Seeing headlines about yet another hotel hacked have become commonplace and statistics are looking grim. A staggering 64% of US citizens have already had to deal with stolen data. Hotel phishing has become way too common.
Hotels are the perfect targets due to the amount of sensitive data they are processing each day and the tech they are using. Lots of high profile breaches that have happened lately signal that many of them do not have the right cybersecurity solutions in place.
What’s even more worrisome, 56% of those breaches weren’t discovered for months!
Avoiding attempts of such scams is impossible, but lowering the risk of becoming a victim is. Here are five ways to detect and avoid phishing scams.
#1 Staff Training
Hotels often skip cybersecurity training because they wish to invest in other areas, yet a single successful phishing scam can lead to a breach that will tank their reputation and customer trust, which results in high fines.
Because emails are the primary trajectory attackers are using for their hotel phishing scams, it’s important that your employees are able to recognise such scam attempts right away.
A single click is enough to infect the system. The same report from Verizon gives insight that internal actors were responsible for 34% of breaches. Every misclick will result in having your hotel hacked again and again.
Cybersecurity training for the hotel staff must be a top priority.
When staff members know how to detect a suspicious email, check the sender and double-check all domain names, the risk of them clicking on it becomes considerably lower.
#2 Have an External Mail Warning System
Creating a hotel phishing email is easier than ever, as people are more than willing to share their personal information online.
A well-constructed phishing email can look like a genuine company email from a well-known staff member.
An external email warning system helps identify suspicious emails by displaying a warning when the email originates from an external source.
This will prompt the staff to double-check the sender and the actual address before opening the mail or clicking the link and report the suspicious email to the IT office.
Sandboxes are used to test links and attachments and execute them without risking the security of your network.
If the system detects malicious code or link, it will show a warning and remove the attachment/link so the user and systems stay safe.
#4 Keep Your Network Secure
Have antivirus, antispyware, and malware software on your network and all devices, as well as commercial firewalls.
Keeping your main network inaccessible to outside devices will reduce the vectors of attack.
Have a different network for your guests, and keep all personal IT devices from your staff on a separate network too.
#5 Stay Informed About Phishing Techniques & Have Procedures In Place
New phishing scams appear all the time, so make sure your IT department follows all new developments closely. Ask them to regularly send internal newsletters on threats and distribute them to everyone.
Plus, make sure you have strict procedures in place when it comes to payments and authorising new transactions. For example, change of details must be confirmed by a vendor over the phone (rather than email), requests for money are escalated to a higher management level, and links aren’t clicked on unless they are expected.
Hotels Must Be Hypervigilant
The reason why so many hotels fall victim to hotel phishing attacks is the lack of updates to their systems, operations, and standards.
When coupled with lack of staff training and monitoring solutions, a data breach might already be in progress without them having the slightest clue about it.
Cybersecurity is an important topic for any business now. In the last 12 months, 32% of businesses experienced some sort of cyber attack or data breach. That means that every third business had to deal with a cyber-attack, according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019 by the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport. It goes without saying that every business should prepare for a ransomware attack and other types of cyber-attacks.
Keeping your assets secure against cyberthreats needs much more than installing firewalls and anti-virus software. Today’s cyber threats are sophisticated and use every possible loophole in your security settings to get access.While there are different types of attacks, ransomware is one of the most malicious attacks businesses have to deal with.
What’s a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is a type of attack where malicious software (malware) takes over a computer or whole systems and denies any type of access until you pay a ransom. The ransom demand usually requires payment in cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, as it’s impossible to trace it.
It is one of the most dangerous types of attacks, as it can stop a business dead in its tracks. In case the ransom is not paid, all data will be deleted from the system.
This is bad enough if it happens to an individual. Imagine this happening to your company – you will lose all business and operational data, and you’ll have to start all over again. Some businesses never recover.
Preparing for a Ransomware Attack
The bad news with ransomware attacks? It can happen to anyone, and once it does, there’s not much you can do.
But you can prepare for it. Here’s how:
Data backup should be your number one priority.
It can save you thousands and millions, but it has to be done right by protecting your data storage properly. Ransomware attacks are carefully executed and attackers will often have access to your systems for months before they attack.
Why? Because they want to make sure they hijack everything, including any possible backups you might have.
This is why you should keep backups on another location. It would be best to have backups in the cloud but also have at least one backup offline – completely disconnected from any network – as even cloud backups can sometimes be affected.
Make sure IT keeps all systems and software up to date.
Although updates are often a hassle, they exist for a reason. Most updates are released to take care of security vulnerabilities. When software and operating systems are not updated, you are basically inviting hackers to access your systems. Your IT department should ensure every device is up to date.
