Ransomware the next big threat to data 0 197

Ransomware ESET East Africa

You wake up with bloodshot eyes after banging on your keyboard in the wee hours of the night to beat the deadline for a grand project. But on powering your computer the following morning, suddenly a red banner flashes on your screen coaxing you pay Ksh50,000; you are warned that failure to do so, your treasure trove of data is lost forever.

Welcome to the world of Ransomware and it is just beginning. That is ominous warning experts have given both private and public sector organisations in Kenya pointing to an imminent rise in Cyberattacks in the form of Ransomware.

The underground criminal world has devised a way to lock your data and get you to part with a tidy ransom for it. Ransomwares viruses are often disguised as innocuous emails, links or pop-ups, thereby easily hoodwinking gullible users to grant access to their system for infiltration and eventual takeover for ransom. “Anyone is vulnerable”, says Bruce Donovan, Regional Manager for ESET East Africa, a security solutions firm.

There are now multiple ransomware viruses floating around the internet. Though they typically operate like Trojan horses, infecting your computer without you knowing, only in this instance, the bugs aren’t corrupting your files, they are encrypting them.

For law enforcements agencies, governments, small and large enterprises among others, lack of access to critical data can be disastrous in terms of the loss of sensitive important information, the interference with regular operations, financial losses suffered for data restoration, and possible reputational crisis.

The TeslaCrypt ransomware has been in widespread among cybercriminals since it was launched last year. But in an unforeseen turn of events, criminals behind the ransomware released the master decryption key for TeslaCrypt. Security vendor ESET has used that key to develop a decryptor tool for TeslaCrypt and recently made free to public.

However, this does signal the end of Ransomware, criminals are increasing accessing new and more effective Ransomware. According ESET East Africa, “It is important to note that ransomware remains one of the most prevalent forms of internet threats and prevention is essential to keep users safe. Therefore, users should keep their operating system and software updated, use a reliable security solution with multiple layers of protection, and regularly backup all important and valuable data at an offline location.”

Donovan explains that just like with many maladies plaguing human kind, prevention is often the best medicine to tackle the threat of Ransom Attacks. “This calls for continuous and earnest education of ICT services consumers”, he says.

Cybercrime remains a lucrative enterprise. To keep ahead of their game, criminal gangs invest a lot of time in research and development to contrive new forms of attacks, with Ransomware becoming their favourite pass time.

This is particularly so, in this age of social media where through Social engineering techniques, criminals are able to evolve faster than the markets. Social engineering refers to the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information.

And herein lies the dilemma, as the East African region forges ahead economically, and continues to attract new investments and interest from global companies, hackers are following the money.

This calls for added vigilance by private sector organisations and governments and who are more likely to fall victims of a ransom attack. Critical is to be aware of the vulnerability in the first place, since many attacks are disguised as legitimate links and prompts.

“In our experience we have found that very few organizations invest in testing out risk scenarios as well as back up and disaster management and recovery solutions – the best tool available in response to ransomware threats, other than data encryption technologies,” says Mr. Donovan.

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Security trends to look out for in 2018 0 411

After a turbulent 2017 with Cyber Security making regular headlines, looking ahead to the coming year, there will no doubt be further discussions about the threat landscape.

Ransomware Revolution  – Ransomware of Things

Technological advances and their accelerated use have led to a number of scenarios considered unlikely just few years prior, are now within the realm of possibility. The advice going into 2018 from ESET researchers is to back up everything that matters to you, often, by keeping at least some backups offline – to media that aren’t routinely exposed to corruption by ransomware and other malware – in a physically secure location. As the Internet of Unnecessarily Networked Things becomes less avoidable, the attack surface increases, with networked devices and sensors embedded into unexpected items and contexts: from routers to fridges to smart meters, from TVs to toys, from power stations to petrol stations and pacemakers. As everything gets ‘smarter’, the number of services that might be disrupted by malware becomes greater.

Criminals following the money

With data being the most valuable asset, ransomware is set to remain in great demand among cybercriminals. It is important to note that many ransomware attacks are not sophisticated enough or never intended to recover the victim’s data once the ransom has been paid. For these reasons we suggest not only backing up of data online and offline but also implementing proper security measures such as proactively training staff on what phishing emails entail and how to avoid clicking on them and entering any credentials.

Critical infrastructure attacks on the rise

Cyber attacks on the Ukrainian power companies resulted in electricity service being turned off in hundreds of thousands of homes. The implications of this for future attacks of this kind include more than just the power grid but also includes critical manufacturing and food production, water and transport and the defence and healthcare sectors.

Safer for all

This year has seen ESET’s malware analysts continue to help law enforcement crack down on malicious campaigns and, by extension, the criminals spewing them. We are confident that 2018 will bring further successful investigations as we will continue to lend a hand to authorities so that, ultimately, the internet can become a safer place for everyone – except cybercriminals.

Download the full Security Trends 2018 report here

ESET Security for IoT 0 312

IoT

IoT is a phrase used often in the cyber security space, but what does it really mean? IoT stands for Internet of Things and to put it simply, refers to any device that can be connected to the internet. This is no longer just computers or cellphones but also refers to Smart TV’s and fridges, coffee machines, headphones, speakers, wearable tech, cars and soon enough, pretty much anything.

A more formal definition of IoT given by TechTarget

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

With all of these connections, IoT provides endless opportunities but also poses dangers.

These dangers include:

  • Your devices being used to spy on you using capabilities such as cameras or voice recording software
  • Devices being hacked to obtain personal information or to take over functionality of the device
  • In addition to this, having multiple devices connected to the internet opens further opportunities for these devices to bypass firewalls and access other devices on your network.

To help protect your IoT devices, your home network, and even your favorite shopping or social website—ESET has enhanced the Connected Home Monitor feature within its recently released home products, available to try or upgrade to for free.

How the ESET connected home monitor addresses these dangers

The ESET connected home monitor includes IoT vulnerability detection, a router-connected smart devices test, and a catalog list of connected devices on your network.

Connected home monitor

The enhanced feature is continuously updated to detect and alert you to new devices connected to your network, as well as the latest vulnerabilities affecting your devices. If a vulnerability is found in a device, ESET will report the cause and possible steps you can make to fix it, such as changing default configurations or updating the device’s firmware from the manufacturer.

Start protecting your home today with ESET’s home security products – click here.