Data Breach

Decrease Potential Data Breach, with Simple Security Control

Some senior management folks might find this strange, but you can significantly make your organization harder to breach. In fact, just a handful of defenses can do more to lower your cybersecurity risk than anything else. These include fighting social engineering and phishing better, patching the most likely to be attacked software far better, and requiring multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all logons.

Zero-day and information system protection

Because zero-day flaws usually refer to software that is widely in use, it’s generally considered good form if one experiences such an attack to share any available details with the rest of the world about how the attack appears to work — in much the same way you might hope a sick patient suffering from some unknown, highly infectious disease might nonetheless choose to help doctors diagnose how the infection could have been caught and spread. patch management is critical in protecting information technology systems.

Ransomware Breach and Criminals

The typical use case for ransomware is a shotgun approach type distribution campaign of dropping ransomware on people's machines, and then you charge them for getting their data or services back,” says Jeffery Walker, CISO at CyberSecOp. “Another use case is for covering tracks. These tools have the façade of ransomware: They would encrypt data, they would post a ransom note, and they would ask for money. They will even give you details on how to pay, but they're used to remove things from the endpoint while throwing off defenders into believing that the reason why that data was lost was because of a random hit by ransomware, but in some cases this is a cover up of a more bigger breach”

Vulnerabilities and Exploits

These are all vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals bent on stealing personally identifiable information and protected health information – activity that could also play havoc disrupting healthcare delivery processes.

The study, based on network traffic data monitored by CyberSecOp over a six-month period, found the most prevalent method attackers use to hide command-and-control communications in healthcare networks was hidden HTTPS tunnels.

CyberSecOp compliance solutions deliver cost-effective data protection, data discovery, data classification and data loss prevention for data privacy and compliance.

Ransomware Breach and Ransomware Prevention

Cyber-criminals have turned to ransomware as the latest go-to tool for attacking and extorting businesses using a wide range of variants such as Dharma, Wallet, WannaCry, Cryptowall, Samas, Locky, TeslaCrypt., RyUK and others. The outbreak of WannaCry was one of the largest and worst ransomware campaigns ever. Traditional signature-based antivirus and threat detection methods have proven to be woefully ineffective against such attacks. CyberSecOp use AI to help organization protect their data, and provide ransomware Incident response and remediation services.

HOW DO I RESPOND TO RANSOMWARE?

Implement your security incident response and business continuity plan. It may take time for your organization’s IT professionals to isolate and remove the ransomware threat to your systems and restore data and normal operations. In the meantime, you should take steps to maintain your organization’s essential functions according to your business continuity plan. Organizations should maintain and regularly test backup plans, disaster recovery plans, and business continuity procedures.

Contact law enforcement immediately. We encourage you to contact a local FBI or USSS field office immediately to report a ransomware event and request assistance. Contact CyberSecOp Security Consulting Firm for ransomware incident response & digital forensic services.

There are serious risks to consider before paying the ransom. We do not encourage paying a ransom. We understand that when businesses are faced with an inability to function, executives will evaluate all options to protect their shareholders, employees, and customers. As you contemplate this choice, consider the following risks:

•       Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after having paid a ransom

•       Some victims who paid the demand have reported being targeted again by cyber actors.

•       After paying the originally demanded ransom, some victims have been asked to pay more to get the promised decryption key.

•       Paying could inadvertently encourage this criminal business model.

Ransomware Incident Response from CyberSecOp, the firm that provide ransomware protection, and ransomware ransom payment.

WHAT IS RANSOMWARE?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software cyber actors use to deny access to systems or data. The malicious cyber actor holds systems or data hostage until the ransom is paid. After the initial infection, the ransomware attempts to spread to shared storage drives and other accessible systems. If the demands are not met, the system or encrypted data remains unavailable, or data may be deleted.  

HOW DO I PROTECT MY NETWORKS?

A commitment to cyber hygiene and best practices is critical to protecting your networks. Here are some questions you may want to ask of your organization to help prevent ransomware attacks: 

1.    Backups: Do we backup all critical information? Are the backups stored offline? Have we tested our ability to revert to backups during an incident?

2.    Risk Analysis: Have we conducted a cybersecurity risk analysis of the organization? 

3.    Staff Training: Have we trained staff on cybersecurity best practices?

4.    Vulnerability Patching: Have we implemented appropriate patching of known system vulnerabilities?

5.    Application Whitelisting: Do we allow only approved programs to run on our networks?

6.    Incident Response: Do we have an incident response plan and have we exercised it? 

7.    Business Continuity: Are we able to sustain business operations without access to certain systems? For how long? Have we tested this?

8.    Penetration Testing: Have we attempted to hack into our own systems to test the security of our systems and our ability to defend against attacks?

Protecting Your Networks from Ransomware

Ransomware is the fastest growing malware threat, targeting users of all types—from the home user to the corporate network. On average, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have occurred daily since January 1, 2016. This is a 300-percent increase over the approximately 1,000 attacks per day seen in 2015. There are very effective prevention and response actions that can significantly mitigate the risk posed to your organization.

Ransomware targets home users, businesses, and government networks and can lead to temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information, disruption to regular operations, financial losses incurred to restore systems and files, and potential harm to an organization’s reputation. 

 Ransomware may direct a user to click on a link to pay a ransom; however, the link may be malicious and could lead to additional malware infections. Some ransomware variants display intimidating messages, such as: 

“Your computer was used to visit websites with illegal content. To unlock your computer, you must pay a $100 fine.”

 “You only have 96 hours to submit the payment. If you do not send money within provided time, all your files will be permanently encrypted and no one will be able to recover them.”

Ransomware?

Ransomware is a form of malware that targets your critical data and systems for the purpose of extortion. Ransomware is frequently

delivered through spearphishing emails. After the user has been locked out of the data or system, the cyber actor demands a ransom payment. After receiving payment, the cyber actor will purportedly provide an avenue to the victim to regain access to the system or data. Recent iterations target enterprise end users, making awareness and training a critical preventive measure.

Protecting Your Networks

Educate Your Personnel

Attackers often enter the organization by tricking a user to disclose a password or click on a virus-laden email attachment.

 Remind employees to never click unsolicited links or open unsolicited attachments in emails. To improve workforce awareness, the internal security team may test the training of an organization’s workforce with simulated phishing emails.

You will need and experience security consulting firm to guide you remediate the ransomware.

Proactive Prevention is the Best Defense

Prevention is the most effective defense against ransomware and it is critical to take precautions for protection. Infections can be devastating to an individual or organization, and recovery may be a difficult process requiring the services of a reputable data recovery specialist.

 The U.S. Government (USG) recommends that users and administrators take the following preventive measures to protect their computer networks from falling victim to a ransomware infection:

Preventive Measures 

•      Implement an awareness and training program. Because end users are targets, employees and individuals should be aware of the threat of ransomware and how it is delivered. 

•      Enable strong spam filters to prevent phishing emails from reaching the end users and authenticate inbound email using technologies like Sender Policy Framework (SPF), Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance (DMARC), and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) to prevent email spoofing. 

•      Scan all incoming and outgoing emails to detect threats and filter executable files from reaching end users.

•      Configure firewalls to block access to known malicious IP addresses.

•      Patch operating systems, software, and firmware on devices. Consider using a centralized patch management system. 

•      Set anti-virus and anti-malware programs to conduct regular scans automatically.

•      Manage the use of privileged accounts based on the principle of least privilege: no users should be assigned administrative access unless absolutely needed; and those with a need for administrator accounts should only use them when necessary. 

•      Configure access controls—including file, directory, and network share permissions— with least privilege in mind. If a user only needs to read specific files, the user should not have write access to those files, directories, or shares. 

•      Disable macro scripts from office files transmitted via email. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via email instead of full office suite applications. 

•      Implement Software Restriction Policies (SRP) or other controls to prevent programs from executing from common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular Internet browsers or compression/decompression programs, including the AppData/LocalAppData folder. 

•      Consider disabling Remote Desktop protocol (RDP) if it is not being used.

•      Use application whitelisting, which only allows systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy. 

•      Execute operating system environments or specific programs in a virtualized environment. 

•      Categorize data based on organizational value and implement physical and logical separation of networks and data for different organizational units.  Business Continuity Considerations 

•      Back up data regularly. Verify the integrity of those backups and test the restoration process to ensure it is working. 

•      Conduct an annual penetration test and vulnerability assessment. 

•      Secure your backups. Ensure backups are not connected permanently to the computers and networks they are backing up. Examples are securing backups in the cloud or physically storing backups offline. Some instances of ransomware have the capability to lock cloud-based backups when systems continuously back up in real time, also known as persistent synchronization. Backups are critical in ransomware recovery and response; if you are infected, a backup may be the best way to recover your critical data. 