Start implementing user restrictions.
Not all of your employees need access to all your data. Ask your IT provider to implement user restrictions so that your employees have access only to data they need. In case they need more, they can request special and temporary access that is revoked as soon as they don’t need it anymore. This way, in case their accounts are compromised, the breach will be limited.
Invest in monitoring software.
You can get powerful software solutions that can monitor your whole systems for suspicious activity. This goes beyond the regular antivirus monitoring – it can monitor what users are doing, what data they are accessing, and alert you in case something is out of the ordinary.
Don’t forget about employee training.
No matter what type of security software and solutions you utilise, if your employees are not aware of best practices on cybersecurity, you’re always just one bad click away from a ransomware attack. Make sure your employees know how to spot suspicious email, and know that they should never click on the links in such emails or download attachments.
Work on your BYOD policies.
Many businesses, especially small- and medium-sized ones, often allow employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work. Without a good policy in place, however, this becomes a security issue.
If an employee brings an infected device and connects it to the same network, you’re looking at a possible spread of infection – and ransomware – to all other devices and the whole system. Because of this, any device connecting to your system should be up to date, have antivirus software, and be cleared by the IT department regularly. This goes for smartphones too.
First Steps After a Ransomware Attack
1. Take a photo of the note
This will help the IT determine what type of ransomware you’re dealing with.
2. Determine the extent of the attack
Your IT provider should be able to determine whether the ransomware has infected a single device, or if the infection is spreading through your network.
3. Isolate infected devices and disable sharing
All infected devices should be removed from the network to stop the spread. Any type of sharing that’s active should be shut off immediately.
4. Notify employees
Send an email to all employees so that they can report whether their devices are working. Those who can work can continue, but those affected can help in other areas while IT deals with the issue.
5. Let IT remove ransomware from infected devices
IT should scrub the devices that were infected completely. Sometimes, a local backup on the device can solve the issue, but oftentimes, even that will be unavailable.
6. Restore data from backups
Once you reinstall the operating systems, your IT can restore data on affected devices from a cloud or offline backup.
To Pay or Not to Pay?
If you’re not prepared and have no backups, you might be tempted to pay. Take this year’s ransomware attack on the City of Baltimore’s government. Their systems were infected by ransomware that stopped numerous important systems: ATMs, airports, even hospitals.
The attackers demanded the city pays about $76,000 in Bitcoin. The city refused to pay, only to realise many of their systems weren’t backed up. They lost huge amounts of data, and the attack ended up costing them $18 million.
It seems that in the case of Baltimore, it would have been much better if they simply paid the ransom. Well, not really.
You’re dealing with criminals. Even if the city paid the ransom, there’s no guarantee that they would have gotten the access back. If they did, they would have become a prime target for future attacks too, since they paid the ransom already. This is why it’s so important to prepare – it will minimise damages.
Everyone’s at risk of a ransomware attack. Preventing it is next to impossible, but preparing for it is more than possible. Your IT provider should back up your data regularly, and you should make sure your employees know how to spot suspicious phishing attacks. When you prepare for a ransomware attack properly, you can minimise the impact of such an attack and save you from monetary and reputation damage.
Boardish has released a cyber landscape report that summarises the latest changes in the threat landscape. As a tool created for CISOs and cyber professionals who work on quantifying the impact of cyber threats and solutions into financial figures, Boardish has recently moved from beta to production.
The ultimate goal that Boardish wishes to achieve is to simplify the quantification process for CISOs and other cyber professionals, helping them get faster insight into the cybersecurity landscape and impact of new threats and solutions.
Their new cyber landscape report shows that the threat landscape has experienced quite a number of changes at the beginning of the year. One thing that they picked up is that there is a link between the three main threat increases that were registered: unpatched machines, ransomware, and data breaches.
The Boardish cyber report places unpatched machines to the very top of cybersecurity issues. This threat experienced the highest increase of 18% after NSA has discovered there is a vulnerability in the Windows 10 systems. The number of machines affected by this vulnerability goes over 900 million, which is more than enough to raise the risk assessment for unpatched machines from medium to high, as it has the potential to be the next nation-state type of attack.
Eternal Blue, the exploit used for the WannaCry ransomware is still affecting machines around the globe. When combined with the number of machines that could potentially be affected and the impact of previous nation-state attacks, any organisation with unpatched machines should treat the risk as a priority.
This leads us to the next threat highlighted by the cyber report: ransomware. It has increased by 11% across all company size categories.
