data theft prevention

Hillary Clinton email controversy and best practices for protecting data in your company

August 4th, 2016

According to the new reports, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch mentioned that the Department of Justice is closing its case regarding Clinton. Earlier, clinton has used personal email account to conduct government business instead of official U.S. government email account.

Hillary received explicit warnings from the State Department’s cybersecurity team to stop using personal email. She had a private domain hosted on a private server placed in her home. This controversy can help us to understand the best data practices.

According to the comey,  Clinton and her colleagues were “sloppy,” “negligent,” and “extremely careless”  to handle classified information passing through her private server.

“Participants who know or should know that information is classified are still obligated to protect it,” said Comey at his press conference. He mentioned that everyone must be well trained and accountable for the information they handle, receive, read and exposed to. Proper training and sound implementation avoids security incidents.

“We [at the FBI] assess that it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account,” said Comey at his press conference.

Many Clinton’s emails contained sensitive foreign intelligence data which can be compromised. Earlier, Clinton’s server was hacked in 2013.

“There are only two kinds of organizations,” MIT engineering and IT professor Stuart Madnick, who also serves as Director of the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, has said at numerous symposiums and conferences at MIT over the past couple of years. “Those that have been hacked and those that don’t yet know they have been hacked.”

“‘Prevention, prevention, prevention, that’s all I’m focused on,’ is gonna be doomed to failure,” said Chertoff in his keynote address at the Advanced Cyber Security Center’s 2014 annual conference. “You’re not gonna eliminate the risk of cyber attacks; this is about managing the risk.”

House Democrats tried to defend Clinton during the hearing saying she may not have noticed or may not have understood “tiny, little” markings of “(C)” next to some paragraphs in her emails.  It is for classified files.

“It’s possible that she didn’t understand what a ‘(C)’ meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that,” testified Comey, who further indicated that before his investigation, he likely would have automatically assumed that a State Department official would know what the ‘(C)’ meant. “[It’s] not that she would have no idea what a classified marking would be, [but] it’s an interesting question whether she … was actually sophisticated enough to understand what [‘(C)’] means.”

In your company make sure that employees should read, understand, acknowledge the policies and receive effective training to handle day to day data and its classification to consider them accordingly.

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Alertsec is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

Securing data from departing employees

July 14th, 2016

Employees after leaving a company can take sensitive data with them intentionally or unintentionally. The harm caused by such incidents are huge. Consider example of an employee of the FDIC who exposed 44,000 FDIC customers’ personal information. She had downloaded the data to her personal storage device. More such data breaches can be found across the industry.

According to the survey by Veriato, a provider of employee monitoring software, third of participants believe they own or share ownership of the corporate data they work on and more than half feel it’s fine to take corporate data with them when they leave a job.

“The potential damage from even one employee taking confidential and proprietary customer data, software code or login credentials with them to a new job, especially with a competitor, is astronomical,” Veriato COO Mike Tierney said at the time.

Companies can potentially defuse such data threats.

It’s crucial to focus on what really matters in protecting sensitive data, said AvePoint product analyst Ben Oster. “You can have all these policies in place, but if HR lets somebody walk over and plug in a USB drive after they’ve been let go, it doesn’t matter,” he said.

Oster provided the example. “She plugged her drive in and just copied a folder that she thought was her information, and it turns out it wasn’t. The issue is not that she was able to copy that data; the issue is that that data existed outside of anyone’s knowledge of where it was.”

“If we can’t actually break down how to discover it or classify it, we can’t start to put things in place that say, ‘You can’t take this document,’ because we don’t know what’s in it.”

“You really need to get in there and figure out what that is, because if you don’t, you’re going to see things get even fuzzier,” he said.

Companies can take holistic approach to data loss prevention. Michela Menting, research director at ABI Research mentioned that the good data loss prevention (DLP) solution can be key to protecting your data.

“DLP systems act as enforcers of data security policies by performing deep content inspection and a contextual security analysis of transactions,” Menting said. “They provide a centralized management framework designed to detect and prevent the unauthorized use and transmission of confidential information.”

AvePoint’s Oster mentioned that the strong security awareness training program can help to great extent.

“As consumers and employees, we need to be more aware of what we’re doing with data, what that content actually means, and what the privacy and compliance implications are of everything we touch on a daily basis,” he said.

Encryption is the key to the problem. One can start encrypting the content with relevant softwares.

