In my previous blog post, Why Healthcare Organizations are Easy Targets for Cybercrime, I discussed various reasons that hospitals and healthcare organizations make desirable and lucrative targets for hackers. In this second installment, I’ll go over how criminals are attacking these organizations, the methods they use, and also what needs to be done to begin to address this dangerous threat.
Medical Device Compromise
As I mentioned in my first blog on this topic, there is a wide array of connected medical devices in a hospital environment. These devices can be classified into 5 broad categories:
- Consumer wearables, such as sleep pattern monitors, fitness trackers, etc.
- Patient monitoring devices, including insulin pumps, ECG, heart rate monitors etc.
- IVD, blood analyzers, etc.
- Embedded devices, such as pacemakers and implants
- In-house equipment, like medicine dispensing systems, MRI, CT, and X-ray machines, etc.
Devices like these can he hacked in an alarming number of ways. In addition to attacks that could endanger patients’ lives, such as remotely tampering with pacemakers or insulin pumps, these devices may be exploited to enable data theft or to gain access to other hospital infrastructure or systems. In one example from 2017, penetration tester Saurabh Harit managed to compromise a digital pen used for writing prescriptions, which gave him access to a patient database and scans of each prescription.
Medical data is a valuable commodity that is openly traded on the dark web. Although hackers and automated malware are often to blame, old-fashioned user error can play a major role in these types of compromises. Phishing remains a preferred method for stealing data and infiltrating networks.
Some examples of stolen medical data include:
- Patient data. Identity and insurance fraud are relatively easy when you have access to the kinds of data medical organizations store about their patients. Additionally, this information can be used to charge expensive medical procedures, claim prescription drugs, or be exploited to breach other organizations outside of the healthcare industry. It can even be used for personal extortion and a host of other crimes.
- Administrative paperwork. Criminals may target medical licenses to forge prescriptions and commit other types of fraud or extortion.
- Prescription information. Criminals may forge prescriptions or drug labels and use them for purposes like fraud and even drug smuggling.
- Biometric data. As biometrics are increasingly used in security measures and law enforcement practices, records of fingerprints, ocular scans, and even heartbeats could be stolen and used for nefarious purposes.
Because the services that medical facilities provide are essential and often cannot be disrupted without serious risk to patients, ransomware is a weapon of choice. Many organizations have no choice but to pay the ransom, and some health facilities have had to shut down permanently due to these attacks.
Medical facilities worldwide have turned patients away, curtailed or suspended services, and even closed as a result of ransomware attacks. The groups that carry out these attacks have typically done recon on their targets to discover exactly how to breach them and which systems to encrypt to cause maximum disruption.
Of course, when we talk about ransomware affecting healthcare organizations, one attack stands out above them all: WannaCry. This nasty threat spread like wildfire across the world in 2017 and crippled many organizations through a combination of lateral wormlike propagation and machine-wrecking encryption. One of the largest and most publicized victims was the U.K.’s National Health Service. The attack “disrupted services across one-third of hospital trusts and around 8% of GP practices,” according to a report published by the NHS a year later. On top of that, ambulance services were affected and over 19,000 appointments were cancelled.
Despite the financial gains to be had when attacking healthcare organizations, WannaCry was actually an example of a cyber-weapon spreading far beyond its intended targets; the attack was not specifically aimed at the NHS or other health orgs affected.
Ultimately, WannaCry really highlighted the poor security practices prevalent in so many healthcare organizations. The NHS fell under a lot of scrutiny in the aftermath of the attack, particularly as Microsoft had issued a Windows® update that would have fixed the exploited vulnerability months before. Since then, the health service has undertaken a number of changes to shore up defenses.
According to a survey of industry Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) by Carbon Black, the state of cybersecurity in healthcare is somewhat bleak, if unsurprising.
- 83% of surveyed healthcare organizations said they’ve seen an increase in cyberattacks over the past year.
- Two-thirds (66%) of surveyed healthcare organizations said cyberattacks have become more sophisticated over the past year.
- With increased adoption of medical and IoT devices, the surface area for healthcare attacks is becoming even larger.
- Limited cybersecurity staffing and stagnant cybersecurity budgets in the industry further compound the issues.
What Needs to Happen
Healthcare’s poor track record when it comes to updates, patching and obsolete operating systems needs to be addressed—no question. Below are some of the other things that need to happen to improve security all around at hospitals and other healthcare practices.
- All staff members should be trained on security risks and best practices to avoid them.
- Medical device designers need to adopt security as a design principle ASAP.
- Hospitals and other facilities need to better audit and patch their devices, operating systems, applications, firmware, etc. to help eliminate vulnerabilities.
- Government initiatives and coordination are essential, not just for the public facilities they run but also for private practices.