It’s connected to the number of unpatched machines and also the fact that there are numerous other attack vectors for ransomware infections, with phishing being the most popular attack vector.
Ransomware is so popular because it’s the easiest way to get money quickly, but there has been an increase of instances of the ransom NOT being paid, in which case attackers released the data and caused a data breach.
This brings the impact level to maximum. Another interesting finding is that the level of turnover days increased by 15%, and the reason for this is twofold: business systems are more complex, and ransomware attacks are more sophisticated. Ransomware should, therefore, be treated as a top priority threat.
Data breach threat has also increased by 7%, but unpaid ransomware isn’t the main reason. Instead, increased amounts of data were the primary factor in companies with more than 500 employees, as per our cyber landscape report. The data breach risk factor is serious enough to lose market positioning, and coupled with the high-regulation impact, the risk is raised to high.
User error is becoming a more common reason for data breaches, so companies should make sure they are protected not just from external but also internal threats.
The best way to deal with each of these threats can be thoroughly tested in Boardish so that CISOs and other cybersecurity professionals immediately see the effectiveness of solutions and present these in front of the board in financial terms.
Our new course on data discovery and encryption with the Microsoft Azure Information Protection (AIP) Scanner Tool is out. Those who enroll in the course will learn all about setting up the AIP scanner and the requirements. They will also learn how to discover and protect your on-prem data.
The Azure Information Protection (AIP) scanner tool provides businesses with a complete data encryption solution. Not only will it help businesses encrypt their on-premise data, but also help them discover, control, and organise their data.
Why You Need to Learn How to Install and Set up The Azure Information Protection (AIP) Scanner Tool
With more cyber threats looming about than ever before, cybersecurity has become a pressing issue for any business dealing with sensitive data. Last year’s adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by the EU also places heavy emphasis on data safety and export of personal data outside of EU and EEA borders.
Most business owners have security solutions in place to protect the data from unauthorized access by external attackers. However, they seem to forget that many cybersecurity issues start on the inside. The most pressing issues that lead to a data breach are the following:
No clear data organization – Unstructured data is hard to track and even harder to keep safe.
Unrestricted access to every file and document – Not all of your employees need to have access to all your documentation. Data should always be shared on a “need to know” basis.
No tracking on data access and usage – Without a system that tracks how data is being used and accessed, it’s very hard to avoid or detect malicious intent and possible data breaches.
Why You Should Invest in Data Encryption
Cybersecurity has become a strategy that covers more than just having a firewall and spam protection in place.
Today, cybersecurity covers everything from encryption to employee education and access control. The AIP scanner tool helps you achieve just that – you will know exactly where your data is, and you’ll be able to label it accordingly. You will also control who has access to it (both inside and outside of your organisation).
Protect Your On-Premise Data Yourself
Our AIP Scanner Tool course will teach you everything you need to know about the AIP scanner. With 38 lectures divided into eight lessons, you’ll learn how to discover all data locations you keep on-prem (even archived data!). You will also learn how to classify and encrypt it. You’ll learn all about prerequisites to install the AIP scanner and how to set up the virtual environment needed to run it.
You will become familiar with all AIP scanner modes so you can choose which is the best for your business. You will also learn how to install the scanner and test its settings. This way, you can ensure it’s working correctly before running it on your server, and how to deal with false positives.
Enroll Today for Lifetime Access
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Data protection is more important than ever, but also much harder to achieve. It was fairly simple to previously protect data storage from hacking when it was only saved on-prem and there was limited access.
Today, data storage and access are more dispersed. Remote employees, cloud storage solutions, BYOD policies, and access via multiple devices from anywhere make data protection seem like an impossible goal.
It’s important to understand that a data breach is a business issue, not just an IT issue.
To make sure your company and customer data are safe, you will have to protect data storage from hacking attempts. The following data storage safety practices will help you achieve a high level of data security and compliance.
1. Use strong passwords
The most common way data storage is hacked are weak or shared passwords. You would ever store thousands of dollars behind a simple “0000” or “12345” password? No.
The data you are trying to protect is worth even more than that, so make sure that anyone with access to it has a strong, complex, and unique password.
Weak passwords are present in almost every organisation and can cost corporations millions in damages because of data breaches.
To avoid hacking attempts, have a proper password protocol in place. All passwords that provide access to data should have a minimum of 12 characters and shouldn’t be complete words.
Use a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The password should not have personal meaning – no names, addresses, dates, or anything that can be unearthed on social media.
Passwords should also be changed every 6 months.
2. Add Two-Factor Authentication
Additional authentication protocols should be a standard practice to protect data storage from hacking.
