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The idea of paying for something without using your PIN number isn’t something new anymore. Despite that, the concept exposes you to just as many vulnerabilities (if not more) than it did before.

Previously, I have written about Android Pay’s PIN-less mobile payment system and the negative consequences people can suffer by replacing their PIN numbers with biometric authentication. Now there are devices such as NFC payment rings that further exacerbate the previous vulnerability issues of other similar solutions. It turns out that there are a couple of things you should know before you hop into the bandwagon of convenience that contact-less payments provide.

People Can Listen in on Transactions

Hackers and researchers have been aware of NFC eavesdropping since at least 2013 when some folks crafted a shopping cart that could easily slip in and “listen” to transactions being made by contact-less payment. To prevent such a phenomenon from happening, readers need to encrypt their connections from end to end. Even then, the possibility of eavesdropping still exists. For consumers to be reliably safe, it’s better to avoid using NFC in crowded places.

The Data Can Be Invalidated

This particular problem annoys retailers just as much as shoppers. A hacker can place a device near the reader that corrupts the data going into the reader, making it impossible to make a purchase at that particular counter. Hackers might have an incentive to do this in conjunction with eavesdropping to make sure that the customer does not empty their balance before they have a chance to use it.

The solution to this problem is the same here as it is for eavesdropping. Retailers should use secure channels for transmitting and receiving data on their NFC readers. Although this particular attack doesn’t present a particular threat to either the retailer or the customer (just a lot of frustration), it’s worth repeating the fact that it can be especially dangerous to the customer when hackers choose to combine this with eavesdropping.

The “Man in The Middle” Attack

Described in better detail over here, a man in the middle (MiM) attack is a sophisticated form of eavesdropping in which the hacker will intercept the conversation between the NFC device and the reader processing the payment and send false information to both. This way hackers can invalidate data (sending the reader garbage information as I’ve described above) and receive the NFC payment themselves based on what the NFC device tried to send to the reader.

Because of their sophistication, such attacks are very rare, but the vulnerabilities currently present in NFC transactions create an incentive for hackers to start investing more time in making tools that will carry out these attacks. To make matters worse, hackers can actively listen in on the connection before the encryption “handshake” is complete, making encryption rather useless at this point. But one thing retailers could do is to have an active-passive style of communication where the NFC device simply sends over its data, and the reader simply processes the information and sends back purchase confirmation.

Never Underestimate Pickpocketers

Of course, when you’re not cut out for cleverly hacking your way into payment portals, your best option is to simply grab whatever people are using to pay for things these days. A card is a bit harder to steal since you’d normally have to steal the entire wallet which is sitting inside of a pocket most of the time (some people use their inside coat pocket for their wallets, making this more challenging).

But phones are often kept outside of pockets and easily get lost. Even if they are in a pocket, most people won’t treat their phones with such care as they do their wallets. NFC payment rings take this a little bit further since it is even easier to lose rings. Stealing them is only a matter of finding an opportune moment when someone takes off their rings to wash their hands.

My suggestion for people using phones is to make sure they have some way to remotely lock the device down if it’s lost. Other than that, you should be avoiding NFC payments entirely if it is very important for you to minimize the chances of your money being stolen in any of the nasty ways I’ve described above.

Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

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Learn The Basic Concepts Of Security Engineering

Introduction to Security engineering

Security Engineering focuses on the security aspects in the development of the systems so that they can deal robustly with losses caused by accidents ranging from natural disasters to malicious attacks. The main motto of security Engineering is to not only satisfy pre-defined functional and user requirements but also preventing the misuse of the system and malicious behavior. Security is one of the quality factors of a system that signifies the ability of the system to protect itself from accidental and malicious external attacks. It is an important issue as networking of the system has increased, and external attacks to the system through the internet can be possible. Security factor makes the system available, safe, and reliable. If a system is a networked System, then the reliability and its safety factors become more unreliable.

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Why do we need security Engineering? Security risk management

Vulnerability avoidance: The system is designed so that vulnerabilities do not occur. Say if there is no network, then the external attack is not possible.

Detection and removal of attacks: The System is designed so that attacks can be detected and removed before they result in any exposure of data programs s same as the virus checkers who detect and remove the viruses before they infect the system.

Damage caused due to insecurity.

