Tag Archives: Cyber Attacks

London Digital Security Centre introduces ‘Cyber Crisis Simulation’ event to help businesses prepare for cyber breaches

The London Digital Security Centre (LDSC) is inviting senior representatives from SMEs across London to attend its ‘Cyber Crisis Simulation’ Breakfast Briefing at the University of Greenwich. The event takes place on Thursday 3 August from 10.00 am to noon. The ‘Cyber Crisis Simulation’ itself will be run by Cyber Rescue, which is one of the LDSC’s carefully selected partners.

Reputations are ruined when businesses are unprepared for the consequences of a cyber breach. With that in mind, this new event will help businesses to prepare for the day that happens so that they can act accordingly in mitigating disaster.

The simulation will be based on learnings from over 100 major data breaches and cover the following topics: why shock and ambiguity are common responses in the Boardroom, where Command and Control systems are stressed after a major breach, who expects what among regulators, customers, partners and the police, how the exponential growth in cyber attacks puts jobs on the line and what companies can do today to protect themselves from the cyber attacks of tomorrow.

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There are an estimated one million SMEs operating in London and, each month, more than 1,000 of them report being the victim of a cyber crime or fraud to Action Fraud. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Report published in April this year found that just under half (46%) of all businesses have identified at least one breach or attack in the last year. Of those, 45% were micro or small businesses.

The new event is part of a series organised by the London Digital Security Centre to help protect businesses – and primarily micro to medium-sized concerns – to operate in a secure digital environment.

John Unsworth, CEO of the London Digital Security Centre, commented: “Small and medium-sized businesses shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that criminals don’t target them, or that they’re safe from online vulnerabilities. Any company that holds data is a viable target.”

For further details and to register for the event visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cyber-crisis-simulation-tickets-36271637444

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Cyber criminals “exploiting human weaknesses” to make their gains

Cyber attackers are relying more than ever on exploiting people instead of software flaws to install malware, steal credentials or confidential information and transfer funds. A study by Proofpoint found that more than 90% of malicious e-mail messages featuring nefarious URLs led users to credential phishing pages, while almost all (99%) email-based financial fraud attacks relied on human clicks rather than automated exploits to install malware.

The Human Factor Report found that business e-mail compromise (BEC) attack message volumes rose from 1% in 2015 to 42% by the end of 2016 relative to e-mails bearing banking Trojans. BEC attacks, which have cost organisations more than $5 billion worldwide, use malware-free messages to trick recipients into sending confidential information or funds to cyber criminals.

BEC is now the fastest-growing category of email-based attacks.

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“Accelerating a shift that began in 2015, cyber criminals are aggressively using attacks that depend on clicks by humans rather than vulnerable software exploits, tricking victims into carrying out the attack themselves,” said Kevin Epstein, vice-president of Proofpoint’s Threat Operations Centre.

“It’s critical for organisations to deploy advanced protection that stops attackers before they have a chance to reach potential victims. The earlier in the attack chain you can detect malicious content, the easier it is to block, contain and resolve.”

Nearly 90% of clicks on malicious URLs occur within the first 24 hours of delivery, with 25% of those clicks occurring in just ten minutes and nearly 50% within an hour. The median time-to-click (the time between arrival and click) is shortest during business hours from 8.00 am to 3.00 pm EDT in the US and Canada, a pattern that generally holds for the UK and Europe as well.

Watch your inbox closely on Thursdays. Malicious e-mail attachment message volume spikes more than 38% on Thursdays over the average weekday volume. Ransomware attackers in particular favour sending malicious messages from Tuesday through until Thursday. On the other hand, Wednesday is the peak day for banking Trojans. Point-of-Sale campaigns are sent almost exclusively on Thursday and Friday, while keyloggers and backdoors favour Mondays.

Attackers understand e-mail habits and send most e-mail messages in the four-to-five hours after the start of the business day, peaking around lunchtime. Users in the US, Canada and Australia tend to do most of their clicking during this time period, while French clicking peaks around 1.00 pm.

