Hacking and targeted cyber-attacks as a result of anti-competitive practices in business 0 825

Targeted Attacks

In ongoing consultations with clients, large companies named targeted attacks and hacking as two of their biggest security challenges since they can seriously impact the continuity of business activities in an organization.

Attackers have many means to infiltrate companies. However, many attacks, don’t require a very high level of technological sophistication. Instead, techniques like targeted social engineering, i.e. spear phishing, or the use of known vulnerabilities for which, patches may have been issued but businesses have not yet deployed, can lead to damaged reputation, revenue and data breaches.

On the other hand, high levels of sophistication can also be utilized as is in the case of a Zero Day attack.  Chief among these was Stuxnet, a recorded attack where malicious code successfully deployed four zero-day vulnerabilities to impede a uranium enrichment program in Iran, and which, according to media, was a state-sponsored attack.

There are many reasons why organizations become repeat targets. Their bank accounts contain more resources than those of an average person or small business and they also have considerable amounts of interesting data that can be monetized. Attacks targeting companies can also be used as a form of competition. Most often, this concerns data hunting, i.e. obtaining interesting information or intellectual property. These attacks can be accompanied by blackmail. For example, a client database is stolen from a company and is later approached by the perpetrators and asked, “what they are going to do about their loss”.

Different ways to monetize attacks bring different consequences

Organizations often find it difficult to admit they have been breached by these types of attacks. Consequently, this may give other companies the false impression that such attacks happen only occasionally. A typical example of targeted attacks, common in recent years, are DDoS as a Service – attacks, which are sponsored by one company to attack the website of another, with the effect of disrupting business and directing customers away from the targeted company and (possibly) towards the attacker’s “employer”. These are criminal tactics, and the attackers know very well which business areas to target for maximum gain.

There are of course other approaches. Take the example of the British National Health Service, which has become a frequent target of ransomware attacks. Digitization of health services has resulted in a situation where the malicious encryption of medical data may lead to a halt in medical interventions and surgeries. Under such conditions, targeted organizations are often more inclined to pay a ransom for the “hijacked” patient data.

In Kenya attackers have been known to target their attacks to banks and financial institutions, with figures of Ksh400 million being reported stolen from an unnamed local bank and Ksh29 million from National Bank of Kenya in 2018 alone.

Innovative approaches to old tricks

In many rural areas worldwide, one quick glance at powerlines will reveal how easy it is to make illegal connections to the power grid. As of late, cyberattackers have followed a similar model, focusing their resources on illegally mining various cryptocurrencies, which have proven to be highly popular in the public’s imagination.

A more complex example was a targeted attack meant to infect StatCounter, which provides a service  very similar to Google Analytics and uses a special script legitimately placed on websites to obtain data about website visitors. In this case, attackers successfully breached StatCounter and subsequently gained access to the service’s end users by injecting JavaScript code in all websites that use Stat Counter’s service.

The problem came to light when visitors navigated to the now compromised websites which contained the infected scrip, and who’s devices then began covertly mining bitcoins for the attackers. During the second stage, the attackers proceeded to steal bitcoins directly from infected devices when they attempted to access a popular cryptocurrency exchange. To get an idea of the scale of such an operation, StatCounter can be found on more than two million websites.

Such an attack means that system resources of infected devices at the company legitimately using the service are additionally tasked to mine. This may not concern only computers, but also mobile devices and especially servers. The subsequent cryptomining accelerates wear and tear on devices and also increases electricity bills. In addition, we should not forget that malicious cryptomining code is usually capable of uploading other types of malicious script onto the network.

Investigations may take months and are looking for a needle in a haystack

When a large company falls victim to such an attack, it is necessary to carry out a complicated investigation of what happened and how the company has been affected. Research shows that it takes about 150-200 days for companies to find out they’ve been infected. Further investigation regarding the method by which the company was infected and where the malicious code originated may take even longer.

Facing such substantial risks, large companies should leverage solutions like ESET Dynamic Threat Defense to detect new, never before seen threats.

To find out more about ESET Dynamic Threat Defense or to request a free in-house cyber security training session for your organisation, please sign up below.