In case your first authentication layer – the usernames and passwords – end up in the wrong hands due to a successful phishing attack, the second layer of protection in the form of two-factor authentication (or multi-factor) will keep data safe from outside access.
The authentication server will prompt the user to input another security code after authenticating their credentials. The code is usually delivered via SMS, or via a phone authenticator app. Some services will also offer the code via phone call if supported.
3. Include Session Timeouts / Auto Disconnects
To battle forgotten login sessions that could potentially lead to a data breach because somebody else used the device, incorporate session timeout routines onto your data storage servers.
These routines will automatically disconnect the user from all inactive sessions.
For example, if the user accessed your data storage but has been idle for the last 15 minutes, they will be logged out. When they come back, they will be prompted to log back in again.
This security measure is especially valuable if your staff has access to data storage from shared, remote (and potentially unsafe) locations.
4. Use encryption for all documents and emails
Encryption helps protect data storage from hacking because in the event it ever falls into the wrong hands, they won’t be able to read it.
When you encrypt data, the data is translated into ciphertext that is just a string of random characters. The only way to make it readable again is to turn it back to its original form with the right encryption key.
The larger the key size, the more computational power is needed to crack it. The rule of thumb is to use encryption services that offer at least 256-bit encryption protocols.
In order to ensure you have encrypted all sensitive documents, you should use a data protection solution that covers data discovery and sharing. Microsoft’s Azure Information Protection is such a system, and can be used to discover all your data, apply labels that determine how sensitive data is, and then apply rules on data access. The system will find all locations where data is stored and help you migrate it to a safer, centralised location.
Because such systems also include email encryption, it also helps you keep data safe in case of mishaps. For example, if somebody accidentally sends an email with sensitive data to the wrong recipient, the recipient won’t be able to read the data without first having proper authorisation.
5. Limit Access to Data Storage
In order to protect data storage from hacking, you have to limit access to data to inside actors too.
The more people have access to sensitive and classified data, the higher the risk of data falling into the wrong hands.
Your employees should have access only to data that’s essential to their role in the company.
In case employees would need to access data occasionally, it’s better to have procedures in place that would authorise access to them temporarily rather than giving them unlimited access.
6. Use Safe Cloud Storage Solutions
Cloud storage solutions help you keep your data accessible at all times and is becoming the standard today. With so many employees working from remote locations and accessing data from multiple devices, it’s safe to say that there are many more vectors of attack.
To protect data storage from hacking but keep it accessible and online, try using a decentralised cloud.
It uses blockchain technology to keep data safe and such cloud storage is not controlled by a single entity and data is not stored on a centralised location. Instead, data is spread in tiny fragments across a large global network. When you need to access it, it will be assembled and decrypted as soon as you are authorised (either with an encryption key or password).
7. Educate Employees
You can invest in the best firewall, anti-spam, and antivirus software, but if your employees don’t know how to spot a potential threat, your attempt to protect data storage from hacking will ultimately fail.
Everyone in your company, be it the newest members of the team or senior executives, should go through regular education training. Ideally, they should learn about:
The latest threats and risks, and vectors of attack – Suspicious email attachments, phishing attempts, how to stop a spoofed email address, and more.
Best practices when it comes to data security – Teach them about BYOD policies, unsafe public networks, being safe while accessing data from remote locations, etc.
How to use new security software you implement – Get them on board with new software solutions and teach them how to use them to avoid slowdowns and disruptions.
Your data security is only as strong as the weakest link. What’s your weakest link?
The hotel industry is only just starting to embrace the latest tech. London hotels areis working hard to make guests feel like they are right at home during their stay. But when does a hotel stay feel like home?
The latest technology has made it possible to set up the room just the way you like it. From choosing the right room, lighting, temperature, music – everything can be controlled and set up in advance. London hotels have started picking up on the need to personalise every guests’ stay and invest in new technology to make this possible.
Here are five of the London hotels innovating technology in their offering to guests:
1. Eccleston Square Hotel
Named London’s most high-tech hotel, Eccleston Square Hotel is a unique blend of historical elegance and exciting new technology.
The hotel’s very own app that guests can download to their device acts as a digital concierge and lets you set up everything just the way you want for your arrival.
Each room has access to free and fast Wi-Fi, and comes equipped with free smartphones that guests can use for international calls and free data while roaming the city or conducting business.
The in-room pads let guests control every single aspect of their room – light, sound, and temperature – and they can also browse the menu, order room service from the restaurant, and select the time of delivery.
The bathroom glass walls can be toggled between see-through and frosted with a simple touch of a button. The best part is that the “Do not disturb” sign can be activated from the touchpad, too!