Swiss and German users don’t wait for lunch to click. Their clicks peak in the first hours of the working day.

UK workers pace their clicking evenly over the course of the day, with a clear drop in activity after 2.00 pm.

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“Watering hole-style cyber attacks on the rise” warns High-Tech Bridge

On Sunday 12 February, security firm Symantec released an analysis of a new wave of attacks that has been underway since at least October 2016 and came to light when a bank in Poland discovered previously unknown malware running on a number of its computers.

The bank then shared indicators of compromise with other institutions and a number of those other organisations confirmed that they too had been compromised.

These ‘watering hole’ attacks attempted to infect more than 100 organisations in 31 different countries.

Symantec has blocked attempts to infect customers in Poland, Mexico and Uruguay by the same exploit kit that infected the Polish banks. Since October, 14 attacks against computers in Mexico have been blocked, 11 against computers in Uruguay and two against computers in Poland.

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Preliminary investigations suggested that the starting point for the Polish infection could have been located on the web server of Poland’s financial sector regulatory body, namely the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (www.knf.gov.pl).

Commenting on this news, Ilia Kolochenko (CEO of High-Tech Bridge) said: “We should expect that cyber criminals will find more creative and reliable ways to compromise their victims. Trustworthy websites, such as governmental ones, represent great value for cyber criminals, even if they don’t host any sensitive or confidential data.”

Kolochenko continued: “In the past, hackers used one-off or garbage websites to host malware, but as corporate users become more educated and vigilant, attackers need to find more reliable avenues to deliver malware and enter corporate networks. That’s why Gartner, as well as other independent research companies, continuously say that the risk posed to corporate web applications is very high and seriously underestimated. Spear phishing and watering hole attacks against high-profile websites will grow significantly in the near future.”

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30% of NHS Trusts have experienced a ransomware attack” finds SentinelOne

30% of NHS Trusts in the UK have experienced a ransomware attack, potentially placing patient data and lives at risk. One Trust – the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust – admitted to being attacked 19 times in just 12 months. These are the findings of a Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by SentinelOne.

The Ransomware Research Data Summary explains that SentinelOne made FoI requests to 129 NHS Trusts, of which 94 responded. Three Trusts refused to answer, claiming their response could damage commercial interests. All but two Trusts – Surrey and Sussex and University College London Hospitals – have invested in anti-virus security software on their endpoint devices to protect them from malware.

Despite installing a McAfee solution, Leeds Teaching Hospital has apparently suffered five attacks in the past year.

No Trusts reported paying a ransom or informed law enforcement of the attacks: all preferred to deal with the attacks internally.

Ransomware which encrypts data and demands a ransom to decrypt it has been affecting US hospitals for a while now. The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles notoriously paid cyber criminals £12,000 last February after being infected by Locky, one of the most prolific ransomware variants.

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With the infected computers or networks becoming unusable until a ransom has been paid* or the data has been recovered, it’s clear to see why these types of attack can be a concern for business continuity professionals, with the latest Horizon Scan Report published by the Business Continuity Institute highlighting cyber attacks as the prime concern. This is a very good reason why cyber resilience has been chosen as the theme for Business Continuity Awareness Week in 2017.

“These results are far from surprising,” said Tony Rowan, chief security consultant at SentinelOne. “Public sector organisations make a soft target for fraudsters because budget and resource shortages frequently leave hospitals short changed when it comes to security basics like regular software patching. The results highlight the fact that old school AV technology is powerless to halt virulent, mutating forms of malware like ransomware. A new and more dynamic approach to endpoint protection is needed.”

Rowan continued: “In the past, some NHS Trusts have been singled out by the Information Commissioner’s Office for their poor record on data breaches. With the growth of connected devices like kidney dialysis machines and heart monitors, there’s even a chance that poor security practices could put lives at risk.”

*Note that the data isn’t always recovered even after a ransom has been paid

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