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Cyber News Rundown: Russia Bans Telegram

The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cybersecurity news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any questions? Just ask. Russia Blocks Millions of IPs to Halt Use of...

Re-Thinking ‘Patch and Pray’

When WannaCry ransomware spread throughout the world last year by exploiting vulnerabilities for which there were patches, we security “pundits” stepped up the call to patch, as we always do. In a post on LinkedIn Greg Thompson, Vice President of Global Operational...

Use Caution with Free-to-Play Mobile Games

Who doesn’t like a good mobile game? Especially a free one! They allow you to blow off steam while fine-tuning your skills, competing with others or maybe even winning bragging rights among friends. Free games can be fun to play, yet there are some common-sense...

Cyber News Rundown: Edition 10/13/17

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The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cyber news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst, and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any more questions? Just ask.

Rigzone Founder Caught Stealing Data

Over the last few months, officials have been piecing together the case against Rigzone founder, David Kent. After selling the Rigzone domain several years ago, Kent used several backdoors he’d implemented to access account information for over 700,000 customers, which he then attempted to sell back to Rigzone. By setting up several dummy accounts, Rigzone staff determined the specific IP address Kent used and apprehend him.

Criminals Hack Eastern Europe Bank for Millions

In the last year, banks in several Eastern European countries have seen a drastic rise in fraudulent charges at ATMs that have allowed hackers to make off with nearly $40 million dollars. Attackers start by manipulating the banks overdraft protection and setting up proxies to allow accomplices in other countries withdraw massive quantities of money from separate accounts. In addition to spoofing the overdraft system, the attackers also installed remote access software on bank computers to enable further intrusion to the institution’s systems.

Multiple Accenture Servers Left Exposed Online

A security researcher recently discovered four servers belonging to Accenture that were left publicly accessible on the internet for an undisclosed length of time. These servers contained data on thousands of Accenture’s clients, though the company’s statement on the issue assured customers that all data was from a retired system that contained no current data. Fortunately, server logs show that the researcher was the only unauthorized user to access them, which should help Accenture’s IT staff sleep a little better.

Latest Apple OS Gives Actual Password instead of Password Hint

A bug within Apple’s latest macOS, High Sierra, could allow a local attacker to request a password hint but receive the actual password. This bug occurred due to an issue with Apple’s file management system, which would have asked users to input a password hint in case they forgot their credentials. Unfortunately, the bug caused the hint request to display the legitimate password instead. Luckily for High Sierra users, Apple was quick to release a patch that fixed the issue.

Healthcare Service Records Found Online

Kromtech researchers discovered an unsecured Amazon S3 bucket belonging to a US healthcare services company that contained information on at least 150,000 patients. Although the company secured the server as soon as they were notified of this security oversight, it’s unclear how long the bucket was freely accessible.

Raising Cyber Savvy Kids

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Over the last year, a handful of cyberattacks have made news headlines and affected families. High-tech toy maker Spiral Toys was the victim of a particularly cunning hacking scheme. The maker of CloudPets stuffed animals reportedly exposed more than two million private voice recordings and the login credentials of 800,000 accounts. While these “smart toys” are part of a wave of internet-connected devices providing fun and memorable experiences, they are also exposing millions of users to cyber threats. These toys may appear harmless on the surface, but their vulnerability to attack should be kept top-of-mind by any parent.

Educate your family

One of the best ways to ensure your children maintain a safe online presence is to start the conversation around the potential risks they face in our increasingly connected world early on.

When it comes to online safety, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends looking for “teachable moments” that arise naturally during day-to-day computer use. For example, if you get a phishing message, show it to your kids so they can identify similar messages in the future and recognize they are not always what they seem.

BBC reported that “children aged five to 16 spend an average of six and a half hours a day in front of a screen compared with around three hours in 1995, according to market research firm Childwise.” With the amount of time kids and teens spend in front of a computer screen daily, and with hacking and cybercriminals becoming more advanced and sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to teach kids how to be cyber savvy.