“If you’re encrypting every single piece of information everywhere, the workload becomes larger, it becomes harder for your end users to use that data, and you’re actually more likely to drive them onto a system that’s not under your control,” Oster said.

And once employees start saving corporate data to their own Dropbox or OneDrive, you’ve lost track of it. “So while encryption can protect the data when it’s in motion or at rest, anything that makes it harder for your end users to get their jobs done likely pushes them toward a solution that you don’t want,” Oster said.

“We saw a case once where a company terminated an employee, and then HR walked them back and let them plug in a USB drive — and they promptly took 20 GB worth of information,” Oster said. “It doesn’t matter how good your information security is if HR is letting them do that.”

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Alertsec is the full disk encryption service that delivers a mobile data protection system for all information stored on laptops used throughout your organization.

Planned Parenthood data breach

July 10th, 2016

Around 2,506 patients were affected after paper records were exposed during the closure of a healthcare center in Iowa. The incident at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has resulted into possible healthcare data breach.

According to the reports, patients at the Dubuque location who were treated between August 2008 and April 2014 had their PHI accessed by an unauthorized entity following the closure and sale of the healthcare center. Affected information included names, dates of birth, mailing addresses, insurance information, Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, diagnoses, treatments, and lab results.

The healthcare system has mentioned that it had secured the records. Also, measures are implemented to ensure that patient privacy and confidentiality is being protected.

“PPHeartland’s [Planned Parenthood of the Heartland] standard policy is to conduct ongoing security audits—which already far surpass state and federal regulatory standards—to ensure we remain true to our commitment to patient privacy,” Chief Clinical Officer Penny Dickey said in a statement.

“We have conducted a rigorous review of our processes and revised our facilities relocation protocols. All staff responsible for facility relocation have been apprised of these modifications.”

All affected individuals were notified about the incident.

“PPHeartland is dedicated to securing and maintaining our patients’ trust; this incident is in no way representative of PPHeartland’s stringent privacy standards,” added Dickey. “We will continue to strive toward the highest quality patient care, including stringent confidentiality standards, at all of our health centers.”

According to the statement:

Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (PPHeartland) has served women and men of all ages since the 1930s. Today the organization offers a full range of quality reproductive health care services to residents in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Oklahoma through 17 health centers and Education Resource Centers in Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With approximately 700 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.

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Alertsec is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe.

Phishing Attack Top Data Security Motivator – HIMSS Survey

June 23rd, 2015

The key findings after interviewing 297 healthcare leaders and information security officers across the industry of the survey are –

  • Two-thirds of respondents experienced a significant security incident in this year
  • Healthcare organizations also reported using an average of eleven different technologies to secure their environments
  • More than half said that their facilities have hired a full-time professional to manage the information security functions.
  • Eighty Seven percent reported that their information security had increased as a business priority at their organizations over the past year.
  • Many believes that current security tools will not be sufficient to protect the industry against the types of security threats their organizations expect to face in the future

“The recent breaches in the healthcare industry have been a wake-up call that patient and other data are valuable targets and healthcare organizations need a laser focus on cyber security threats,” HIMSS Vice President of Technology Solutions Lisa Gallagher said in a statement. “Healthcare organizations need to rapidly adjust their strategies to defend against cyber-attacks. This means implementing threat data, incorporating new tools and sophisticated analysis into their security process.”

Other finding included –

  • 87 percent of those surveyed said antivirus/malware tools have been implemented to secure their healthcare organizations’ information security environment
  • 80 percent reported using network monitoring to detect and investigate information security incidents
  • 64 percent said that a lack of appropriate cyber security personnel is a barrier to mitigating cyber security events
  • Internal security teams identify more than 50 percent of information security threats

“Indeed, respondents were widely likely to indicate that more innovative and advanced tools are required to secure their environments in the future,” HIMSS stated. “Furthermore, they indicated that healthcare organizations must operate from a perspective which presumes their organization’s perimeter has already been breached.”

Alertsec strengthens security

Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

Organizations, especially corporate giants, have to have an information security policy in place that proves they have taken the necessary steps and measures to safeguard the information they gathered. If these policies are not adhered to, the regulators may prosecute.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

 

Big banks and retailers lock horns over Data breach

February 3rd, 2014

 

Target customers personal information of about 110 million was exposed during the data breach. It was notified by the Justice Department after suspicious activity involving payment cards used at Target stores. Also Neiman Marcus computer was attacked by hackers. It was notified late to the customers as company required confirmation for the breach.

