Archive for the ‘phishing’ category

IoT Security

June 6th, 2017

The Internet of Things (IoT) is seeing the rapid rise but it seems to repeat the history of technology evolution. The pace of growth is not matched with security requirements. IoT helps automation as well as real-time synchronization of business processes. The implementation helps for precise response in real time.

 “IoT devices assist businesses in real-time responses to supply-and-demand market effects, they empower patients and healthcare professionals to continuously monitor conditions, and they enable electric grid operators to adjust the production, flow, and cost of electricity according to real-time market demands to ensure the most efficient, resilient, and cost-effective solution,” says James Scott, senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology, a Washington DC-based cybersecurity think tank.

 Hundreds of companies now provide IoT solutions. But security aspect is lagging behind.

 “As was shown in the Dyn attack, we appear doomed to repeat the mistakes we made with PCs and mobile devices in IoT,” says Tom Byrnes, founder and CTO of ThreatSTOP. “Once again, cost reduction has made security an afterthought, if a consideration at all, with predictably disastrous consequences.”

It is different than other systems as threat involved is higher due to many connection points. As per the Intel, 200 billion IoT devices will be online by 2020.

“Most IoT devices and sensors lack any form of security or security-by-design,” says Scott.

 “Without the layered security of the IoT microcosms, hacktivists can disrupt business operations, cyber-criminals can compromise and ransom pacemakers, and cyber-jihadists or nation-state sponsored threats can compromise and control the grid,” to name just a few of the potential IoT security attack scenarios.

“Every IoT device has inherent vulnerabilities and exploitable weaknesses resulting from a culture that sacrifices security in the design process in favour of meagre savings and in the rush to market,” says Scott. “The overwhelming preponderance of insecure IoT devices in the future will render security an impossibility in the future.”

Most of IoT devices do not have computational power or battery life to have security applications.

“We need to develop cost-effective IoT devices that incorporate security-by-design rather than cheaper and less secure alternatives,” says Scott. “While that may save a few dollars in the short-term, it puts the public and critical infrastructure at risk of losing millions of dollars and valuable data in the long-term.” 

Also, there is a lack of platform standards.  

“With old devices lasting longer than ever before, there are many devices currently in use that do not support new standards,” says Sam Rehman, Chief Technology Officer of Arxan. “Hackers will always see legacy devices as a prime choice of the entry.”

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IoT Threat Defense Platform of Cisco

May 22nd, 2017

Cisco has created new IoT Threat Defense Platform to tackle growing threats. It consists of integrated security technologies which protects enterprise IoT deployment from hackers. It uses the network segmentation capabilities. Its’ AnyConnect provides remote access functionality.

Marc Blackmer, product marketing manager of Industrial Solution at Cisco’s Security Business Group said that it’s best not to leave any stone unturned given the scale and complexity of IoT implementations.

“A characteristic of the IoT is that it opens a multitude of attack vectors,” Blackmer mentioned. “Now, organizations need to be aware of, not just what servers and workstations are online, but whether their HVAC system or connected lighting have been mistakenly connected to the Internet.”

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Canada and Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel conducted a test. It demonstrated a citywide bricking attack using smart bulbs. Companies are connecting their IoT devices to internet and hackers are looking for loopholes.

“A simple Shodan search can turn up medical devices and industrial equipment connected to the Internet, as well,” Blackmer said. “With this in mind, we selected the technologies in our portfolio that would, first, segment IoT devices, to protect them from external attacks, as well as protect the business should one of those devices be compromised, and then those that provide broad, complementary coverage across a range of attack vectors.”

Connecting virtual local area networks (VLANs) to the scale of the IoT can overwhelm even the most efficient IT teams. Cisco products and team is also helping companies to secure their networks from stealthier threats.

“We are inspecting the traffic throughout the organization (with Stealthwatch, Advanced Malware Protection, and our NGIPS [Next-Generation Intrusion Prevention System], which is included with our NGFW [Next-Generation Firewall]), as well as that attempting to exit the organization (with Umbrella and Cognitive Threat Analytics).”

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Verizon Survey

May 5th, 2017

Verizon mentioned that increase in the propriety research, prototypes, and amounts of confidential personal data is the major factor for the rise in the phishing attack. It also mentioned that there is an increase in 50 percent in the attacks last year.