Corruption of programs and data: The programs or data in the system may be modified by unauthorized users.

Unavailability bod service: The system is affected and out into a state where normal services are not available.

Leakage of confidential information: Information that is controlled by the system may be disclosed to the people who are not authorized to read or use that information.

System survivability

System survivability is nothing but an ability of a system to continue performing difficult functions on time even if a few portions of the system are infected by malicious attacks or accidents. System survivability includes elements such an s reliability, dependability, fault tolerance, verification, testing, and information system security. Let’s discuss some of these elements.

Adaptability: even if the system is attacked by a threat, the system should have the capability to adapt to the threat and continue providing service to the user. Also, the network performance should not be degraded by the end-user.

Availability: The degree to which software remains operable in the presence of system failures.

Time: Services should be provided to the user within the time expected by the user.

Connectivity: It is the degree to which a system performs when all nodes and links are available.

Correctness: It is the degree to which all Software functions are specified without any misunderstanding and misinterpretations.

Software dependence: The degree to which hardware does not depend upon the software environment.

Hardware dependence: The degree to which software does not depend upon hardware environments.

Fault tolerance: The degree to which the software will continue to work without a system failure that would cause damage to the user and the degree to which software includes recovery functions

Fairness: It is the ability of the network system to organize and route the information without any failure.

Interoperability: It is the degree to which software can be connected easily with other systems and operated.

Performance: It is concerned with the quality factors kike efficiency, integrity, reliability, and usability. Sub factors include speed and throughput.

Predictability: It is the degree to which a system can provide countermeasures to the system failures in the situation of threats.

Modifiability: It is the degree of effort required to make modifications to improve the efficiency of functions of the software.

Safety: It is the ability of the system to not cause any harm to the network system or personnel system.

Recoverability: It is the ability of the system to recover from an accident and provide normal service on time.

Verifiability: It is about the efforts required to verify the specified Software functions and corresponding performance.

Security: it is the degree to which the software can detect and prevent the information leak, loss of information, and malicious use, and then any type of destruction.

Testability: It is about the efforts required to test the software.

Reusability: It is the degree to which the software can be reused in other applications.

Restorability: It is the degree to which a system can restore its services on time.

Recommended Articles

This is a guide to Security engineering. Here we have discussed the basic concepts of security Engineering and its various terms used for system protection. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –

Mdm, Emm And The Future Of Healthcare Security

For many in the healthcare industry, the distinction between mobile device management (MDM) and enterprise mobility management (EMM) is unclear. When choosing the best solution provider, especially in terms of healthcare security, it’s important to understand the history and difference between the two practices.

A Blended History

Mobile device use isn’t new to healthcare — nurses, patients, doctors and everyone in-between are actively using mobile devices and solutions to address the challenges of the industry. According to HIT Infrastructure, until recently, MDM was a broad term, referring to both the segmented and general use of mobile devices.

That changed three years ago when Gartner proclaimed that MDM had evolved into EMM, a term that encompassed larger mobility management solutions that also included mobile content management (MCM), mobile application management (MAM) and identity and access management (IAM).

This structure means that every EMM solution includes an MDM component, but also that an MDM solution does not offer everything an EMM solution does.

Why MDM Isn’t Enough in an App-centered World

When the mobile environment was more simple, MDM solutions met the needs of most solutions providers. Today though, with every month bringing increased complexity to mobility, it’s becoming more apparent that EMM solutions will need to be a serious consideration for most facilities and organizations.

Many of MDM’s shortcomings were exposed by BYOD policies. As IT admins began integrating MDM into their BYOD strategies, they began to run across functionality limitations and bumps in user experience. These issues are most obvious in situations where employee-owned devices are used for work purposes. For example, since MDM functions at the device level, if a situation arises where an admin needs to destroy data in an application that’s used both privately and professionally, all the information needs to be wiped, regardless of classification.

In contrast, EMM offers a level of flexibility around applications where MDM does not. More specifically, EMM solutions allow IT departments to establish policies on both an application and information level.

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Those last two elements are non-negotiable in healthcare security environments where security depends on adoption and proper user behavior. EMM solutions offer IT departments the option of enabling privacy policies at multiple levels, including implementing single sign-on options where applicable.

Communicating With Vendors

When working with vendors and solution providers on building secure application environments, it will be essential to clearly understand the terminology they’re using.

