“One of the things about working in internet technology is nothing lasts forever… [Students] come to me and they say, ‘I want to do something that has an impact 20, 50, or 100 years from now.’ I say well maybe you should compose music because none of this technology stuff is going to be around that long. It all gets replaced.” -Paul Mockapetris, co-inventor of the domain name system (DNS)
As foresighted as he may have been, the DNS inventor Paul Mockapetris got one thing wrong in a retrospective interview about his contribution to internet history. Namely, some aspects of technology do have at least 20-year staying power. In this case, his own invention: the domain name system.
But DNS, just three years shy of its fortieth birthday, is on the cusp of a major reimagining. One that could enhance the privacy of business and private users alike for some time to come. According to some experts, it may even be worthy of the title “DNS 2.0.”
The Problem with DNS Today
While DNS has evolved significantly in the more than 35 years since originally conceived, the skeletal structure remains much the same. DNS is the internet’s protocol for translating the URLs humans understand into the IP addresses machines do.
The problem is that this system never meant to consider privacy or security. With DNS today, requests are made and resolved in plain text, providing intrusive amounts of information to whomever may be resolving or inspecting them. That is most likely an internet service provider (ISP), but it may be a government entity or some other source. In authoritarian countries, governments can use this information to prosecute individuals for visiting sites with outlawed content. In the United States, it’s more likely to be monetized for its advertising value.
“The problem with DNS is it exposes what you’re doing,” says Webroot product manager and DNS expert Jonathan Barnett. “If I can log a user’s DNS requests, I can see when they work, when they don’t, how often they use Facebook, the Sonos Speakers and Google Nests on their network, all of that. From a privacy perspective, it shows what on the internet is associating with me and my network.”
This can be especially problematic in terms of home routers. Whereas business networks tend to be relatively secure—patched, up-to-date, and modern—”everyone’s home router tends to be set up by someone’s brother-in-law or an inexperienced ISP technician,” warns Barnett. In this case, malicious hackers can change DNS settings to redirect to their own resolvers.
“If you bring a device onto this network and try to navigate to one of your favorite sites, you may never wind up where you intended,” says Barnett.
In the age of COVID-19, it’s becoming an even bigger problem for employers. With a larger workforce working from home than perhaps ever before, traditional defenses at the network perimeter no longer remain.
“To maintain resilience,” says Barnett, “companies need to extend protection beyond the business network perimeter. One of the best ways to do that is through DNS protection that ensures requests are resolved through a trusted resolver and not a potentially misconfigured home network.”
DoH: The Second Coming of DNS
In response to these concerns, DNS over HTTPS (DoH) offers a method for encrypting DNS requests. Designed by the Internet Engineering Task Force, it leverages HTTPS privacy standard to mask these requests from those who may seek to use the information improperly. The same encryption standards used by banks, credit monitoring services, and other sites dealing in sensitive information display to prove their legitimacy is also used with DoH.
It does this by effectively ‘wrapping’ DNS requests with the HTTPS encryption protocols to ensure the server you connect with is the server you intended to connect with and that no one is listening in those requests, because all the traffic is encrypted.
“It makes sure no one is messing with a user by changing the results of a request before it’s returned,” says Barnett.
In addition to improving privacy around device usage—remember any internet-connected device needs to “phone home” occasionally, therefore initiating a DNS request—DoH also addresses several DNS-enabled attack methods. This includes DNS spoofing, also called DNS hijacking, whereby cybercriminals redirect a DNS request to their own servers in order to spy on or alter communications. By encrypting this traffic, it essentially becomes worthless as a target.
So, while the domain name system has served the internet and its users well for decades, the time may have come for a change.
“The creators of DNS, in their wildest dreams, imagined the system may be able to accommodate up to 50 million domains. We’re at 330 million now. It’s amazing what they achieved,” says Barnett. “But DNS needs to evolve. It’s been a great tool, but it wasn’t designed with privacy or security as a priority. DoH represents the logical evolution of DNS.”
Toward A DoH-Enabled Future
Several major tech players, like Mozilla with its Firefox browser, have already made the leap to using DoH as its preferred method of resolving requests. Many companies, however, would prefer to retain control of DNS and are concerned about applications making independent rogue DNS requests. Losing this control can compromise security as it limits the ability of a business to filter and process these requests.
As application creators strive for better privacy for their users and business always look improve security, a balance must be found. By limiting whether applications can enable DoH, Webroot® DNS Protection has designed its agent to retain control of DNS requests, and while also running each request through Webroot’s threat intelligence platform, both privacy and security is improved.
It’s next release, expected in the coming months, will be fully compatible with the new DoH protocol in service to the security and privacy of its users.
