The next frontier of warfare is online

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Sometime in mid-2009 or early 2010 — no one really knows for sure — a brand new weapon of war burst into the world at the Natanz nuclear research facility in Iran. Unlike the debut of previous paradigm-shattering weapons such as the machine gun, airplane, or atomic bomb, however, this one wasn’t accompanied by a lot of noise and destruction. No one was killed or even wounded. But the weapon achieved its objective to temporarily cripple the Iranian nuclear weapon program, by destroying gas centrifuges used for uranium enrichment. Unfortunately, like those previous weapons, this one soon caused unanticipated consequences.

The use of that weapon, a piece of software called Stuxnet widely concluded to have been jointly developed by the United States and Israel, was arguably the first publicly known instance of full-scale cyberwarfare. The attack deployed a software vulnerability or exploit, called a zero-day, buried so deeply in computer code that it remains undetected until someone — a team of hackers, a criminal, an intelligence or law enforcement agency — activates it. We’ve all heard of, and perhaps even been victimized by, criminal hacks that may have pilfered our credit card numbers and passwords, or been spammed by suspicious emails that invite us to claim supposed Nigerian fortunes. But zero-days operate on a different level entirely.

“Zero-days offer digital superpowers,” New York Times cybersecurity reporter Nicole Perlroth writes in “This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race.”

“Exploiting a zero-day, hackers can break into any system — any company, government agency, or bank — that relies on the affected software or hardware and drop a payload to achieve their goal, whether it be espionage, financial theft, or sabotage. There are no patches for zero-days, until they are uncovered. It’s a little like having the spare key to a locked building.”

Such capabilities, says Perlroth, make zero-days “one of the most coveted tools in a spy or cybercriminal’s arsenal.”

As with any other highly coveted commodity, a vast covert global market has sprung up to meet the demand for zero-days. Perlroth explains that this invisible digital trade was…


5 smart tips to keep your online searches private and secure.

A virtual private network, or VPN,  hides your IP address and your location, and it’s the most effective way of keeping yourself private online.

Google processes over 40,000 searches every single second, according to Did you know that there are some things you should never search for? Tap or click for seven Google searches that can land you in serious trouble.

For your more embarrassing or private queries, you may think you’re protecting yourself entirely with incognito mode, but that only goes so far. Tap or click here to see what incognito mode is really good for and what it can’t do.

Let’s take a closer look at the privacy options available to you. This post should be required reading for anyone in today’s digital age. So, be sure to share it out on your social media accounts.

1. Know what private windows do

In most browsers, select File > New Private Window or hit the three-dot menu near the search bar to open a new incognito or private window. Here’s where a lot of people fall for this privacy myth.

Don’t make a mistake and think this privacy feature blocks what you search or sites you visit from your internet provider, work or school, or even a search engine. A private window only wipes out local data like your search history, cookies, and anything you entered into a form.

RANKING: Best browsers for privacy, from easy to use to most customizable.

2. Stop searching using Google

If you don’t want to be tracked, use an alternative to Google.

StartPage calls itself “the world’s most private search engine.” The Netherlands-based company pays Google for the use of its search algorithm but strips out the tracking and advertising that usually comes along with it. You get a Google-like experience, along with the promise that your data will never be stored, tracked, or sold.


Americans turn to VPNs to prevent online fraud and hacking

Since March 2020 there has been an increase of of VPN (Virtual Private Network) discount-related searches as Americans search for a way to feel secure online, according to a new report.

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New York, NY-based coupon engine CouponFollow, part of NextGen Shopping surveyed 1,666 US adults before the pandemic and a further 1,834 US adults in February 2021 to understand how Americans view their internet security and data privacy.

Also: What is a VPN and why do you need one? Everything you have to know

The report showed that almost seven in ten (69%) of Americans are concerned about the security of their data when using public Wi-fi, and nearly two in three (64%) are worried about it when using the internet at home.

A similar percentage (65%) are concerned that their medical or financial data might be shared — or sold on — by their ISP.

Online privacy worries almost half (47%) of Americans who are concerned about their privacy when using public Wi-Fi. Nearly a third (30%) worry about their privacy even when using the Internet at home.

chart, bar chart: CouponFollow

© Provided by ZDNet

Online fraud and hacking is a concern for Americans with over one in three (35%) knowing someone who has had their social media account hacked or hijacked — including them. Almost half of Millennials (48%) reported this happening.


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In October 2020 the UK’s data privacy watchdog fined the Marriott hotel chain for a data breach that could have affected up to 339 million guests. Even social media sites like Facebook has suffered data leaks.

One in three have had, or know someone who has had their password stolen, and (52%) of Millennials and Gen Z reported the same.

Also: How to set up and use a VPN on Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android

Only 12% of Baby Boomers reported having their password stolen, and one in five (20%) had a social media account hacked or hijacked — reflecting the amount of time they spend online.

Although one in three (35%) Americas use a VPN, 33% reported that they do not know what a VPN is.

Men are more likely to know what a VPN is, but almost half of Baby Boomers (49%) do not know what a VPN is. Even two in five (40%) of VPN users do not…


12 things you should never do if you use online banking

Online banking offers a fast and convenient way to make bill payments, transfer money and do other transactions. However, it comes with its own share of risks. Phishing, Vishing and skimming are some of the common tools that the fraudsters use to steal money. There are some fundamental practices that can be adopted to avoid these bank related scams. Here are some of the biggest mistakes that you should not do while using your bank account online.



Do not use public Wi-Fi connection to do online banking transactions

While doing online bank transactions, never use a public Wi-Fi for internet connection. These are generally insecure and can be easily used by hackers to plant infected software on your device to steal your banking details.



Do not charge your mobile phones at public charging stations

To avoid becoming a victim of juice jacking (cybercrime that uses USB cable to steal data), one should never charge their smartphones at charging stations. It is advisable to carry one’s own charging cable.



Do not search for a bank’s customer care or other important number on Google

Always go to the bank’s official website to get information related to phone numbers and emails for queries and grievances.



Do not install apps on your smartphone from anywhere other than Google Play Store and Apple App Store

One must download apps from reliable app stores only like Google Play Store and Apple App Store. Downloading apps from unofficial sources can risk both your smartphone and data available on it.



Do not ignore Android security updates, always install them on your smartphone

While software updates help tackle bugs and other issues on the smartphone, they can also help in minimizing the cyber risks. The latest OS comes with latest security patches that may be difficult to overcome by a hacker.



Do not click on any bank or payment-related links sent in mails or SMS, unless very sure

Do not click on any transaction-related links that come via SMS or in mail. Also, at times, cyber criminals tend to create an urgency to act/perform a bank-related transaction. Keep an eye for such messages and always check the URL before clicking.



Do not share any banking or KYC-related information on…