Category : Security

Do this and not that – Mobile Malware

mobile-malware1

The three best practices to avoid mobile malware is to use an official app store, resist temptation to jailbreak your device, and keep updates current. Apple and Google app stores remain the most vigilant about mobile malware concerns. Google uses Verify Apps that runs in the background of modern Android systems to scan for spyware, ransomware, and fraudulent apps. The company also checks mobile apps that are submitted to the Google Play Store. Less than one out of every 10,000 devices that only downloads from the Google Play Store has a program in the malicious category.

Jailbreaking your device undermines much of the already pre-installed security on the phone. In addition to this, the ability to restrict applications from accessing personal data on the phone as well as validate applications is disabled. Basically, if you jailbreak your device you better have a pretty good understanding of technology, because you just became the sole provider of security for that device.

This may be a surprise to most, but vulnerabilities actually do not increase the likelihood on malware on mobile devices. Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report released Apple iOS had nearly 8 times as many vulnerabilities as Android in 2014, but near all malware for that year were targeted at Android devices.

The reliance and increased functionality of mobile devices leads developers to push out updates and bug fixes as fast as possible. Users should pay attention to this and keep their applications and software updates current. Android users often wait to update because of the lengthy process involved, but the benefits usually out whey this inconvenience, especially considering Android devices are most susceptible for malware.

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: www.pcworld.com 

Cisco PIX firewall and IOS software security vulnerabilities

security

Cisco has released reports that a high priority security hole in its IOS software could have allowed hackers access to memory contents, and therefore confidential information, from more than one product in their lineup.

Cisco has pinpointed cause of the vulnerability to  “insufficient condition checks in the part of the code that handles [Internet Key Exchange] IKEv1 security negotiation requests. An attacker could exploit this vulnerability by sending a crafted IKEv1 packet to an affected device configured to accept IKEv1 security negotiation requests.”

Network World 

IKEv1 is used in VPN applications such as LAN-to-LAN VPN, remote access VPN, Dynamic Multipoint VPN, and Group Doman of Interpretation. To address the vulnerability Cisco plans to release software updates and currently there is no workaround available.

The list of Cisco products is as follows:

  • Cisco IOS XR Software versions 4.3.x through 5.2.x.  are affected

  • Cisco IOS XR Software released 5.3.x and newer are not affected

  • PIX versions 6.x and prior are affected

  • PIX versions 7.0 and after are unaffected

Back in August Cisco was alerted to information posted on the internet that had been exploited from firewall products from multiple vendors. The potential for exploitation of Cisco PIX firewalls was considered, and Cisco began an investigation into reports of the “BENIGNCERTAIN” exploit.


If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: www.networkworld.com 

 

Teenage hacker grabs massive data from 800,000 open FTP servers

hacker

Not all teenagers are sneaking out in the middle of the night, one is sneaking into nearly 800,000 open FTP servers. The story begins with a security researcher, Minxomat, scanning IPv4 addresses to find nearly a million open FTP servers needing no authentication for access. This scan revealed that not only is no authentication needed but that 4.32 percent of all FTP servers in the IPv4 space can be accessed by an anonymous user login with no password. Seriously!!

Shortly there after this report was released, reports surfaced that a young teen hacker by the name of “Fear” had gained access to and downloaded massive amounts of data from every state with a domain on .us, as well as some .gov domains. (In a report to Network World)

“I gained access to an FTP server that listed access to all the FTPs on .us domains, and those .us domains were hosted along with .gov, so I was able to access everything they hosted, such as public data, private data, source codes etc.,” Fear told DataBreaches.net. It was “very simple,” he said, “to gain access to the first box that listed all the .us domains and their FTP server logins.”

Network World

He later added to this claim, stating that the attack was a SQL injection (poorly coded web database that leaks information). Fear gained access to credit card information, social security numbers, email address, home addresses, phone numbers, and web-banking transactions. Fear claims there was no encryption to protect the data and that he could “read all of it in plain text form”

His message to those responsible for securing state and government FTP servers is: “5 char passwords won’t save your boxes.”