One of the best ways to ensure your children maintain a safe online presence is to start the conversation around the potential risks they face in our increasingly connected world early on.

Tips for your cyber savvy kids

In addition to using tools like Webroot’s Parental Controls, CISO Gary Hayslip summarizes a few safety tips:

  • Don’t give out financial account numbers, Social Security numbers, or other personal identity information unless you know exactly who’s receiving it.
  • Remember to also protect other people’s information as you would your own.
  • Never send personal or confidential information via email or instant messages as these can be easily intercepted.

Find more tips to keep your family safe online, wherever they connect.

Cyber News Rundown: Edition 10/06/17

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The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cyber news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst, and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any more questions? Just ask.

Yahoo Breach Expands to All 3 Billion Users

In a recent statement, Yahoo announced that its 2013 breach, which took nearly 4 years to investigate, has impacted all 3 billion of their site’s unique users. Along with this recent update, the company is still reeling from a separate 2014 breach, which holds the dubious title of 2nd largest data breach to date. This update to the total affected users isn’t surprising, given that the original breach left questions as to why some accounts were compromised, while others remained untouched and showed no signs of malicious activity.

Facebook Under Fire After Russia-Based Ads Overwhelm Users

Recently, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg issued an apology for the site’s lack of action in stopping Russian advertisements and fake news articles, which have been circulating heavily since the 2016 election season. His statement goes on to promise that additional safeguards will be implemented to ensure Facebook can continue to be a safe platform for users to voice their opinions.

Hackers Prove You Can Game the Gamers

In the past week, R6DB, an online stat tracking service for the popular game Rainbow Six Siege was shut down after several servers were wiped completely due to a cyber-attack. The attackers accessed the database remotely, as it was left unsecured during a recent data migration that hadn’t yet concluded. Unfortunately for many players, their information is completely gone, while company officials are still working to restore what information they can.

Apple’s About-Face

Face ID, the iPhone X’s highly-touted biometric device locking system, has been found to be less than secure in several scenarios. Some of the vulnerabilities relate to young users whose facial features may change as they age, and siblings with similar facial features being able to spoof the security measure. Fortunately, Face ID isn’t the only security precaution on the new device, as it will still require a passcode to be set.

NFL Player Data Found on Unsecure Server

Recently, researchers discovered that an unsecured database belonging to the NFL Players Association contained records on over 1,100 individual players and agents. The compromised data included everything from players’ personal info to team contracts and payee information. Even more worrisome, a ransom note with a bitcoin address was found among the data, though it appears the data itself wasn’t leaked to Dark Web sellers. Fortunately, the database was secured shortly after researchers notified the NFLPA, though no response was received from the association regarding the incident.

Why You Should Protect Your Mac from Viruses

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“I use a Mac, so I don’t need to worry about malware, phishing, or viruses.” Many Mac users turn a blind eye to cybersecurity threats, often noting that most scams and attacks occur on PCs.

However, within the last few years, there has been a noted uptick in spyware (a type of software that gathers information about a person or organization without their knowledge), adware (software that automatically displays or downloads advertising material), and potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) on Macs and iOS devices.

While Macs are known to have strong security features, they are by no means bullet proof. In a recent interview with CSO Magazine, Webroot Vice President of Engineering David Dufour noted, “Many of these incidents are occurring through exploits in third-party solutions from Adobe, Oracle’s Java and others, providing a mechanism for delivering malicious software and malware.” Even the most internet-savvy users should be sure to install antivirus software on their Mac products.