What to Do If Infected with Ransomware

Should preventive measures fail, the USG recommends that organizations consider taking the following steps upon an infection with ransomware: 

•      Isolate the infected computer immediately. Infected systems should be removed from the network as soon as possible to prevent ransomware from attacking network or share drives. 

•      Isolate or power-off affected devices that have not yet been completely corrupted. This may afford more time to clean and recover data, contain damage, and prevent worsening conditions.

•      Immediately secure backup data or systems by taking them offline. Ensure backups are free of malware.

•      Contact law enforcement immediately. We strongly encourage you to contact a local field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or U.S. Secret Service immediately upon discovery to report a ransomware event and contact CyberSecOp to request assistance.

•      If available, collect and secure partial portions of the ransomed data that might exist.

•      If possible, change all online account passwords and network passwords after removing the system from the network. Furthermore, change all system passwords once the malware is removed from the system.

•      Delete Registry values and files to stop the program from loading.

Implement your security incident response and business continuity plan. Ideally, organizations will ensure they have appropriate backups, so their response to an attack will simply be to restore the data from a known clean backup. Having a data backup can eliminate the need to pay a ransom to recover data

There are serious risks to consider before paying the ransom. CyberSecOp does not encourage paying a ransom to criminal actors. However, after systems have been compromised, whether to pay a ransom is a serious decision, requiring the evaluation of all options to protect shareholders, employees, and customers. Victims will want to evaluate the technical feasibility, timeliness, and cost of restarting systems from backup. Ransomware victims may also wish to consider the following factors:

•      Paying a ransom does not guarantee an organization will regain access to their data; in fact, some individuals or organizations were never provided with decryption keys after paying a ransom. 

•      Some victims who paid the demand were targeted again by cyber actors.

•      After paying the originally demanded ransom, some victims were asked to pay more to get the promised decryption key. CyberSecOp can negotiate the ransom for you, we have a 60% t rate of reducing the ransom.

•      Paying could inadvertently encourage this criminal business model. 

Ransomware Variants

Ransomware is a growing criminal activity involving numerous variants. Since 2012 when police locker ransomware variants first emerged, ransomware variants have become more sophisticated and destructive. Some variants encrypt not just the files on the infected device, but also the contents of shared or networked drives, externally attached storage media devices, and cloud storage services that are mapped to infected computers. These variants are considered destructive because they encrypt users’ and organizations’ files, and render those files useless until a ransom is paid. 

 Recent federal investigations by the FBI reveal that ransomware authors continue to improve ransomware code by using anonymizing services like “Tor” for end-to-end communication to infected systems and Bitcoin virtual currency to collect ransom payments. Currently, the top five ransomware variants targeting U.S. companies and individuals are CryptoWall, CTBLocker, TeslaCrypt, MSIL/Samas, and Locky. New ransomware variants are continually emerging.  

CryptoWall

CryptoWall and its variants have been actively used to target U.S. victims since April 2014.

CryptoWall was the first ransomware variant that only accepted ransom payments in Bitcoin.

The ransom amounts associated with CryptoWall are typically between $200 and $10,000. Following the takedown of the CryptoLocker botnet, CryptoWall has become the most successful ransomware variant with victims all over the world. Between April 2014 and June 2015, IC3 received 992 CryptoWall-related complaints, with victims reporting losses totaling over $18 million. CryptoWall is primarily spread via spam email but also infects victims through drive-by downloads and malvertising. 

CTB-Locker

CTB-Locker emerged in June 2014 and is one of the first ransomware variants to use Tor for its C2 infrastructure. CTB-Locker uses Tor exclusively for its C2 servers and only connects to the C2 after encrypting victims’ files. Additionally, unlike other ransomware variants that utilize the Tor network for some communication, the Tor components are embedded in the CTBLocker malware, making it more efficient and harder to detect. CTB-Locker is spread through drive-by downloads and spam emails.

TeslaCrypt

TeslaCrypt emerged in February 2015, initially targeting the video game community by encrypting gaming files. These files were targeted in addition to the files typically targeted by ransomware (documents, images, and database files). Once the data was encrypted, TeslaCrypt attempted to delete all Shadow Volume Copies and system restore points to prevent file recovery. TeslaCrypt was distributed through the Angler, Sweet Orange, and Nuclear exploit kits.

MSIL or Samas (SAMSAM)

MSIL or Samas (SAMSAM) was used to compromise the networks of multiple U.S. victims, including 2016 attacks on healthcare facilities  that were running outdated versions of the JBoss content management application. SAMSAM exploits vulnerable Java-based Web servers. SAMSAM uses open-source tools to identify and compile a list of hosts reporting to the victim’s active directory. The actors then use psexec.exe to distribute the malware to each host on the network and encrypt most of the files on the system. The actors charge varying amounts in Bitcoin to provide the decryption keys to the victim.

Locky

In early 2016, a destructive ransomware variant, Locky, was observed infecting computers belonging to businesses globally, including those in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the United Kingdom. Locky propagates through spam emails that include malicious Microsoft Office documents or compressed attachments (e.g., .rar, .zip) that were previously associated with banking Trojans such as Dridex and Pony. The malicious attachments contain macros or JavaScript files to download the Locky files. Recently, this ransomware has also been distributed using the Nuclear Exploit Kit.

Links to Other Types of Malware

Systems infected with ransomware are also often infected with other malware. In the case of

CryptoLocker, a user typically was infected by opening a malicious attachment from an email.

This malicious attachment contained Upatre, a downloader, which infected the user with GameOver Zeus. GameOver Zeus was a variant of the Zeus Trojan used to steal banking information and other types of data. After a system became infected with GameOver Zeus, Upatre would also download CryptoLocker. Finally, CryptoLocker encrypted files on the infected system and demanded a ransom payment

 The disruption operation against the GameOver Zeus botnet also affected CryptoLocker, demonstrating the close ties between ransomware and other types of malware. In June 2014,

an international law enforcement operation successfully weakened the infrastructure of both

GameOverZeus and CryptoLocker.

Ransomware Attack: Threats, and Countermeasures

When you combine cryptography with malware, you get a very dangerous mix of problems. This is a type of computer virus that goes by another name, “ransomware”. This type of virus is part of a field of study called “cryptovirology”. Through the use of techniques called phishing, a threat actor sends the ransomware file to an unknowing victim. If the file is opened it will execute the virus payload, which is malicious code. The ransomware runs the code that encrypts user data on the infected computer or host. The data are user files like documents, spreadsheets, photos, multimedia files and even confidential records. The ransomware targets your personal computer files and applies an encryption algorithm like RSA which makes the file inaccessible. The only way to access them is if the user pays a ransom to the threat actor by following instructions which appear encoded into the encrypted files. Thus it is called ransomware, because a form of payment is demanded in order to fix the problem.

bad guys attack.png

Once they have all publicly available email addresses, the fun starts. The more of your email addresses that are floating out there, the bigger your attack footprint is, and the higher the risk is. It’s often a surprise how many addresses are actually out there. Now they can send all employees an email supposedly coming from Accounting, Human Resources, the CEO or perhaps the mail room, and social engineer your users to click on a link. almost 90 percent of attack are done via the internet, based on the new software model, and yes the bad guys are also moving to the cloud. Software is shifting away from locally-installed apps to Software as a Service web applications that run in the cloud. Criminals are cashing in on this trend, which has led to the creation of Ransomware as a Service (RaaS), a growing threat to business.

RaaS refers to various online malware exploits that bad actors can use to attack the IT assets of businesses and individuals. These attack programs are created by criminal entrepreneurs who sell their services to other criminals. The people who buy these programs then extort or blackmail their victims by holding computer systems to ransom.

How does Ransomware spread?

Ransomware is typically spread through phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. These emails appear to come from a legitimate source and give a compelling reason that the document is important. Malicious attachments are often PDF,  ZIP, DOC, XLS, PPT files that appear as invoices, legitimate business documents, or other work-related files.  In some cases, Ransonware may end up on your computer by visiting infected web sites. To avoid malicious drive-by downloads, ensure that antivirus and all installed software is up-to-date.

How to Mitigate the Risk of Ransomware Infections

These recommendations are not comprehensive but provide general best practices.

Securing Networks and Systems

  • Have an incident response plan that includes what to do during a ransomware event.

  • Backups are critical. Use a backup system that allows multiple iterations of the backups to be saved, in case a copy of the backups includes encrypted or infected files. Routinely test backups for data integrity and to ensure it is operational.

  • Use antivirus and anti-spam solutions. Enable regular system and network scans with antivirus programs enabled to automatically update signatures. Implement an anti-spam solution to stop phishing emails from reaching the network. Consider adding a warning banner to all emails from external sources that reminds users of the dangers of clicking on links and opening attachments.

  • Disable macros scripts. Consider using Office Viewer software to open Microsoft Office files transmitted via e-mail instead of full office suite applications.

