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Computer Security No 5: Single Point of Failure and Hackers

Corporate Computer Security

•  Single point of failure (video)

•  5 ways hackers can get into your business

•  Stolen LinkedIn data used in personalised email attacks

Single point of failure:

This is a fictional narrative by Tom Scott; however you can learn about what can happen if 'disaster strikes' in the wrong hands of someone with a 'anarchist' agenda:-

5 Ways Hackers Can Get Into Your Business:

(adapted from John Braddon of inc)

The best way to build stronger defenses is to identify your company's weak spots. Here is a primer.

First things first: There are way more than five ways that cyberthieves can break into your business. (They are surely thinking up new methods as you read this.) Often they use more than one approach in a single attack.

Even so, small-business hacks tend to fall into a few categories. We turned to security professionals and "ethical" hackers - they help businesses identify their vulnerabilities - to find out the most common methods used and what you can do to protect yourself and your brand.

Weak Passwords

How It Works:

With a $300 graphics card, a hacker can run 420 billion simple, lowercase, eight-character password combinations a minute.

Risks/Costs: 80% of cyberattacks involve weak passwords. 55% of people use one password for all logins.

Notable Scams: In 2012, hackers cracked 6.4 million LinkedIn passwords and 1.5 million eHarmony passwords in two separate attacks.

Your Best Defense:

Use a unique password for each account.

Aim for at least 20 characters and preferably gibberish, not real words.

Insert special characters: @#$*& [note: some programmes will not allow these and some demand them]

Try a password manager such as LastPass or Dashlane.

Check out alternatives

Malware Attacks

How It Works:

An infected website, USB drive, or application delivers software that can capture keystrokes, passwords, and data.

Risks/Costs: 8% increase in malware attacks against small businesses since 2012. Average loss from a targeted attack: $92,000.

Notable Scams: In February, hackers attacked about 40 companies, including Apple, Facebook, and Twitter, by first infecting a mobile developer's site.

Your Best Defense:

Run robust malware-detection software like Norton Toolbar.

Keep existing software updated.

Use an iPhone--Android phones are targeted more than any other mobile OS.

Phishing Emails:

How It Works:

Bogus but official-looking emails prompt you to enter your password or click links to infected websites.

Risks/Costs: 125% rise in social-media phishing attacks since 2012. Phishers stole $1 billion from small businesses in 2012.

Your Best Defense:

Keep existing software, operating systems, and browsers updated with the latest patches.

Do not automatically click on links in emails to external sites - retype the URL in your browser.

Social Engineering:

How It Works:

Think 21st-century con artist tactics, e.g., hackers pretend to be you to reset your passwords.

Risks/Costs: 29% of all security breaches involve some form of social engineering. Average loss: $25,000 to $100,000 per incident.

Notable Scams: In 2009, social engineers posed as Coca-Cola's CEO, persuading an exec to open an email with software that infiltrated the network.

Your Best Defense:

Rethink what you reveal on social media - it's all fodder for social engineers.

Develop policies for handling sensitive requests like password resets over the phone.

Have a security audit done.

Ransomware:

How It Works:

Hackers hold your website hostage, often posting embarrassing content like porn, until you pay a ransom.

Risks/Costs: $5 million is extorted each year. The real cost is the data loss - paying the ransom does not mean you get your files back.

Notable Scams: Hackers locked the network at an Alabama ABC TV station, demanding a ransom to remove a red screen on every computer.

Your Best Defense:

As with malware, do not click on suspicious links or unknown websites.

Regularly back up your data.

Use software, such as Kaspersky Internet Security, that specifically checks for new exploits.

Sources: John Braddon (inc.com), Symantec, Kaspersky, Verizon, CSO, LastPass, abcnews.com, Osterman Research, Neohapsis Security Services

Stolen LinkedIn Data Used in Personalized Email Attacks:

(source: Security Week)

Last month, information associated with more than 100 million LinkedIn accounts has emerged online, and malicious campaigns that abuse this user data have started to appear.

Stolen account information that ends up on the Dark Web is not always used to take over accounts, but can be abused in many other ways, including the spreading of malware.

On Monday, the German federal CERT (CERT-BUND) warned on Twitter that malicious emails containing fake invoices as Word documents contain a personal salutation and business role of the receiver. The names and business positions in these emails were associated with the LinkedIn leak, being consistent with public LinkedIn profiles, CERT-BUND said.

As Johannes Ullrich notes in a post on ICS SANS, these emails come in different languages, but the recipient's full name, job title and company name are included in the message. Data that "wasn't reachable by simple screen scrapers (or API users) in the past" has emerged after the LinkedIn leak, allowing attackers to create more plausible emails and to increase their chances of successful infections.

Security firm Fox IT also observed malicious emails being delivered to users in the Netherlands and says that these messages include Dutch text in both the e-mail and the attached Word document. These emails started to appear in large quantities on June 7, with the first name, last name, role, and company name of the recipient being taken from the user's LinkedIn page.

The name of the Word document attached to these phishing emails is also based on personal information of the receiver.

Attackers packed the document with malicious macros and scrambled the content of the document in an attempt to trick users into enabling the macros to view the text. However, the macro fetches a binary from a compromised website, and the security researchers identified it as the Zeus Panda banking Trojan.

Detailed in April by Proofpoint, the banking malware, also known as Panda Banker, was first observed in February by Fox IT, and is based on code from the infamous Zeus banking Trojan. Panda Banker authors leverage fast flux DNS to protect their infrastructure, a method previously employed by Zeus too. Other banking Trojans also emerged after Zeus' source code was leaked several years ago.

Since the LinkedIn incident was only one of the high-profile data breaches to have made it to the headlines over the past several weeks, similar malicious campaigns might emerge. Users of Myspace, Tumblr, VK, and, more recently, Twitter might all become targets in similar malicious email runs.

Moderated by Monica Schlesinger: www.advisoryboardsgroup.com.au

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