Security tips for safe browsing on a Mac

Traditionally, because the Windows operating system is more widely used around the world, it is also more highly targeted by cybercriminals. However, Apple devices running macOS are still vulnerable to security threats, and protecting them should be a priority for anyone who owns them. Check out the following security recommendations to help ensure safety wherever you connect with your Mac:

  1. Try using a VPN
    VPN stands for “virtual private network” and is a technology that adds an extra level of privacy and security while online, particularly when using public WiFi networks, which are often less secure. This recent Refinery29 article illustrates the benefits of VPNs for your work and personal life.
  2. Secure your browser
    You may be tempted to ignore messages about updating your browsers, but the minute an update is available, you should download and install it. This is good advice for all software being run on any devices—desktop, laptop, or mobile.
  3. Secure backup
    Be sure to regularly backup your computer and iOS devices so you can easily retrieve your data in case you get locked out of your device.
  4. Use s strong login password
    Use a unique combination of numbers and letters to password-protect your Mac. This is good advice in general for all of the passwords you create. For an added security step, check out the Webroot Password Manager tool to make it easier to manage and organize your passwords.

Cyber News Rundown: Edition 9/29/17

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The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cyber news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst, and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any more questions? Just ask.

Showtime Site Found Using Cryptocurrency Miner

Following the discovery last week that ThePirateBay has been using a Monero miner to experiment with revenue alternatives for the site, researchers have found that both and have embedded code for similar cryptocurrency mining. The code itself runs only while the user is on the site, and ceases once they navigate away. The main concern, however, was the high CPU usage users experienced. The script in question was removed after several days of testing, but Showtime has yet to comment on their implementation of the crypto-miner or its intended outcome.

Massive Stash of Credit Card Info Linked to Sonic Breach

In the past few days, researchers have found a trove of credit card data that could be tied to a recent breach at Sonic, the popular drive-in restaurant. The data is organized by the location of each card, and currently contains nearly 5 million unique card numbers and related info. While Sonic has not yet determined the cause of the breach, they have been working with their credit processing company to identify the compromised store locations and implement credit monitoring for affected customers.

Big Four Accounting Firm Breached

Deloitte, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, suffered a cyberattack that exposed sensitive emails to criminals. Researchers believe hackers gained access to the email system via an administrative account without 2-factor authentication. The attack appears to have only affected a limited number of the firm’s clients, though actual figures are still unknown. Unfortunately, Deloitte’s security is severely lacking overall. With any luck, this breach will be the impetus they need to step up their protection practices.

Irish National Teachers’ Organisation Hacked

A recent Irish National Teachers’ Organisation breach may affect up to 30,000 current and retired teachers across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. While the breach doesn’t appear to have been data-oriented, the compromised systems contained massive quantities of teacher information. Fortunately, both payroll data and user passwords were not exposed, as they are stored in an alternate location. With enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the horizon, breaches like these will likely become very costly for victim companies.

Vehicle Tracking Data Available Online

In the last two weeks, researchers found an unsettling number of account records belonging vehicle tracking service SVR Tracking had been left completely unsecured online. The data includes account credentials and vehicle identification information for roughly 500,000 unique accounts. While it’s unclear how long the data was publicly available, SVR secured the server within several hours of being notified of the discovery.

Phishing: don’t take the bait

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Another day, another phishing attack. From businesses to consumers, phishing attacks are becoming a more widespread and dangerous online threat every year. One wrong click could quickly turn into a nightmare if you aren’t aware of the current techniques cyber scammers are using to get access to your valuable personal information.

A phishing attack is a tactic cybercriminals use to bait victims with fake emails that appear to come from reputable sources. The attackers’ goal is to lure the user into opening an attachment, clicking on a malicious link, or responding with private information. These phony emails have become alarmingly realistic and sophisticated. A scam may come in the form of a banking inquiry, an email from a seemingly official government agency, or even a well-known brand with whom you’ve done business—maybe you even pay them a monthly subscription fee.

If you do take the bait, you’ll likely be directed to a malicious website, where you’ll be prompted to enter your account login details, a credit card number, or worse yet, your social security number. The end goal of these phishing attacks is solely to steal your private information.