Almost 95% of the attacks include the phishing technique of software installation on the user device. There is also rise in getting the information by pretending someone else. These are called pretexting attacks. Eighty-eight percent of pretexting attacks originated from emails.

Many smaller organizations also suffered a data breach. Sixty-one percent of breach occurred at the companies having less than 1000 employees.

“Cyber-attacks targeting the human factor are still a major issue,” Verizon Enterprise Solutions Global Security Services Executive Director Bryan Sartin said in a statement. “Cybercriminals concentrate on four key drivers of human behaviour to encourage individuals to disclose information: eagerness, distraction, curiosity and uncertainty. And as our report shows, it is working, with a significant increase in both phishing and pretexting this year.”

Verizon mentioned that three quarters of the breaches was caused by outsider. Almost 51% involves criminal groups.

Finance sector was the major area where attacker focused. Almost 24% attacks counted for this sector. Healthcare involves 15% of data breaches.

“The cybercrime data for each industry varies dramatically,” Sartin explained. “It is only by understanding the fundamental workings of each vertical that you can appreciate the cyber security challenges they face and recommend appropriate actions.”

Survey also found out that 73% percent of the attacks are financially motivated.

“Social engineering is a common means for cybercriminals to establish a foothold,” report authors warned. “And employees are making this easy by using easy-to-guess passwords. Users, and even IT departments are even often guilty of not changing the default passwords that devices come with, and can easily be looked up online.”

The report author at Verizon mentioned that encryption and two-factor authentication also help to limit the damage.

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Hackers trying to gain access to US defence servers

April 27th, 2017

US Airforce is attacked by hackers. It was the continuation of bug bounty program which earlier allowed attacks on Pentagon and the Army. It is an effort to allow security researchers to attack a limited set of Pentagon IT assets. It is now widened to different branches of the armed forces.

The program plans to expand further and allow entities from the U.S and the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

“Hack the Air Force has the largest scope of participation yet,” Reina Staley, Chief of Staff at U.S Defense Digital Services.

Earlier the bug bounty program was limited only to US citizens.

“Since the success of Hack the Pentagon and the subsequent Hack the Army bounty, we’ve been working to continually expand the bounds for participation by everyone,” she said. “For this round with the Department of the Air Force, we’re excited to include the citizens of a few allied nations.”

This program is limited scope program where participants need to work on given scope. It’s not open invitation to hack anything. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), known as drones are not included in this program. Hack the Air Force is also limited period program.

“DDS: The Department of Defense launched a Vulnerability Disclosure Program (VDP) which allows security researchers across the globe to submit discovered vulnerabilities through the HackerOne platform for remediation by DoD security teams,” Staley said. “The VDP provides a safe and legal avenue for anyone to report these vulnerabilities at any time, even outside of a bug bounty program.”

“Our aim is for DoD organizations and all military Services to adopt this crowdsourced security tool,” Staley said. “It’s incredibly important for us to strengthen the assets that support services for our Service members, civilians, and their families around the world.”

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Hacking of Amazon third-party sellers’ accounts

April 16th, 2017

Hackers use passwords for high-profile breaches to compromise Amazon third-party sellers’ accounts. The attackers stole tens of thousands of dollars from sellers’ accounts. They also posted nonexistent items for sale in order to get more funds.

The incident has affected two million seller accounts on Amazon.com account which counts for more than half of its sales. As per the reports, over 100,000 sellers earn more than $100,000 a year.

Amazon seller Margina Dennis told NBC News about the fraud. She got 100 emails from customers. They were complaining of not getting a Nintendo Switch. The product was uploaded on site through her account by hacker. They also changed the accounts password.

An Amazon spokesman said “There have always been bad actors in the world; however, as fraudsters get smarter so do we. Amazon is constantly innovating on behalf of customers and sellers to ensure their information is secure and that they can buy and sell with confidence on Amazon.com.”

Third-Party Risk

CyberGRX CEO Fred Kneip mentioned that hackers are targeting Amazon’s third-party ecosystem for financial gain.

“Amazon is a high-profile example of how increasingly connected businesses have become, but organizations across the world in every industry are undergoing a similar transformation as outsourcing, globalization and the digitization of business expand their digital ecosystems exponentially,” he said.