2. Radisson Blu Edwardian, Berkshire
Radisson Blu on oxford Street never stops innovating to offer the very best guest experience. While staying at the Edwardian on the Bloomberry St, guests will be able to use their very own virtual assistant called Edward.
Edward will help throughout the whole stay and help them with check-ins, checkouts, and requesting anything guests might need. Each room has fast Wi-Fi for an unlimited number of devices, and guests can even stay up to date thanks to their digital news app.
3. South Place Hotel, London
The South Place Hotel also realised that guests want full control of their room setup, so every guest can control lighting and electronic blackout blinds, and enjoy crystal clear sound thanks to the Bang & Olufsen media centre and a library full of free on-demand movies and shows.
The bathrooms are equipped with a TV and speakers too, and those who get tired of movies can head to the hotel’s games room.
4. Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London
Also located on Oxford Street, Amba Hotel Marble Arch lets guests have full control over every aspect of their stay. They can choose rooms themselves during booking, and the Mobile Valet app lets guests explore the hotel and all amenities, order room service, and set up express checkout easily.
Every room is equipped with USB sockets next to beds and super-fast unlimited Wi-Fi. There’s also a tablet in each room that guests can use as they like, and Smart TVs they can link their own devices with and connect to their favourite services. Plus, you can keep your tech secure thanks to the in-room laptop safe which is a great addition for business trips.
5. CitizenM London Bankside
The CitizenM London Bankside offers their guests compact rooms filled to the brim with technological gadgets that make the stay comfortable and futuristic. Starting with ‘one-minute’ check-in kiosks, the guests are guided to a room that they can adjust as they want.
Guests will have their own tablet “mood pad” that gives them control over all the aspects of the room. Coupled with lightning-fast Wi-Fi, it’s really like being portalled to the future.
You’d be amazed at how easy it is to create a secure password in 2019 and yet so many people don’t!
Despite the increasing efforts that many websites put into security precautions, it’s a two-way street and users need to catch up and take responsibility too. Weak passwords are still a common way to hack someone, even in 2019.
The National Cyber Security Centre released a list of the most common weak passwords found by analyzing data from 100 million passwords leaked in data breaches.
The top ten weakest passwords are the following:
Other noteworthy entries near the very top include things like “000000” and “Iloveyou.” The primary spot has been held by “123456” for years now, however.
A Secure Password in 2019 Should Be Complex, Unique, and Random
The above-mentioned passwords don’t even meet the minimum requirements of what’s considered a safe password nowadays. Today, truly secure passwords will have:
A mix of upper and lowercase letters
Don’t think for a second that such passwords are bulletproof. They can also be cracked if you aren’t careful with how you create them.
Creating a Secure Password in 2019
The following ten tips will help you create a truly secure password in 2019 and avoid the most common mistakes that lead to breaches.
Avoid simple passwords like the ones on the list above
The fastest way your account will be compromised is by setting a weak password. While it’s bothersome to use all these safety measures like mixing cases and special characters, it’s more irritating to try to cancel credit card payments you never made.
Don’t use simple to guess data
Avoid putting your name, the names of family members, or even the names of your pets because this is a sure fire way to become compromised in record time. Also, never use your username as a password too. That’s another easy guess.
An easy way to recycle a password safely is to switch for a designated number of spaces on the keyboard. For example, if your password was “ThiSisS3cuRe” (This is secure), you can instead use the keys that are one space to the left. Instead of “T” you would use “R” and so on. This will get you what seems like a completely random sequence: “RguSuaA2xzEw.” And yet, you will know how you got it.
Change passwords regularly
Many people experience a breach because they never change their passwords. Passwords get outdated quickly, and as time goes by, what was once considered complex can now easily be cracked and guessed.
Some services prompt you to change your password regularly, which is not a bad idea, but many users then choose a simple password to get it over with. That’s a bad practice, and however annoying you might find it, every password change should have a complex password.
Top Tip: Change your passwords every 6 months and set a reminder on your phone to do it so you don’t forget!
Use a different password for each account
Never use a master password for all your accounts. That increases risk in case of a breach. Imagine your business email or banking information is suddenly jeopardised because you used the same password as on some random and less secure site. Each account should have its own password.
Use randomly generated passwords
Google Lock has a password suggestion mode that offers you to create a randomly generated password instead of thinking of one yourself. This is a convenient service, but it can be hard to remember all such passwords without a system behind them.