On Sunday, someone in Florida attempted to secure the data, taking down the FTP server before password-protecting it and bringing it back up, but Fear said, “Too bad they don’t know its backdoored LOL…. they legit suck at security.”

Network World

Security professions are questioning the reliability of the claim.

“We can’t state unequivocally that he did not hack something, but only because it’s impossible to prove something didn’t happen,” said Neustar Senior Vice President Rodney Joffee.

But as Fear states “It only takes 13 hours and 23 minutes and 12 seconds for somebody to finish gathering data on every US citizen,”

The Hill 


If you would like to learn more about the infomration presented in this blog post please visit: www.networkworld.com  www.thehill.com 

 

Pegasus Spyware Detected – Upgrade to iOS 9.3.5 ASAP

Pegasus2Pegasus

Malware that spies on user phone calls and text messages, has been alleviated thanks to the latest iOS mobile operating system upgrade, and the wise proceedings of a human rights activist. Canadian cyber security research group, Citizen Lab, published a report that a human rights activist, Ahmed Mansoor, received a text message with a malicious malware link attached. Thankfully Mansoor was not tempted to click on the link.

Rather he passed the link to Citizen Lab where researchers identified the correlation between the link and the NSO Group, an Israeli company notorious for selling a government-exclusive spyware product, Pegasus, that is described as a “lawful intercept”. Most have dubbed this the most sophisticated spyware software detected and Apple, Android and Blackberry smartphone users are the target. The main difference between this malware and others is Pegasus’s ability to infect the powerhouse of the operating system, the kernel of the phone. This allows the software to intercept any conversation before encryption ever takes place, so encrypting such apps proves pointless against Pegasus. The link would have been capable of jail breaking the iPhone and installing surveillance software used to access the camera and microphone. Mansoor’s WhatsApp and Viber calls would have been especially vulnerable in addition to his GPS location services.

Citizen Lab wrote in its report that “[w]e are not aware of any previous instance of an iPhone remote jailbreak used in the wild as part of a targeted attack campaign.”

Last Thursday Apple released the latest version of iOS 9.3.5, which I highly advise upgrading to if you have not already done so. The update improves how iOS devices access memory and adds a patch that prevents visits to maliciously crafted websites from remotely executing arbitrary code.

Phew.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.pcmag.com 

Security Alert – Hide your IP Address

ipaddress

IP address is the identifier that allows information to be sent between devices on a network. It contains location information and makes devices accessible for communication. IP addresses are mathematically assigned by the Internet Assigned Names Authority (bet you didn’t know that!). This might be fine and dandy news for the non-technical, but odds are you still have no idea why hiding your IP address is advised. Since your IP has location information, it can be used to discern your physical location. The accuracy of determining your location via IP address information is actually extremely accurate. Another reason to hide your IP is the increase in cyberattacks as of late. IP addresses can often be used to target attacks.

You can also hide your IP with the goal of watching blocked content in your region.

Changing your IP can be done, but this is a more detailed process. Hiding it is a much easier option.

A Virtual Private Network creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the service’s server rather than connecting to a website directly, adding a layer of protection. The VPN allows you to connect to the internet as normal and retrieve the information but through the tunnel created. This ensures that your web traffic cannot be intercepted, and furthermore anyone looking at the IP will only see the IP address of the VPN.

What you can also do is use a series of computers that are distributed across the globe. Rather than a request made between two points, your computer will send out layered requests that are each encrypted. You will be relayed from Tor node to Tor node before exiting the network and reaching the desired destination. Each node only knows the previous jump and the last jump. This method of Tor will make your movements much harder to track, making you much less susceptible to attack. In order to complete this method, download the Tor Browser, or talk to your IT professionals.