“Whether it’s one of the world’s largest retailers or a small business, companies need to approach third-party cyber risk as a real threat to their business that needs to be continuously managed,” Kneip added.

AlienVault security advocate Javvad Malik mentioned that third party vendors should look for their own security.

“It is therefore, important that all companies of all sizes have at least a basic level of threat detection controls in place that can alert when unexpected changes occur, or when systems start behaving in an unusual manner,” he said.

“Compromised credentials are the leading attack vectors in cyber breaches, as hackers target networks through trusted third-party suppliers and contractors who likely have less rigorous security than the ultimate target,” Centrify senior director of products and marketing Corey Williams said.

“This certainly won’t be the last time we see third parties being hacked — organizations need to up the security stakes with multi-factor authentication, which requires more than one method of authentication to verify the user’s identity for a login or other transaction, in order to stop the use of stolen credentials,” Williams added.

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High value targets for hackers

April 13th, 2017

IT administrators and other high-value targets are valuable to hackers. Enterprise password management solution, Secret Server, Thycotic has created a solution which uses machine learning technology to help companies spot probably compromised accounts along with insider threats.

Privileged Behavior Analytics (PBA), a cloud-based tool in Secret Server 10.2 can detect anomalous behavior in privileged accounts.  R.J. Gazarek, product marketing manager at Thycotic said that the privileged accounts need to be secured as they handle crucial information.

“If privileged access is not monitored, analyzed, and alerted on it can lead to devastating data breaches and abuse from the inside out,” Gazarek told eSecurity Planet. “In some cases, the breach may not even be intentional, just someone accessing a system they shouldn’t have had access to.  Having a tool in place that can detect anomalous and unusual privileged behavior, as it happens, is critical in detecting, stopping, and remediating potential breaches and mistakes.”

Artificial intelligence and threat scoring technologies are used by the Thycotic solution.

“The privileged account behaviors and analytics that PBA extension for Secret Server can detect are, for example, privileged accounts being used outside of normal hours than previously used before, privileged accounts being accessed by employees who have never accessed them previously or privileged accounts which are being used excessively that is deemed abnormal behavior,” explained Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic. The tool can also be used to help organizations rein in their use of privileged accounts.

“Being able to see privileged account behavior or deviations from normal usage is a huge advantage from a company who wants to add better security controls or to reduce the amount of unused privileged accounts – in turn reducing the privileged account landscape that could be exploited by cyber criminals,” Carson added.

With the help of Thycotic’s Privileged Behavior Analytics, one can manually set the system’s sensitivity. Email alerting option is also provided.

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Email data breach

December 26th, 2016

A phishing email attack on the County of Los Angeles has led to data breach. The incident has affected thousands of individuals. County officials has implemented strict security measures. According to the reports, approximately 100 County employees received credible looking email from the hacker. They provided their usernames and passwords to them.

Some of the employee accounts contained confidential client/patient information. Arrest warrant is issued by the District Attorney Office’s Cyber Investigation Response for Austin Kelvin Onaghinor of Nigeria. The person is charged with nine counts which includes unauthorized computer access and identity theft.

Forensic examination was conducted by county. It also released a statement mentioning that “756,00 individuals were potentially impacted through their contact with the following departments: Assessor, Chief Executive Office, Children and Family Services, Child Support Services, Health Services, Human Resources, Internal Services, Mental Health, Probation, Public Health, Public Library, Public Social Services, and Public Works.”

County also believes that,“there is no evidence that confidential information from any members of the public has been released because of the breach.”

Facility is offering one-year identity monitoring for affected individuals which includes credit monitoring, identity consultation, and identity restoration. During the investigation, county didn’t send notice to affected individuals as instructed by law enforcement.

As per the statement, “We encourage you to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review your account statements, and to monitor your credit reports and explanation of benefits forms for suspicious activity. Under U.S. law, you are entitled to one free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus.”

County also mentioned that the minors under the age of eighteen are enrolled in identity consultation and identity restoration services. It has set up call center to address concerns related to potentially affected minors.