  • Keep all systems patched, including all hardware, including mobile devices, operating systems, software, and applications, including cloud locations and content management systems (CMS), patched and up-to-date. Use a centralized patch management system if possible. Implement application white-listing and software restriction policies (SRP) to prevent the execution of programs in common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders.

  • Restrict Internet access. Use a proxy server for Internet access and consider ad-blocking software. Restrict access to common ransomware entry points, such as personal email accounts and social networking websites.

  • Apply the principles of least privilege and network segmentation. Categorize and separate data based on organizational value and where possible, implement virtual environments and the physical and logical separation of networks and data. Apply the principle of least privilege.

  • Vet and monitor third parties that have remote access to the organization’s network and/or your connections to third parties, to ensure they are diligent with cybersecurity best practices.

  • Participate in cybersecurity information sharing programs and organizations, such as MS-ISAC and InfraGard.

Securing the End User

  • Provide social engineering and phishing training to employees. Urge them not to open suspicious emails, not to click on links or open attachments contained in such emails, and to be cautious before visiting unknown websites.

  • Remind users to close their browser when not in use.

  • Have a reporting plan that ensures staff knows where and how to report suspicious activity.

Responding to a Compromise/Attack

  • Immediately disconnect the infected system from the network to prevent infection propagation.

  • Call CyberSecOp.com Ransomware Response Team: They provide remediation and bitcoin payment services.

  • Determine the affected data as some sensitive data, such as electronic protected health information (ePHI) may require additional reporting and/or mitigation measures.

  • Determine if a decryptor is available. Online resources such as No More Ransom! can help.

  • Restore files from regularly maintained backups.

  • Report the infection. It is highly recommended that SLTT government agencies report ransomware incidents to MS-ISAC. Other sectors and home users may report to infections to local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field offices or to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Ransomware Checker & Removal Tools

Are Users Your Weakest Link - To Your Cybersecurity Posture

Humans remain the weak link in corporate data protection

Humans remain the weak link in corporate data protection, but you might be surprised that it isn't only rank-and-file employees duped by phishing scams who pose risks. Some companies are lulled into a false sense of cybersecurity by vendors. You read that right, Some enterprises believe the shiny new technologies they've acquired will protect them from anything.

As we continue to build defense in depth and deploy security appliances utilizing AI and other emerging technologies, attackers will continue to pivot to the perennial weak spot: the users. Recently I hosted the Social Engineering Capture The Flag competition at Hackfest in Quebec, and similar to last year, the results were sobering. Every single targeted company had employees that gave detailed information over the phone on their OS and service pack level, and 88 percent gave detailed information on the browser they were using. Three quarters went to a URL that they were given over the phone. The information that the companies bled was disheartening but not shocking. Until we train employees to trust their instincts and tell them it's okay to say no to a customer, things won't change. In the current environment where companies ask their customers to leave a positive review online, employees increasingly feel less empowered to terminate a call they feel is suspicious. Your friendly neighborhood hacker is happy to exploit this weakness.

Billions being send on security tools

The threat of cyber crime has created a significant increase in interest on the topic of cyber security, with organizations spending billions of dollars to protect themselves against a fast evolving array of current and potential future threats. Many spend heavily on monitoring, surveillance and software; however, they often neglect the risk exposure created by their own people – and, in this digital age, by their customers.

Businesses are losing the fight, pay ransom, or lose their lively hood

Businesses are forced to make exceedingly difficult decisions. On one hand, it feels wrong to negotiate with the cybercriminals and give them what they want. On the other hand, the looming financial hit and business interruption is typically far more detrimental than the payoff amount. If business owners don’t engage with the ransomers, they face the prospect that they, and their employees, may lose their livelihood. I see ransomware as a continuing cyber threat in 2019 and beyond. It’s up to business owners to implement the best security practices and ensure that their employees are properly trained to identify and avoid potential threats.

Phishing Attack Prevention: What is Phishing?

What is Phishing?

Phishing is the practice of sending fraudulent communications that appear to come from a reputable source. It is usually done through email. The goal is to steal sensitive data like credit card and login information, or to install malware on the victim’s machine. Phishing is a common type of cyber attack that everyone should learn about in order to protect themselves.

Phishing Attack Prevention:

Why are so many companies vulnerable to phishing? not having the right tools in place and failing to train employees on the role they play in information security.

Employees possess credentials and overall knowledge that is critical to the success of a breach of the company's security. One of the ways in which an intruder obtains this protected information is via phishing. The purpose of phishing is to collect sensitive information with the intention of using that information to gain access to otherwise protected data, networks, etc. A phisher's success is contingent upon establishing trust with its victims. We live in a digital age, and gathering information has become much easier as we are well beyond the dumpster diving days.

How do I protect against phishing attacks?

User education

One way to protect your organization from phishing is user education. Education should involve all employees. High-level executives are often a target. Teach them how to recognize a phishing email and what to do when they receive one. Simulation exercises are also key for assessing how your employees react to a staged phishing attack.

Security technology

No single cybersecurity technology can prevent phishing attacks. Instead, organizations must take a layered approach to reduce the number of attacks and lessen their impact when they do occur. Network security technologies that should be implemented include email and web security, malware protection, user behavior monitoring, and access control.

How does phishing work?

Phishing starts with a fraudulent email or other communication that is designed to lure a victim. The message is made to look as though it comes from a trusted sender. If it fools the victim, he or she is coaxed into providing confidential information, often on a scam website. Sometimes malware is also downloaded onto the target’s computer.

What are the dangers of phishing attacks?

Sometimes attackers are satisfied with getting a victim’s credit card information or other personal data for financial gain. Other times, phishing emails are sent to obtain employee login information or other details for use in an advanced attack against a specific company. Cybercrime attacks such as advanced persistent threats (APTs) and ransomware often start with phishing.

Types of Phishing

Deceptive Phishing. The term "phishing" originally referred to account theft using instant messaging but the most common broadcast method today is a deceptive email message. Messages about the need to verify account information, system failure requiring users to re-enter their information, fictitious account charges, undesirable account changes, new free services requiring quick action, and many other scams are broadcast to a wide group of recipients with the hope that the unwary will respond by clicking a link to or signing onto a bogus site where their confidential information can be collected.

Malware-Based Phishing refers to scams that involve running malicious software on users' PCs. Malware can be introduced as an email attachment, as a downloadable file from a web site, or by exploiting known security vulnerabilities--a particular issue for small and medium businesses (SMBs) who are not always able to keep their software applications up to date.

Keyloggers and Screenloggers are particular varieties of malware that track keyboard input and send relevant information to the hacker via the Internet. They can embed themselves into users' browsers as small utility programs known as helper objects that run automatically when the browser is started as well as into system files as device drivers or screen monitors.

Session Hijacking describes an attack where users' activities are monitored until they sign in to a target account or transaction and establish their bona fide credentials. At that point the malicious software takes over and can undertake unauthorized actions, such as transferring funds, without the user's knowledge.

Web Trojans pop up invisibly when users are attempting to log in. They collect the user's credentials locally and transmit them to the phisher.

Hosts File Poisoning. When a user types a URL to visit a website it must first be translated into an IP address before it's transmitted over the Internet. The majority of SMB users' PCs running a Microsoft Windows operating system first look up these "host names" in their "hosts" file before undertaking a Domain Name System (DNS) lookup. By "poisoning" the hosts file, hackers have a bogus address transmitted,taking the user unwittingly to a fake "look alike" website where their information can be stolen.

System Reconfiguration Attacks modify settings on a user's PC for malicious purposes. For example: URLs in a favorites file might be modified to direct users to look alike websites. For example: a bank website URL may be changed from "bankofabc.com" to "bancofabc.com".

Data Theft. Unsecured PCs often contain subsets of sensitive information stored elsewhere on secured servers. Certainly PCs are used to access such servers and can be more easily compromised. Data theft is a widely used approach to business espionage. By stealing confidential communications, design documents, legal opinions, employee related records, etc., thieves profit from selling to those who may want to embarrass or cause economic damage or to competitors.

DNS-Based Phishing ("Pharming"). Pharming is the term given to hosts file modification or Domain Name System (DNS)-based phishing. With a pharming scheme, hackers tamper with a company's hosts files or domain name system so that requests for URLs or name service return a bogus address and subsequent communications are directed to a fake site. The result: users are unaware that the website where they are entering confidential information is controlled by hackers and is probably not even in the same country as the legitimate website.

Content-Injection Phishing describes the situation where hackers replace part of the content of a legitimate site with false content designed to mislead or misdirect the user into giving up their confidential information to the hacker. For example, hackers may insert malicious code to log user's credentials or an overlay which can secretly collect information and deliver it to the hacker's phishing server.

Man-in-the-Middle Phishing is harder to detect than many other forms of phishing. In these attacks hackers position themselves between the user and the legitimate website or system. They record the information being entered but continue to pass it on so that users' transactions are not affected. Later they can sell or use the information or credentials collected when the user is not active on the system.