Don’t write down passwords
You might find it convenient to write all your passwords on a piece of paper, or in a notepad. Be aware that any type of data that’s not encrypted is not safe. Usually, it’s considered okay for home users to write down passwords on a piece of paper so long as they are kept out of sight (and not taped to the computer!), but never do that at work, or you risk someone using your workstation for malicious intent.
Find a password manager that suits your needs
If you find it hard to remember all passwords, use a password manager. These are pieces of software that remembers all your passwords so you don’t have to. There are free and paid options available, and some are online, others are offline. Go through reviews to find the best deal for you.
The point to note here is that you’re storing all of your passwords in one place, so make sure you pick an encrypted system that is extra secure! if you don’t have enough passwords to use a system like this, it’s best to avoid!.
Develop your very own system to encrypt your passwords. One good way to do this is to have a sentence that will remind you of a password. For example, you have a pet cat and wish to base your password off of it. Instead of using your cat’s name mixed with a few numbers, use a sentence such as:
“My cat Garfield loves lasagna.” and then encrypt each part:
My cat Garfield = McG
Loves = <3
Lasagna = LsgnA
So your password will be “McG<3LsgnA”
Use two-factor authentication
Reduce the risk even more and use two-factor authentication in addition to having a strong password. On the off chance that somebody manages to crack your super complex password, two-factor authentication will keep them from doing anything else.
Such authentication is bound to a token or a phone app that generates a random string of (usually) six numbers that rotate every 60 seconds, which are unique to your account. Without this second step to prove it’s really you, hackers won’t be able to access your account at all.
Cybersecurity Rests on You Choosing a Secure Password in 2019
Computer crime is on the rise and cybercriminals are developing clever ways to get sensitive information. Social engineering attacks are the most elaborate types of attacks.
They are a specific hacking method where attackers present themselves as trusted sources or individuals. Their goal is getting the victims to break security procedures and share sensitive information – either personally identifiable information (PII), or usernames, passwords, government-issued IDs, and more.
The attackers can then either impersonate the victim or gain access to a computer and network systems, and even physical locations.
Social engineering hacks are complex and involve several steps.
The attackers will investigate its target and gather the information that will help them succeed; they are looking for the best attack method.
Then they work on gaining the trust of the target. They engage them, present a story, control interactions, and try to get the victim to break security protocol.
Once they get the information they need, they can execute the attack and then remove all traces and cover tracks.
The most successful social engineering hacks will end without the victim ever being aware of it or becoming suspicious about it.
The most well-known social engineering hack was probably the email scam from the Nigerian Prince that offered the recipients of the email monetary gain (in millions) if they help transfer money through their account, but to be eligible, they had to pay $10,000.
Social engineering is a common method used in cyberwarfare. It’s a gray area of many corporate giants and even spans across countries, with hackers being used for corporate espionage or working for the government in covert missions to swing the public opinion.
The most common types of attacks include:
Phishing – The attackers send emails or other types of messages digitally and present themselves as reputable individuals or companies. The objective is to get the victim to go to an infected site or to install malicious software on their device. The ultimate goal is to get personal information, financial info, passwords, and accounts. Whaling is a specific form of phishing that targets high ranking officials within the company to get access to the most sensitive information.
Pretexting – The attacker impersonates co-workers or authority figures like police officers or bank officials, and asks the victim questions that make it easy to confirm the victim’s identity.
Waterhole attacks – Attackers will carefully study their victims and pick websites that will be most beneficial for the attack. They will search for exploits in the sites, and inject malicious code to the site. When the victim visits the site, the code will install malware on the victim’s device.
These attacks are not limited to computers; mobile devices such as phones and tablets can easily be hacked too (often easier than computers), and mobile security should be addressed too since more than 30% of all attacks are targeting mobile.
Social Engineering Malicious Software Types
Hackers will use malware to successfully execute their attacks. Any type of software – program or file – that causes harm to the user or device is considered malware.
Malware can do numerous things, depending on how it was programmed. It can hijack a device, encrypt data, delete data, or monitor activity.
It’s most commonly delivered via phishing that takes users to infected sites or delivers infected email attachments.
Infected sites typically execute a drive-by download. This method doesn’t require a specific action from the user; the success relies on vulnerabilities of the operating system, browser, or app.
Viruses, trojans, worms, spyware are all part of malware.
Viruses are the most widely known type of malware. They are a piece of code with a goal to spread to as many systems as possible. The threat level of a virus is determined by how fast it spreads, but also by its payload.
A payload is that part of malicious attack that causes damage. Common payloads include data corruption or destruction. The highest threat comes from viruses that spread quickly and have a powerful payload. To ensure the payload is not detected by antivirus and antimalware software, attackers will often encrypt the malicious code.
