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How to install Arch Linux, step by step, for VMware Workstation (Part I)

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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

What It Takes to Become an Ethical Hacker

Companies and organizations worldwide, regardless of the industry they belong to, are susceptible to cybercrime. Reports about global giants like HBO, Verizon, and Target being hacked have given the rest of the globe quite a scare.

Fortunately, the incidents of cybercrime paved the way for the birth of a strategy that could counteract those in the future: ethical hacking.

Also called “white-hat hacking,” this relatively new profession has become quite useful in preventing data breaches in small and large companies alike.

To help you learn more about white hat hacking, this article presents introduces the term and identifies what one would need to become an ethical hacker.

Who Is an Ethical Hacker?

An ethical hacker is a licensed professional who performs penetration testing to determine the extent of an organization’s cybersecurity. From there, he pinpoints aspects of the system that are vulnerable to a breach and submits a report about it to the company’s IT security team.

The IT security staff will then use the hacker's report to bolster security in the vulnerable areas. This ultimately lowers the risk of the organization's sensitive information becoming compromised.

System security penetration testing is not as easy as it may seem. It entails plenty of planning and requires explicit permission from the organization management before the tests can be run.

On top of that, these tests involve similar techniques that black hat hackers may use to breach a network. This is made so to allow the IT security team to come up with countermeasures against attacks that may occur based on the vulnerabilities of their system.

How to Become an Ethical Hacker: 4 Things You Need

If DDoS attacks, viruses, and buffer overflows interest you, then you might want to become an ethical hacker. To do so, these are the four things that will be required of you:

1. Educational Background

There are no universal education criteria for white hat hackers since different organizations have varying needs. They may also impose additional requirements according to their IT setup.

However, having a master's or bachelor's degree in IT, computer science, or even mathematics can serve as a solid foundation for the job. This will make it a lot easier for you to digest new information from trainings and other hacking resources you might stumble upon later on.

2. Certifications and Licenses

To boost your chances of getting hired, you must also undergo training and receive ethical hacking certification. Including this in your credentials can help you get a head start on your chosen career path, even if you don't have years of experience under your belt.

If you plan on acquiring an intermediate level certification, you should expect to encounter system hacking topics such as:
  • Social engineering
  • Enumeration
  • SQL injection
  • Worms, viruses, Trojans, and other forms of cyberattacks like denial of services (DoS)
Knowledge about firewalls, penetration testing, cryptography, and honeypots will also serve to your advantage.

3 Soft Skills

While the task is highly technical, you will still need certain soft skills to be effective at it. This includes problem-solving and organizational skills. You must also be able to maintain a level head even under pressure and show impeccable judgment.

A balance of common sense and intelligence is necessary to succeed in this career path. You should also have people skills, street smarts, and the ability to persuade people to disclose security credentials to perform your tasks.

Of course, you must be able to relay information clearly. Communication skills are crucial since you need to explain things both to the IT team as well as those who have no background in the field.

Keep in mind that, while you will be working with IT personnel most of the time, you may need to speak to other employees in the company. This includes C-level executives who may require you to translate “hacker speak” into layman’s terms. This is where spoken English courses will come in handy.

4 Coding Skills

If you truly want to become a white hat hacker, you must be willing to pursue continuous learning as many situations require new knowledge in IT. Also, you would need to have a strong understanding of scripting or coding language and network and web security.

As an ethical hacker, you may need to learn several coding languages since there’s a good chance that you’ll be working on different platforms. This includes HTML, JSP, PHP, and ASP for web applications and Swift, Java, and C# for mobile. Python is also highly recommended since it has become quite popular due to its portability.

Of course, you can easily learn these coding languages if you have a fundamental understanding of specific programming concepts. This includes data types and variable manipulation. Remember that all coding languages are the same, except for certain syntax variations.