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.pcmag.com

Protect your HR department against Cyber Attack

Human resources management concept business man selecting virtual interface

Human Resources is often the target of malicious attacks via hackers and fraudulent email, simply because of the wealth of information available in your HR department. Employee names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, W2 forms and addresses will snag a high price tag on the dark net. The most common means for obtaining this information is phishing emails that appear to be from a trusted employee or head executive asking for sensitive company data, financial records, or access to employee information. In most cases the employee on the receiving end of the email cannot recognize that the email is fraudulent, and will pass on the information without hesitation. HR departments from numerous organizations have reported W-2 tax form whaling scams. After receiving a spoof letter from a company executive requesting employee information, Seagate Technology said employees handed over thousands of current and past employee W-2 forms. Snapchat has reported a similar story, stating that a scammer posed as CEO Evan Speigel and asked for payroll data and an employee in the payroll department complied thinking the request was legitimate.

The hackers are not going to stop asking for your information so you might as well protect your company from vulnerabilities. This means educating employees, storing data in the cloud, encrypting such data in the cloud storage, and bringing in Identity Management Software. As always I recommend a highly capable IT department as well.

Train your employees about the elements and characteristics of company emails. Teach them to pay attention to the person requesting the information as well as the information in question. Let them get used to asking “Why?” before pressing send. For example, the head of the financial department has access to all financial data and probably does not need to email employees in the financial department for additional access. This may sound like pure common sense, but it never hurt to reiterate the importance. Let employees see what a fraudulent phishing email lots like. Cybersecurity training company KnowBe4, has taken a hands on approach to teaching employees to recognize phishing emails. Sending over 300,000 fraudulent emails to employees at 300 client companies over the course of the year, using the example emails to educate staff on key elements to spot an attack email. According to KnowBe4 founder and CEo Stu Sjouwerman, before the training 16 percent of employees clicked on links in the simualted phishing emails, after a year of education only 1 percent of employees clicked on the links.

Regardless of how much training you provide for your employees, all it takes to create chaos is one simple mistake.

A viable way to double the protection in this case would be to encrypt data and store it in the cloud, rather than in document folders on the desktop or laptop. If an employee were to accidentally release information to a non-credible source, the hacker would be lead to a link they could not open because additional information needed to open the link would not be in the hands of the hacker.

San Francisco identity management company, OneLogin, has banned the use of files in their office entirely. CEO Thomas Pedersen gives us his reasoning, “It’s for security reasons as well as productivity,” said David Meyer, OneLogin’s cofounder and Vice President of Product Development. “If an employee’s laptop is stolen, it doesn’t matter because nothing’s on it.” Not a bad idea.

Identity Management Software that controls log-ins and passwords is a great tool to protect your HR department. Rather than trusting that HR staff are protecting usernames and passwords for each platform they use for payroll, benefits, recruiting, scheduling and such, the single log-in allows access to everything. This helps the employees, as only one password needs to be remembered, eliminating the need to write down passwords or save them elsewhere. The identity management software you choose should use a multi-factor authentication, which ensures even if the password got into the wrong hands, additional approval from another device will be needed to access the log-in. Companies can also employ geofencing to restrict log-ins so admins can only sign in from specified areas, such as the office.

HR tech platforms and cybersecurity firms are working together to improve the security of HR departments, fingerprint log-in is one of the safer means of logging in, but that technology is not available across all platforms. Until these needs can be met, the best protection is prevention.

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.pcmag.com

Why You Need to Deploy Encryption and How

encryption

Encryption is the transformation of data from plain text to ciphertext. In other words, basically taking data that is easy to read and placing it into a riddle that has no rhyme or pattern so that only those that know the riddle, can read your data. Still with me?

Encryption alone is not enough to guarantee the safety of your data. An endpoint protection software is necessary to monitor for malware, especially making sure you aren’t hit with ransomware which will most certainly blackmail you for the encryption key, bringing us back to square one. It is known however, that hackers don’t particularly like encrypted data, and are much less likely to continue along once they learn you’ve employed encryption throughout your business.