According to the Webroot Quarterly Threat Trends Report, the first half of 2017 saw an average of more  46,000 new phishing sites being launched every single day, making it the number-one cause of cybersecurity breaches. As hackers devise new phishing tactics, traditional methods of detecting them quickly become outdated.

One of the most popular tricks criminals use to avoid detection is the short-lived attack. The Quarterly Threat Trends Report also revealed that these attacks, where a phishing site is live on the internet for as short as 4 to 8 hours, are seeing a continued rise. Short-lived attacks are so hard to catch because traditional anti-phishing techniques like black-lists are often 3-5 days behind, meaning the sites have already been taken down by the time they appear on the list.

Five ways free antivirus could cost you

You’re probably already aware of the primary phishing-avoidance tip: do not click on suspicious links or unknown emails. But, as the state of phishing becomes even more advanced, how can you best spot and avoid an attack?

Lesser-known phishing giveaways

Webroot recommends keeping an eye out for the following:

  1. Requests for confidential information via email or instant message
  2. Emails using scare tactics or urgent requests to respond.
  3. Lack of a personal message or greeting. Legitimate emails from banks and credit card companies will often include a personalized greeting or even a partial account number, user name, or password.
  4. Misspelled words or grammatical mistakes. Call the company if you have suspicions about an email you’ve received.
  5. Directions to visit websites with misspelled URLs, or use of , which precede the normal domain (something like

Stay ahead of cybercriminals

If an email in your inbox does seem suspicious, here are a few things you can do:

  1. Contact the service or brand directly via another communication channel (i.e., look up their customer support phone number or email address), and ask them to verify whether the content of the email is legitimate.
  2. Avoid providing any personally identifiable information (PII) electronically, unless you are extremely confident the email is from the stated source.
  3. If you do click a link from an email, verify the site’s security before submitting any information. Make sure the site’s URL begins with “https” and that there’s a closed lock icon near the address bar. Also, be sure to check for the site’s security certificate.

Thoughts from Webroot’s new President & CEO, Mike Potts

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I’m delighted to join the Webroot team officially today as CEO. We helped define the cybersecurity field in our first 20 years, but I believe our best days are ahead. With this introductory post, I thought I’d let you know where I intend to focus in my first months at Webroot, with the goal of taking our customers, partners, and company to the next level of success.

Thanks to an extraordinary team, Webroot is in a great place today. We lead the market with cloud-based solutions that set the standard for endpoint and network protection, threat intelligence, and now security awareness training. Our solutions provide essential protection for the connected world from an ever-growing number of malicious threats. We have the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry and achieved 14 consecutive months of double-digit growth.

That’s an outstanding foundation to build upon. Over the next several months, I’ll focus on People, Process, and Technology as I work to accelerate our momentum in innovation and customer success.

Our cyber community

People will always come first, both the Webroot team and our customers and partners. We’ll continue to invest in recruiting and developing the best talent. Our team has more experience in applying advanced machine learning to the challenges of cybersecurity than anyone, and we’ll continue to push the envelope on using that intelligence to solve the issues that are most impactful to our customers.  I plan to visit many of our business customers in the coming weeks, to understand how we could be doing better today, and how we can build our businesses together.

Process at scale

My focus on process will be about scale. You’ll quickly find that I believe in the value and leverage of working with partners. We have a great footprint with MSPs serving small- and medium-sized businesses today that we will continue to strengthen. We also have strategic technology partners embedding our threat intelligence in their products, and there is potential for many more.  Moreover, I’ll push the team to generate even more innovation, introduce it faster, and to more customers than we have before, while holding true to our core company values of integrity, innovation, excellence, and customer success.

Advancing technology

Finally, I will focus on technology. We disrupted the market with our revolutionary Webroot SecureAnywhere endpoint solutions and our threat intelligence. Since then, we’ve extended our protection to the network layer and added user training to address the last line of defense. I want to ensure we continue to build on this legacy, and just as importantly anticipate the next great market shift.