- All healthcare practices should have antivirus and other cybersecurity solutions and should have access to security teams who can investigate any breaches to identify and address vulnerabilities.
- Access to devices, middleware, and APIs should be restricted where possible and secured.
And, finally, the “blame game” culture that pervades healthcare needs to be seen for what it really is: an obstacle to progress. Cybersecurity is a group effort that we should all share. From governing bodies to businesses to individual users, each of us has a role to play in creating a more secure connected world.
MedusaLocker Ransomware Spotted Worldwide
While it’s still unclear how MedusaLocker is spreading, the victims have been confirmed around the world in just the last month. By starting with a preparation phase, this variant can ensure that local networking functionality is active and maintain access to network drives. After shutting down security software and deleting Shadow Volume copies, it begins encrypting files while setting up self-preservation tasks.
Bargain Website Server Exposes Customer Data
Several websites used by UK customers to find bargains have left a database filled with customer data belonging to nearly 3.5 million users completely unprotected and connected to the internet. Along with the names and addresses of customers, the database also included banking details and other sensitive information that could be used to commit identity fraud. The researchers who initially discovered the breach notified the site owners, but received no response or any indication the leak would be resolved until nearly six weeks after the database was left exposed.
Arrests Made Following Major BEC Scam
At least three individuals have been arrested in Spain for their connection to a business email compromise (BEC) scam that netted over 10 million euros and affected 12 companies across 10 countries. It appears the operation began in 2016 and involved the cooperation of multiple law enforcement agencies. By creating a web of fake companies and bank accounts, the group was able to successfully launder money into various investments, including real estate, in an attempt to remain undetected.
LA Court System Hacked
The perpetrator of a 2017 spear phishing attack on the LA court system was sentenced to 145 months in prison following convictions on charges of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a computer, and identity theft. The individual was able to compromise employee email accounts and use them to launch a malspam campaign that distributed over 2 million emails.
Pennsylvania School District Hacked
Multiple students are being questioned after school district officials noticed unauthorized access to the student assistance site Naviance, a hack which appears to have been an attempt “to gain a competitive edge in a high-stakes water gun fight.” Access to the site would have also given them access to other student’s personal data, though no financial or social security information is stored on the site. District officials determined the security practices for the site lacking but have not currently released plans for improvement.
Certain types of cybercrime targets always make headlines. In this two-part series, we’ll get into a pretty serious one: your health, and why hackers are targeting the healthcare industry for profit.
The Short Answer: Medical Data is Worth a Lot
Stolen medical data is valuable, plain and simple. In a Phishlabs study from 2014, healthcare-related credentials were valued at 10 times the worth of stolen credit card numbers on the dark web. The data for sale typically includes names, birthdays, relevant policy numbers, billing details, and more. Criminals can use this data for anything from identity theft to insurance fraud and more.
The More Complex Answer: There’s a Huge Attack Surface
“An average hospital room will have between 15 and 20 medical devices, and almost all of them will be networked.” – Rick Reid, Aruba Networks
Most hospitals are very large organizations. Even smaller hospitals have hundreds of staff members, while larger institutions, such as my local hospital in Dublin, have over 3,000. The sheer number of patients, visitors, and contractors on site at any one time would give any admin team a challenge to monitor, never mind secure.
Endpoints and Devices are Disparate and Often Unsecured
The variety of connected devices in a given hospital environment also presents a host of security challenges. Modern IoT medical devices, such as wearable monitors, operate on the same network as ancient un-patchable devices which were developed without any security considerations by companies that have since closed. These factors combine to provide plenty of avenues for attackers to infiltrate sensitive systems.
According to Christopher Neal, CISO of Australia’s largest operator of private hospitals, Ramsey Healthcare, unsecured medical devices will continue to be a problem in the industry for years to come. After a security audit of the company, which consists of around 30,000 employees and around 9,500 beds, Neal stated:
“[We found] a lot more equipment with default credentials, default configuration, sitting not on the corporate network but [in] DMZs… Anything you’re buying today has not been built secure-by-design, most likely. This is a problem that’s going to live in healthcare for another 15 to 20 years.”
Even keeping a typical Windows® computer secure is tricky in an environment where updating operating systems is notoriously slow. Hospitals worldwide are clinging onto the less secure Windows® 7 and Windows® XP platforms. Unfortunately, the reluctance to upgrade OS’s brings significant security risks; in our own research, we’ve discovered that systems running Windows 7 and older are at least twice as likely to become infected as those running the newer and more secure Windows® 10 operating system.
The Operational Structure is Disjointed
Hospitals are complex and sometimes chaotic places. Institutions with a lot of non-elective admissions, especially public hospitals, are usually crowded. A single campus might contain many different hospital organizations, each with its own units, wards, offices, etc. All of these share data between them.