Target Executive Vice President John Mulligan started his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee with an apology before blame game started between big banks and retailers. He stated during first part of hearing, “We know this breach has shaken their confidence in Target, and we are determined to work very hard to earn it back.” According to Mulligan, company hired its own independent team of experts to conduct a forensic investigation after the breach.

Personal information like credit and debit card numbers, expiration dates, PIN numbers and codes on the cards’ magnetic strips was compromised after 40 million credit and debit card accounts of Target were breached late last year. Also non card information like names, phone numbers and email and mailing addresses of 70 million Target customers were also stolen.

Neiman Marcus computer was also affected by the breach. Michael Kingston, senior vice president of the Neiman Marcus Group said, “The malware was evidently able to capture payment card data in real time, right after a card was swiped, and had sophisticated features that made it particularly difficult to detect, including some that were specifically customized to evade our multilayered security architecture that provided strong protection of our customers’ data and our systems.”

FTC Commissioner Edith Ramierz and William Noonan, a top agent with the Secret Service’s cyber operations branch are expected to report the Senate Judiciary Committee following testimony from retailers.

With the seriousness involved in the breach data it is advised companies to put all security measures in place. Alertsec has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption by using industry leading Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software.

Alertsec Xpress is used by organizations that have recognized the need to protect their information. Customers range from single-user sole traders and consultants to multinational companies with a large number of offices around the globe. Over 4 million users worldwide use Alertsec Xpress’s Check Point Full Disk Encryption.

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A look at the Biggest Cyberattack in History

March 28th, 2013

 

A recent cyber attack has captured everybody’s attention, primarily targeting a single company, now being described by experts as one of the biggest Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks in the history of Internet. The privacy violation which began affecting every element related to Internet’s physical infrastructure, also due to which the Internet speed may slow down all over in Europe for a while.

It all started when the attacks targeted an anti-spam company Spamhaus, based in Europe. This company work by refraining the main source of the email spam and later sell those blacklists to the Internet Service Providers. The cyber attack began to hit as the waves of typical DDoS assaults when Spamhaus blacklisted a dodgy Dutch web hosting company, Cyberbunker. But it did not took the responsibility of the cyber attack directly against Spamhaus.

Commonly, in such attacks, computer hackers send fake traffic at a specific server for the purpose of overburdening it. The computer systems involved in the DDoS operated cyber attacks have already been infected with malware before computer hackers get control of the machine without the owner’s prior knowledge. Spamhaus entered into a contract with CloudFlare,  a data security firm which mitigates the cyber attacks soon after they proceeded. Now, it’s CloudFlare’s  responsibility to defend Spamhaus by dispersing the attacks across multiple data centers. It is a technique that keep a website online even after hitted by the maximum amount of traffic a usual DDoS can generate.

“Usually these DDoS attacks have kind of a natural cap in their size, which is around 100 gigabits per second,” CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince told Mashable before explaining the limitation in typical DDoS attack size is due to routing hardware limitations.

“Usually these DDoS attacks have kind of a natural cap in their size, which is around 100 gigabits per second,” CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince told Mashable before explaining the limitation in typical DDoS attack size is due to routing hardware limitations. When computer hackers failed to knock down Spamhaus while CloudFlare was protecting it, they chose to target CloudFlare’s network providers by exploiting a known fault in the key piece of Internet Infrastructure, i.e., DNS. “The interesting thing is they stopped going after us directly and they started going after all of the steps upstream from us,” said Prince. “Going after our immediate transit providers, then going after their transit providers.”

Basically, DNS alters a URL into the desired website’s IP address and eventually helps in delivering desired Internet content to user’s computer. Also, there’s a vital element of the DNS system, known as DNS resolvers. “The attack works by the attacker spoofing the victim’s IP address, sending a request to an open resolver and that resolver reflecting back a much larger response [to the victim], which then amplifies the attack,” said Prince.

Prince said that these attacks have been “certainly the largest attacks we’ve seen.” he added. According to a leading data security research group, “it is one of the largest DDoS operations to date. “Due to Internet reliability on DNS, Internet speeds world over can be affected by such large-scale DNS amplified DDoS operations.

“Anyone that’s running a network needs to go to openresolverproject.org, type in the IP addresses of their network and see if they’re running an open resolver on their network,” said Prince. “Because if they are, they’re being used by criminals in order to launch attacks online. And it’s incumbent on anyone running a network to make sure they are not wittingly aiding in the destruction of the Internet.”