While new to Webroot, I’m not new to the cybersecurity and technology space. I have been leading companies in the application and security sectors for the past 25 years. Before Webroot, I served as an integration executive in the security business group at Cisco, following the acquisition of my company Lancope in 2015. As president and CEO of Lancope, my team and I led the transformation of the network security company, driving over 600 percent growth in five years. Prior to Lancope, I served as president and CEO of AirDefense and changed the game in wireless security. AirDefense was then acquired by Motorola. With this background and the great Webroot team, I feel we are prepared to do something truly special. Webroot is by far the healthiest company I’ve ever had a chance to lead from day one, so I foresee even greater potential for us!

I look forward to meeting our customers, partners, and advocates in the coming months, and have you all join in this next great chapter of Webroot history.


Webroot Culture: Q&A with Systems Administrator Ann Roberts

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Before chatting with Ann Roberts, systems administrator at Webroot, I had a pretty narrow view of what her role in the IT department required on a day-to-day basis. As it turns out, a systems administrator must wear many hats and support multiple areas of the business. Read on to learn more about this tech career path.

Webroot: Ann, tell me a bit about yourself.

Ann Roberts: I grew up in Boulder, went to the University of Colorado at Denver, and graduated with a degree in music business. I moved to New York and ended up working in the IT department at Carnegie Hall. I missed Colorado, so I moved back to Boulder after having my first child. I freelanced for a while, worked at a now defunct startup for a while, and then began my role at Webroot. I currently live in Lafayette, Colorado, with my husband, our two kids, and our dog, Max.

Carnegie Hall, that sounds amazing. Was this your entry into tech?

Yes, but by accident! I started as the assistant in the IT department at Carnegie, but there was only one technician, and I enjoyed filling in the gaps when he wasn’t around. We were a two-person team, which meant that I ended up learning a lot more than I expected, and discovered that I had an aptitude for understanding tech and systems. The rest is history!

What do you do at Webroot?

I am a systems administrator. I am responsible for the care and feeding of the systems that make up Webroot’s corporate infrastructure.

Take us through a ‘day in the life’ of a systems administrator.

It is different from day to day, but it all starts with a big cup of coffee. First thing in the morning, I check email to see if anything has gone haywire overnight. Next, I take care of any urgent requests that need attention. After that, I work on projects as time allows. One project I’ve done quite a bit of work with is with our vRealize Automation environment (Partly Cloudy, as we call it). This system allows people to create their own virtual machines on demand. It has proven especially useful for the quality assurance engineers, because it gives them a disposable platform on which to do their product testing. It has also been interesting to have a window into their role in the company.

Have you seen anything surprising or an unexpected in your field?

My previous company was the sort of environment where every time there was a technical problem, everyone flew into a grouchy panic. After the problem was resolved, inevitably there would be a rush to place blame on someone or something. The result was an environment that made you afraid of messing up. It was a great surprise after starting work at Webroot to find that when problems happen, as they do everywhere, everyone takes it in stride and works together to find solutions.

What has been your biggest challenge working in tech?

Because I found my profession by accident, I have not done any “formal” training. For much of my career, I’ve relied on what I’ve gleaned from coworkers, Google, and trial and error.

What is your biggest takeaway or lesson learned from working in the field?

Don’t panic! Keep a level head and you’ll figure it out.

Love that advice. What about students in your field, any guidance to share?

Get as much real-life experience as you can. There is only so much that can be learned by reading about a subject. The whole point of this job is to expect the unexpected, and the unexpected is what you encounter on the job.

What about professionals looking to get into tech?

If you find a subject you’re interested in, then just find a way to be around it. Take a class on it, do research on it, or set up the environment and play around with it.

What’s it like to work for Webroot?

Webroot is a fun company to work for. There is a strong emphasis on work/life balance, which is important to me.

Thanks, Ann. I think your great attitude on tackling challenges must be a great asset in your line of work.

If you’re interested in a career like Ann’s, check out our careers page at You may be particularly interested in our openings for a QA Engineer.