Florida City Sees Lasting Effects of Ransomware Attack
Nearly three weeks after the City of Jupiter, Florida suffered a ransomware attack that took many of their internal systems offline, the city has yet to return to normal. City officials announced they would be working to rebuild their systems from backups, rather than paying any ransom, and were able to get their main website up and running again, along with many essential services. The timing of the attack couldn’t have been worse, as most of the City’s staff were under lockdown and unable to access compromised machines in a quick and safe manner.
Hackers Breach San Francisco International Airport
Late last Month, Russia-based hackers attempted to breach the internal networks of San Francisco International Airport using a simple injection script to obtain employee credentials. By forcing the use of the SMB file-sharing protocol, the hackers could quickly grab the usernames and hashed passwords, which would then allow them to deploy any number of malicious payloads or access extremely sensitive information. Shortly after the attack was detected and subsequently ended, the IT staff issued a forced password reset for all staff in hopes of minimizing any further damage.
Critical Exploits Patched by Microsoft
Recently, Microsoft patched three zero-day exploits that could allow remote code execution, privilege increases, and even creating new accounts with full OS permissions. Two of the patched flaws related to the Adobe Type Manager Library and were functional on multiple Windows® operating systems, but performed different tasks based on the environment in which they were deployed.
DDoS Suspect Arrested in Netherlands
Two Dutch government websites that were created to distribute information related to the COVID-19 pandemic fell victim to a DDoS attack for several hours. Dutch authorities, who have been heavily involved in many cybersecurity operations, have arrested at least one suspect and shut down 15 sites offering DDoS services. Hopefully, the shutdowns will help reduce the number of these types of attacks going forward.
RagnarLocker Takes Down Portuguese Energy
One of the largest energy providers in Europe, Energias de Portugal (EDP), became the victim of a ransomware attack that used the RagnarLocker variant. In exchange for the estimated 10TB of data stolen during the attack, attackers demanded a ransom of $10.9m to be paid in cryptocurrency. The authors behind RagnarLocker have already begun posting segments of the stolen data to their main website, along with the promise to release the rest and make their entire client list aware of the breach, if the ransom isn’t met.
One of the most notable findings to come from the Webroot 2020 Threat Report was the significant rise in the number of active phishing sites over 2019—a 640% rise, to be exact. This reflects a year-over-year rise in active phishing sites, but it’s important to keep this (dangerous) threat in context.
“Of all websites that host malicious content, phishing historically has been a minority,” says Webroot Security Analyst Tyler Moffitt. “While it’s growing quite a bit and a significant threat, it’s still not a large percentage of the websites being used for malicious content. Those would be things like botnets or malware hosting.”
This traditional low instance rate is likely one explanation—or at least a portion of an explanation—that’s led to such a gaudy increase in the number of active sites.
Here are three other factors that may have contributed to the rise.
The diversification of attacks
Since first being described in a 1987 paper, phishing attacks have diversified considerably. While it was once reliably email-based with a broad scope, it now entails malware phishing, clone phishing, spear phishing, smishing, and many more specialized forms. Inevitably, these strains of attack require landing pages and form fields in for users to input the information to be stolen, helping to fuel the rise in active phishing sites.
Spear phishing—a highly targeted form of phishing requiring cybercriminals study their subject to craft more a realistic lure—has turned out to be a lucrative sub-technique. This has likely contributed to more cybercriminals adopting the technique over mass-target emails pointing to a single source. More on profitability later.
After years of studying phishing data, it’s clear that the number of active phishing sites rises predictably during certain times of the year. Large online shopping holidays like Prime Day and Cyber Monday inevitably precipitate a spike in phishing attacks. In another example, webpages spoofing Apple quadrupled near the company’s March product release date, then leveled off.
Uncertainty also tends to fuel a rise in phishing sites.
“Not only do we always see a spike in phishing attacks around the holidays,” says Moffitt, “It also always happens in times of crisis. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak we’ve followed a spike in phishing attacks in Italy and smishing scams promising to deliver your stimulus check if you click. Natural disasters also tend to bring these types of attacks out of the woodwork.”
The year 2019 was not without its wildfires, cyclones, and typhoons, but it’d be safe to suspect the number of phishing sites will grow again next year.
Short codes and HTTPs represent more phishing opportunities for cyber criminals. Malicious content is now often hosted on good domains (up to a quarter of the time, according to our Threat Report). Short codes also have the unintended consequence of masking a link’s destination URLs. Both these phenomena make it more difficult to identify a phishing attack.