The formal, 2023 Gartner definition of EMM is a broad solution that “enables organizations to integrate and manage mobile devices in their IT infrastructures.” Where things get tricky is that some vendors still use MDM to refer to EMM solutions, so it’s essential when working with vendors to understand organizational needs, where confusion can potentially take place, and ask questions to fully understand what’s being discussed and how terminology is used.

Here are four points to consider when working with a vendor to identify an EMM solution:

Support: Troubleshooting and support options in EMM offerings include inventory, analytics and remote actions.

Provisioning: Unlike MDM solutions, EMM solutions will configure applications and devices for enterprise deployment, as well as manage updates and assist with device upgrade and retirement.

Auditing, tracking and reporting: If a solution can’t track device inventory usage and settings to verify compliance with enterprise policies, it’s likely an MDM solution.

Enterprise data protection: EMM solutions offer mitigation against theft, employee termination, data loss and other incidents. They do this by adding controls for data access rights, data encryption, device lockdown and shared devices, as well as application wrapping and containment.

Ultimately, making the choice between MDM and EMM solutions will depend on your organization’s particular needs, as well as the path it takes in terms of application use, security and vulnerability. Regardless of choice, make sure to work with a vendor who understands the challenges around all those components as well as the particular challenges of healthcare security.

Are unpatched security vulnerabilities worth the risk? A recent report shows just how much known vulnerabilities can cost your business.

The Combination Of Humans And Artificial Intelligence In Cyber Security

Indeed, even as AI innovation changes some aspects of cybersecurity, the crossing point of the two remains significantly human. In spite of the fact that it’s maybe unreasonable, humans are upfront in all pieces of the cybersecurity triad: the terrible actors who look to do hurt, the gullible soft targets, and the great on-screen characters who retaliate. Indeed, even without the approaching phantom of AI, the cybersecurity war zone is frequently hazy to average users and the technologically savvy alike. Including a layer of AI, which contains various innovations that can likewise feel unexplainable to many people, may appear to be doubly unmanageable as well as indifferent. That is on the grounds that in spite of the fact that the cybersecurity battle is once in a while profoundly personal, it’s once in a while pursued face to face. With an expected 3.5 million cybersecurity positions expected to go unfilled by 2023 and with security ruptures increasing some 80% every year, infusing human knowledge with AI and machine learning tools gets critical to shutting the talent availability gap. That is one of the recommendations of a report called Trust at Scale, as of late released by cybersecurity organization Synack and citing job and breach data from Cybersecurity Ventures and Verizon reports, individually. Indeed, when ethical human hackers were upheld by AI and machine learning, they became 73% increasingly proficient at identifying and evaluating IT risks and threats. In any case, while the conceivable outcomes with AI appear to be unfathomable, the possibility that they could wipe out the role of people in cybersecurity divisions is about as unrealistic as the possibility of a phalanx of Baymaxes supplanting the nation’s doctors. While the ultimate objective of AI is to simulate human functions, for example, problem-solving, learning, planning, and intuition, there will consistently be things that AI can’t deal with (yet), as well as things AI should not handle. The principal classification incorporates things like creativity, which can’t be viably instructed or customized, and therefore will require the guiding hand of a human. Anticipating that AI should viably and reliably decide the context of an attack may likewise be an unconquerable ask, at any rate for the time being, just like the idea that AI could make new solutions for security issues. At the end of the day, while AI can unquestionably add speed and exactness to tasks generally handled by people, it is poor at extending the scope of such tasks. As it were, AI’s impact on the field of cybersecurity is the same as its effect on different disciplines, in that individuals frequently terribly overestimate what AI can do. They don’t comprehend that AI often works best when it has a restricted application, similar to anomaly detection, versus a broader one, like engineering a solution to a threat. In contrast to people, AI needs inventiveness. It isn’t inventive. It isn’t cunning. It regularly neglects to consider context and memory, leaving it incapable to decipher occasions like a human mind does. In a meeting with VentureBeat, LogicHub CEO and cofounder Kumar Saurabh showed the requirement for human analysts with a kind of John Henry test for automated threat detection. “A few years ago, we did an examination,” he said. This included arranging a specific amount of information, a trifling sum for an AI model to filter through, yet a sensibly huge sum for a human analyst to perceive how teams utilizing automated frameworks would pass against people in threat detection.