As you might imagine, management structures for such hospitals are very complicated, especially in Europe, where public hospitals are more common than in places like the U.S. Many public health facilities communicate with each other, while, above them, a large national health service coordinates and facilitates data sharing. As a result, planning and implementing security initiatives is often both challenging and slow.
Medical Research is Valuable
Medical institutions are also targeted for the purpose of stealing research. Medical research can take many years and cost millions to develop, but it can be stolen in minutes. Motives for stealing research may vary, but most are financially based. For instance, some attacks may be state-sponsored initiatives to outpace other nations in pharmaceutical research and, thereby, bring new drugs to market before competitors. Others may simply be to hold potentially life-saving research for ransom or sale to the highest bidder.
Hospitals Provide an Essential Service
Delays or disruption at a care facility could seriously impact patient care or even cost lives. Hospitals simply can’t afford the outages, downtime, or general post-breach scrambling that an attack would cause, making them “easy money” for criminals. That’s why, when we hear about attacks on healthcare organizations, they usually involve some kind of ransomware—hospitals often have no choice but to pay the ransoms. Unfortunately, all targets would seem to be fair game, and reports of attacks on cancer support organizations, cardiology units, and children’s hospitals are not out of the ordinary.
The Road Ahead
In his book, Black Box Thinking, Matthew Syed outlines how medicine lags far behind other (similarly complex) industries, such as aviation, when it comes to learning from mistakes and improving safety. Syed asserts that the litigation and shame associated with failures in healthcare has led to a negative culture in an industry that tends to bury bad stories, instead of tackling them head on. The healthcare sector is also legally more culpable for any data breaches and is at greater risk from any resulting costs.But it’s not all bad news. Although the gears of government and healthcare may move more slowly, a lot of security-related changes are happening in the sector. For example, the much-maligned NHS in the U.K. has implemented major changes since the WannaCry attacks of 2017. Wide-ranging investigations were undertaken and costly and far-reaching initiatives were put into practice. In fact, the digital wing of the NHS now offers advice to other state healthcare groups on how to tighten up defenses against this global scourge.
To learn more about how criminals are targeting the healthcare industry, as well as what needs to be done about it, check out the second installment of this blog: Healthcare Cyber Threats That Should Keep You up at Night.
Entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, “Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” I think anyone involved in running a business can relate to this statement, but it carries a particularly deep meaning to those of us who deal with cybersecurity.
When it comes to cyberattacks, even the most minor malware infection can create costly delays and downtime, and the damages from data loss or business disruption can be financially devastating. Dealing with the consequences of denial-of-service attacks, ransomware, and data breaches shouldn’t be an accepted part of your agenda.
You need to protect your business first. That means having a strong lineup of cyber-defense tools that don’t just mitigate threats, but actually put time back in your day. The key to success is to stop threats before they stop you. One of the most important pieces of that puzzle is the tools you use, particularly to achieve automation.
What are EDR, MDR, and ADR, and what’s the difference?
I am the first to admit that the cybersecurity world throws around far too many acronyms, and the definitions are not abundantly clear. (I’m definitely guilty of this, myself.) So let’s break down some of the endpoint-related jargon you may have heard lately.
Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
Endpoint detection and response (EDR) technology gathers large volumes of data from endpoints and provides security analysts with large amounts of information to help detect and mitigate cyber threats. These solutions significantly improve endpoint visibility, threat remediation, and can even assist with threat hunting. But to take full advantage, a staff of trained security analysts are necessary––and with today’s skills gap, this model does not make sense for the majority of SMBs and MSPs.
Today, EDR is beginning to morph into “enterprise detection and response.” The endpoint telemetry data it produces forms part of a more holistic approach to network security.
Managed Detection and Response (MDR)
In recent months, cloud-based security service providers have been leveraging EDR data and compensating for the cybersecurity skills gap through managed detection and response (MDR).
Working around the clock, MDR acts as a security analyst by providing automated threat detection, response, and remediation. It protects the entire network––not just endpoints––and provides the time, commitment, and cybersecurity skills necessary to fully detect, mitigate and resolve issues. The unfortunate truth here is that, for many smaller businesses, MDR is just too expensive. They may need to explore different partnership models or leverage managed services from their vendors.
Automated Detection and Response (ADR)
For businesses and managed service providers without dedicated cybersecurity resources and an ample budget, automated detection and response (ADR) may be the perfect answer. When other solutions become overwhelmed by the vast quantity of incoming malware, ADR leverages AI and machine learning to not only stop threats, but also to proactively predict and prevent them. As a result, this type of solution can actually put time back in your day.