“All of sudden these mental checks that everyone was told to use to sniff out phishing attacks, like double-checking URLs, no longer hold,” says Moffitt.
Let’s face it, this is the big one. The rise in popularity of shared drives makes it more likely that any single phishing success will yield troves of valuable data. Compromising a corporate Dropbox account could easily warrant a six-figure ransom, or more, given the looming threat of GDPR and CCPA compliance violations.
“A few years ago, most of the targets were financial targets like PayPal and Chase,” according to Moffitt. “But now they are tech targets. Sites like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Because shared drives offer a better return on investment.”
Even for private individuals, shared drives are more bang for the buck. Credentials which can easily lead to identity theft can be sold on the dark web and, given the rampant rates of password re-use in the U.S., these can be cross-checked against other sites until the compromise spirals.
Finally, phishing is profitable as an initial entry point. Once a cybercriminal has accessed a business email account, for instance, he or she is able to case the joint until the most valuable next move has been determined.
“It’s a really lucrative first step,” says Moffitt.
Don’t take the bait
Installing up-to-date antivirus software is an essential first step in protecting yourself from phishing attacks. Features like Webroot’s Real-Time Anti-Phishing Shield can help stop these attacks before a user has the chance to fall for it. Continual education is equally as important. Webroot data shows that ongoing phishing simulations can lower click-through rates significantly.
Despite the intent of ensuring safe transit of information to and from a trusted website, encrypted protocols (usually HTTPS) do little to validate that the content of certified websites is safe.
With the widespread usage of HTTPS protocols on major websites, network and security devices relying on interception of user traffic to apply filtering policies have lost visibility into page-level traffic. Cybercriminals can take advantage of this encryption to hide malicious content on secure connections, leaving users vulnerable to visiting malicious URLs within supposedly benign domains.
This limited visibility affects network devices that are unable to implement SSL/TLS decrypt functionality due to limited resources, cost, and capabilities. These devices are typically meant for home or small business use, but are also found in the enterprise arena, meaning the impact of this limited visibility can be widespread.
With 25% of malicious URLs identified by Webroot hosted within benign domains in 2019, a deeper view into underlying URLs is necessary to provide additional context to make better, more informed decisions when the exact URL path isn’t available.
Digging Deeper with Advanced Threat Intel
The BrightCloud® Web Classification and Web Reputation Services offers technology providers the most effective way to supplement domain-level visibility. Using cloud-based analytics and machine learning with more than 10 years of real-world refinement, BrightCloud® Threat Intelligence services have classified more than 842 million domains and 37 billion URLs to-date and can generate a predictive risk score for every domain on the internet.
The Domain Safety Score, available as a premium feature with BrightCloud® Web Classification and Reputation services, can be a valuable metric for filtering decisions when there is lack of path-level visibility on websites using HTTPs protocols. Even technology partners who do have path-level visibility can benefit from using the Domain Safety Score to avoid the complexity and compliance hurdles of deciding when to decrypt user traffic.
The Domain Safety Score is available for every domain and represents the estimated safety of the content found within that domain, ranging from 1 to 100, with 1 being the least safe. A domain with a low score has a higher predictive risk of having content within its pages that could compromise the security of users and systems, such as phishing forms or malicious downloads.
Using these services, organizations can implement and enforce effective web policies that protect users against web threats, whether encrypted through HTTPs or not.
Devising Domain Safety Scores
As mentioned, a Domain Safety Score represents the estimated safety of the content found within that domain. This enables better security filtering decisions for devices with minimal page-level visibility due to increasing adoption of HTTPS encryption.
How do we do it?
BrightCloud uses high-level input features to help determine Domain Safety Scores, including:
- Domain attribute data, including publicly available information associated with the domain, such as registry information, certificate information, IP address information, and the domain name itself.
- Behavioral features obtained from historical records of known communication events with the domain, gathered from real-world endpoints.
- A novel deep-learning architecture employing multiple deep, recurrent neural networks to extract sequence information, feeding them into a classification network that is fully differentiable. This allows us to use the most cutting-edge technology to leverage as much information possible from a domain to determine a safety score.
- Model training using a standard backpropagation through time algorithm, fully unrolling all sequences to calculate gradients. In order to train such a network on a huge dataset, we have developed a custom framework that optimizes the memory footprint to run efficiently on GPU resources in a supercomputing cluster. This approach allows us to train models faster and iterate quickly so we can remain responsive and adapt to large changes in the threat landscape over time.
A secure connection doesn’t have to compromise your privacy. That’s why Webroot’s Domain Safety Scores peek below the domain level to the places where up to a quarter of online threats lurk.
Learn more about Domain Safety Scores, here.