Because of the past few continued cyber attacks, the data security industry is likely motivated. Though it has been talking about it, but they have taken the issue apparently insufficient to act upon. Prince however advises that these DNS-amplified DDoS operations won’t be leaving away any time soon. “The good news about an attack like this is that it’s really woken up a lot of the networking industry and these things that have been talked about for quite some time are now being implemented,” said Prince.

Get your personal as well as office laptops encrypted by Alertsec

With so much vulnerability on public networks 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. 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.

Data breach reported at Mississippi Medical Center

March 12th, 2013

The University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) were at a data loss when it recently encountered a data breach from a password-protected laptop of an unknown number of patients who checked in the hospital between 2008 and 2013. The relevant data had patients’ names, dates of birth, addresses, social security numbers, medications, treatments, diagnoses and other personal health information devoid of encryption software.

The health data breach came to UMMC’s knowledge on January 22 and it posted on their website that their laptops were used as a shared device by UMMC clinicians to work in a non-public area for patient-care. They still had no clue about it and therefore, administration of the organisation had an argument regarding data being viewed, accessed, used or disclosed with an intention for data breach in the absence of encryption software.

There has been no formal notifications from the former or current patients’ side about the unauthorized use of protected health and personal data information due to data breach. The University of Mississippi Medical Center invited all those affected patients who visited their medical center between the period of 2008 and January 2013 for the redressal of their grievances, or who wanted to pose any general question relating to data security and data encryption software. The UMMC suggested several ways to contact themselves, for instance, through UMMC Office of Integrity and Compliance representatives for any kind of assistance.

How Alertsec can protect our computers?

Alertsec provides protection for all information stored on laptops and PCs in an easy, convenient, and cost-effective way. It uses Check Point Full Disk Encryption (former Pointsec) software, and has created a web based encryption service that radically simplifies deployment and management of PC encryption. Alertsec Xpress is the service that automatically protects ALL information you store on your PC

Alertsec Xpress provides:

  • Fully managed service for your convenience.
  • Very cost effective service.
  • Market leading laptop protection service.
  • Quick and easy implementation.
  • Easy to use protection.
  • Transparent solution.
  • Global 24/7 helpdesk.
  • 100% secure and reliable encryption.
  • Powered by Check Point – the market leader
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Ready to hack systems for sale

March 1st, 2013

An alleged Point-of-Sale cyber crime duo from California were confronted with criminal charges late last week in Boston, Massachusetts.

The US Justice Department (DoJ) reported that the pair, Shahin Abdollahi, 46, and Jeffrey Thomas Wilkinson, 35, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and wire fraud, and with one count of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges that they:

  • Hacked into at least 13 Subway Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems.
  • Fraudulently added at least $40,000 in value to Subway gift cards.
  • Used some of the hooky gift cards to make purchases at Subway.
  • Sold other fraudulent cards on eBay and Craigslist.

What makes this a bit different from the usual “alleged crooks steal ‘digital money’ from retailer through hacking” story is how the pair are said to have pulled off the cyber-break-and-enter part of the attack.

Abdollahi and Wilkinson, claims the DoJ, ran a number of Subway franchises in Southern California between 2005 and 2008.

During this time, it looks as though they didn’t just make lots of sandwiches. They also learned enough about Subway operations to come up with a plan to make money out of the franchise on two fronts at the same time.

So they quit the sandwich supply business and started a business calledPOS Doctor, selling and installing point-of-sale systems into the Subway ecosystem.

Yep! You guessed it!

The POS Doctor systems came with a handy additional feature, at no extra charge: a preconfigured remote-access toolkit that allowed the crooks to connect in after hours.

They regularly added fraudulent credit onto Subway gift cards in at least 13 Subway outlets around the USA.

As mentioned above, they then spent some of the gift cards at Subway branches in California (they must have developed a taste for the product during their time as franchisees), and sold others of them on eBay and Craigslist.

Amusingly, it looks as though the alleged crooks went to the trouble of registering their fraudulent cards online with Subway, using email addresses from domains they owned themselves.

This precaution gave them the chance to reclaim unused funds if any of their bogus cards were lost or stolen.

Of course, this “dishonour amongst thieves” also ensured that the DoJ has been able to rack up additional evidence connecting the alleged perpetrators with the claimed criminal activities.

Get your personal as well as office laptops encrypted by Alertsec

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.

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.