Ransomware Spares No One: How to Avoid the Next Big Attack

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With global ransomware attacks, such as WannaCry and not-Petya, making big headlines this year, it seems the unwelcomed scourge of ransomware isn’t going away any time soon. While large-scale attacks like these are most known for their ability to devastate companies and even whole countries, the often under-reported victim is the average home user.

We sat down with Tyler Moffit, senior threat research analyst at Webroot, to talk ransomware in plain terms to help you better understand how to stop modern cybercriminals from hijacking your most valuable data.

Webroot: For starters, how do you describe ransomware? What exactly is being ransomed?

Tyler Moffit: To put it simply, your files are stolen. Basically, any files that you would need on the computer, whether those are pictures, office documents, movies, even save files for video games, will be encrypted with a password that you need to get them back. If you pay the ransom, you get the password (at least, in theory. There’s no guarantee.)

How does the average home user get infected with ransomware?

Malspam” campaigns are definitely the most popular. You get an email that looks like it’s from the local post office, saying you missed a package and need to open the attachment for tracking. This attachment contains malware that delivers the ransomware, infecting your computer. It is also possible to become infected with ransomware without clicking anything when you visit malicious websites. Advertisements on legitimate websites are the biggest target. Remote desktop protocol (RDP) is another huge attack vector that is gaining traction as well. While controlling desktops remotely is very convenient, it’s important to make sure your passwords are secure.

How is the data ? Is the ransomed data actually taken or transmitted?

When you mistakenly download and execute the ransomware, it encrypts your files with a password, then sends that password securely back to the attacker’s server. You will then receive a ransom demand telling you how to pay to get the password to unlock your files. This is a really efficient way to prevent you from accessing your files without having to send gigabytes of information back to their servers. In very simple terms, the files are scrambled using a complex algorithm so that they are unreadable by any human or computer unless the encryption key is provided.


What types of files do ransomware attacks usually target?

Most ransomware is specifically engineered to go after any type of file that is valuable or useful to people. Around 200 file extensions have been known to be targeted. Essentially, any file that you’ve saved or open regularly would be at risk.

How does the attacker release the encrypted files?

The attacker provides a decryption utility via the webpage where you make the payment. Once you receive the decryption key, all you have to do is input that key into the tool and it will decrypt and release the files allowing you to access them again. Keep in mind, however, that the criminal who encrypted your files is under no obligation to give them back to you. Even if you pay up, you may not get your files back.

Tips for protecting your devices:

  • Use reliable antivirus software.
  • Keep all your computers up-to-date. Having antivirus on your computer is a great step towards staying safe online; however, it doesn’t stop there. Keeping your Windows PCs and/or Mac operating systems up-to-date is equally important.
  • Backup your data. Being proactive with your backup can help save your favorite vacation photos, videos of your kid’s first piano recital, not to mention sensitive information that could cost you thousands by itself.


Remember, being an informed and aware internet user is one of the best defenses against cyberattacks. Stay tuned in to the Webroot blog and follow us on your favorite social media sites to stay in-the-know on all things cybersecurity.

CISO to CISO: Combatting the Ever-Growing Phishing Threat Together

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As a CISO, I think the cybersecurity community is beginning to realize that the threats we face as security professionals are consistently evolving, and, more importantly, that we must evolve just as quickly to combat them. Recent data collected by the Webroot® Threat Intelligence Platform on the acceleration of phishing attacks and the maturation of new, related criminal methodologies demonstrates that, to respond effectively, we must develop and leverage solutions that don’t just keep up with today’s threats, but predict their next moves.

Most CISOs, myself included, want solutions that can respond in real time and assist us in making critical decisions to not only protect our businesses, but reduce risk overall. A lot of the new solutions that might interest us can be integrated into a platform and allow us to consume different types of threat intelligence and data feeds so we can automate responses to attacks in real time.