Malicious COVID-19 Websites Surge
In recent months, more than 136 thousand new domains have been registered that reference the current COVID-19 outbreak, many of which have yet to be flagged. A large portion of these sites are distributing phishing campaigns with fake bank login forms and inaccurate URLs, including any number of pandemic buzz words. Hopefully, some of the domain registrars will implement stricter detection for these sites to avoid the preying on of people seeking information during the outbreak.
NASA Employees Face Spike in Cyberattacks
NASA and many other federal departments are among those moving to telework and they are seeing an alarming rise in cyberattacks. These attacks include several variations of phishing campaigns designed to seek sensitive data or login credentials through requests for tax forms or disinformation about the current pandemic. NASA employees are especially seeing these types of attacks targeting mobile devices directly, since they often have fewer active security measures in place when compared to other devices.
Fingerprint Security Still Not Foolproof
A group of researchers that recently spent time studying various mobile devices’ fingerprint security measures found a shockingly high success rate from fake prints. By testing a variety of mobile devices, they learned that creating a continuously-successful print mold, while requiring a significant amount of time, could easily unlock a device before wiping features would be triggered. Advancements in fingerprint technology and better biosecurity implementations are clearly necessary.
Medical Testing Company Suffers Data Breach
After a ransomware attack by Maze authors, a major medical testing firm has had a large portion of stolen data published on the Maze “news” site. The data was leaked nearly a week after the initial attack, which the company refused to pay ransom for. While the stolen data only included victims with surnames beginning with D, G, I, and J, the testing company recommends all clients monitor their financials for any signs of fraud. This attack comes during a time where several ransomware authors pledged to avoid attacking healthcare or medical establishments, though they claim this campaign was started prior to the current outbreak.
Philippines Law Enforcement Arrests Fake News Distributors
At least 32 individuals were arrested in the Philippines for spreading fake COVID-19 information across several social media platforms. Some of the accused were reported to have instigated raids of food storage facilities after making false claims of regional shortages. The country, with over 3,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, will maintain lockdown procedures to limit the spread of the disease until the end of April.
Zoom Video Software Targeted by Hackers
With much of the professional world now telecommuting, hackers have taken notice and are finding vulnerabilities within Zoom’s software to hijack online meetings. Over 400 new domains have been registered through Zoom in just the last month, of which many have been found to contain suspicious content or activity. Other adware variants have been found spoofing Microsoft’s Teams videoconferencing while performing malicious activities in the background.
Microsoft Takes Steps to Prevent Ransomware Attacks on Healthcare
In a push to limit the spread of ransomware throughout the healthcare industry, Microsoft has begun reaching out to hospitals that have public-facing VPNs or other remote-access services that could allow malicious activity when improperly setup. With hospitals already overwhelmed with the current pandemic, a ransomware attack shutting down their systems for any time could be devastating. In the end, it comes down to these organizations taking this notification seriously and locking down any unsecure devices or networks.
Georgian Citizens’ Data Exposed
A popular hacker forum recently received sensitive details on over 4.9 million alive and deceased citizens of the country of Georgia. It is still unclear where the database originated, but one of the users posting the leaked data claims it did not come from the country’s election commission. Much of the information stored in the database could be easily used to identify and locate any number of individuals. More worryingly, the criminals could use the data belonging to more than 1 million deceased individuals for illicit means.
Marriott Leaks Data of 5.2 Million Customers
Officials have been working over the past month to identify the source of a data leak from an internal Marriott International application, which may have compromised the data of over 5 million customers. While the app itself didn’t collect payment of personal information, it did contain basic contact info and other hotel-related information. Fortunately, Marriott International has begun offering credit monitoring services for all affected clients and has pushed a mandatory password reset for their loyalty programs.
YouTube Accounts Hacked to Promote Scams
Many YouTube accounts were recently hijacked and renamed to variations of ‘Microsoft’ while streaming hours of cryptocurrency scams, all while pretending to be Bill Gates. These types of scams used to be extremely common on Twitter but have dropped off in recent years as the platform implemented security measures, so the scammers have switched to a more forgiving platform. Microsoft commented that the hijacked channels neither belonged to them, nor were they affiliated in any way.
For the past several years, Webroot and its partners have conducted a series of studies aimed at better understanding the attitudes, perspectives, and behaviors related to cyber hygiene in United States. This helps users determine which behaviors put them most at risk and which behavioral changes could help increase their cyber resilience.
“Cyber hygiene” can be defined as the set of behaviors which enhance (or don’t) an individual or family unit’s resilience against cyber threats including, but by no means limited to, identity theft, phishing attacks, malware infections, and other web-borne threats.
