Cyber Monday has become an epic time of the year not only for consumers but for the online retailers that help them celebrate. Whether you’re eagerly waiting for the latest game console or TV deal, be sure to think about improving your home and office cybersecurity in advance of your online shopping binge. Here are 4 Cyber Monday security tips to cover you.
Con Cast Pipe: The Case Study
Does your industry deal with IT regulatory compliance requirements? Or, better yet, do your customers require you to check off a line item during vendor selection? In an increasing number of industries today, companies are required to not only know the details of their disaster recovery systems, but also prove that their vendors are equipped to handle and recover from potential incidents.
Can you hack a printer? Yes, you can. Any printer has input and output communication ports, and operates using software applications, network drivers, and communication protocols. So all of them are, in theory, hackable.
Ransomware is emerging as one of the most widespread cybersecurity threats targeting an increasing number of corporate customers. Malware that locks a device or encrypts data can be found all over the world. At the same time, a growing number of ransomware is being designed for specific markets or is targeting specific types of users, and a new trend is to target countries or industries that are more likely to pay for unlocking.
Ransomware and similar malware is becoming more sophisticated. Avoiding infection with cryptolockers is possible if you follow a few simple rules to protect yourself with good habits, so here are some early ransomware identification tips to help you out.
Avoid Opening Unknown Attachments
Lockware and cryptoware usually employ simple methods to infect a device or an online account. Most malware is distributed via an email with attachment that either reaches a great number of email addresses or targets a specific market, person, or organization.
That said, any user should consult his/her address book upon receipt of any new email message to verify the sender of the email. In actuality, the sender’s account might also be compromised, so double check with the sender whether such an email was really sent. You should pay particular attention to emails coming from a financial institution, be it your bank or a bank that any of your contacts is working with. Carefully check the full email address to identify any suspicious information. This sender info is located in the header of the message.
Macros and Document Viewers
If you routinely deal with large number of text documents and spreadsheets that are coming from third parties, make sure that macros and ActiveX are disabled in your office suite. This is a common method to infect a computer. Also, avoid opening attachments sent through social network accounts because they are easily compromised and mimicked. Document viewers are useful tools to preview a document without launching any embedded macros. There are viewers for all widespread office software suites that allow checking whether a document contains what is supposed to contain and verifying its legitimacy. In theory, a decent antivirus solution should easily find macro viruses but these precautions add an extra comfort level.
Although many services and merchants like to incorporate direct links in their emails, it is much safer to check the sent link outside of your email agent. Most antivirus vendors also recommend avoiding clicking on links in emails.
Verify Information Requests
One aspect of ransomware’s sophistication is the increasing use of social engineering traps, trying to force the recipient to open an attachment or send information to a remote server. So take your time and verify whether you have asked for the submitted attachment and whether the information request is legitimate. Simply put, avoid sending sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and access codes in response to emails. The same applies to credit card numbers (but this is a whole other story!).
Check File Extensions
Develop a routine to check the file extensions of attachments sent by email. For instance, extensions like .exe, .vbs, or .scr are suspicious if you expect to get a document as an attachment. These are executable files and they have nothing to do with a document or image. Another malware trick is to send an attachment where the file has two extensions e.g. document.xlsx.scr, which is not a legitimate format.
Do not trust browser popups telling you that your computer has been infected with a virus or is at risk. No legitimate antivirus works this way and this is a common method to trick users into clicking on a malicious link.
You don’t need to be a cybersecurity guru to perform regular backup of your important data. In fact, this is the ultimate protection against any malware, lockware, or cryptoware. Most hosting providers, for instance, offer daily backups allowing a hacked or compromised website to be restored to its clean version without losing much data or recently introduced functionality.
More advanced techniques for ransomware prevention are also available and likely used by your IT department. These include filtering certain file types at the server level, preventing particular services from being run by the operating system, introducing hierarchical user and system access rights, and implementing strict policies for shared content and shared disk drives. Nonetheless, by following the above tips on preventive identification of ransomware, you will minimize the risks of being infected with malware and failing victim of ransomware.
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That is the estimated amount American users paid to unlock and restore devices hit by ransomware last year.
A report by Symantec states that ransomware increased 35% in 2015 and is now targeting not only Windows-based systems but also smart phones and systems that run on Mac OS and Linux. Recently, security and antivirus labs reported that attacks on smartwatches and smart TVs are starting to occur and this has implications for the business world.
So What is Ransomware?
Ransomware is malware that locks a device or encrypts its content before asking for a ransom to unlock or decrypt the content. The cost to restore access or decrypt content varies and is usually in the range of $30-300; nonetheless, payments of up to $10,000 have been reported to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre (IC3). You may even remember the University of Calgary recently paying a $20,000 ransom after its systems were attacked.
Locking and encrypting malware usually targets vital business systems such as a computer that is processing customer orders, a CRM that is installed on-premises, a database, or another business critical device or application. This is the classic ransomware attack scenario.
The rapid adoption of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) practices within corporations has increased the risks of a critical mobile device containing essential business data being locked by attackers. A good number of senior executives and high-ranking employees use their own mobile devices to access corporate data and connect to corporate networks.
Recently, security researchers reported that some 85 million devices running Android worldwide are infected with a malware that can easily turn into ransomware. Only one of many existing malwares that can be exploited as ransomware is referenced; therefore, corporations should take measures to protect themselves against such types of known security threats. Even the yet to be released Android Nougat operating system does not provide 100% protection against ransomware that can lock users out of their smartphones or tablets. The iPhone is also vulnerable to ransomware attacks, which is one more reason to implement measures to protect business critical systems and devices.
1 in 200 Infected
Another report claims that at least one mobile device is infected within any organization using more than 200 iOS or Android mobile devices. The report also states that 4% of all mobile devices, including corporate ones, are infected with malware. So chances are good that a device owned by a corporation or used to access corporate systems is infected with ransomware like screen-lock malware or cryptoware.
The number of reported ransomware attacks on businesses should alarm corporations. Kaspersky Lab reports that between 2014 and 2016, the percentage of corporate users attacked by such malware nearly doubled to 13.2% of all ransomware attacks. So a threat that was aimed primarily at personal users has rapidly evolved into a full-fledged tool to blackmail corporate users.
With such a rapidly growing number of ransomware attacks on business critical systems and mobile devices, protection against this kind of malware is not only important but should be considered compulsory. Taking into account that such malware is targeting both corporations and public organizations, the estimated cost of damages from ransomware attacks is in the range of hundreds of millions dollars a year. Protection against ransomware has to be an essential component of any full-fledged antivirus and IT security system aimed at protecting the on-premise systems and mobile devices used by any organization.
Does your IT security system and your employee security training protect you sufficiently? Contact us for a security assessment.