Mobile Payments: Which Provider Will Win The Battle For Dominance?

With smartphone usage growing by leaps and bounds each year, payment providers are grappling to win control of the mobile payments market. Since total mobile purchases are expected to exceed $600 billion in 2013, it’s not an insignificant contest. Who are the current leaders? Who is best positioned to gain market dominance?

Mobile payment platforms can be broken down into two categories:

Those that bill the customer via their phone bill

Those that bill the customer via their credit card or bank account

Phone Bill Based Systems 1) SMS Payments

Some mobile carriers allow users to make payments to third-party merchants via SMS (text message). Typically, the buyer sends a text message to a specific shortcode, which returns a pin number that the buyer can use to access their order. The buyer is then billed via their monthly phone bill. Making payments through SMS messages is declining due to several issues, including implementation cost, lack of flexibility, payment delays, etc.

2) Direct Billing

Direct mobile billing allows users to pay merchants via their phone bills, but this system is more flexible than SMS billing. Direct mobile billing is very popular in Asia, and it is growing in usage in the United States for online games and other digital content. BilltoMobile, Boku, and Zong are three providers that offer a direct mobile payment platform for merchants. There are several ways the system can be setup, but payments are typically initiated from the merchant’s website, verified via SMS or through another method, and then completed on the merchant’s website.


Easy for users – no need to type a credit card number (or even to have one)


Currently limited by most providers to about $100 in purchases per month

Costs for merchants are high

Only intended for digital purchases

Bank Based Systems 3) Google Wallet

Google Wallet allows users to make payments online from a mobile or desktop device or in-store using near field communication. Purchases are billed via the credit card the user has saved in their Wallet account.


Has a head start on other providers, including Paypal, and is integrated into more retail stores


Fewer features than Paypal

Only supports payments via Credit card (not via bank account)

4) Paypal

Paypal offers both a mobile website and mobile apps that allow you to send money, request money, and make purchases. Purchases are billed via a credit card or bank account the user has set up on their account. Paypal also supports in-store payments like Google Wallet does.


Leading alternative payment provider online

Many additional features (send money direct to individuals, get a debit card, etc.)


Supported at fewer retail stores than Google Wallet

This screenshot shows the bar code generated by the Paypal mobile app to facilitate in-store payment.

 5) In-App Purchases

Both Apple and Google (Android) allow app developers to set up their apps so customers can use the App Store to make purchases within the app. A major drawback to in-app purchases is the high fees (about 30%) charged to the merchant.


Developers, merchants, and users are already using the store


Only intended for digital purchases

Very high cost for merchants

Only intended for app-based purchases (not in person or on mobile website)

 6) Amazon MPS

Amazon Mobile Payments Service supports mobile payments within apps or mobile websites, but it isn’t targeted at in-store purchases. Based on this limitation, we do not consider Amazon a major player for long-term dominance.

 7) ISIS

ISIS is a joint venture between AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless that will offer a mobile wallet, probably somewhat similar to Google Wallet. The service has not yet fully launched, but it will be well positioned to capture significant market share due to the resources and reputations of its backers.

 8) MasterCard PayPass

PayPass is a wallet service from Mastercard that supports online and in-store purchases, much like PayPal and Google Wallet. PayPass is still in Beta, but it’s definitely a player to watch.

 9) Visa

Visa is also launching their own mobile payment option. Users with Visa-approved, NFC-equipped mobile phones will be able to link their smartphones to their Visa cards and make in-store payments.

Who Will Win?

It’s difficult to predict which platform will be the mobile payments leader in the future, but here are a few ideas and points to consider:

PayPal and Google Wallet are both in strong positions and have a head start on some of the other players.

For app stores to have a strong position long term, they will need to drastically reduce their fees for in-app purchases.

Options that support payment via phone bills will also need to reduce merchant costs to compete.

While platforms from ISIS, MasterCard, and Visa are latecomers to the game, they are backed by huge industry players.

There is also an implicit hardware battle since in-store payments only work if the merchant’s equipment supports the payment platform the consumer wants to use.

Who will win the mobile payments battle? It’s really too early to say, but I am expecting an established player to become the leader. Only time will tell. Tick, tock, tick, tock.