Search Engine Phishing occurs when phishers create websites with attractive (often too attractive) sounding offers and have them indexed legitimately with search engines. Users find the sites in the normal course of searching for products or services and are fooled into giving up their information. For example, scammers have set up false banking sites offering lower credit costs or better interest rates than other banks. Victims who use these sites to save or make more from interest charges are encouraged to transfer existing accounts and deceived into giving up their details.

Cloud Security - Cloud Cyber Security

Cloud Security - Cloud Cyber Security

Of the large amount of data that has been moved to the cloud, a huge segment of it has been compromised. The compromised data includes election data, financial information like bank cards, health data, etc. Maintaining integrity and security continues to be a significant challenge for cloud platforms. [3]

In an attempt to provide extra security for cloud data, many cloud service providers (CSPs), have launched extensive cloud security technologies. Google has announced ‘shielded VMs’ to prevent hostile attacks. Even with these security technologies in place, however, users still have a large role to play in keeping their data safe.

In many cases, IT teams have recognized the lack of control when data is placed in the cloud. This lack of control is a symptom of the absence of an overarching security strategy. The challenge presents itself when an organization transfers data to the CSPs without maintaining any additional backup, as this could result In the loss of data at times. Stressing on the importance to maintain an additional backup of data. [3]

Another common challenge with the cloud is the unclear point-to-point access. Access permissions are complicated when an organization’s data is placed on a third-party cloud server. Planning and strategizing the access controls around crucial data is as important as defining the access points and control measures. Security in the cloud is different from on-premises security, making it complex due to the various rules implemented and security issues faced, such as failure to encrypt data. Access to the cloud server should be defined on a point-to-point basis. That means that access to data should be restricted based on the requirement of every individual, whether management or staff, should be clearly defined. A flow chart explaining the access points should be shared with the CSP to bring them on equal understanding to avoid conflicts.

Securing Your Data on the Cloud

The main objective of cloud security is to keep data secure, sharing the responsibility between the provider and the client. Here are some good practices that can be implemented to leverage the benefits of cloud services.

a) Encryption of Data

End-to-end encryption of data in transit

For high-security processes, where the data is highly confidential, all interactions with servers should happen over a secure socket layer (SSL) transmission. To ensure the end-to-end encryption of data, the SSL should terminate within the CSP’s network. Comprehensive encryption, when performed at the file level, makes cloud security stronger. All data should be encrypted before being uploaded to the cloud.

Encryption of data when at rest

Even when data is at rest, encryption should be enabled. This helps in complying with regulatory requirements, privacy policies, and contractual obligations related to confidential data. Before registering with your CSP, security policies should be verified with an auditor. AES-256 is used for encrypting data in the cloud and the keys should be encrypted with master keys in the rotation. Field-level encryption will also help keep the data secure.

b) Robust and Continuous Vulnerability Testing and Incident Response

A good CSP contract includes regular vulnerability assessment and incident response tools that extend to devices and networks. The solutions given by incidence response tools might enable automated security assessments to test system weaknesses. CSPs should be able to perform scans on demand.

c) End-user Device Security

Securing cloud-connected end-user devices is an often-overlooked component of a well-rounded security program. When utilizing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) models, deploying firewall solutions in your end devices to protect the network perimeter is very important.

d) A Private Cloud and Network are Best

Opting for a cloud environment which is private and where you can have complete control over access to your data is the preferred method as opposed to using a multi-tenant instance. Also, opt for cloud storage or software-as-a-service (SaaS) which belongs to only you and is not shared with others. These personal clouds are called virtual private clouds (VPC) and all traffic to and from these VPCs can be routed to the corporate data center. This can be done through an internet protocol security (IPsec) hardware VPN connection.

e) Compliance Certifications

The two most important certifications that you should consider are SOC 2 Type II and PCI DSS.

SOC 2 Type II is a type of regulatory report that defines the internal controls of how a company should safeguard its customer data and operation controls. SOC2 deals with regulatory compliance, internal risk management processes, and vendor management programs. It confirms that a cloud service has robust management as it is specifically designed to ensure higher standards of data security.

PCI DSS – PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard and is important to organizations that deal with credit card transactions. Meeting this standard helps keep cardholder data safe from fraud. It ensures that sensitive data stored in a cloud is processed and transmitted in a secure manner. It impacts security policies, procedures, software design, network architecture, and various protective measures.

Leading public cloud providers like Microsoft and Amazon offer proprietary credential management tools to provide legitimate access and keep intruders away from sensitive data. Having sophisticated tools can help ensure the security of your data in the cloud.

Defense is a matter of strict design principles and security policies scattered over various departments. By implementing the above key guidelines as part of your cloud strategy, you are on your way to securing your data in the cloud.

Ethical Hacker for Secure Cloud Storage

An ethical hacker is a skilled trained professional who knows how to locate the vulnerabilities in target systems, including cloud storage platforms and networks. The term ‘ethical’ differentiates a black-hat hacker from a white-hat hacker.

Cyber Security Do's and Don'ts

Information and Cyber Security Consulting Services: Cyber security systems and principles are designed to safeguard company data, websites and web applications from attackers seeking to disrupt, delay, alter or redirect the flow of data. These attackers vary in target, motive, levels of organization, and technical capabilities, requiring public and private organizations to adopt ever-increasing measures to prevent cyber attacks. CyberSecOp is an award winning US based to Cyber Security Consulting Company.

The following are some important do’s and don’ts for advisers to keep in mind when executing on the action steps in your cybersecurity plan:

Make use of all tools available from your broker-dealer or custodian. The securities industry is investing tens of millions of dollars in cybersecurity, making tools and resources available to advisers and their teams. Actively seek out those tools and become known at your firm for your interest in and commitment to cybersecurity.

Eliminate weak links in your system. Hackers will be turned away from your systems that use strong passwords and encryption. Don’t let users share passwords. In addition to PCs, encrypt
all thumb drives, cell phones and tablets. And set untended computers to lock automatically after a set number of minutes.

Take preparation, training and review seriously. Put effort into your plan, review it seriously on a regular basis, document that review, and make sure that all staff – including even those who don’t usually deal with clients or their information – are regularly trained and updated on cybersecurity policies and procedures. Since staff carelessness or inattention can be the weakest link
in the defense chain, make sure that you and your staff never download an attachment or accept a request if it can’t be verified.

Be alert to things that don’t feel right. Suppose, for example, that a staff member receives a phone call from someone saying he’s from Microsoft tech support and has noticed a computer virus on your system. Even if the employee isn’t aware that reputable tech support operations don’t work that way, he or she should immediately sense that the call is out of the ordinary and somehow amiss. Given that feeling, the employee should hang up immediately and not let the unidentified caller connect to the firm’s system. Similarly, if you or staff receive an e-mail from a client saying they’ve been mugged on vacation or have lost their wallet or passport, most likely their e-mail has been hacked. Contact that person via landline or cell phone and confirm the story.

Educate your users and clients in how to communicate safely. Advisers should require multifactor authentication (use of a token or other identifier beyond password or ID) for client communication through Gmail, Yahoo! and other major providers. This will protect them, and you, from hackers.

Don’t keep cybersecurity a secret. The financial advice business is competitive, but there is one area where cooperation, not competition, is paramount: cybersecurity. Discuss the issue frequently with peers and share any ideas you have.

Don’t lull yourself into thinking cybersecurity is someone else’s problem. Be alert to news and developments in cybercrime and cybersecurity and seek more information and update plans and programs accordingly. Start by identifying your three biggest potential threats and get to work addressing them.

Ransomware Cyberattack - 92% of MSSPs Expect Ongoing Attacks

Ransomware is the leading cyberattack experienced by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), according to a survey of more than 2,400 managed service providers (MSSPs) conducted by data protection company Datto.

Datto’s State of the Channel Ransomware Report provides unique visibility into the ransomware epidemic from the perspective of the IT Channel and the SMB clients who are dealing with these infections on a daily basis. The report provides a wealth of detail on ransomware, including year-over-year trends, frequency, targets, impact, and recommendations for ensuring recovery and continuity in the face of the growing threat.

ransomware_infographic.jpg

Key findings from Datto’s “State of the Channel Ransomware Report” included:

  • 79 percent of MSSPs reported ransomware attacks against customers.

  • 85 percent indicated that victims had antivirus software installed, 65 percent reported victims had email/spam filters installed and 29 percent reported victims used pop-up blockers.

  • 89 percent are “highly concerned” about ransomware attacks.

  • 92 percent predict the number of ransomware attacks will continue at current, or worse, rates.

  • MSPs ranked phishing emails as the top ransomware delivery method, followed by malicious websites, web ads and clickbait.

  • The average requested ransom for SMBs is roughly $4,300, while the average cost of downtime related to such an attack is approximately $46,800.

