Four-star hotel and ski-resort in Australia paid a reported $1,600 ransom to regain control of its computer system during a fully booked weekend. The systems were kicked offline which temporarily interfered with room keys and guest check in among other things. This ransom marks the third attack on the hotel system, but the first time full control was taken. This may be why the hotel opted to pay the bitcoin rather than mess with the situation any further. Rather than risk losing revenue and fully restricting guests from checking in or out of their rooms the hotel worked with the hackers. Cheaper and faster said the hotel representative.
“Neither police nor insurance help you in this case,” Brandstaetter lamented to The Local. “The restoration of our system after the first attack in summer has cost us several thousand euros. We did not get any money from the insurance so far because none of those to blame could be found.” – PCmag
This is not the first time that a company has had to make the difficult decision whether or not to pay the bitcoin and risk losing that money as well as their data, or not paying the bitcoin, and risk total lockout of the system. IBM Security ran a study that found 70 percent of businesses attacked and infected with ransomware have paid the dollar to regain access to their systems and or data.
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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.
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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.
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Security executives have increasingly urged firms to utilize prevention, encouraging a plan that encompasses Information Technology and business units in order to ensure cyber security.
Why might you ask? As a mere observation, most firms have accepted hackers as a viable threat that will eventually infiltrate their network. Rather than focus on preventative measures, companies have taken to the opposite, strengthening their reactive forces and mitigating the damage a hacker can do once inside. Although important, focus needs to be on cyber security and data breach prevention in addition to recovery after the fact. This change of mindset ensures significant progress can be made to prevent threats, making better use of time and resources for your company.
John Davis, CSO of Palo Alto Networks’ federal division, suggests “Call for a comprehensive risk analysis, mapping out the different segments of the network and examining the needs of the enterprise along with the security concerns.” He encourages information technology teams and cybersecurity teams to work together for a higher level of performance. Prevention tactics bring together these two forces in a more collective manner.
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It was just a couple of weeks ago that BVA wrote about Twitter being the latest victim of a sophisticated hacking scheme. This last week proved to be testing for some of the biggest names out there, Facebook and Apple.
Facebook had issues on Friday after some employees went to a mobile developer’s website which ended up being compromised. They said they found an employee’s laptop that contained a malicious file after they traced a suspicious domain.
Just today Apple reported that a handfull of employee owned Mac’s were breached as well. They also stated they were working with law-enforcement agencies regarding the issues.
Unlike this seasons fashion, there are some trends I do not like seeing, and this is one of them. Facebook and Twitter are the biggest names in social media and Apple, well, it’s Apple. Do you think the hackers are part of the same group or do you believe this to be a trend of who can hack who out there?
We here at BVA hate to see this happen but once again hackers have claimed their latest victim and personally I think their theory was “go big or go home” this time around. Twitter’s director of information security Bob Lord claimed that roughly a quarter of a million “tweeters” out there could have had their information exposed. Such information includes usernames, passwords, email addresses and session passwords.
“We discovered one live attack and were able to shut it down in process moments later,” wrote Lord in his blog post titled “Keeping our users safe”. Emails were also reportedly sent out to the accounts that were affected stating that their passwords were no longer valid and that they had to reset them.
In an another part of Lord’s blog post he mentioned that Twitter did not believe this was the work of amateurs and since other companies were being attacked that they thought it was best to publicize what happened.
On a side note Moxie Marlinspike a white hat hacker who worked for Twitter after they bought his company Whisper Systems mentioned two weeks ago he was leaving Twitter. Maybe it’s just a coincidence but it’s another rumor to put into the mill.
For those of us who think we are pretty good at keeping our information safe, I would highly suggest you think again. Most leading government organizations have issues on keeping their data secure. Take for instance NASA. According to a recent article in Popular Science, NASA was targeted some 47 times last year by cyber criminals and they were successful 13 times giving hackers full control of critical NASA networks. They even lost the codes to control the International Space Station at one point.
NASA is often a target for cybercriminals and often NASA hardware is stolen. Between 2009 and 2011, 48 mobile computing devices were lifted from NASA or NASA employees. One of which containted those control codes for the ISS. Believe it or not, the device in question was not encrypted, and it appears that a lot of NASA devices are like this.
One would think that NASA, a pioneering government organization would have this type of stuff under wraps considering they have a 1.5 billion dollar a year IT security budget. It gives you the sense that if somebody really wanted to, they could easily get into your computer and get your personal information.
Furthermore, think of all of the companies and business that are not NASA, with much smaller IT budgets, that are targets all the time. Hackers could easily can access to these networks without anyone even knowing it and that often happens. A good recommendation is that you be very cautious with your personal information and where you put it. Doing research into security standards and checking to see if companies have had previous IT breaches.
You can also encrypt your hard drive with Windows BIT Locker or 3rd party software if you would like. You can use software such as Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), TrueCrypt, or CyberAngel.
You can never be too safe with your personal information!