As the cybersecurity landscape evolves and the skills gap continues to grow, MSPs and SMBs must onboard solutions that automate their defenses and offer the missing cybersecurity intelligence that only ADR provides.
ADR: the Next-Gen Evolution of Cybersecurity
As you are probably aware, modern attacks continue to increase in complexity, become more targeted, and are often automated at scale. They can also move unpredictably and laterally, as we have seen with Island Hopping (i.e. the act of compromising one company by infiltrating its affiliates, partner network, and/or supply chain.)
I know that many of you experience challenges that can make your business or clients vulnerable to attack, including:
- Broad attack surfaces
- Limited security expertise
- Lax or inadequate access controls
- Data loss, email spam, and phishing vulnerabilities
- Insufficient understanding of compliance
The best way to combat these types of vulnerabilities is to leverage the power in prediction to stop attacks before they happen, and to quickly and automatically remediate threats that do get through. This is where ADR provides a new way to think about cybersecurity.
Currently, your cybersecurity or IT team needs to manage multiple tasks across multiple systems, which requires in-depth knowledge of computer systems and cybersecurity threats. Consequently, response time is often slow. With ADR, tasks are automated, and threats are investigated, validated, and remediated in the background––greatly boosting your operational efficiency and effectiveness.
As the threat environment continues to evolve, you will need to keep pace and ADR changes the security equation by improving the accuracy of detection and speed of response, saving you a lot of time and hassle—not to mention money.
Cryptominers Found in Audio Files
Researchers have recently found that both cryptominers and backdoors are being deployed within WAV audio files on targeted systems. Using steganography, attackers can include components for both loading and executing malicious scripts, while still allowing some audio files to play normally. Along with the malicious software, Monero cryptominers were launched simultaneously to begin generating cryptocurrency.
Vermont School District Monitoring Students Online Activity
A Vermont school district recently hired the cyber-monitoring software company Social Sentinel track the social media and email accounts of enrolled students. The purported purpose of the software is to stop problems such as bullying and self-harm among students by scanning for specific keywords, while supposedly respecting the privacy of the district’s thousands of students. Unfortunately, most of the posted alerts are currently being triggered by searches for a locally-made beer.
Darknet Child Porn Distribution Site Shutdown
Officials in the U.S. and South Korea collaborated to shut down a darknet site thought to be the largest distribution site of child porn. More than 300 individuals were arrested in connection with the site. By monitoring new Bitcoin addresses created when users made an account, the officials were able to find not only hundreds of users, but also the site’s administrator, who has since been charged in South Korea. Most alarmingly, amongst the 250,000 videos found on the server, nearly half were previously unknown to law enforcement.
Fake Account Reporting Leads to Facebook Lockout
Many Facebook users have been locked out of their accounts after reporting fake or spam accounts, some for nearly a week. Following the lockout, users were shown a bugged verification screen that left users even further from regaining access. Luckily, Facebook responded to the many requests to reinstate user accounts, resolved the issue, and fixed the authentication process.
Payment Card Marketplace Re-leaks Stolen Cards
One of the largest online marketplaces for stolen payment card info has been breached, leading to nearly 26 million payment cards stolen in prior breaches being reintroduced to hackers. By accessing the binary data stored in the magnetic strips, hackers were able to create fake cards and make fraudulent purchases. At least 8 million unique cards had been uploaded to the marketplace since the start of 2019.
What is a Cookie?
Cookies (aka. HTTP cookies, session cookies, browser cookies, web cookies, or tracking cookies) are used by almost all websites to keep track of site users’ sessions. While you might not like the idea that a website is tracking you, cookies actually provide a very convenient function. Without them, websites you regularly visit wouldn’t be able to remember you or what content they should serve you. For example, if you added items to an online shopping cart and then navigated away without purchasing, that cart would be lost. You’d have to go back and add everything all over again when you were finally ready to buy. If it weren’t for cookies, our web experiences would be entirely different (and much more frustrating).
In cases like the previous example, the use of tracking cookies is pretty benign and helps smooth the user’s online experience overall. So, if cookies can provide a beneficial service, why do we need privacy laws like GDPR? The answer is because of a specific type of cookie, i.e. third-party tracking cookies. These are created by domains other than the one you are actively visiting. They run silently in the background, tracking you and your online habits without your notice and compiling long-term records of your browsing behavior. These are typically used by advertisers to serve ads “relevant” to the user even as they navigate unrelated parts of the web.
Who Serves Cookies and Why?
By far the most prolific servers of third-party cookies are Google and Facebook. To help businesses target and track advertisements, both Google and Facebook both suggest embedding a tracking pixel—which is just a short line of code—into business websites. These pixels then serve up cookies, which allow the site owner to track individual user and session information.