Themes in Consumer Cybersecurity for 2020
Aside from organizing U.S. states into a Cyber Hygiene Risk Index, we were also on the lookout for emergent themes in cybersecurity awareness across the country.
- Overconfidence, as we’ve seen before in previous studies, was a big theme. While the majority reported being familiar with malware (78%) and phishing scams (68%), far lower percentages were confident they could define the terms.
- Individuals who’ve progressed through life milestones—like completing a degree, buying a home, beginning to keep up with the news, or starting a family—begin to improve their risk index scores. This hard-won experience tends to belong to older demographics, parents, and those with higher levels of education and income compared to more risky peers.
- A relationship was uncovered between “tech-savviness” and risk index scores. In other words, the more technologically competent respondents in this study reported being, the more likely they were to exhibit risky behavior online.
Other Key Findings from the 2020 study
Overall, it was heartening to find that most Americans are taking at least baseline precautions for repelling and recovering from cyber-attacks. Eighty-three percent use antivirus software, and 80 percent regularly back up their data, both key indicators of an individual or family’s overall cyber resilience.
The news, however, is far from all positive. In fact, the plain truth is most Americans receive a failing grade when their cyber hygiene is examined in-depth. This is especially true when measuring avoidable risks to online data and identity. Using this metric, the average American scored a 58 percent on our Cyber Hygiene Risk Index, while no state scored higher than a D grade (67%).
Other key findings from the study:
- Almost half (49%) of Americans admit to using the same password across multiple sites.
- A spread of only 15 points separates the riskiest state in American (New York) from the least risky (Nebraska). No state scored higher than a D on our Cyber Hygiene Risk Index.
- Very small businesses (VSBs) are apt to take cybersecurity into their own hands, which often entails sharing passwords and using personal devices for work.
- Among those who do receive work devices from their employer, 55 percent use them for personal use.
- Almost a fifth (19%) of those who were the victim of a cyber-related attack, made NO changes to their online behavior
It’s not an exaggeration to call the state of cybersecurity understanding in the U.S. abysmal. Risky activities like reusing passwords, not using multiple backups, or not updating software are still rampant in every state. Given that we saw a 640 percent rise in phishing attempts over the past year, we can expect these habits will catch up with more Americans.
The above highlights represent only a small portion of the complete findings of the report. For the completed report, including the complete ranking of all 50 states according to our Cybersecurity Hygiene Risk Index metrics, download the full report.
To invest in internet security on all your devices, click here.
It’s a nightmare, it’s inconvenient, and it’s inevitable. Losing or having your smart device stolen poses a significant, looming privacy risk— we just don’t like to think about it. However, this is an instance where hiding your head in the sand will only make you more susceptible to attack.
The personal data living on your family’s network of devices is valuable and often-times all too vulnerable. Having a worst-case-scenario plan in case of device loss or theft could save you time, money, and heartache.
So, we’ve put together a list of best practices in case the worst does happen, you’ll be prepared to prevent an identity theft disaster.
General Best Practices
Preparing yourself and your devices before they are stolen is the fastest way to avert potential breaches. Consider:
- Keeping a “Find My” app turned on for all devices. This is the best way to locate and remote wipe devices.
- Making sure your devices are secured behind individualized pin codes, fingerprints, or Face ID. This will slow down thieves trying to access your device.
- Use strong, individualized passwords on all accounts, including email and banking apps. Don’t have the time? Use a trusted password manager to automate password creation. This will help limit the scope of any breach.
- When a device is stolen, act quickly. The faster you respond, the more effective the following steps are likely to be. If the thief turns the device off, or removes the battery, you’ll be unable to remotely wipe the device.
Here is what Android users should do in case of device theft.
- First, locate your device. Go to android.com/find and sign into your Google Account.
- If you have more than one device, choose the one you’re looking for from the list at the top of the screen. The lost/stolen device will receive a notification, so you should act quickly.
- On the map on your screen, you’ll be shown information about the phone’s location. Remember this is approximate and might not be neither precise nor accurate. If your phone can’t be found, you’ll see its last known location (if available).
- Now, if you’re certain your device has been stolen, you can click “Enable lock & erase” to erase your device. But be careful. After you erase your device, Find My Device will no longer work, so make sure you are certain.
- If you believe your phone is just lost, and not stolen, you have a few options. “Lock” will lock your phone with your PIN, pattern, or password. If you don’t have a lock in place, you can set one. To help someone return your phone to you, you can also add a message or phone number to the lock screen.
An important note: If you happen to find your phone after you have erased it, you’ll likely need your Google Account password to use it again.
