Data Breaches

Browsers under attack

July 26th, 2014

Hackers have focused their attacks on browsers which ultimately has common theme for benefiting from the end users. As old versions of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) are typically now blocked in the browser by default, Java applets require explicit activation from users.

Bromium Labs researchers said, “so this attack vector becomes harder and harder to leverage” and “It’s evident that attackers continue to shift focus in between ubiquitous internet facing applications, but there’s a common theme throughout – attacking the end users.” It leaves hackers looking to other popular applications to exploit.

According to the reports by the lab, Microsoft’s IE was one of the most patched and one of the most exploited applications in 2014’s first half, targeted more often than Mozilla’s Firefox, Google Chrome, Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader or Microsoft Office.

The lab also mentioned different techniques used in the attacks which are given below –

  • Zero day techniques in which attackers used Adobe Flash to launch action script virtual machine (ASVM) attacks.
  • Action script spray facilitates the use of return-oriented programming (ROP), which allows attackers to execute malicious code in the presence of security defenses

“This technique leverages the way dense arrays are allocated in memory,” wrote Bromium researchers. “If a vulnerability allows an attacker to control the size of a vector, they could make it as big as the whole memory space and then search for the necessary API calls and ROP gadgets.”

“Traditional heap spray was supposed to deal with early address randomization techniques implemented in various operating systems. Nowadays defenses are much more sophisticated. Malicious code must ‘know’ addresses of crucial libraries and API functions in order to execute,” said Vadim Kotov, Bromium’s senior security researcher. “Actionscript spray provides this ‘knowledge,’ while its ancestor doesn’t even address this issue.”

“Action heap spray — as well as traditional heap spray — is merely an instrument to exploit security vulnerabilities,” Kotov said. “If you want to reduce the probability of being compromised, you need to have reasonable patching policy and invest in protection software.”

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Unencrypted laptops present a major risk of data loss. 80% of information theft is due to lost or stolen laptops and other equipment. About 50% of network intrusions are performed with credentials gathered from lost or stolen devices. The penalties for a data breach are severe not only in terms of the monetary fines imposed on the organization, but also the potential loss of trust from customers and suppliers. Encryption software greatly enhances the security of your organization’s data as the information is not compromised if a laptop is lost or stolen.

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Hospitals focus on IT security audits

February 20th, 2014

After healthcare organization makes decisions on security audit strategies, some aspect has to be considered such as potential impact on daily workflow and the amount of time that elapses between catching an abnormality and resolving the issue. Mark Combs, West Virginia University Hospitals Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) mentioned about the steps to find internal security threats.

Mark Combs mentioned that audit report can stop larger breach. He mentioned about the situation in Florida where a healthcare organization was alerted by federal investigators that one of its employees was filing false tax claims.

“Obviously, we’ve found instances where employees were doing inappropriate things, but we were able to catch them soon enough so that they didn’t grow into one of those larger issues,” Combs said. “Luckily, we haven’t had one yet where federal authorities alert us of an incident.” He further added organizations set their policies as best practices and they need applications in place to enforce those policies.

Combs and West Virginia University Hospitals made decision for use of Iatric Systems’ Security Audit Manager (SAM) product. Rob Rhodes, Senior Director of Patient Privacy Solutions for Iatric Systems said that the integration works well with SAM because it reaches out to any of organization’s systems with PHI and allows us to pull the audit logs and aggregate them in the SAM.

“Once it’s aggregated in SAM, we then run proactive reports and alerts,” he said. “Users can set those up so the algorithms we have go out and look for potential privacy violations. SAM has incident tracking as well.”

West Virginia recently incorporated a policy change when it switched from a legacy system to Epic HER.

We did that to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule, as we were concerned that people would use their access to look at and potentially harm the integrity of their own record if they make mistake. We put “same last name” auditing in place, which is a report that’s native to SAM. Not only were we able to use that in Epic, but for our other half-dozen or so systems as well.  As we contacted managers telling them they weren’t complying with the policy, we saw a huge reduction in people looking at their own accounts through work access.

To get perfect audit reports encryption software for laptops are essential. Alertsec Xpress is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

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