  • The number of MSPs reporting OS/iOS attacks increased by nearly 500 percent year over year in the first six months of 2018.

No single solution is guaranteed to prevent such attacks, Datto indicated. Conversely, SMBs require a multilayered approach to identify and stop ransomware attacks before they cause brand reputation damage, revenue loss and other problems.

How Can SMBs Address Ransomware Attacks?

CyberSecop offered the following recommendations to help SMBs safeguard their data and assets against such attacks:

  • Leverage business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) technologyBCDR technology won’t stop ransomware attacks; instead, it helps an SMB determine how to limit downtime and maintain operations despite a ransomware attack.

  • Provide cybersecurity training. By offering regular and mandatory cybersecurity training, an SMB can ensure all of its employees can identify and avoid potential phishing scams that otherwise lead to such an attack.

  • Employ a dedicated cybersecurity professional. It may be difficult for an SMB to hire a full-time cybersecurity professional. Fortunately, working with an MSSP allows an SMB to receive cybersecurity monitoring and other security services.

Data Breaches Ransomware and Cyber Attacks

Data Breaches Ransomware and Cyber Attacks

It’s unrealistic to think that you can completely avoid cyberattacks and data breaches, so it’s vital to have a proper data recovery plan in place. You can also tighten your defenses significantly by ensuring all of your network devices are properly configured, and by putting some thought into all of your potential network borders.

Data Recovery Capability

Do you have a proper backup plan in place? Have you ever tested it to see that it works? Disaster recovery is absolutely vital, but an alarming number of companies do not have an adequate system in place. A survey of 400 IT executives by IDG Research revealed that 40% rate their organizations’ ability to recover their operations in the event of disaster or disruption as “fair or poor.” Three out of four companies fail from a disaster recovery standpoint, according to the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Benchmark.

A successful malware attack can lead to altered data on all compromised machines and the full effects are often very difficult to determine. The option to roll back to a backup that predates the infection is vital. Backed up data must be encrypted and physically protected. It’s also important that a test team routinely checks a random sampling of system backups by restoring them and verifying data integrity.

Secure Configurations for Network Devices such as Firewalls, Routers, and Switches

The default configurations for network devices like firewalls, routers, and switches are all about ease of use and deployment. They aren’t designed with security in mind and they can be exploited by determined attackers. There’s also a risk that companies will create exceptions for business reasons and then fail to properly analyze the potential impact.

The 2015 Information Security Breaches Survey found that failure to keep technical configuration up to date was a factor in 19% of incidents. Attackers are skilled at seeking out vulnerable default settings and exploiting them. Organizations should have standardized secure configuration guidelines applied across devices. Security updates must be applied in a timely fashion.

You need to employ two-factor authentication and encrypted sessions when managing network devices, and engineers should use an isolated, dedicated machine without Internet access. It’s also important to use automated tools to monitor the network and track device configurations. Changes should be flagged and rule sets analyzed to ensure consistency.

Boundary Defense

When the French built the Maginot Line in World War II, a series of impregnable fortifications that extended along the border with Germany and beyond, it failed to protect them because the Germans invaded around the North end through neutral Belgium. There’s an important lesson there for security professionals: Attackers will often find weaknesses in perimeter systems and then pivot to get deeper into your territory.

They may gain access through a trusted partner, or possibly an extranet, while your defensive eye is focused on the Internet. Effective defenses are multi-layered systems of firewalls, proxies, and DMZ perimeter networks. You need to filter inbound and outbound traffic and take caution not to blur the boundaries between internal and external networks. Consider network-based IDS sensors and IPS devices to detect attacks and block bad traffic.

Segment your network and protect each sector with a proxy and firewall to limit access as far as possible. If you don’t have internal network protection, then intruders can get their hands on the keys to the kingdom by successfully breaching the outer defenses.

The real cost

A lot of businesses argue that they can’t afford a comprehensive disaster recovery plan, but they should really consider whether they can afford to lose all their data or be uncertain about its integrity. They may lack the expertise to ensure that network devices are securely configured, but attackers don’t lack the skills to exploit that. It’s understandably common to focus on the outer boundary of your network and forget about threats that come from unexpected directions or multiply internally, but it could prove costly indeed.

Compared to the cost of a data breach, all of these things are cheap and easy to set up

HealthCare.gov system hack leaves 75,000 individuals exposed

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) experienced a data breach leading to exposure of highly sensitive personal data of nearly 75,000 people. The CMS is a government system linked with healthCare.gov which assists insurance agents and brokers in helping people register for its healthcare plans.

A hack was detected earlier this month in a government computer system that works alongside HealthCare.gov, exposing the personal information of approximately 75,000 people, according to the agency in charge of the portal.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services made the announcement late in the afternoon ahead of a weekend, a time slot that agencies often use to release unfavorable developments.

The announcement was made late Friday by the CMS to confirm the data breach but details about the stolen data and content haven’t been provided as yet. It is, however, confirmed that personal files of 75,000 people have been exposed to hackers.

The brokers and agents use the Federally Facilitated Exchange’s Direct Enrollment pathway to convince customers to enroll in health insurance. The pathway was compromised by the attackers between 13 Oct and 16 Oct 2018, confirmed CMS.

The hacked system was connected to the Healthcare.gov website, the front-facing portal for anyone signing up for an insurance plan under former President Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. Hackers targeted the behind-the-scenes system that insurance agents used to help customers directly enroll in new plans, and not the consumer Healthcare.gov site itself. 

In order to sign up for healthcare plans, customers have to give over a ton of personal data — including names, addresses, and their social security number. CMS didn’t say exactly what kind of data was included in the stolen files, nor did it say how the breach happened.

About 10 million people currently have private coverage under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Consumers applying for subsidized coverage have to provide extensive personal information, including Social Security numbers, income and citizenship or legal immigration status.

The system that was hacked is used by insurance agents and brokers to directly enroll customers. All other signup systems are working.

CMS spokesman Johnathan Monroe said “nothing happened” to the HealthCare.gov website used by the general public. “This concerns the agent and broker portal, which is not accessible to the general public,” he said.

Federal law enforcement has been alerted and affected customers will be notified and offered credit protection.

Cyber Insurance - Is a must have - you will need it

Cyber Insurance - Is a must have - you will need it.

It’s every healthcare organization’s nightmare to get the call that their data has been breached or hacked. As a result, many have turned to cyber insurance to protect assets and business operations.

As cyber policies and carriers lack a universal policy, there’s an even greater worst case scenario: An organization is breached, and the policy doesn’t cover what the leaders thought it did. Now, not only is the healthcare provider strapped with the burden of the breach, it wasted money on a useless cyber insurance policy.

To get a better grasp on how to choose the right policy, Healthcare IT News asked attorney Matthew Fisher, partner with Mirick O’Connell, and Jane Harper, Henry Ford Health System’s director of privacy and security risk management, to outline the biggest policy mistakes -- and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Rushing the process

When buying a policy, a carrier will provide a questionnaire that will evaluate your organization’s security posture, program, tools and policies. The biggest mistake is to rush the pre-policy process to see the rates and what the carrier will cover, explained Fisher.

Organizations need to be conservative with how they answer the questions, as “it could be a ground for denial, if you don’t have the policies you said you have in place,” said Fisher. “You have to make sure you’re not unintentionally misleading the insurance company when it comes to coverage.”

Often these questionnaires attempt to create a black and white policy and “it can be tough to answer correctly,” explained Fisher.

“Your ability to be as transparent and truthful upfront is critical to the nonpayment discussion,” said Harper. “If you tell the insurance company that you have everything in place and are compliant, if you tell them that and then you have an issue, and you weren’t truthful, it ends up being a legal battle.”

“When you submit your checklist that they have you fill out, meet with the underwriter to make sure you understand what you’ve documented,” she added. “You also need the copy that was provided to the insurance company because it will come back into play when you submit the final documents.”

For example, if you say you have a specific control in place, and you actually don’t, Harper explained that can create a situation where “they thought they had an understanding of something, but they didn’t.”

“Be honest, transparent and accurate -- because they can deny your policy if you were inaccurate or misleading in your responses,” she said.

Mistake #2: Lax, incomplete risk assessment

It’s easier to prevent a misleading or false statement to an underwriter, when an organization has a strong assessment and inventory of the processes and tools on the system. But far too often, hospitals “don’t know everything about the control environment,” explained Harper.

“When you talk about protecting an system and preventing a cyber incident, you have to have a good understanding of the organization’s overall control environment,” Harper said. “It’s key, as the longer it takes you to identify that you’ve had an incident, it leads to more exposure and the longer it takes to recover.”

But it’s also important to remember to update this inventory or assessment when buying new tools, merging with other organizations, hiring new staff and the like, Harper explained.

“Think about all of the activities and operations that happen,” she said. “And every three years, you’re updating a cybersecurity checklist -- that may not be frequent enough.”