The tracking doesn’t stop there. To optimize their marketing tools for all users, Google and Facebook both track and store this data in their own databases for processing through their own algorithms. Even if you’re not currently logged in to Facebook, your session data can still be tracked by your IP address.
What is People-Based Targeting?
Google and Facebook’s ad platforms work incredibly well because they pair cookie data with an existing bank of user data that most of us have willingly (or unwillingly) given them. Your Facebook account, Instagram account, Gmail, and Google Chrome accounts are all linked to larger systems that inform sophisticated advertising networks how to appeal to you, specifically, as a consumer. This way, websites can serve you ad content you’re likely to click on, no matter which sites you’re actively visiting. Combining traditional cookie tracking with these types of in-depth user profiles is called “people-based targeting” and it’s proven to be an incredibly powerful marketing tactic.
How to Protect Your Data
The sad truth is that you’ll never fully escape tracking cookies, and, frankly, you probably wouldn’t want to. As mentioned above, they streamline your online experiences in a pretty significant way. What you can do is reduce the breadth of their reach in your digital life. Here are a few key ways to do that.
- Stay vigilant. Be sure to read the privacy policies before you accept them. This advice goes beyond the GDPR-compliant pop-ups that have become so prevalent in the last year. Keep in mind that tech giants are often interconnected, so it’s important to be aware of all the privacy policies you’re being asked to accept.
- Clean house. You don’t have to do it often, but clear your cookie cache every once in a while. There are plusses and minuses here; clearing your cache will wipe away any long-term tracking cookies, but it will also wipe out your saved login information. But don’t let that deter you! Despite that sounding like a hassle, you may find your browser performance improves. Exact steps for how to clear your cookies will depend on your browser, but you’ll find plenty of guides online. Don’t forget to clear the cache on your mobile phone as well.
- Use a VPN. Most of all, we recommend installing a virtual private network (VPN) on all of your devices. VPNs wrap your web traffic in a tunnel of encryption, which will prevent tracking cookies from following you around the web. Make sure you use a reputable VPN from a trusted source, such as Webroot® WiFi Security. A number of the supposedly free VPN options may just sell your data to the highest bidder themselves.
Cookie tracking and digital ad delivery are growing more sophisticated every day. Check back here for the latest on how these technologies are evolving, and how you can prepare yourself and your family to stay ahead.
E-Scooter Security Vulnerability
A security researcher recently found an API vulnerability within the software of Voi e-scooters that allowed him to add over $100,000 in ride credits to his account. The vulnerability stems from a lack of authentication after creating an account which allows users to enter an unlimited number of promo codes offering ride discounts through several of the service’s partners. The writeup of steps to replicate flaw was temporarily taken down by the researcher until the company resolves the issue.
MageCart Strikes Volusion Sites
Thousands of sites using Volusion software have been affected by malicious MageCart scripts going back to mid-September. The scripts have been running from a non-descript API bucket and are using filenames that would appear benign to most security software and site admins. While victims will likely begin monitoring for stolen payment card data, it is still unclear how many sites have been compromised in total.
Brazilian Database for Sale
A database containing extremely sensitive information belonging to more than 92 million Brazilian citizens was found up for auction on several marketplaces on the dark web. Included in a sample of the data were driver’s license numbers and taxation info for the 93 million Brazilians currently employed within the country. Unfortunately for those involved, Brazil’s recently introduced data protection law won’t be in effect until halfway through next year.
Twitter 2FA Leak
Twitter announced earlier this week that many email addresses and phone numbers customers were using for two-factor authentication had been provided to third-parties for use in targeted advertisements. The company is still working to determine how many users are involved in this apparently unintentional misuse of their sensitive information. Twitter has fixed the main issue, though they still require a phone number for 2FA regardless of the method used to verify the account.
New Zealand Health Organization Hacked
Following a cyber attack in August of this year, officials discovered evidence of multiple intrusions into their systems going back nearly three years. The health organization has been working with law enforcement to determine the extent of the unauthorized access, as well as attempting to contact all affected individuals.
Online games aren’t new. Consumers have been playing them since as early as 1960. However, the market is evolving—games that used to require the computing power of dedicated desktops can now be powered by smartphones, and online gaming participation has skyrocketed. This unfortunately means that the dangers of online gaming have evolved as well. We’ve examined the top threats that parents need to know about to keep their kids safe while gaming online.
Online Bullying and Harassment
A recent study shows that 65% of players who participate in online gaming have been harassed; a statistic that does not bode well for underage gamers. Your first instinct may be to try to prevent your child from participating in online gaming altogether, but this may cause them to sneak playing time without your knowledge. A stronger choice would be to talk with your kids and prepare them for the types of negative behavior they may experience online, and to make sure they know they can come to you if they are being harassed. It’s also important to explain the impact that online bullying can have on others, and to set firm consequences if you catch your child participating in harassment or abusive language. Regulating the use of headsets can help prevent both your child’s exposure to and participation in online harassment.