3 Steps to Mitigate Phishing Risks

Phishing is the number one cause of breaches. Webroot BrightCloud® Web Reputation is one of the solutions I look to as a critical asset for any security team because it provides the knowledge, within milliseconds of selecting a URL, whether a site is malicious. This efficiency and accuracy allows security teams to be proactive in protecting their organizations—to prevent compromises, not react to them after the fact. In addition to leveraging this type of real-time intelligence technology, I recommend several steps to reduce the phishing risk to any organization and its employees.

Social Media Security Awareness

Social media is increasingly used by cybercriminals to research their targets. As such, CISOs should add social media security awareness training to their corporate security awareness curriculum. Personnel should be trained on the risks and given insight into how the data they publish in their profiles could be used to target them, their families, and the organizations they represent. In my experience, the majority of people on social media don’t take even the most basic security precautions, such as only connecting with people whom they know, or not allowing their profiles to be searched or viewed publicly.

Executive Exposure Prevention

Additionally, I recommend directing threat intelligence toward executive staff and assistants. An organization can provide a list of executive staff, board members, executive assistants, and other company VIPs to a threat intelligence service. The service can then scan the dark web and watch for anything related to the client organization and the list of provided personnel. This gives the organization’s security team advanced notice of possible phishing attacks against specific employees, and allows them to warn employees to mitigate risk, change passwords, and even shut down compromised accounts.

Real-Time Anti-Phishing

Given that the number of new unique phishing sites averages over one million per month, and that the lifespans of many such sites can be measured in mere hours, it’s clear we need new techniques to stop modern attacks. With this in mind, I recommend CISOs employ real-time threat intelligence feeds with data specific to their industry, and that the data be contextual, meaning it should apply to the technology, applications, and security controls the CISO has deployed.

I also recommend engaging real-time URL filtering, since phishing emails typically drop a ransomware payload, which can significantly impact an organization’s business operations. Since phishing websites are active for an average of 4-8 hours, and given the new methods cybercriminals use to hide malicious sites in plain view, I believe it’s critical to be proactive and use real-time URL filtering. The methods of bygone years, in which we deployed domain block lists and IP address block lists, have been outpaced by the innovative phishing techniques cybercriminals use today. As threats have adapted, we too need to adapt.

The Bottom Line

The latest quarterly threat report focuses on phishing specifically, and is an informative read for all of my fellow CISOs, and a primer to help support and maintain the security of your own organizations. As CISOs, it’s time to level the online playing field to proactively detect and respond to threats in real time. The first step is by arming ourselves with the right threat intelligence to make more timely and better-informed cybersecurity decisions.

Cyber News Rundown: Edition 9/15/17

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The Cyber News Rundown brings you the latest happenings in cyber news weekly. Who am I? I’m Connor Madsen, a Webroot Threat Research Analyst, and a guy with a passion for all things security. Any more questions? Just ask.

German Voting Software Raises Concerns

With German elections only a couple weeks away, researchers have been working to determine how secure the voting systems really are. Per a recent study, the software being used contains multiple vulnerabilities that could lead to devastating results if the election is compromised. Meanwhile, the software creator maintains there is nothing wrong with the system and any tampering would only lead to confusion, rather than truly affecting the vote’s outcome.

Upgraded Android OS Slows Tide of Overlay Attacks

While overlay attacks are nothing new to Android™ users, the Toast window is a surprisingly fresh take on this technique. Google has already patched the issue being exploited, but many users unintentionally fell victim and gave permissions to a malicious app using the Toast window overlay on a legitimate page to spoof the users input. This type of attack can range from simply installing an annoying piece of malware on the device, all the way up to locking the device down and demanding a ransom.