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Secure Videoconferencing: The Basics 0 861

Woman working at home on laptop

With COVID-19 concerns canceling face-to-face meetings, be aware of the security risks of videoconferencing and how to easily overcome them

As a way of controlling the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries have been forced to impose a lockdown on its citizens bringing normal operations to a near stand-still. Consequently, a considerable percentage of the working population has turned to remote working, a chunk of it for the first time.

This has spiked up the demand for video conferencing services, chat systems, and online collaboration tools to serve the increasing number of students, employees, and teachers, among other experts working from home.

By 11th March 2020, Kentik―a San Francisco network operator— had achieved a 200% increase in video traffic within the provided working hours in Asia and North America. Even before the start of the official lockdown in California.

In the same vein, the UK Prime Minister chaired a cabinet meeting via zoom, which communicated the government’s appeal for social distancing through the use of video conferencing. His actions, however, brought about several questions regarding the security of the communication.

But with a quick rejoinder, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre pointed out that such communications shouldn’t cause any worries if they are below particular classifications. Accordingly, companies have developed confidence in the technology; therefore, are utilizing it to communicate with their remote workers.

Nevertheless, as an employee (or typical user), you need to understand the technology’s built-in security options, as well as control features before using it. Here we provide you with some primary considerations. Let’s dig in!

Your immediate surroundings

For you to realize a smooth and quality video conferencing experience, it is essential to cordon off your working space to prevent in kind of interruptions that might occur while in session; for instance, from your kids, better half, or even pets.

Besides, ensure that your working area is devoid of any sensitive or confidential information/material that can be captured by the camera.

Limit access

As you may be aware, a lot of video conferencing platforms allow the creation of multiple user groups to enable the providence of internet domain according to specific criteria; for instance, the use of company email address to join a video call.

Or offer access to a limited number of people whose email addresses have been invited or scheduled for a call.

As such, when creating a meeting, you can enable the set a meeting password option that creates a randomly generated code for your invitees to input before joining a conversation. Similarly, you can authenticate those using phones by the use of a numerical password. However, avoid embedding the password in the meeting link.

As an organizer, you can hold your participants in a “waiting room,” as you approve them one by one, which gives you full control over whom to allow or deny access. In case you have a large conference, you can delegate such duties to your trusted attendees.

File transfers and communication over the net

As a rule of thumb, always ensure that your end-to-end communication is encrypted. Do not assume that this option is the default for video calls since a few services may require you to request encryption.

If the third-party endpoint client software is permitted, ensure it abides by the requirements of the end-to-end encryption.

What’s more, consider limiting the types of documents you can send across the net; for instance, avoid transferring executable files.

Manage the attendees, as well as the engagement process

Often, your attendees will be distracted by notifications, pop-ups, and emails, among other things, when attending your conference calls. Therefore, as a host, you can request notification from your service provider if your conferencing client isn’t the primary or active window (depending on your platform). For instance, if you are a tutor, you can use this feature to get the attention of all your students.

You can also monitor those who joined the call by downloading the attendee list at the end of the call. Or request attendees to register before being connected.

Limit screen sharing capabilities

As the host, the sole responsibility of controlling screen sharing remains only yours, unless you delegate it to someone else that you trust. This eliminates any chances of an individual sharing content by mistake.

Importantly, only share the required application rather than the whole desktop when screen sharing. This is informed by the fact; even the name of a file or Icon can divulge sensitive company information.

Final thoughts

To ensure the security of your company communications, take time to consider all the available options security settings on your video conferencing system (or one you intend to use) settings. Importantly, take a look at the privacy policy of the service you intend to use to prevent the selling, sharing, collection, or re-use of your data.

In case you require more advice and endpoint client software for your video conferencing needs, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.

Coronavirus con artists continue to thrive 0 809

Man working on laptop

The scam machine shows no signs of slowing down, as fraudsters continue to dispense bogus health advice, peddle fake testing kits and issue malware-laced purchase orders

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to escalate, more companies are now shifting to remote work as a way of containing the spread of the disease. Similarly, lockdowns and travel bans, among other stringent measures, have become the order of the day across several nations. And to worsen the situation, there is a massive shortage of the required medical kits.

Such a crisis provides fraudsters undue advantage over a vulnerable lot that is financially destabilized, as well as emotionally drained as a result of the pandemic. 