A payload is executed by a logic bomb. Logic bombs, also called slag code, are written so that they cause harm in case certain conditions are met (or not met, depending on the programming). The conditions are often dates, times, data deletion, or executing an infected app.
Logic bombs can corrupt or delete data, or completely clear whole hard drives.
They are an integral part of ransomware. If the user doesn’t comply with the demands, they will remain locked out of their devices and usually lose everything they had on hard drives. Most often they are part of viruses, trojans, or worms.
If malware is downloaded without the user’s knowledge, it’s considered spyware. Any type of software downloaded and installed in that fashion falls into this category. Not all spyware is malicious, but it’s often abused for malicious goals: to get access to databases and steal sensitive information.
While it can be difficult to detect spyware, some indications that the device is infected are negative changes in computing power, speed, and in the case of mobile devices, battery drain.
Social Engineering Tools
Remote Access Tools
Rootkits form a collection of software tools that enable remote access to a device. These can be used for legitimate reasons like providing remote support and assistance, but more often they are used maliciously by hackers. Malicious rootkits are often masked within what appears to be legitimate software.
Once the user gives permission to install, the attackers get admin privileges on the device. A rootkit will contain malicious tools, including banking credential stealers, password stealers, keyloggers that record every keystroke in order to steal passwords, usernames and bank account data, antivirus disablers, and bots for distributed denial-of-service attacks.
A full disk encryption is usually enough to keep the system safe, unless attackers use bootkits. This specific type of rootkit infects the master boot record, subverts the boot process, and can successfully control the system after booting.
Web shells are used for remote access of web servers, its files, and system via a web browser. Attackers take full command and can use, change, delete, or upload files as they please. They are used to steal data or infect website visitors. They are often used in waterhole attacks.
Data Collection Tools
Screen scrapers can collect screen display data and display it on another. With this software, attackers can quickly collect everything someone has posted on social media and use that information to break into their accounts by posing as them.
A backdoor is a way to get access to a system or device that circumvents the usual security measures. Developers often leave backdoors in apps or operating systems in case they need to troubleshoot systems later. If attackers manage to locate such a backdoor, they will use it to bypass security and deliver malware. Some attackers might even install a backdoor themselves to deliver a virus.
Service Disruption Tools
Denial of service is a very common type of attack that’s used to prevent users from accessing services, devices or other resources. It can be used to attack networks, servers, or systems. The mechanism is to overload the focus of attack so it’s not possible to use it.
While many of these methods rely on getting access to devices, network security should not be forgotten. Some software tools are designed specifically to target vulnerabilities in networks.
Eavesdropping, also referred to as sniffing or snooping, is a type of attack that tries to steal information that’s being transferred over a network:
The attacker uses sniffing software on their own device to intercept communications and steal data.
Unsecured networks, such as public Wi-Fi, are perfect targets since so many devices connect to them.
Any device – computer, tablet, or smartphone – that is connected to the same network is vulnerable.
Why Are Social Engineering Attacks So Successful?
The basis of social engineering is psychological manipulation. Instead of relying solely on software vulnerabilities, social engineering relies on human error – that the victim will make a mistake and play right into the trap.
With so much information in the digital realm, internet security has become a crucial consideration not only for all businesses but for individuals too.
Since social engineering exploits rely on human error, it’s much harder for businesses to be completely secure from the threat.
Investing in computer security like antivirus software is not enough – one click from a single employee might be enough for attackers to gain access to all your systems.
The best thing businesses can do for their information security is to educate everyone about the latest security threats, the most common vectors of attack, and how to detect possible phishing attempts or infections.
With the right education, you will keep your emails and other sensitive business communications and data secure.
Marketing breaching GDPR is a real issue! The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has had a profound impact on how businesses communicate with prospects and customers, and how they conduct their marketing. There are still businesses that believe that once users consent to their marketing campaigns, they can use the gathered personal data however they want.
But this can get you in a world of trouble!
GDPR is much more complex than getting consent from visitors and users. While many news outlets have placed emphasis on how consent is handled, it’s actually about the way businesses handle and protect personal data, what they use it for, and how they seek permission to use it. GDPR is not a directive – it’s a regulation, and it’s legally binding. Companies could easily breach GDPR with their marketing efforts, and here the 6 common ways it can happen:
#1 Contacting people without active consent
GDPR regulates consent in extensive detail, and according to their regulations, consent must offer real choice, and users have to be in charge! It needs to be prominent, and users should have no issues understanding it. It should also be always requested on its own, not as part of any terms or conditions.