For the Good of the Virtual Community

Ethical hackers have emerged to address a critical need for cybersecurity in the digital world. Studying and training to become one will get you on the path to a rewarding and versatile career in IT.
AUTHOR BIO

Jerrin Samuel is the Executive Director at Regional Educational Institute (REI) in Abu Dhabi. Since 1995, REI has been at the forefront of education by delivering quality corporate training courses in the UAE, helping many businesses and organizations achieve greater productivity and higher customer satisfaction levels.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

4 significant things to look out for in a VPN service


You have been contemplating using a VPN for quite a while, but you still are not sure what to look out for when shopping for one. For one, you know that a free VPN is not even an option as the catch for free service is the sale of your data. Every service out there promises the world, but can they deliver? Here are some of the critical items you should factor in before making your decision:

Speed

Speed is evident since nobody wants to be stuck with a slow connection. Various factors affect the speed and stability of a VPN, but either way, look for a service that gives you different options. Different configuration options for varying purposes will ensure you always have flexible speed options. This largely depends on what you are using the VPN for, whether peer-to-peer activities or live streaming.

Security

While speed is a factor, safety should also be a priority. It does not make sense to have a lightning-fast connection without security. Ensure the service uses protection mechanisms like IP hiding and kill switches. For example, security just got better! ExpressVPN and HP have teamed up to give you the new HP Spectre x360 13, which comes with a pre-installed and secure VPN.
HP clients will get a free 30-day trial period, which enables them to gain access to all Express VPN apps. The new Spectre x360 13 comes with a kill switch that switches off your webcam when not in use, a mute mic with LED key for switching on and off and an optional privacy screen. You can log in with your fingerprint, ensuring nobody can access your data; you can manage passwords with Lastpass, plus of course the pre-installed Express VPN. How cool is that?
ExpressVPN also uses TrustedServer technology, which means the VPN servers run on volatile memory (RAM) and not hard drive. RAM needs electrical power to store information, which means the data is wiped off every time the server is switched off.
ExpressVPN has four major strategies when it comes to security:
       Ensure a system is very complex and can’t be compromised easily
       Mitigate the damage if it happens
       Minimize the period the system stays compromised
       Check the validity of these strategies by asking a qualified person from outside the company to test them.

Accessibility

A VPN that is limited in its reach does not do you any justice. If you intend to use the VPN to access blocked content in your current location, you can check for a VPN with availability by country. This is especially useful if you travel regularly. A high-quality VPN ensures you are connected to your services back in your home country, no matter where you are on the globe.

Great encryption

Encryption is perhaps the most critical aspect of a VPN. Data is valuable, and a great VPN will ensure your information is secure. With ExpressVPN’s 256-bit encryption, there is no way that network operators, ISPs, or the government can pry into your business. Even better, hackers on the same free public Wi-Fi hotspot will not be able to intercept your traffic to steal passwords, private photos, emails, etc.

Conclusion

According to a survey by GlobalWorldIndex, the demand for private use VPNs is expanding at an impressive rate. GlobalWebIndex found that 30% of the world’s internet users have made use of VPNs in the past 30 days. The VPN market is predicted to expand by at least 50% from an average of $23.6 billion this year to almost $36 billion in the next four years.
As mentioned earlier, free VPNs are not an option. ExpressVPN has made getting quality VPN much more accessible. HP is dedicated to creating lasting solutions in every industry, from health, education, and retail. Price in getting a VPN should be a factor. Look at what you are getting from the service, vis a vis its charges. As most major technology brands recognize the need for quality digital security, it will cease to be a matter of price, but the quality of service provided.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

How smart homes endanger our privacy

White Speaker On Surface


Today we live in a society where the role of smart gadgets grows exponentially. Connected to the Internet of Things (IoT), these devices can operate without much human input.

Like with any new technology, the increase in the sales of smart home devices is partially bolstered by hype. On the other hand, it’s impossible to deny their convenience: for the majority of its users, smart home technology saves at least half an hour a day—and a thousand dollars per year. With the ability to task a gadget with cleaning, washing, cooking, and doing other chores while you’re away from your home, this technology will likely keep on growing.

Smart devices also pose a lot of dangers to their users, however. In fact, every smart home not properly secured is a ticking privacy time-bomb in more ways than any “not-smart” abode could ever be.

For a smart home to work, it has to create an entire system of connections between its devices. And they all are collecting information about their users and storing it, often without much thought put into its security.

