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Making sense of technology, one byte at a time  

MAN-IN-THE-MIDDLE ATTACKS

PART ONE

What connects Mary, Queen of Scots with a €6 million internet scam?

 

The answer is Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks.

 

Way back in the 16th Century, Mary was the victim of insecure lines of communication. Messages between Mary and her supporters were intercepted and amended by Queen Elizabeth I’s spies, implicating Mary in an assassination plot and leading to her untimely demise.

 

Fast forward to today and similar interceptions are scarily common. Modern MITM attacks occur when an individual can read or write data transmitted by you and the website you are browsing, essentially convincing you that he/she is the website and vice versa.

 

In 2015, 49 suspects across Europe were arrested after they gained access to various company networks and executed multiple, large-scale MITM attacks worth €6 million by swapping out genuine payment requests for duplicate versions. The good news is that such attacks rely on flaws in security. And that’s where HTTPS comes to the rescue…

 

PHISHING ATTACKS

HOW TO AVOID THE BAIT

Phishing attacks are one of the most common online scams around. We’ve all laughed at the blatantly fake “Nigerian Prince wants to share his fortune” emails, but what about when you receive highly personalised messages from your so-called bank? The website looks convincing, they know your personal details – it must be legitimate, right?

 

Wrong!

 

In a 2015 survey, 97% of people were unable to identity sophisticated phishing emails. What’s more, up to 77% of Spear Phishing attacks are said to target 10 people or less, with a jaw-dropping 33% of attacks targeting just ONE person.

 

It’s imperative to exercise extreme caution. Triple check website URLs, never click on the links contained within emails and call the supposed sender – your bank, friend, family member - directly if you’re unsure.

 

BE AWARE OF MALWARE

We’ve all heard of the nasty software that can do serious damage to your computer system – Viruses, Trojans, Worms… and no, we’re not talking about Boggy B and Co.

 

As a group, we call them Malware – AKA “malicious software” – built to exploit chinks in the armour of our operating systems. From clogging up your computer with pop-up ads to holding you to ransom by encrypting your files, it’s imperative that computers are kept up-to-date with the latest patches and anti-virus software. Here are three simple ways you can protect yourself and your computer...

 

STOP THE SIM SWAPPERS

When you think of cyber security threats, SIM swapping probably doesn’t come to mind. You may not have even heard of it, and yet it can have serious consequences for you and your bank balance.

 

By convincing your phone provider to switch your SIM card to one in their possession, hackers are able to access your online accounts, sell your coveted Twitter and Instagram handles, and raid your cryptocurrency wallet.

 
 

CREDENTIAL STUFFING

If you're guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts online, you need to understand Credential Stuffing.

 

It is expected that the average number of online accounts held by internet users will reach 200 in 2020. It's therefore not surprising that many users reuse easy-to-remember passwords, but at what cost?

 

Having cracked a single password, hackers can automatically try to log in to hundreds of other websites using your stolen credentials. After just 3 minutes, they could access your bank account, smartphone email, images... They can pretend to be you and, for all intents and purposes, they ARE you online. Increased awareness and security is a necessity for all of us in the war on cybercrime. Here's how to fight back...

REASONING FROM FIRST PRINCIPLES

In a competitive market, it is important to challenge conventional wisdom to broaden our horizons.

 

Reasoning from first principles does just that by asking "why?" By questioning EVERYTHING, it is possible to remove assumptions in order to deal with a problem in its most fundamental form.

 

This approach has been central to Space X's Elon Musk's method of problem-solving, and has helped him to achieve the "impossible".

 

IT'S QUANTUM, BABY!

HOW QUANTUM COMPUTING WILL CHANGE THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT

Quantum computing can be tough to get your head around.

 

In regular computing, bits - or "binary digits" - represent a 0 OR a 1 to form the building blocks of computing.

 

In quantum computing, however, the chip is actually an atom known as a quantum bit, or "qubit". Quantum mechanics allows the atom to be both a 0 AND a 1 at the same time resulting in exponential growth in computing power as you add more of them. A mind-boggling concept? It doesn't have to be...

 

INVESTING IN INNOVATION

HOW SITUATIONAL AWARENESS CAN PUT YOUR BUSINESS ON THE MAP

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to business. Strategic frameworks can often be limiting, and what has worked well for one company may signal the beginning of the end for another.

 

This is where situational awareness comes in handy...

 

Wardley Mapping can help to determine when to outsource, when to buy and when to build. By investing in the innovations that are of the greatest value to customers - and building upon the successes that have come before - it is possible to not only predict the future, but to shape it! 

 

HOW DDoS ATTACKS WORK

You've heard of hacking and identity theft, but what about DDoS attacks?

 

DDoS stands for "distributed denial of service", and is a common way of attacking a website by flooding it with requests for information - in some cases, up to 20,000x more - which can make it impossible to identify legitimate customers from robots.

 

No business is safe, so it's important to understand what DDoS is, how it happens and what preventative and defensive measures are in place to reduce the likelihood of it happening to you. 

 

ARE YOU ON THE SOURCE

WHY SHARING IS CARING

Open Source software is created and maintained by users. It can be tweaked, added to and improved by anyone. And best of all, it’s free!

Open Source has been instrumental in modern computing, from the development of browsers to media players to operating systems, and its value grows with every passing day as the community around it share their skills, knowledge and passion for the benefit of everybody else.

 

HOW ENCRYPTION HOLDS THE KEY

In 2017 alone, the world saw data breaches affecting close to half a billion customers from companies such as eBay, Uber and Equifax.

Customer trust is built upon foundations of reliability, transparency and data encryption. It’s imperative that businesses are vigilant and strive to remain deserving of the trust that users place in them.

Find out more about the importance of protecting your data, and the nuances between symmetrical and asymmetrical encryption techniques in the below overview.

 
 

WHY AI?

THE POTENTIAL AND PITFALLS OF TOMORROW'S TECHNOLOGY 

Think you know your AGI from your ASI? Or that artificial intelligence belongs to the unrealistic realms of science-fiction? Think again!

AI is already a part of your daily life; from Siri and Alexa, to Netflix and Spotify. All over the world, computer programmes are monitoring, mimicking and testing your behaviours – and with exponential potential for growth. Sounds scary, right? 

Some of the brainiest scientific minds of our time believe AI can provide incalculable benefits to humankind, with the potential to wipe out disease and poverty. That is, if we can avoid the many pitfalls along the way…

JUMPING THE ARC

THE TREND FOR TIMELY TRANSITIONS

With the constant evolution of technology around us, it’s easy to believe that such progress is inevitable. In reality however, consistent technological improvement relies on carefully timed transitions between existing and emerging platforms.

 

Each of these platforms has an ‘arc’ - improving as they mature, plateauing, then becoming unsupported and dying off - and transitioning between these arcs at the best moment can be the difference between success and failure.

 

Utilising the latest technological capabilities can help to attract, encourage and retain talent, but it all relies on ‘jumping the arc’ at just the right moment...

 
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