The only valid consent according to GDPR is a positive opt-in and requires you to disclose any third-parties that rely on that consent. You should also provide an easy way to withdraw consent.
#2 Automatic opt-ins
Automatic opt-ins were a common method to trick users who weren’t paying attention to consent. Such tactics are considered predatory and are considered marketing breaching GDPR tactics. Any tick boxes that are pre-ticked or say “click to opt OUT” are a huge breach.
Remember: The only type of consent accepted under GDPR is a positive opt-in.
Where are you storing your lead lists? While it’s very convenient to have them readily available on a shared Google Drive or OneDrive document, that’s a very poor practice and definitely a GDPR breach if you have the link set to public for sharing.
How long you keep the information is also important. Under GDPR’s data minimisation principle, holding information for too long is a marketing GDPR breach,so it’s important to delete it as soon as you don’t need it.
#4 Obtaining lists without confirmation of consent
One way marketers fill up their sales pipeline is with purchased lead lists. There’s a lot of third-party lead generator sites that are willing to sell lists to you. But you have to be careful when buying lists.
If these generators don’t have active consent from users on distributing their data to other parties, then YOU will be the one who’s breaching GDPR as soon as you contact those prospects.
You always need to have proof that they consented to be contacted by you, whether they gave the consent to you directly, or through third parties.
#5 Ignoring erasure requests
Users who have given consent to collect and process their data have the freedom to withdraw that request at any time. They can also request that you delete all the data that you have gathered on them. Not answering those requests is considered marketing breaching GDPR.
Do you know how to erase data? Do you know how much time you have to get back to them once they send a request?
Data security is the staple of a successful business in this era, and most businesses invest into at least basic cyber security. After all, it’s much more affordable when compared to the aftermath of a data breach. Before you implement security measures that will keep your business and reputation safe, you should know what type of data you deal with, and you can do that with data discovery tools.
What’s Data Discovery and How Does It Help My Business?
The importance of data discovery in cyber security is experiencing rapid growth because of stricter regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) that mandate all businesses should be well aware of what kind of data they collect and how they use it. But what is data discovery anyway?
Data discovery is a business process of collecting and analysing data to gain insight into trends and patterns. This insight helps businesses shape their critical business decisions.
And while most businesses today will happily collect data to make data-driven decisions, they will often fail to store and protect that data in a systematic and logical manner.
This causes two critical issues:
When data is disorganised, it will impact data analysis and affect the end result, which can lead to bad business decisions.
Disorganisation also increases the risk of data being accessed by unauthorised entities, either through a data breach or because it was accidentally disclosed by an employee.
Data discovery helps businesses not only collect and analyse data, but it also shows them where and how data is stored and who has access to it, which gives them a good idea of how safe that data really is.
Data Discovery in Cyber Security
Because data discovery provides quite a number of benefits to a business, it’s safe to assume it can help with cyber security too. So what’s the best way to use data discovery in cyber security, and what benefits will this bring?
It is the first step to becoming GDPR compliant. Businesses gather all kinds of data to gain insight into the latest trends and preferences, and for this purpose, they often store sensitive data from their users and customers.
GDPR requires that ALL businesses that deal with personally identifiable information (PII) from EU citizens to disclose they are using and storing this data.
In addition, they must have consent from the user/customer to store all that data, and keep records of consent too. If they don’t, they are not allowed to store it.
Any type of data that can lead to the identification of an individual falls into this category: name, address, online identifiers, ID numbers, IP addresses, even cookie identifiers.
It helps you implement the right cybersecurity measures. It can be hard to choose which cybersecurity measures are the best option for your business.
Firewalls and secure networks are a good start, but without implementing data discovery in cybersecurity, you won’t have a structured overview of your data, or who has access to it.
This also helps you implement data encryption that limits further data sharing and disclosing it to somebody without the right authentication.
It helps you identify security threats quickly. When you have a unified and structured overview of your data and can see who accesses it and in what way in real time, you can quickly respond to any type of threats.
Machine learning and AI solutions can help you automate this process and monitor users’ access and detect any anomalies.
For example, if there is a sudden surge in data access from a specific access point, you will get a warning to investigate. In case you determine there was indeed a breach, the scope of the breach will be very limited.
Data Discovery Brings Your Cyber Security to a Whole New Level
With increasing volumes of data flowing through your on-prem or cloud data centres, you need solutions that will not only give you insights into trends but what type of data you have, where it’s stored, and how many of your employees have access to it. By structuring your data according to sensitivity levels and implementing solutions that limit access and keep a watchful eye on how it’s used, you will be able to thwart cyber security threats before they become a problem.
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