Massive-scale attacks on IoT devices and environments are not unheard of. It’s not surprising because of how tempting they are for hackers: their security measures are lacking more frequently than those of traditional computers, and they hold immense amounts of private data.

For instance, some smart door locks come with facial recognition mechanisms built into them. Undoubtedly, such locks are easier to use than a regular key or even a password that can be used in other varieties of smart locks.

However, they do encroach on people’s privacy as they can be used against their owners. If hacked into, they can potentially leak tons of data to the bad actors. Then, this information can be easily used in surveillance purposes.

That’s not the only threat that lousy smart home security practices can pose. Another one is a new level of ransomware aimed at IoT gadgets. It’s one thing to have your important files locked away by an extortionist, and completely another one to have the same extortionist take control of the condition system in your house. While the former is, all things considered, an inconvenience in most cases, the latter would be a borderline physical threat.

A voice assistant such as Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant is often an integral part of a smart home. Its purpose is allowing you to control other devices with your voice, but to do that, it has to listen for what you are saying. Even if you trust the manufacturer of your voice assistant not to use this situation to spy on you, cases of people gaining access to other users’ recordings have been reported.

There are some ways to protect one’s smart home.

One of the dangers of the IoT is the interception of data that is transmitted between smart devices. To prevent it, you can encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address by using a virtual private network on a router. With this measure taken, it would be impossible for an attacker to get a hold of your private information.

Next, all of your smart devices should be updated to their respective latest versions. Unpatched gadgets often have crucial vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit.

It’s necessary to remember that the battle between developers and hackers is ongoing. Sadly, no one-time solutions exist that can forever keep you safe.

Another tip is to try and keep away from devices that collect too much info, if possible. It may be tempting to command your little army of household bots with nothing but your voice, but it would put your privacy in danger.

The same goes for devices that rely on facial recognition and biometrics. Their convenience is negated by the possibilities of surveillance that they open.

Friday, August 9, 2019

How to Customize your PowerPoint Backgrounds for Maximum Impact

The slide backgrounds you choose to use for your presentations have a huge impact on the perceived quality of your PowerPoint presentations.

That’s because adding colors, textures and styles to your PowerPoint backgrounds helps create a more interesting and visually appealing presentation that attracts your audience’s attention and allows you to drive home your message more effectively and efficiently.

While a good background can make your text and other images pop, a bad or bland background can be distracting and ruin a perfectly good presentation.

Below are a variety of background examples you can use to create new and interesting backgrounds for your PowerPoint presentations.

Image backgrounds

Images can make your slides really stand out and can be extremely powerful in PowerPoint presentations...when used correctly.


Don’t use a photo or image just because it’s cool, funny or cute. Every element of your PowerPoint should bring meaning or add value to your message and that goes for the images your select, even those used in the PowerPoint background.

A good background image will allow your text to be readable and won’t distract from the other elements on your slides. Here are a few tips on choosing the right image for your PowerPoint background:
  • Look for ‘whitespace’ which allows you to add your text or graphics
  • Blurred areas help focus attention on whatever else you add to the slide without distracting your audience
  • Images with gradients make good backgrounds for the reasons we mentioned above
  • Textured images keep things interesting

Gradient color backgrounds

Block colors can look flat and boring. Make your PowerPoint backgrounds more visually pleasing by playing with shading and light.

Right-click your slide, select Format Background and select Gradient Fill. There, you play about with one or two color gradients, the direction of the fades, and the transparency to create more interesting PowerPoint backgrounds.

Pattern and texture backgrounds

Word of warning: when you go to Format Background, you’ll see Pattern Fill...avoid this. These patterns are very basic and look like a magic eye picture and no one wants to stare at that for any length of time!

The option above this is Picture or Texture Fill which will give you much better options.

Again, you can play with the transparency of the patterns to make sure it doesn’t distract from text or other presentation elements. Remember, PowerPoint backgrounds shouldn’t be the dominant feature of your presentation!

Geometric textured backgrounds

Geometric polygon backgrounds with the right font and graphics look cool, add texture and color and look interesting without being too overpowering.