Two types of harassment specific to online experiences go a step beyond what you would expect from online bullying: doxxing and swatting. Doxxing is when one or more online participants seek personal, identifying information on a particular user for blackmail or intimidation purposes. Doxxing can often lead to the release of real names, phone numbers, home addresses, employer information, and more. Swatting is a form of harassment that uses doxxing techniques to create an actual, tangible threat. A harasser will call in a threat to a doxxed user’s local law enforcement, often claiming there is a kidnapping or hostage situation at the victim’s address. This may bring a large SWAT response unit to descend upon the address.
Keeping an open line of communication about your kid’s gaming experiences is critical. Swatting can happen over seemingly innocuous events. One of the most notorious examples followed a dispute over a $1.50 bet in “Call of Duty: WWII.”
Pro tip: one is only vulnerable to doxxing and swatting if a harasser can link identifying information back to the targeted gamer. Educating your kids on digital privacy best practices is one of the strongest security measures you can take against these forms of online harassment.
Viruses and Malware
As with almost every digital experience, you’ll find specific cybersecurity threats associated with the online gaming landscape. We asked Tyler Moffitt, Webroot security analyst, for his thoughts on the malware threats associated with online gaming.
“The thing kids should really watch out for with games is the temptation to cheat,” explains Moffit. “In popular games like Fortnite and PUBG, ‘aimbots’ are very common, as they allow the player to get headshots they normally wouldn’t be able to make. However, many of the aimbots that kids download from forums are packed with malware—usually ransomware or info-stealing Trojans. What’s worse: a lot of young gamers also don’t run antivirus because they think it will make the game slower.”
The bottom line: cheating at online games isn’t just ethically icky, it makes you a proven target for hackers. Make sure your kids know the real cost of “free” cheats.
Phishing Scams and Account Takeovers
Where there’s money, there are scammers. With more than 1 billion gamers actively spending money not just on games, but in games, it’s no surprise that phishing scams have become commonplace in gaming communities. One of the most prevalent phishing tactics in gaming: account takeovers are often prompted by a risky link click on a gaming forum, or a compromised account sending out phishing links to other users. Once the hacker has control of the account, they can run up fraudulent charges to any attached credit cards or, in some cases, sell the compromised account (particularly if it contains valuable items or character skins). Young gamers are especially at risk for these hacks. In these cases, chances are that any credit cards attached to gaming accounts belong to you, not your kids, so young gamers aren’t going to notice who’s spending your hard-earned funds.
Keeping Your Kids Safe
You’ll find plenty of tools to help your kids stay secure while gaming. Reliable antivirus software installed and up-to-date on all of your household smart devices can protect your family from malicious software. Additionally, wrapping your household web traffic in the secure encryption of a trusted VPN could reduce doxxing potential. But your kids will only find true security through digital literacy. Start conversations with them not just about online bullying, but about recognizing cybersecurity threats and phishing scams. If you’re having a hard time connecting with them over the threat, remind them that it’s not just your wallet on the line. Account takeovers are now all too common, and no kid wants to see their Fortnite skins sold for a stranger’s profit. Also, always be sure to exercise caution in giving out information on the internet. Even small, seemingly irrelevant pieces of information could be used to pull up Facebook or other user account pages to grab even more personal data.
To keep your kids educated about online gaming risks, it’s important to educate yourself as well. Have a question we didn’t cover here? Ask the Webroot community.
First and foremost, endpoint protection must be effective. Short of that, MSPs won’t succeed in protecting their clients and, more than likely, won’t remain in business for very long. But beyond the general ability to stop threats and protect users, which characteristics of an endpoint solution best set its administrators for success?
Consider the world of the MSP: margins can be thin, competition tight, and time quite literally money. Any additional time spent managing endpoint security, beyond installing and overseeing it, is time not spent on other key business areas. Performance issues stemming from excess CPU or memory usage can invite added support tickets, which require more time and attention from MSPs.
So, even when an endpoint solution is effective the majority of the time (a tall order in its own right), other factors can still raise the total cost of ownership for MSPs. Here are some metrics to consider when evaluating endpoint solutions, and how they can contribute to the overall health of a business.
1. Installation Time
We’ve written recently about the trauma “rip and replace” can cause MSPs. It often means significant after-hours work uninstalling and reinstalling one endpoint solution in favor of another. While MSPs can’t do much about the uninstall time of the product they’ve chosen to abandon, shopping around for a replacement with a speedy install time will drastically reduce the time it takes to make the switch.