Here is what iOS users should do in case of device theft.
- Sign into icloud.com/find or use the Find My app on another Apple device.
- Next, you’ll need to locate your device. Select the one you’re searching for to view its location on a map.
- You’ll be presented with a few options here. “Mark As Lost” will remotely lock your device, allow you to display a custom message with your contact information on the missing device’s lock screen, and track the device’s location. If you have added Apple Pay payment options, the ability to make payments using Apple Pay on that device will be suspended for as long as the device is in Lost Mode.
- If you’re certain your device has been stolen, select “Erase your device.” When you erase your device remotely, all of your information is deleted, and you will no longer be able to locate it with the Find My app or Find iPhone on iCloud.com. Make sure your phone is not recoverable before taking this step.
Device Theft Wrap-Up
After you have protected your most sensitive information with the steps above, take just a few more steps to fully wrap the crisis up.
- Report your lost or stolen device to local law enforcement. Law enforcement might request the serial number of your device. This can often be found on the original packaging.
- Report your stolen device to your wireless carrier. They will disable your account to prevent calls, texts, and data use by the thief. If you have insurance through your carrier, this is the time to begin filing a claim as well.
- Reset all of your passwords, including your Google Account and Apple ID. After a device is stolen, you can never be certain of how far the breach has penetrated. The good news is, if you are using a secure password manager, this should be pretty quick!
- Any accounts that had 2FA access, when you first set up the account would have had you save the private key or one time code. This key will allow you back into your accounts without needing the device and will allow you to remove the account from the device.
- Alert your banking providers to the potential breach and monitor your bank accounts and credit cards for suspicious activity. If you see any, get ahead of the issue and cancel and replace all of your bank cards. This will prevent the financial breach from affecting multiple accounts.
A stolen device is a headache, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. If you have a plan in place for a worst-case scenario, you’ll be able to act quickly and confidently. Do you have device theft tips that we missed here? Let us know on the Webroot Community.
World Health Organization Sees Rise in Cyberattacks
Officials for the World Health Organization (WHO) have announced that many of their sites and servers have been under attack by unsuccessful hackers trying to capitalize on the latest health scare. The attack stemmed from the use of several malicious domains that attempted to gain sensitive information and credentials from WHO employees. Thousands of other malicious domains have been created over the last few weeks to exploit the uninformed victims of the Coronavirus outbreak.
TrickBot Sidesteps 2FA on Mobile Banking Apps
The creators of TrickBot have developed a new mobile app called TrickMo, that can silently circumvent two-factor authentication that is used by various mobile banking apps. The malicious app is used mainly to intercept authentication tokens, once it is installed on the victim’s device. Currently, the TrickMo app is targeting German individuals and using the name “Security Control” to disguise any ulterior motives, and even sets itself as the default SMS app, in order to steal additional information.
Google Play Finds 56 New Malicious Apps
Over 56 new malicious apps have been spotted on the Google Play store, with a combined 1.7 million installations on devices across the globe. To make matters worse, a large portion of the apps were targeted specifically at children and used native Android functionality to imitate typical user actions to boost ad revenue. Many of the apps took extreme measures to avoid being uninstalled by the users, though Google itself has since removed all of the related apps from the Play Store.
Fake Coronavirus Vaccine Sites Shutdown
A website offering fake Coronavirus vaccine kits that were claiming to be approved by the WHO has been shutdown following a ruling by a federal court. The operator of the site has been accused of committing fraud and the hosting service has received a restraining order to stop public access to the site. The site in question, “coronavirusmedicalkit.com” offered the fake kits with users only paying for shipping and entering their payment card data.
Tupperware Website Breached
The main website for Tupperware was recently hacked and used to host Magecart code to steal payment card information. The malicious code was first discovered at the end of last week, but was still active nearly a week later, even after multiple attempts to contact the company. Magecart has been a wide-spread issue for online retailers over the last couple years, and still maintains a large presence due to their ease of use and continuing success.
Have you ever watched a movie and seen a character doing something you know how to do, and thought to yourself, “jeez, that’s totally wrong. Couldn’t they have done a little research?”
That’s exactly what hackers think when they watch movies, too. For most of us, the image that comes to mind when we hear the word “hacker” is pretty stereotypical: probably a young guy wearing a hoodie and headphones, in a basement, surrounded by fancy displays full of unintelligible code that looks like it’s straight out of the 1999 movie the Matrix, with only nefarious intentions at heart. We have that image for a reason; that’s how many films have portrayed such characters.