“The best reason to encrypt your data is that it lowers your value,” said Mike McCamon, President and CMO at SpiderOadk. “Even if [attackers] got in, all the data stored is encrypted. They’d have no way to do anything if they downloaded it.”

Passwords are a great start, but lets take it one step further. If an attacker were to get into your network they most likely can navigate around and find where all your passwords are kept, again back to square one. No point in a password if hackers can find it without breaking a sweat. Password encryption allows you to put an extra layer of protection on your passwords. Any password you use to log in to a portal, will be encrypted as soon as you press Enter. The password will be scrambled and saved on your company’s endpoint in the same matter explained above, a riddle so to speak. The only way to get past the encryption is to have the encryption key.

Protect the house, with database and server encryption. Anyone who can gain access to your network can see information in plain text. If the house of all your data is in plain text, that is a surefire road to disaster.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Encryption  protects the transfer of data from the browser to the website. This will encrypt and protect the data employees and clients exchange via browsers to your company website. This is a safeguard against the interception of information as it is being transferred from the browser to the endpoint. However, once the data has reached your company server the information will be in plain text, and yet another encryption method should be used.

Email identity encryption provides employees with a complex key, known as a Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) key. This key is given to all email recipients, so that if and possibly when one of your clients receives an email without the decryption prompt, such as one claiming to be from your company’s CEO, the client knows to ignore the email.

Device Encryption is critical to the safety of your organisation. Device encryption should be required of all employees. IT management can significantly help in this process, and can also set up mobile device management software for all mobile devices. This will protect your employees and your business from avoidable and preventable vulnerability.

End-to-End and Zero-Knowledge Encryption is the most comprehensive form of encryption. Before your data can reach the end-point it is manipulated, jumbled, bamboozled – including all log ins, device passwords, application information, files. The only way to decipher the code and gain access to the information is with an encryption key that only your IT management company has, along with the software company that works to encrypt the data.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.pcmag.com

Undetected Hacker Group Spying Since 2011…

Russia

Strider hackers reference the all-seeing eye of Sauron in their ‘nation-state level’ malware, which has been used to steal files from organisations across the globe. Unknown hacker group, ‘Strider’, has just been discovered by cyber-security researchers at Symantec. Strider hackers are referencing the all-seeing eye of Sauron in the groups ‘nation-state level’ malware in use currently to steal files from organisations all over the world. Apparently the group has aimed their malware at those that would be of potential interest to a nation state’s intelligence services.  The Remsec malware is mainly targeting organisations in Russia, however the group has infected airline systems in China, an embassy in Belgium, and a large organisation in Sweden, who’s name could not be confirmed. The malware in use is designed to infect a system and open a backdoor where it logs keystrokes and steals files.

 

The malware has been in operation since October 2011, but avoided detection by the majority of antivirus systems for nearly five years. Only 36 infections have been reported in these five years, but the nature and capability of the malware in terms of stealth and detection is rather unsettling. Components that make up Remsec are built as “BLOBs”, which stands for Binary Large Object, collections of binary data which are often difficult for antivirus security software to detect. The malware is deployed across a network rather than stored on a disk, which makes it increasingly had to detect.

A deeper look in the modules of the malware found the modules are written in the Lua programming language. This embedded scripting language is used to perform various functions and processes. In the case of Remsec, these functions include key logging and the code that contains references to the all-seeing eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings. The use of Lua modules leads security researchers to believe that Strider may have connections to the Flamer hacking group, known for using this type of programming in it’s malware. Another lead could be the connection the the infamous Regin malware. One of the victims of the Remsec malware had also been the victim of Regin malware. That poor machine!

 

The nature of the malware, combined with the coding and programming, leads security researcher to believe that the Strider group are highly proficient technically in the development of malicious software, and very well could escalate to a nation-state level attacker.

