share files
  • Bypass local internet networks, which can be slower than with a VPN

Overall, using a VPN secures your internet browsing and gives you more autonomy with the sites you can visit.

With a VPN built right into it, UR makes staying private online easy! Access the VPN with just a click—look for the ninja icon in the upper right corner of the browser.

Think of UR as an armored car for your online traffic. We respect privacy and created a web browser to keep you safe and private as you navigate the internet highways. 🚗 Learn more here.

Sources

Techhive http://www.techhive.com/article/3158192/privacy/howand-whyyou-should-use-a-vpn-any-time-you-hop-on-the-internet.html
PlanIT http://www.planitcomputing.ie/blog/?p=337
Technet https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb742566.aspx

Search Engine vs. Browser

You know they’re related, but…what’s the difference again?

Do you know what the difference is between a browser and a search engine?

There is a lot of confusion around the two frequently-used words: search engine and browser.

A search engine is designed to search information on the Internet. The search results are usually presented in a list of results called “hits,” based off of the specific keywords you have entered. Examples of popular search engines include: Google, Qwant, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo and others.

A (web) browser is a software application that allows you to retrieve and display content from websites and information across the internet. You first open up your web browser, and then go to a search engine to find information.

Think of it this way: a browser is like a car and the search engine is the map that lets you search the internet—all the roads, houses and shops along the way.

🚗  For smooth driving, UR is a browser that transports you across the web, and in total privacy. Learn more here.

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