But, just like those times when you see a movie or TV character totally screwing up the thing you know how to do, this stereotype just isn’t accurate. Not all hackers have the same motives. In fact, not all of them are even “bad guys.” Misunderstanding leads to fear, and acting out of fear is never a good thing. If you want to stay safe from cyber-related risks in the modern world, it’s important to understand the myth vs. the reality.
- Every hacker is a criminal with evil intentions, who wants to break systems, steal information, steal money, cause destruction, commit cyber-espionage, or engage in other illegal activity online
- All hackers are male
- Hackers work alone, exclusively
- Hackers have to work really fast, or else they’ll get caught by the authorities
- There isn’t much money to be made, so hackers have to send lots of attacks to make their efforts worthwhile
- Hackers only go after large corporations and government systems.
The Truth about Hackers
- The word “hacker” really just refers to an individual who uses computers, networking, or other technology and related skills to accomplish a particular goal. That goal may not have anything to do with criminal activity, even if it involves gaining access to computer systems. In fact, some hackers use their skills for good, helping businesses and individuals become better able to prevent attacks by malicious hackers
- Just like their varied motivations, hackers come in all shapes and sizes. While the average self-proclaimed “hacker” is likely to be male and under 35, they can be of any gender, age, ethnicity, etc.
- As with most pursuits in life, hacking tends to be most productive when conducted by a team. It’s actually pretty common for hackers to be involved in larger groups or organizations. Some of them even have salaries and set holidays, just like the rest of us in the non-hacking working world, and may have customers and sales arrangements that include things like reseller portals and component rental
- A rushed job is a bad job, plain and simple. Hackers have the time to take a slow and methodical approach to accomplish their aims. They know they’re more likely to be successful if they research targets, do recon, and take the time to work out the best angles of approach. In contrast, victims of attacks typically have a very short amount time in which to react or recover, especially in the case of ransomware.
- There’s a lot of money to be made in hacking. As of the most recent Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average cost of a data breach is $3.92 million, and nearly 3 in 4 (71%) of breaches are financially motivated. In fact, the average hacker can earn up to 40 times the median wage of a software engineer.
- Although large corporations can be desirable targets, they often have larger security budgets and teams of security professionals dedicated to protecting the business. You might think hackers have bigger fish to fry, but small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are prime targets. More than 70% of cyberattacks target small businesses. In particular, more attacks are focusing on MSPs specifically because of their SMB clients. Breaching a single MSP could open up data access to their entire client base.
So what do you do?
You’re already on your way. By better understanding the true methods and motivations behind the myths, you can begin to lock down your business and protect your customers against today’s biggest threats. If you haven’t already, check out our Lockdown Lessons, which include a variety of guides, podcasts, and webinars designed to help MSPs and businesses stay safe from cybercrime.
The next step is to ensure your security stack includes a robust endpoint protection solution that uses real-time threat intelligence and machine learning to prevent emerging attacks. Learn more about Webroot® Business Endpoint Protection or take a free trial here.
DDoS Attack Strikes U.S. Health Department
Amidst the panic caused by the novel coronavirus, millions of people began navigating to the U.S. Department of Health’s website to find more information on the illness, but instead found the site to be offline after a DDoS attack overwhelmed its servers. This comes as only one of many unfortunate attacks that are being used to spread disinformation and panic, as well as delay healthcare workers from assisting patients or working towards slowing the overall spread of the illness.
Netfilim Ransomware Uses Old Code but New Tactics
Researchers have been tracking the spread of a new ransomware variant known as ‘Netfilim,’ which has been on a steady rise since February. By utilizing a large portion of code from another ransomware variant, Nemty, it has a quick distribution rate and keeps with the promised threat of releasing all stolen data within a week of encryption. It does differ from Nemty in its payment process, however, relying solely on email communication rather than directing the victim to a payment site that is only accessible through a Tor browser, leaving .NETFILIM as the appended extension for all encrypted files.
US Loan Database Exposed
A database containing millions of financial documents and other highly sensitive information was found freely accessible through an unsecured Amazon web service bucket. Contained within the 425GB of data were credit reports, Social Security numbers, and personally identifiable information for thousands of individuals and small businesses. The database itself is connected with a loan app that was developed by two major New York funding firms, Advantage Capital and Argus Capital.
Malicious Coronavirus Mapping Apps Spreading More than Misinformation
Many malware authors have been capitalizing on the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic by way of phishing campaigns and newly renamed ransomware variants. Their latest endeavor is an app used to reportedly “track” the spread of coronavirus across the globe, but has instead been dropping malicious payloads on unsuspecting victims’ devices. Some of these apps can lock devices and demand a ransom to unlock it, while others deliver full ransomware payloads that can encrypt and upload any files to another remote server. Fortunately, researchers worked quickly to engineer up a decryption key for victims.