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Data breach at Vascular Surgical

December 7th, 2016

Vascular Surgical Associates based in Georgia recently suffered data breach after one of its computer servers was hacked. As per the statement, the attack occurred during the time of a software update. After an initial investigation by the facility, it found out that a compromised vendor password was used in this incident.

As per the FAQ section of Vascular Surgical, it had “hired vendors with national reputations and significant client bases to support the computer system infrastructure we use to maintain our medical records.” Furthermore, the ONC had certified the software.

“A password that was created by one of these vendors and controlled by that vendor was used to access our system inappropriately,” the FAQ read. “The perpetrators installed software on our system to prevent us from seeing the activity, but once that activity was identified by our internal IT staff, the system access was changed to prevent additional access using that password.”

As per the OCR data breach reporting tool, incident affected 36,496 individuals. As per the preliminary reports, it is likely that the hackers reside in other countries. Affected information included medical records and demographic information such as dates of birth and addresses. Social Security numbers and financial data were not present on the compromised server. Facility also mentioned that portal was not involved or affected. Patient care is carried as usual.

“Upon learning of the incident and verifying the unauthorized access through forensic evaluation, we immediately secured the server so that this type of attack could not occur again,” the statement explained. “We are confident that none of our staff had any involvement in this incident, as the compromised password that was used to access the information was only available to our vendors and their staffs.”

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

OCR sent out warning emails

November 28th, 2016

OCR sent out an email stating that employees of HIPAA covered entities and their business associates should know of an alleged phishing scam which uses Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) letterhead. As per the reports, the email is using a mock HHS department letterhead and OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels’ signature. Efforts are made by the scammers to make phishing emails look like official OCR Audit communication.

“The email prompts recipients to click a link regarding possible inclusion in the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Rules Audit Program,” OCR warned. “The link directs individuals to a non-governmental website marketing a firm’s cybersecurity services.”

OCR also mentioned that the entity sending the email is not associated with the agency or with HHS.

“We take the unauthorized use of this material by this firm very seriously,” the email read. “In the event that you or your organization has a question as to whether it has received an official communication from our agency regarding a HIPAA audit, please contact us.”

Phishing Scam

Phishing scams involves emails, messages, phone calls, websites to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details. It is done mostly posing as trustworthy entity.

Recent Wombat survey on phishing as below assessment :

Thirteen percent of respondents from healthcare industry clicked on simulated phishing emails

In Manufacturing and energy sector,  nine percent clicked on simulated phishing emails

Clearly, phishing is a focus area across the industry, but the efforts can’t stop there,” Wombat President and CEO Joe Ferrara said in a statement. “To reduce cyber risk in organizations, security education programs must teach and assess end users across many topic areas, like oversharing on social media and proper data handling. Many of these risky behaviors exacerbate the phishing problem.”

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Alertsec’s cloud-based information security service provides an easy and convenient way to protect information on your organization’s laptops and computers.

Phishing Scam at Baystate Health

October 26th, 2016

Baystate Health which is based in Massachusetts recently suffered data breach when several of its employees had fallen victim to a phishing scam. The incident potentially impacted the information of approximately 13,000 patients. scam

Baystate Health is a not-for-profit integrated health care system. It is serving over 800,000 people in western New England. More than 140 years, Baystate Health has been providing skilled and compassionate health care in the region. More than 12,000 team members works for Baystate Health. It is one of western Massachusetts’ strongest economic engines.

On August 22, 2016, facility learned that five of its employees replied to a phishing email. As per the reports, the email was designed by hackers to look like an internal Baystate memo. Certain patient information was accessed by the hackers.

Social Security numbers and other financial information were not included in the emails. Affected information includes patient names, dates of birth, diagnoses, treatments received, medical record numbers and, in some instances, health insurance identification numbers.

Baystate believes that there is no indication that patient information was misused. Facility took steps to secure the email accounts and began an investigation. The incident is also reported to law enforcement.

“Baystate is committed to protecting private information and is taking this matter very seriously,” the statement read. “To help prevent a similar event from happening again, we are increasing our employee training about phishing emails.”

Baystate did not mention number of affected individuals. But as per the OCR data breach reporting tool, accurately 13,112 individuals were affected.

As per the Baystate, “We mailed letters to people who may have been affected. If you believe you may be affected and have not received a letter by November 5, 2016, or if you have any questions about this incident, please call.”

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