For example, Harper explained that an organization filling out the policy questionnaire may have all of the right elements in place. But if another tool was purchased and the controls weren’t updated or the control was removed and the underwriter was not notified, there could be a problem.

“If those controls played into how the underwriter rated you: that can be key,” said Harper. “Think about your own home: you get additional discounts when you have a burglar alarm. So if you get one, and let them know, you may get a lower rate…  But if you no longer have that control, you have to tell the carrier.”

“It’s the same kind of practice that we want to get into when we get into cyber insurance for our organization,” she added.

Mistake #3: Failing to involve the right people

Many organizations understand that security needs to exist outside of the IT team. In the same vein, it’s crucial when buying a cyber insurance policy that the same mentality is applied to make sure all of your bases are covered.

“Make sure you are talking to the right individuals,” Harper said. “The appropriate key stakeholders are not only involved with the evaluation process - how many patients, how much data, etc. -- but also the responses to the questions the policy is going to ask.”

“Risk folks typically talk about it as it relates to patients,” she continued. “Those folks are key, but in addition, you need your privacy and security risk professionals, security officers, IT leader, your key business leaders/owners and those driving the data. It’s key.”

Also crucial? Making sure the facilities team is involved, as there can sometimes be a cyber incident based on a physical issue. Harper explained that “often people tend to focus on things like electronic PHI, but there’s physical PHI. If there’s a break in at a warehouse and data is stolen, OCR considers that a breach.”

Mistake #4: Failing to understand coverage

Far too often organizations make large assumptions as to just what cyber insurance will cover. Fisher explained that these leaders are often shocked to learn that they did not receive the full spectrum of coverage they wanted.

“Relying on blind faith on those terms, or what the broker or agent is telling you is a major mistake,” said Fisher. “It’s always up to up to you to go into something with eyes fully wide open to make sure you know what you’re actually buying.”

Harper took it a step further and laid to rest a common misconception when it comes to coverage: “Insurance will not cover fines and penalties associated with noncompliance. If you’re not complaint, and you didn’t do risk assessments, cyber insurance won’t protect you from that, so don’t expect it.”

Facebook Data Taken- Breach

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook says 30 million fewer accounts were breached than originally thought in one of the worst security incidents at the giant social network – 30 million instead of 50 million – but attackers made off with sensitive personal information from nearly half of those users that could put them at serious risk, including phone number and email address, recent searches on Facebook, location history and the types of devices people used to access the service.

Hackers got their hands on data from 30 million accounts as part of last month's attack, Facebook disclosed Friday. Facebook originally estimated that 50 million accounts could have been affected but the company didn't know if they had been compromised.

For about half of those whose accounts broken into – some 14 million people – the hackers looted extensive personal information such as the last 10 places that Facebook user checked into, their current city and their 15 most recent searches. For the other 15 million, hackers accessed name and contact details, according to Facebook. Attackers didn’t take any information from about 1 million people whose accounts were affected. Facebook says hackers did not gain access to financial information, such as credit-card numbers.

The company would not say what the motive of the attackers was but said it had no reason to believe the attack was related to the November midterm elections.

Facebook users can check if their data was stolen by visiting the company's Help Center. Facebook says it will advise affected users on how they can protect themselves from suspicious emails and other attempts to exploit the stolen data. Guy Rosen, Facebook's vice president of product management, said the company hasn't seen any evidence of attackers exploiting the stolen data or that it had been posted on the dark web.

Affected users should be on the lookout for unwanted phone calls, text messages or emails from people they don't know and attempts to use their email address and phone number to target spam or attempts to phish for other information. Facebook users should also be wary of messages or emails claiming to be from Facebook, the company said.

Third-party apps and Facebook apps such as Instagram and WhatsApp were not compromised, according to Facebook. Hackers were not able to access any private messages but messages received or exchanged by Facebook page administrators may have been exposed.

Security experts say the 14 million users who had extensive personal information swiped are now extremely vulnerable. Colin Bastable, CEO of Lucy Security, which focuses on cybersecurity prevention and awareness, painted an especially grim scenario.

"The truth is that, as a result of this news, millions of phishing attacks will now be launched, pretending to be from Facebook. Up to 20 percent of recipients will click and a large number of those will be successfully attacked, many of them using work computers and mobile devices," Bastable said. "Businesses and governments will lose money, ransomware attacks will result from this leak, and the attack will reverberate over many months."

The culprits behind the massive hack have not been publicly identified. The FBI is actively investigating the hack and asked Facebook not to disclose any information about potential perpetrators, Rosen said. When they disclosed the breach two weeks ago, Facebook officials said they didn't know who was behind the attacks.

The latest disclosure, another in a series of security lapses that have shaken public confidence in Facebook, may intensify political heat on the company. An investigation is underway by Ireland's Data Protection Commission, and Rosen said Facebook is also cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission and other authorities. The FTC declined to comment if it's investigating.

“Today's update from Facebook is significant now that it is confirmed that the personal data of millions of users was taken by the perpetrators of the attack," Ireland’s Data Protection Commission, the watchdog agency charged with privacy protection in the European Union, said in a tweet.

The extent of the personal information compromised by attackers delivered a blow to the public relations campaign Facebook has been waging to convince the more than 2 billion people who regularly use the service that it's serious about protecting their personal information after the accounts of 87 million users were accessed by political targeting firm Cambridge Analytica without their consent and Russian operatives spread propaganda during and after the 2016 presidential election.

This week, Google acknowledged that half a million accounts on its Google + social network could have been compromised by a software bug. The admission prompted lawmakers to call for an FTC investigation. Both incidents could further fuel a congressional push for a national privacy law to protect U.S. users of tech company services.

"These companies have a staggering amount of information about Americans. Breaches don't just violate our privacy, they create enormous risks for our economy and national security," Federal Trade Commission Commissioner Rohit Chopra told USA TODAY after Facebook disclosed the data breach last month. "The cost of inaction is growing, and we need answers."

More: Facebook breach puts your identity at risk. Here's what you can do to protect yourself

More: Largest Facebook hack ever turns up heat on Mark Zuckerberg

More: Facebook's 50 million account breach is already its biggest ever -- and may get even worse

More: Midterms: 'Furious' Democrats purchase blitz of Facebook ads on Kavanaugh, far outpacing GOP spending

After the accounts were compromised last month, more than 90 million users were forced to log out of their accounts as a security measure.

Facebook says attackers exploited a feature in its code that allowed them to commandeer users' accounts. Those accounts included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his second-in-command, Sheryl Sandberg.

The attack began Sept. 14. A spike in traffic triggered an internal investigation. More than a week later, on Sept. 25, Facebook identified the vulnerability and fixed it two days later.

The vulnerability was introduced in July 2017 when a feature was added that allows users to upload happy birthday videos.

Attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that affected "View As," a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. The feature was built to give users more control over their privacy. Three software bugs in Facebook's code connected to this feature allowed attackers to steal Facebook access tokens they could then use to take over people's accounts.

These access tokens are like digital keys that keep people logged in to Facebook so they don’t need to re-enter their password every time they use Facebook.

Here's how it worked: Once the attackers had access to a token for one account, call it Jane's, they could then use "View As" to see what another account, say Tom's, could see about Jane's account. The vulnerability enabled the attackers to get an access token for Tom's account as well, and the attack spread from there. Facebook said it has turned off the "View As" feature as a security precaution.

Last month, Facebook reset the tokens of nearly 50 million accounts that it believed were affected and, as a precaution, also reset the tokens for another 40 million accounts that had used "View As" in the past year. Resetting the tokens logged the affected Facebook users out of the service.

A breach of this kind is not a single, isolated event, warned Adrien Gendre, CEO of Vade Secure North America, an email security company. Hackers don't profit from breaking into Facebook accounts. Money's made, he noted, by launching spear phishing attacks using the data they've purloined, an increasingly common form of cyberattack where hackers spoof someone's identity to get them to complete a write transfer or share confidential information.

And that's very bad news for the 14 million Facebook users who had intimate personal information stolen.

T-Mobile Hit With Security Breach 2 Millon Affected

On Aug. 20, hackers hit T-Mobile and, according to a statement from the company, gained access to personal information for some of its customers. While no financial data or Social Security numbers were exposed, information including names, billing ZIP codes, phone numbers, email addresses, account numbers, and account types was potentially compromised.

While the company has not released concrete numbers for the hack, it is estimated that approximately 2 million customers were affected.

The company, with approximately 77 million total users, has notified affected customers via text message and post the following message for it customers. 

T-Mobile Notice 

Dear Customer –

Out of an abundance of caution, we wanted to let you know about an incident that we recently handled that may have impacted some of your personal information.

On August 20, our cyber-security team discovered and shut down an unauthorized access to certain information, including yours, and we promptly reported it to authorities. None of your financial data (including credit card information) or social security numbers were involved, and no passwords were compromised. However, you should know that some of your personal information may have been exposed, which may have included one or more of the following: name, billing zip code, phone number, email address, account number and account type (prepaid or postpaid).