Magecart Group Targets NutriBullet Website
Following a network breach in late February, Magecart scripts were found to be actively stealing payment card information from NutriBullet websites up to present. The specific organization, known as Group 8, has been using similar Magecart scripts for over two years and have claimed over 200 unique victim domains. Despite several contact attempts from the researchers who found the skimmers, no changes have been made to the affected sites, leaving current and new customers vulnerable.
We’re all thinking about it, so let’s call it out by name right away. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is a big deal. For many of us, the structure of our lives is changing daily; and those of us who are capable of doing our work remotely are likely doing so more than we ever have before.
It’s not likely that cybercriminals will cut us a break during this difficult time of quarantine and pandemic outbreak. If anything, we will only see an increase of attacks and ransom amounts since this is when infrastructures of modern civilization are needed most but have the least amount of time to react and debate on paying or negotiating the price. Also, many of the cybercriminals who breach and ransom as a side job are now forced to either work from home or their shifts are completely canceled, leaving them with more time and motivation to make up their income elsewhere. This is a prime circumstance for increased cyberattacks, and individuals and businesses should be hyper aware of their behavior both online and offline.
Not only are phishing and ransomware attacks, which tend to capitalize on current headlines, on the rise, but business email compromise (BEC) is also up. BEC is when a cybercriminal breaks into a legitimate corporate email account and impersonates the real owner to defraud the business or its partners, customers, or employees into sending money or sensitive data to the attacker. With so many more people working remotely and less able to verify emailed requests from coworkers as legitimate, you can imagine how this threat could run rampant.
What follows are some tips for staying safe, both for individuals in their personal lives and for businesses with remote workers.
Cyber Resilience Tips for Individuals
What to do:
- Find information about COVID-19 at the official sites of the World Health Organization (WHO) or the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- Ensure you have antivirus protection on all your devices, and that it’s up to date.
- Exercise caution when providing personal information. Be very suspicious of requests for personal information that occur via email, phone, text message, or social media message.
What NOT to do:
- Do not open emails regarding COVID-19 from unknown senders. These could be phishing scams.
- Do not click on links in emails regarding COVID-19. Email links can be used to spread computer viruses and other malware.
- Do not download or open email attachments from unknown senders. These could contain viruses and other malware.
- Do not click on links in social media messages, even if they are from someone you know. Your contacts’ accounts may have compromised.
- Do not click on ads or social media posts regarding COVID-19. They may be fake and contain malicious content.
Cyber Resilience Tips for Businesses
The best defense is prevention. To prevent, you have to plan ahead.
Be prepared for remote work conditions.
Life gets in the way. Between severe weather, personal emergencies, illness, and worker wellbeing, employees need to be able to work from home for a variety of reasons.
- Enable everyone to work from off-site locations.
- Ensure all employees feel welcome to work from home when needed.
- Install robust endpoint security on all devices so employees and data stay safe.
- Give all employees access to a VPN to help protect corporate data, wherever they connect.
- Implement measures to back up data saved on local devices while workers are remote.
- Add collaboration tools so teams can continue to work together while physically separated.
- Warn employees about phishing and BEC. Share the Cyber Resilience Tips for Individuals we included above, and encourage employees to be extra vigilant about unexpected invoices or other financial requests. Even when we’re all remote, it only takes a quick phone call to verify the legitimacy of an unusual request.
Be prepared for threats to your data.
From modern cyberattacks to natural disasters and physical damage, there are a lot of threats to your critical business data.
- Protect all endpoint devices, including computers and servers, with next-generation cybersecurity solutions.
- Create a data backup process for data availability at alternate business locations when the main office is closed.
- Implement high-availability data replication and migration safeguards ensure data is available, no matter what happens.
- Add protection for Microsoft Office 365 and other collaboration platforms so content stored and shared in the cloud stays safe.
- Use a solution that includes device monitoring, tracking, and remote erase functionality so lost or stolen devices can be located or wiped.
- Empower employees to become a strong line of defense by educating them about cybersecurity and data safety risks.
- Make sure to use RDP solutions that encrypt the data and use 2FA authentication when remoting into other machines as the presence of an open port with RDP was associated with 37% greater likelihood of a ransomware attack.
Our Commitment to Resilience
Rest assured, we’re practicing what we preach. All of our global employees are able to work from home securely. In these crazy times, it’s more important than ever to redouble our focus on helping each other. At Webroot, we feel it’s our social responsibility to do what we can to keep one another safe, both online and offline. We hope you’ll join us in our commitment to resilience. Stay safe and healthy, everyone.