Quick installs often also make a good impression on clients, too, who are likely having their first experience with the new software. Finally, it helps if the endpoint solution doesn’t conflict with other AVs.
2. Installation Size
Few things are more annoying to users and admins than bulky, cumbersome endpoint protection, even when it’s effective. But cybersecurity is an arms race, and new threats often require new features and capabilities.
So if an endpoint solution is still storing known-bad signatures on the device itself, this can quickly lead to bloated agent with an adverse effect on overall device performance. Cloud-based solutions, on the other hand, tend to be lighter on the device and less noticeable to users.
3. CPU Usage During a Scan
Many of us will remember the early days of antivirus scans when considering this stat. Pioneering AVs tended to render their host devices nearly useless when scanning for viruses and, unfortunately, some are still close to doing so today.
Some endpoint solutions are able to scan for viruses silently in the background, while others commandeer almost 100 percent of a device’s CPU to hunt for viruses. This can lead to excruciatingly slow performance and even to devices overheating. With such high CPU demand, scans must often be scheduled for off-hours to limit the productivity hit they induce.
4. Memory Usage During a Scheduled Scan
Similar to CPU use during a scan, RAM use during a scheduled scan can have a significant effect on device performance, which in turn has a bearing on client satisfaction. Again older, so-called legacy antiviruses will hog significantly more RAM during a scheduled scan than their next-gen predecessors.
While under 100 MB is generally a low amount of RAM for a scheduled scan, some solutions on the market today can require over 700 MB to perform the function. To keep memory use from quickly becoming an issue on the endpoints you manage, ensure your chosen AV falls on the low end of the RAM use spectrum.
5. Browse Time
So many of today’s threats target your clients by way of their internet browsers. So it’s essential that endpoint security solutions are able to spot viruses and other malware before it’s downloaded from the web. This can lead to slower browsing and frustrate users into logging support tickets. It’s typically measured as an average of the time a web browser loads a given site, with variables like network connection speed controlled for.
Effectiveness is essential, but it’s far from the only relevant metric when evaluating new endpoint security. Consider all the above factors to ensure you and your clients get the highest possible level of satisfaction from your chosen solution.
DoorDash Data Breach
Nearly five months after a breach, DoorDash has just now discovered that unauthorized access to sensitive customer information has taken place. Among the stolen data were customer names, payment history, and contact info, as well as the last four digits of both customer payment cards and employee bank accounts. The compromised data spans nearly 5 million unique customers and employees of the delivery service. DoorDash has since recommended all users change their passwords immediately.
American Express Employee Fraud
At least one American Express employee was fired after it was revealed they had illicitly gained access to customer payment card data and may have been using it to commit fraud at other financial institutions. Following this incident, American Express began contacting affected customers offering credit monitoring services to prevent misuse of their data.
Hackers Target Airbus Suppliers
Several suppliers for Airbus have recently been under cyber-attack by state-sponsored hackers that seem to have a focus on the company’s VPN connections to Airbus. Both Rolls-Royce and Expleo, European manufacturers of engines and technology respectively, have been targeted for their technical documentation by Chinese aircraft competitors. This type of attack has pushed many officials to urge for higher security standards across all supply chains, as both large and small companies are now being attacked.
Ransomware Law Passes Senate
A recently passed law mandates the Department of Homeland Security support organizations affected by ransomware. While focused on protecting students in New York state, the legislation follows 50 school districts across the U.S. falling victim to ransomware attacks in 2019 alone, compromising up to 500 schools overall. A similar bill recently passed in the House of Representatives, which is expected to be combined with this legislation.
Ransomware Targets Hospitals Around the Globe
Multiple hospitals in the U.S. and Australia have fallen victim to ransomware attacks within the last month. Some sites were so affected that they were forced to permanently close their facilities after they weren’t able to rebuild patient records from encrypted backups. Several offices in Australia have been unable to accept new patients with only minimal systems for continuing operations.
“Antivirus programs use techniques to stop viruses that are very “virus-like” in and of themselves, and in most cases if you try to run two antivirus programs, or full security suites, each believes the other is malicious and they then engage in a battle to the death (of system usability, anyway).”
“…running 2 AV’s will most likely cause conflicts and slowness as they will scan each other’s malware signature database. So it’s not recommended.”
The above quotes come from top answers on a popular computer help site and community forum in response to a question about “Running Two AVs” simultaneously.
Seattle Times tech columnist Patrick Marshall has similarly warned his readers about the dangers of antivirus products conflicting on his own computers.
Historically, these comments were spot-on, 100% correct in describing how competing AV solutions interacted on endpoints. Here’s why.