If you have questions about this incident or your account, please contact Customer Care at your convenience. If you are a T-Mobile customer, you can dial 611, use two-way messaging on MyT-Mobile.com, the T-Mobile App, or iMessage through Apple Business Chat. You can also request a call back or schedule a time for your Team of Experts to call you through both the T-Mobile App and MyT-Mobile.com. If you are a T-Mobile For Business or Metro PCS customer, just dial 611 from your mobile phone.

We take the security of your information very seriously and have a number of safeguards in place to protect your personal information from unauthorized access. We truly regret that this incident occurred and are so sorry for any inconvenience this has caused you.

Prevent DDoS attacks across your enterprise

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks feature amongst the most dreaded kinds of cyber attacks, for any enterprise today. This is especially because, as the name itself suggests, there it causes a total denial of service; it exhausts all resources of an enterprise network, application or service and consequently it becomes impossible to gain access to the network, application or the service.

In general, a DDoS attack is launched simultaneously from multiple hosts and it would suffice to host the resources, the network and the internet services of enterprises of any size. Many prominent organizations today encounter DDoS attacks on a daily basis. Today DDoS attacks are becoming more frequent and they are increasing in size, at the same time becoming more sophisticated. In this context, it becomes really important that enterprises look for DDoS attack prevention services, in fact the best DDoS attack prevention services, so as to ensure maximum protection for their network and data.

The different kinds of DDoS attacks

Though there are different kinds of DDoS attacks, broadly speaking there are three categories into which all the different kinds of DDoS attacks would fit.

The first category is the volumetric attacks, which include those attacks that aim at overwhelming network infrastructure with bandwidth-consuming traffic or by deploying resource-sapping requests. The next category, the TCP state-exhaustion attacks, refer to the attacks that help hackers abuse the stateful nature of the TCP protocol to exhaust resources in servers, load balancers and firewalls. The third category of DDoS attacks, the application layer attacks, are basically the ones targeting any one aspect of an application or service at Layer 7.

Of the above-mentioned three categories, volumetric attacks are the most common ones; at the same time there are DDoS attacks that combine all these three vectors and such attacks are becoming commonplace today.

DDoS attacks getting sophisticated, complex and easy-to-use

Cybercriminals today are getting cleverer and smarter. They tend to package complex, sophisticated DDoS attack tools into easy-to-use downloadable programs, thereby making it easy even for non-techies to carry out DDoS attacks against organizations.

What are the main drivers behind DDoS attacks? Well, there could be many, ranging from ideology or politics to vandalism and extortion. DDoS is increasingly becoming a weapon of choice for hacktivists as well as terrorists who seek to disrupt operations or resort to extortion. Gamers too use DDoS as a means to gain competitive advantage and win online games.

There are clever cybercriminals who use DDoS as part of their diversionary tactics, intending to distract organizations during APT campaigns that are planned and executed in order to steal data.

How to prevent DDoS attacks

The first thing that needs to be done, to prevent DDoS attacks from happening, is to secure internet-facing devices and services. This helps reduce the number of devices that can be recruited by hackers to participate in DDoS attacks.

Since cybercriminals abuse protocols like NTP, DNS, SSDP, Chargen, SNMP and DVMRP to generate DDoS traffic, it’s advisable that services that use any of these ought to be carefully configured and run on hardened, dedicated servers.

Do repeated tests for security issues and vulnerabilities. One good example is doing penetration tests for detecting web application vulnerabilities.

Ensure that your enterprise implements anti-spoofing filters as covered in IETF Best Common Practices documents BCP 38 and BCP 84. This is because hackers who plan DDoS attacks would generate traffic with spoofed source IP addresses.

Though there are no fool-proof techniques that can prevent DDoS attacks completely, you can ensure maximum protection by ensuring proper configuration of all machines and services. This would ensure that attackers don’t harness publicly available services to carry out DDoS attacks.

It’s to be remembered that it’s difficult to predict or avoid DDoS attacks and also that even an attacker with limited resources can bring down networks or websites. Hence, for any organization, it becomes important that the focus is always on maximum level protection for enterprise networks, devices, websites etc.

What is Botnet - Cybercriminals #1 Weapon

The word Botnet is formed from the words ‘robot’ and ‘network’. Cybercriminals use special Trojan viruses to breach the security of several users’ computers, take control of each computer and organise all of the infected machines into a network of ‘bots’ that the criminal can remotely manage.

Botnet Prevention- What is Botnet   

Botnet Prevention- What is Botnet   

 

How Botnets can impact you
Often, the cybercriminal will seek to infect and control thousands, tens of thousands or even millions of computers – so that the cybercriminal can act as the master of a large ‘zombie network’ – or ‘bot-network’ – that is capable of delivering a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, a large-scale spam campaign or other types of cyberattack.

In some cases, cybercriminals will establish a large network of zombie machines and then sell access to the zombie network to other criminals – either on a rental basis or as an outright sale. Spammers may rent or buy a network in order to operate a large-scale spam campaign.

How to prevent your computer becoming part of a Botnet
Installing effective anti-malware software will help to protect your computer against Trojans and other threats.

Botnet.gif

What advice does the world's first CISO have

What advice does the world's first CISO have for the current generation of CISOs? Stephen Katz emphasizes, first and foremost, that cybersecurity must be treated as a business risk management issue rather than a technology issue.

"Security has to evolve and grow at the same pace as the business," he stresses in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

The role of the CISO has to be recognized as a core business function, he adds. "Security has to be an enabler of the business; security has to earn a seat at the executive table. Too often, we give people the title of chief information security officer; they don't believe they're an executive, and executives don't believe they are an executive."

 

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In this interview (see audio link below photo), Katz also discusses:

Changes in the threat landscape since becoming the world's first CISO;
Top priorities for CISOs in the coming year;
Why getting back to the basics of security remains so important;
The ongoing growth of machine learning models in all aspects of cybersecurity.
Katz is the founder and president of Security Risk Solutions LLC, an information security company providing consulting, mentoring, coaching and advisory services. He was formerly CISO at JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Secure Google Chrome from Hacking Attacks

Google Chrome is definitely one of the most popular web browsers being used today. Hackers, as we know, are perpetually after whatever gets popular in the world of the internet. This because whatever is popular would help them target more people and steal more data. Thus, Google Chrome too happens to be among the most favorite for cyber criminals across the world. Hence, securing Google Chrome against hacking attacks is really important.

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So, how do we secure Google Chrome from cyber attacks? Well, it’s a multi-step process. Lots of things have to be done. Securing your browser is important as it helps secure your device, your internet connection and more importantly, your personal and business data.

Let’s discuss, in detail, what all needs to be done to secure Google Chrome from hacking attacks. Here we go:

Begin by ensuring that your Google account is properly secured!

This is something basic, your Google account needs to be properly secured. Chrome lets you sign in from any device, anytime. Hence, it’s important to ensure the security of your Google account. You need to make sure you are logged out of your account every time you sign in, on any device. You also need to ensure that your password is secure. If you aren’t signed out or if someone knows/cracks your password, it would be easy to manipulate things and cause you harm. Your data could be stolen.

Keeping the browser secured is equally important…

Keeping the browser secured is as important as securing your Google account. You could use a password to protect your browser, and thus, in your absence, no one would be able to take control of your browser and do mischiefs. Similarly, every time you leave your terminal, it’s good to go out of the browser as well.

Keep your browser ‘clean’!

You should make it a habit to keep your browser ‘clean’, by wiping out most of the information from it. In fact, there should be some plan/schedule as regards cleaning the browser. Clear the history periodically, either everytime you log out or at least once every week if not once a day.

Never save passwords on the browser

The browser might offer to ‘remember’ your passwords for you so that you could sign in easily the next time you’re using some service. But it’s always good not to save passwords on the browser. If you save your passwords, it would be possible for someone else to get into your account and misuse it or steal information.

Having a master password helps

Having a master password, which would help you get to your other saved passwords in Chrome, is a good thing to do. Thus you need not worry about remembering all of your passwords and you don’t have to be afraid of your passwords getting stolen or misused either.

Keep your device protected

The device that you use to browse needs to be protected from malware and hacking. For this, you must use whatever security tools you need and also have alerts that tell you if at all your device is compromised. Remember a compromised device means an unsecured browser!

Keep the device locked whenever you’re not using it

Always keep your device locked when you are not using it, be it a computer or any other mobile device. That prevents people from getting on to your device and hijacking your browser and your data as well. Locking your device also gets it off the WiFi network that you are using.

Secure your network, never use unsafe WiFi networks

Securing your network is important; it helps a lot in securing Google Chrome from hacking attacks. Hence you need to do all that is needed to secure your network. Similarly, it’s always advisable never to use unsafe WiFi networks. Whenever you’re using a WiFi network, ensure it’s properly encrypted and if possible use an app or program that would prevent hacking. In fact, using a secure network secures not just your browser, but everything on your device/system.