You can either download from royalty-free photo sites, or create your own via such sites as Trianglify Background Generator.

Download your own patterns and textures

You don’t have to limit yourself to the default patterns inside of PowerPoint. You can find your own pattern backgrounds and insert them into your presentation slides.

To learn more about downloading, creating and inserting PowerPoint backgrounds like this, see this article here.

As you can see, creating your own PowerPoint backgrounds that grab your audiences’ attention isn’t rocket science and anyone can do it.

Here are some additional tips when working with your background colors.

Color tips for powerful PowerPoint backgrounds

Keep it simple

Stick to just two or three-colors for your whole presentation for a clean look. Black and white might seem boring but remember you can always add color later with logos, graphs, and images.

Brand colors

Using company colors in your PowerPoint backgrounds is a great opportunity to build and reinforce your brand in a subtle way. It’s much less distracting than placing your logo on every slide which would also take up valuable space on your presentation.

Color and emotions

Consider the meaning of colors and the emotional responses you wish your audience to have.

For example, if you wish to deliver a serious message, then an optimistic yellow background won’t get the right attention or reaction. Instead, go for a dark background, gray or black.

Be careful with contrast when you use color backgrounds-- make sure your other presentation elements are easy to read.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Search Engines Abuse Your Privacy


Search Engines Abuse Your Privacy – Protect Yourself Now

Search engines collect a lot of personal information to narrow down your search parameters to provide you with the most customized search results – an undeniably beneficial and convenient feature. The problem, however, lies in the amount and sensitivity of the collected information and its alternative uses. One of the downsides of search engines collecting and using data from your devices is that they end up abusing your privacy, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Most people will agree that we cannot afford a breach in our online privacy and those who don’t agree should take a look at life even after of the Snowden Leaks. So, how can you protect yourself from the abuse of your privacy by search engines?

Look into the fine print before using any search engine

One of the worst habits that we share as tech users are that most of us ignore the Privacy Policy of the programs we use, which is also the case for search engines. Although with search engines you don’t get a prompt to read the Privacy Policy, this is something you should look into. Only by understanding the Privacy Policy can you tell whether the search engine poses a threat to your privacy. However, while the Privacy Policy is undoubtedly essential, it is not always a proper guideline since some companies omit some of the finer details.

Seek alternative and secure search engines

Although Google, Yahoo, and Bing are three of the most popular search engines, there exist other options that are even better than these three. Incidentally, Google, Yahoo, and Bing are three of the most notorious search engines in data collection and privacy breach. It may take some work and effort, but a look into the most popular search engines is the best way to find search engines that guarantee your privacy. Not all search engines collect information to customize their search parameters, and while this might affect the quality of the search results, the impact is negligible. Even more so, when you weigh this against the risk of a breach in your privacy and the possible effects. Some of the most secure search engines include; DuckDuckGo, StartPage, and Ixquick.

Protect your network and devices
While search engines collect plenty of sensitive information, that is only possible in cases where the devices and network have poor security. By enhancing the protection of your network and devices, primarily with a focus on online privacy and anonymity, you can limit the data collection significantly. For starters, you need to install a VPN, which should provide sufficient online privacy and some level of anonymity. Additional measures include device encryption and antivirus installation. The ideal antivirus should have features that block or limit the unauthorized collection of information from your device and provide some level of network security.

Improve browser security

Nowadays, search engines and browsers are integrated – a feature intended to enhance the search experience. The downside is that it enhances data collection by exploiting the numerous flaws in browser security. However, you can solve this problem by improving browser security. One of the best ways to do that is by relying on software extensions instead of solely the native software. Take, for instance, ExpressVPN’s native app against the Chrome extension. You’ll notice that the benefits of using ExpressVPN’s Chrome extension far outweigh those of the native app when it comes to browser security.

The Upshot

Search engines are irreplaceable, but that doesn’t mean that we should roll over in the face of atrocity. The abuse of privacy by search engines through the collection of sensitive information poses a serious threat and one that’s impossible to overlook. For this reason, you should look into the ways of protecting your privacy highlighted in this article, and many others that aren’t.