The (Traditional) Issues with Running Side-by-Side AV Programs
In pursuit of battling it out on your machine for security supremacy, AV solutions have traditionally had a tendency to cause serious performance issues.
This is because:
- Each is convinced the other is an imposter. Antivirus programs tend to look a lot like viruses to other antivirus programs. The behaviors they engage in, like scanning files or scripts and exporting information about those data objects, can look a little shady to a program that’s sole purpose is to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.
- Each wants to be the anti-malware star. Ideally both AV programs installed on a machine would be up to the task of spotting a virus on a computer. And both would want to let the user know when they’d found something. So while one AV number one may isolate a threat, you can bet AV number two will still want to alert the user to its presence. This can lead to an endlessly annoying cycle of warnings, all-clears, and further warnings.
- Both are hungry for your computer’s limited resources. Traditional antivirus products store static lists of known threats on each user’s machine so they can be checked against new data. This, plus the memory used for storing the endpoint agent, CPU for scheduled scans, on-demand scans, and even resource use during idling can add up to big demand. Multiply it by two and devices quickly become sluggish.
Putting the Problem Into Context
Those of you reading this may be thinking, But is all of this really a problem? Who wants to run duplicate endpoint security products anyway?
Consider a scenario, one in which you’re unhappy with your current AV solution. Maybe the management overhead is unreasonable and it’s keeping you from core business responsibilities. Then what?
“Rip and replace”—a phrase guaranteed to make many an MSP shudder—comes to mind. It suggests long evenings of after-hours work removing endpoint protection from device after device, exposing each of the machines under your care to a precarious period of no protection. For MSPs managing hundreds or thousands of endpoints, even significant performance issues can seem not worth the trouble.
Hence we’ve arrived at the problem with conflicting AV software. They lock MSPs into a no-win quagmire of poor performance on the one hand, and a potentially dangerous rip-and-replace operation on the other.
But by designing a no-conflict agent, these growing pains can be eased almost completely. MSPs unhappy with the performance of their current AV can install its replacement during working hours without breaking a sweat. A cloud-based malware prevention architecture and “next-gen” approach to mitigating attacks allows everyone to benefit from the ability to change and upgrade their endpoint security with minimal effort.
Simply wait for your new endpoint agent to be installed, uninstall its predecessor, and still be home in time for dinner.
Stop Wishing and Expect No-Conflict Endpoint Protection
Any modern endpoint protection worth its salt or designed with the user in mind has two key qualities that address this problem:
- It won’t conflict with other AV programs and
- It installs fast and painlessly.
After all, this is 2019 (and over 30 years since antivirus was invented) so you should expect as much. Considering the plethora of (often so-called) next-gen endpoint solutions out there, there’s just no reason to get locked into a bad relationship you can’t easily replace if something better comes along.
So when evaluating a new cybersecurity tool, ask whether it’s no conflict and how quickly it installs. You’ll be glad you did.
Copyright Phishing Campaign Hits Instagram
Many Instagram accounts were recently compromised after receiving a notice that their accounts would be suspended for copyright infringement if they didn’t complete an objection form within 24 hours. By setting a timeframe, the attackers are hoping that flustered victims would quickly begin entering account credentials into a phony landing page before being redirected to the authentic Instagram login page to appear legitimate.
WordPress Plugin Exploited
Rich Reviews, a vulnerable WordPress plugin that was removed from the main WordPress repository more than six months ago, has been found still active on thousands of websites. This vulnerability allows attackers to download malicious payloads, then redirect victims to phony websites that could further infect their systems. Fortunately, several security companies are working with the plugin’s creators to fix the current vulnerabilities, though these updates won’t reach users until it’s put back on the repository.
Banking Malware Campaign
Hundreds of malware samples have been discovered that target ATMs and can be deployed to obtain sensitive banking information from infected systems. Dtrack, the name of the malware tools, can also be used to steal local machine information, such as keystrokes and browser history, by using known vulnerabilities in network security. This type of attack comes from the Lazarus Group, who have been known to target nations and major financial institutions around the world.
Click2Gov Site Hacked
An online bill paying site used in dozens of cities across the U.S. was recently hacked in at least eight cities, already compromising more than 20,000 individuals from all 50 states. This will be the third breach affecting Click2Gov, all of which used an exploit allowing attackers to gain both remote access to the system and upload any files they choose. Many of the cities that were targeted recently were part of the prior attacks on the Click2Gov portal.
Wyoming Healthcare Hit with Ransomware
Campbell County Health’s computer systems were brought to a halt after suffering a ransomware attack this week. Nearly 1,500 computers were affected and all currently scheduled surgeries and other medical care must be delayed or diverted to another facility. Fortunately, CCH is working quickly to restore all of their systems to normal and determine the exact infection point for the attack.