 

 

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.zdnet.com

Hundreds of Thousands of Cash Registers HACKED

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According to security experts, Russian hackers have breached more than 330,000 cash registers in fast food chains, retail stores, and hotels around the world. The target of the hacking was a network point-of-sale-systems manufactured by Micros, says security researcher Brian Krebs.  Oracle, which acquired the Micros network point-of-sale-system in 2014, confirmed the attack with a statement saying the company ” had detected and addressed malicious code in certain legacy Micros systems.” The vulnerability occurred in the system Oracles uses to help customers remotely troubleshoot problems with point-of-sale devices, a Micros infrastructure. The company is unsure of the scale of the breach, but is working to determine the size of the problem that lies ahead. The time of the initial attack is also undetermined, as well as the scope of financial data that may have been stolen. An investigation into the breach did lead to a link between the micros support portal and a server known to be used by a Russian cybercrime group called the Carbanak group.

“This breach could be little more than a nasty malware outbreak at Oracle,” Krebs wrote. “However, the Carbanak Gang’s apparent involvement makes it unlikely the attackers somehow failed to grasp the enormity of access and power that control over the Micros support portal would grant them.” – Brian Krebs, Security Researcher

This is not the first time the company has been the hot seat for how they handle security incidents, in fall of 2015 Oracle settled out of court with the Federal Trade Commission over charges that Oracle had deceived customers about Java (owned by Oracle) platform security updates.

 

 

 

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.zdnet.com

How to scrub data from your device

Delete

You may be surprised to hear that “Delete” is not an end all function for wiping data clean from your machine. To ensure you data doesn’t get into the wrong hands, perform a secure erase. Whether you are selling an old computer or just want to wipe some sensitive data off your machine completely, Secure Erase is an easy way to get the job done.

SECURE ERASE

When you hit Delete, you most likely expect that all of your data is actually deleted. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Delete doesn’t actually delete your data, what this function does is erase a file’s reference information in the disk directory and marks the blocks as free for reuse. Your operating system might not be able to see it, but your data is still there deep down. Hence the use of file recovery programs, these programs look for blocks that the directory says are not in use, and searches for your data. There is something called bad blocks as well, which is when data is left from partly overwritten blocks, and other actions. Secure Erase command overwrites every track on the disk, meaning, there is no data recovery from a Secure Erase. This is great for data security if you know what you are doing, which most of us don’t, which is why the Secure Erase command has been disabled on most motherboards.

ENCRYPT, REFORMAT, ENCRYPT.

Deleting the last little bit of your data can be easier than you think with the right knowledge. Windows uses an encryption tool called BitLocker, which usually requires a system with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip. Without a TPM you won’t be able to access BitLocker or when you attempt to access BitLocker it will pop up with an error message. Full disk encryption is built into Windows and Mac OS X.

To try BitLocker, go the Control Panel, click System and Security, and then click on BitLocker Drive Encryption. Select the drive and start the process. Encryption will take hours on a large disk, but you should be able to do other work on the system while encryption completes. – Robin Harris, writer for Storage Bits

In order to perform this on a Mac, you will need to access the Mac OS File Vault 2 (10.7 and later) function. Open System Preferences, Find Security and Privacy, and FileVault. Choose Turn On FileVault, select a password option, enable any other accounts you want to access the drive – in this case none – and click Restart. The encryption process will begin and, like Windows, will take some hours if you have a large drive. – Robin Harris, writer for Storage Bits

Once you have your drives encrypted, you need to reformat the drive as a new drive and encrypt it again. The drive is now empty so you won’t be met with long wait times as you did with the previous encryption. The purpose of the second encryption is to ensure that your first encryption key is overwritten, because a really great decrypter could recover the key and decrypt your data, which would make all that work for nothing. The second encryption eliminates that possibility.

 

 


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit : www.zdnet.com