Image Credit: BigStockPhoto / leaf

G Data Total Security Review: The Best Antivirus App You’ve Never Heard Of

G Data is a well-organized and capable antivirus suite from Germany. It offers two malware engines for added protection, and is priced well. Although it’s not as well known as other antivirus suites, G Data does a good job and the Total Security offering has plenty of features for those who want more than malware scans out of their security suite.

Nothing says security and trust like German quality. At least that’s the pitch for Germany-based G Data. The company’s tag line is “Trust in German Sicherheit (safety).” The idea being that modern Germany is known for “solid German quality” and strict privacy laws, which G Data must adhere to, thereby shielding its customers from malware and privacy-busting breaches.

Note: This review is part of our 

best antivirus

roundup . Go there for details about competing products and how we tested them.


G Data Total Security uses two malware engines.

Similar to other legacy security companies like McAfee and Symantec, G Data maintains a fairly well-organized suite. Its top product, G Data Total Security, has enough to please users who desire a feature-packed suite, while still being simple enough that you’re not overwhelmed. 

G Data Total Security is priced at $50 for a single device for one year, or $82 per year for five devices, and $122 for 10 devices. G Data’s pricing isn’t bad, but it’s just a tad more expensive than other mainstream suites at the 10-device level. G Data’s pricing only covers PCs and Mac, whereas many other suites throw in mobile coverage as part of the plan. G Data’s mobile app for Android is sold separately at $16 per year for a single device, and there’s a free version as well. 


When you first start G Data Total Security for Windows it displays a dashboard called the SecurityCenter with your system’s current protection status. Like many other security suites, it uses a color-coding system; if everything is green in the SecurityCenter you’re good to go.


G Data Total Security’s Virus protection section.

The Virus protection section is where you can manage your virus scanning schedule or start a manual scan. There’s also an option to check for deep-level malware by scanning system folders, RAM, startup files, and doing a rootkit check. You can also view quarantined files here, and create a bootable drive to scan your computer for viruses. The latter option is a great idea as a backup measure—it will save the day should you ever get hit with a particularly nasty bit of malicious software.


Total Security’s Tuner is highly customizable.

Tuner contains the usual antivirus “extras” that help you optimize your system by clearing out temporary files, and so on. The Tuner also bumps up security by disabling potential vulnerabilities like script execution and JavaScript in Adobe Reader. The nice thing about Tuner is that all the actions it takes are listed in checkbox format, allowing you to turn off the things you don’t want to run. 

The Encryption option lets you put sensitive documents in an encrypted container. The Autostart manager tab is just a slightly easier interface for controlling which programs begin at startup. Windows 10 users, however, don’t really need this as the Task Manager can accomplish the same thing.


Total Security’s Device control lets you restrict who can save files to connected drives.

Finally, Device control lets you regulate how users on the PC can access connected drives. Mom and Dad could be allowed to store files on an entertainment content drive, for example, while the kids would have read-only access.

Diving into settings, there isn’t a whole lot you need to adjust. By default, G Data offers to scan flash drives inserted in your USB ports. There’s also a USB Keyboard Guard that protects against USB devices that may pose as a keyboard and try to deliver malware to your PC surreptitiously.


G Data performed quite well in AV-Test’s evaluations. In November and December 2023, G Data’s lower-tier Internet Security scored 100 percent against 216 samples of zero-day, and web and email threats. The larger test with more than 11,000 samples of widespread and prevalent malware also scored 100 percent.

Over at AV-Comparatives, G Data blocked 99.6 percent of threats in the real-world protection test for July through October 2023, with 10 false positives. That score put it just barely behind F-Secure, Panda, Total Defense, Total AV, Trend Micro, and Vipre, but in the same league as pretty much every other major suite including Avast, AVG, McAfee, Norton, and others.

In the malware protection test for September 2023 at AV-Comparatives, G Data nailed it with 100 percent, blocking more than 10,000 samples, with six false positives. 


G Data Total Security gives you the option to scan USB drives.


G Data is a fine antivirus suite. It’s really easy to use, comes loaded with features, and is priced well.

Editor’s note: Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over time, this review is subject to change in order to accurately reflect the current state of the service. Any changes to text or our final review verdict will be noted at the top of this article.

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