In this case, you would likely receive fake updates regarding the pandemic, as well as non-existent offers for personal protective equipment, among others. Likewise, if you’re a business, you would certainly receive faux purchase orders and payment information.

Fortunately, as a follow up to our previous article about the ways scammers are exploiting coronavirus fears, we provide you with a few examples of the new campaigns aimed at stealing your money or personal information. To enable you to keep your guard up. Shall we?

Fake news/information

As the virus continues to escalate, more people are currently searching for practical information on how they can protect themselves. As a result, scammers have conveniently positioned themselves as the true COVID-19 information “crusaders” by impersonating well-known health organizations, such as the World health organization.

Don’t act surprised if you receive an email (containing an attachment) supposedly coming from a reputable health organization offering you “vital information” on how you can protect yourself from the disease.

For instance, our research team identified one such file containing a Trojan designed to steal personal credentials.

Apart from the WHO, fraudsters are also impersonating the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Accordingly, the FBI has given a warning about scummy emails mainly riddled with malware-infested attachments and links purporting to originate from the CDC.

 To reduce the number of people falling for such schemes, the WHO shares examples of its official email addresses and methods of communication on its website.

Urgent purchase orders and late payments

Owing to the increased pressure from governments to reduce the spread of the virus, Companies, as well as factories, have been forced to streamline their operations according to the current situation. As an example, companies to integrate work from home modules, while factories to either increase or reduce their production capacities depending on their products.

Such erratic changes have brought about a climate of uncertainty that offers fraudsters a thriving environment.

In this case, as a factory owner or executive, be on the lookout for “urgent purchase orders” from “company representatives.” Since this fake orders come from scammers who want to make a kill out of your desperation of making some revenue before things go south.

Sadly, if you download such “urgent orders” (usually in attachments), your PC will be installed with malicious code designed to steal your details.

Below is an excellent example of such an “urgent order”:

Similarly, you would receive a “proof of payment” for you to take care of the order. However, like the last example above, instead of receiving a bank statement, the attached document contains a Trojan injector.

High demand products

A massive increase in demand compounded with an inadequate supply for essential protective items, such face masks has created another avenue for scams.

A typical example of such a scam involves a fraudulent site that is offering “OxyBreath Pro” face masks at a reduced price. These can lure you since there is a shortage of masks, and what is available is highly-priced.

However, if you click on the provided links, you’ll be at risk of exposing your sensitive personal information to the scammers.

Bogus testing gear

The unavailability or short supply of medical kits for testing folks for the virus has also attracted fraudsters in droves.

For instance, the existent low supply of masks, respirators, and hand sanitizers, among other necessities, has prompted scammers to impersonate medical officials.  So that, they can provide non-existent or fake COVID-19 test kits, as well as illegitimate “corona cures.”

As an illustration, more than 2000, links associated with fake coronavirus products have already been identified. Similarly, law enforcement bureaus alongside other relevant bodies have been able to seize US$ 13 million worth of potentially hazardous pharmaceuticals.

To contain these despicable actions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that it hasn’t allowed the sale or purchase of coronavirus self-testing kits; therefore, it is currently bursting such sellers.

Final thoughts

In a wrap, what we have shared is a representative of the many current fraudulent campaigns doing rounds in our media spaces due to the prevailing situation.

Thus, it is critical to maintaining high alertness to avoid falling victim to both the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ensuing scam epidemic escalating through the internet. To keep yourself safe from the scams, you can practice the following basics:

  1. Avoid downloading files or clicking on links from unknown sources
  2. Never fall for unrealistic offers or order goods from unverified suppliers. You may also make a point of checking out the purported vendor’s reviews
  3. Invest in an excellent endpoint solution which can shield you from phishing attacks, as well as other forms of scams
  4. If an email suggests coming from a reputable organization, double-check with the firm’s website to confirm its authenticity

If you require consultation, as well as endpoint solutions for your cybersecurity needs, then ESET has been here for you for over 30 years. We want to assure you that we will be here to protect your online activities during these uncertain times, too.

Protect yourself from threats to your security online with an extended trial of our award-winning software.

Try our extended 90-day trial for free.