Trust Chrome for phishing detection

Google Chrome does its own phishing detection and protects you from many phishing websites. So, when your browser tells you that a website is not safe, it’s always advisable to trust it and avoid such sites.

Avoid phishing websites and attachments yourself

In addition to Google Chrome detecting phishing websites for you, it’s always good that you yourself stay away from websites/attachments that could be used for phishing scams. Staying away from such suspicious websites secures your browser, your system/network and your data.

Useful tips for implementing the cloud

Useful tips for implementing the cloud

“One very important thing is to not implement solutions on the cloud with a traditional mindset. Many clients are surprised when they see their first bill because they ‘lift and shift’ the infrastructure,” 

“Remember, the cloud is highly elastic in nature and you can scale up and when you require. So, implement the minimum infrastructure needed and scale it based on load. That’s the secret to success in the cloud!”

Focus on entry and exit points in terms of network connectivity. Wherever possible, use private connections such as Microsoft express route, AWS direct connect.
In terms of cloud application connectivity, always encrypt the data in transit using SSL.
Ensure you implement least privileged and conditional based access to cloud administrative portals such as the Azure portal and AWS management console.
Implement RBAC access in providing access to cloud resources. Segregation and isolation of the resources using resource groups, virtual networks is key!
Utilise the security monitoring tools provided by cloud services provider to monitor the solution. Most of the basic functionality is free, such as Azure’s security centre.
In general, always divide the security focus areas into a matrix where rows are networks, compute, storage, applications, databases, and columns are data encryption at rest, encryption at transit, authentication and authorization etc; this will allow focussing on each security cell.
Carry out security risk assessment during the design phase to ensure the design has the appropriate security controls in place to mitigate possible risks.
Nevertheless, problems can arise when storing data in the cloud. “Services & data in the cloud is accessible from the internet. Unless proper controls in place, your users can access and download the data from anywhere in the world,” warns Varma.

Cloud storage security
“The majority of clients require their data to be encrypted in the cloud. Although cloud supports ‘bring your own key’ options, these encryption keys are stored in cloud providers key vaults. So, there is a very narrow chance that cloud providers can access those keys and decrypt the data. It’s also vital to note that cloud providers have very strict governance and accreditations in place to mitigate the same.”

Cloud providers generally keep their cloud services up-to-date with advancements in technology, according to Varma. “On the other end, many of the clients’ data centers he has worked within the past have out-of-date IT infrastructure systems & applications which takes a lot of time and money to replace and are prone to attacks”, he adds.

Varma also advises that you must ask your service provider the following questions about cloud storage security:

What is the authentication and authorization approach to cloud services?
How do you implement access controls for cloud services?
What’s the approach to secure transit and rest data?
What is preventive security monitoring are in place against risks and threats?
Are their solution adheres to such as cyber essentials, cloud security principles, ISO 27002?

Businesses Expansion of Attack Surfaces

One of the main reasons cyber risk continues to increase exponentially is due to the rapid expansion of attack surfaces – the places where software programs are vulnerable to attack or probe by an adversary. Attack surfaces, according to the SANS Institute, can include any part of a company’s infrastructure that exposes its networks and systems to the outside, from servers and open ports to SQLs, email authentication and even employees with “access to sensitive information.” It can also include user input via keyboard or mouse, network traffic and external hardware that is not protected by cyberhardening technology.

It would be easy to blame the Internet of Things (IoT) for the expanding attack surfaces, as Intel projects two billion smart devices worldwide by 2020. But in reality, the IoT is only part of the attack surface epidemic.

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there are now 111 billion new lines of code written each year, introducing vulnerabilities both known and unknown. Not to be overlooked as a flourishing attack vector are humans, which some argue are both the most important, but also the weakest link in the cyberattack kill chain. In fact, in many cybersecurity circles there is a passionate and ongoing debate regarding just how much burden businesses should put on employees to prevent and detect cyber threats. What is not up for debate, however, is just how vulnerable humans are to intentionally or unintentionally opening the digital door for threat actors to walk in. This is most evident by the fact that 9 out of 10 cyberattacks begin with some form of email phishing targeting workers with mixed levels of cybersecurity training and awareness.

Critical Infrastructure Protection Remains a Challenge

Critical infrastructure, often powered by SCADA systems and equipment now identified as part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is also a major contributor to attack surface expansion. Major attacks targeting these organizations occur more from memory corruption errors and buffer overflows exploits than from spear-phishing or email spoofing and tend to be the motive of nation states and cyber terrorists more so than generic hackers.

“Industrial devices are designed to have a long-life span, but that means most legacy equipment still in use was not originally built to achieve automation and connectivity.” The IIoT does provide many efficiencies and cost-savings benefits to companies in which operational integrity, confidentiality and availability are of the utmost importance, but the introduction of technology into heavy machinery and equipment that wasn’t built to communicate outside of a facility has proven challenging. The concept of IT/OT integration, which is meant to merge the physical and digital security of corporations and facilities, has failed to reduce vulnerabilities in a way that significantly reduces risk. As a result, attacks seeking to exploit critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, such as WannaCry, have become the rule and not the exception.

To date cyber criminals are winning? 

To date, critical infrastructure cybersecurity has relied too much upon network monitoring and anomaly detection in an attempt to detect suspicious traffic before it turns problematic. The challenge with this approach is that it is reactionary and only effective after an adversary has breached some level of defenses.

We take an entirely different approach, focusing on prevention by denying malware the uniformity it needs to propagate. To do this, we use a binary randomization technique that shuffles the basic constructs of a program, known as basic blocks, to produce code that is functionally identical, but logically unique. When an attacker develops an exploit for a known vulnerability in a program, it is helpful to know where all the code is located so that they can repurpose it to do their bidding. Binary randomization renders that prior knowledge useless, as each instance of a program has code in different locations.

One way to visualize the concept of binary randomization is to picture the Star Wars universe at the time when Luke Skywalker and the Rebel Alliance set off to destroy the Death Star. The Rebel Alliance had the blueprints to the Death Star and used those blueprints to find its only weakness. Luke set off in his X-Wing and delivered a proton torpedo directly to the weak spot in the Death Star, destroying it. In this scenario, the Death Star is a vulnerable computer program, and Luke is an adversary trying to exploit said computer program.

Now imagine that the Galactic Empire built 100 Death Stars, each protected by RunSafe’s new Death Star Weakness Randomization. This protection moves the weakness to a different place on each Death Star. Now imagine you are Luke, flying full speed toward the weakness in the Death Star, chased by TIE fighters, only to find that the weakness is not where the blueprint showed. The Rebel attack fails, and the Galactic Empire celebrates by destroying another planet. Similar to the Death Star scenario above, code protected with binary randomization will still contain vulnerabilities, but an attacker’s ability to successfully exploit that vulnerability on multiple targets becomes much more difficult.

 

A Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful SIEM Deployment

SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) deployment based on firsthand experience implementing SIEM for a broad range of customers.

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Discovery Phase - Laying the Groundwork

  1. Review the organizational security posture and the initial business case for SIEM. Then prioritize the goals of the SIEM implementation from the most critical to the optional—taking into account the tasks that must be performed in order to support the effort.
  2. Review in detail the organizational security policy to consider the intent behind the policy. Separate those policies from a priority standpoint. Determine what’s critical, what’s necessary for mandatory compliance and what policies are best practices to ensure a secure environment.
  3. Identify current controls that are auditing those policies to determine compliance level. Ideally, a SIEM implementation should not be the first time the organization identifies that its security policy or how it’s implemented isn’t working according to plan. The reality is that these deployments often expose gaps in security execution that must be remediated before those elements can be integrated into a daily alerting and reporting structure.  
  4. Identify a smaller representative subset of the current policy and devices where SIEM can be applied and enough data can be gathered to determine what changes need to occur.
     

Pilot Phase - Beginning the Implementation

The primary goal of this phase is to determine which specific SIEM project goals can be implemented in order to establish initial ROI while creating a baseline operational model and run-book.

  1. The lessons learned from the discovery phase are used to implement a larger subset of technology.
  2. The assumptions developed during the discovery phase are tested in real time.
  3. The list of devices should be expanded to incorporate a wider set of technologies and numbers.
  4. The information developed from this phase is used to determine the final steps of controlled deployment and maturity phase.


Controlled Deployment Phase - Building Capacity

The primary goal of this phase is to develop a deployment workflow that enables the organization to build capacity as full deployment approaches. This phase also serves as the initial production test run and the completion of operational run-books necessary to manage a full deployment.

Maturity Phase - Continuing to Evolve

Significant work must be performed in order to mature the organization’s security posture and implement the finer points of the deployment. This phase never has an end point—since SIEM must continually evolve.