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Category: Information Technology

Who is the Weakest Link In a Cybersecurity Chain? We Are!

I watched the video about whether the ransomware can be stopped and I scrolled down through the comment section. While reading comments, some people are suggesting that we switch to Linux because Linux is more secure compared to Windows. That is true that Linux is inherently secure compared to Windows and Mac; however, what if I were to tell you that if you are running Arch Linux, Fedora, Ubuntu, Solaris, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, Haiku OS, or just about any other operating systems in our planet that you can still fall victim to phishing attacks? If we all switch to a different operating system on a basis that one is more secure compared to other operating systems, then we are forgetting about our weakest link.

Let me ask you again. Who or what is the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain? It’s not Windows; we are the ones that need education so we can protect ourselves online.

No anti-malware, anti-virus, and anti-ransomware programs will protect you against ransomware attacks. And Linux and BSD operating systems won’t protect you from phishing emails either. What we need is cybersecurity awareness training. Businesses should establish cybersecurity awareness training. Here’s one example that shows a video about cybersecurity awareness training from Burgi Technologies. The video starts with email, which talks about safeguarding your email such as phishing, email attachments, and spam. Do note though that an email address can be spoofed, so if you receive a phishing email and the email address in the From field ends in @paypal.com and the email claims to be from PayPal, you should simply go to PayPal’s website and check what is going on in your PayPal account. Plus, the security awareness training talks about passwords, malware (don’t forget that malware can target Linux computers as well), public Wi-Fi, and even IoT, such as thermostats, Google Nest cameras, and even light bulbs. Even a router needs to be protected as well. And don’t forget about social engineering as well.

Remember what I mentioned about PayPal? Phishing attacks is one of them. They can even call you over the phone by impersonating that someone is your employer. They might say it’s urgent and they need access to the username and password so they can access the network resources so they can do harm. In other words, they can manipulate you into disclosing confidential or sensitive information.

Regarding security question and answers, it’s convenient if you forget your password, but put in your correct information and once an attacker can scour the Internet tin order to look for information, they can click the “reset password” link, fill in the answers to questions, and once everything is correct, they can then reset the password so you cannot access your account any longer. This is where a password manager comes in. Your password manager of choice can remember gibberish answers to questions. For example:

  • Question: What is your boyfriend’s name?

    Answer: I would like to say thank you to my friend 68dagbbzpTmR5.

  • Question: What is your first car you owned?

    Answer: My beautiful-looking car is my bicycle and I love jverw89.TmZr

  • Question: What is your mother’s maiden name?

    Answer: oi9574bn8tTv8rBz0qpM.,[23w489hZm

A lack of honesty can safeguard your account against information gathering so they can do harm to your account. That’s why a password manager such as Bitwarden can come in handy so that a password manager can help remember your gibberish answers to security questions. And no, security questions is not a security feature. If I know so much about you and I know your email address, I can gather information about you and reset your password by answering security questions without your knowledge. I know this is scary, but don’t let that scare you if you are using a password manager.

To take it a step further, I also make use of unique email addresses as aliases. I do not use plus addressing or catchall because I can create email addresses for my own domain name. I use different email addresses for different sites that I sign up for. For example, I gave pizzahut(at)example(dot)com to Pizza Hut, uber(at)example(dot)com for Uber, walmart(at)example(dot)com for Wal-Mart, bestbuy(at)example(dot)com, and so on and so forth. Not only is this good for security, unique email addresses enhances my privacy. Sure, this is not part of cybersecurity awareness training as employees may not have the luxury of having more than 1 email addresses, but I did this in order to take security into my own hands so that I won’t become a weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Even if businesses said that they took security seriously, if one of my unique email addresses have been compromised in a breach and ends up in Have I Been Pwned, not only should I change the password using my password manager, I can change my email address right away. Why? I did this in order to dodge spam and phishing emails. Because I make use of unique email addresses, I get very little to no spam each month. If I do get spam email messages that lands in my spam or inbox folder and one of my unique email addresses were listed in the To field, I can consider my email address compromised and can track who sold or give away my email address and change my email address or stop doing business with them at any time, immediately delete my compromised email address, and move on with my life.

Don’t let Linux users tell you that you should switch to Linux no matter how inherently secure Linux is. At the end of the day, no matter how much we need to keep our operating systems and software up to date, we still are the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. We still need to educate everyone in order to stay safe online. Linux is not a be-all-end-all solution to our security problems.