Apple Implements Even More Security for iOS 11

In recent years, the security surrounding smartphones and other portable devices has been under scrutiny by both users and law enforcement. In its latest iOS® version, Apple is introducing new features that will make unauthorized access to their devices even more challenging. The first is only a minor change, which request the device’s password/code when connecting it to a new computer (like those used by law enforcement for forensic analysis.) This change puts the power back in the device owner’s hands, as they aren’t required to divulge that type of information, nor would a potential thief be likely to know or guess the locking combination. The second feature allows the device to be put into SOS mode, which also requires a passcode to unlock, rather than using the TouchID, which can be falsified.

Equifax Hack Could Be Largest Ever

As you’ve probably heard, Equifax was recently compromised, leaving over 143 million Americans’ social security numbers and other highly sensitive information vulnerable and likely for sale. The original point of access would seem to be their main Argentinian employee portal page, which, through simple HTML viewing, can show both the username and password for nearly 14,000 customers who had filed a complaint, along with their social security number equivalent, all stored in plain text.

WordPress Plugin Removed Again for Malicious Activity

After 4 unprecedented takedowns, WordPress has finally removed the Display Widgets plugin from its repository after being implicated in malicious activity yet again. The plugin was sold several years ago and has since been installed on over 200,000 PCs, though it is hard to tell how many users have upgraded to more secure plugin versions. Even more worrisome is that backdoors became part of the plugin’s payload, and could be actively running on any of the 200,000 known devices.

Fending Off Privacy Invasion

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Internet users in the U.S. have seen internet privacy protections diminish significantly in the post-9/11 era. In just March of this year, Congress swiftly (and quietly) did away with federal privacy regulations that prevented internet service providers from selling their customers’ browsing histories without consent.

In recent years, products intended to deliver conveniences directly to our doorsteps have begun to present tacit privacy intrusions into the modern home. Always-on smart speakers from online retailers make it easier than ever to order products, but they also enable those companies to listen to our every word. Those same companies are monitoring our behaviors across the web.

“Google knows quite a lot about all of us,” said cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier in a recent interview with the Harvard Gazette. “No one ever lies to a search engine. I used to say that Google knows more about me than my wife does, but that doesn’t go far enough. Google knows me even better, because Google has perfect memory in a way that people don’t.”

Giant corporations aren’t the only ones intruding into our daily lives to collect our personal data for financial gain—cybercriminals are intent on doing the same. Crimes such as identity theft and extortion can be carried out with stealthy malware, such as remote access tools (RATs) used to spy on users via laptop webcams.

We asked people in downtown Denver, CO what they are doing to protect their privacy. Their answers were rather bleak:


While public awareness of this ominous trend has mounted somewhat since 2013, when revelations of America’s government surveillance surfaced via the Snowden leaks, virtually nothing has been done to reverse it. Faced with this constant barrage of privacy invasion, pulling the plugs and disconnecting entirely may seem like the only way out—but rejecting “the way things are” is a pill most people are unlikely to swallow.

Until there’s a major shift in our society’s attitudes (and public policies) toward internet privacy, the duty falls on individual users to safeguard their own private data, identities, and other sensitive information. Follow and share the tips below to take back control over your privacy.

Tips for protecting your online privacy

  • Configure your web browser to delete cookies after closing. You can also take control of other advanced privacy features in your web browser to have greater control of what you’re sharing with websites you visit.
  • Cover your webcam with tape, a sticker, or something else that can block the camera lens and also be easily removed when you need to use it. (Webroot SecureAnywhere® solutions protect against webcam spying and other potentially unwanted applications.)
  • Don’t share sensitive information on social media. Check your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Twitter and make sure only your trusted followers can see your complete profile. For instance, do your Facebook friends really need to know your real birthday? Deliberately sharing a fake birthday on social media can be a crafty way to enhance your privacy.
  • Lock your screens. All of them. Losing a device like your laptop or smartphone could spell disaster if they were to end up in the wrong hands. Strong, uncommon PINs and passwords can lock down your devices from would-be thieves.
  • Use fake answers for password security questions. Honest answers to security questions can often be found with just a little online digging. Why can’t your mother’s maiden name be “7O7F1@!3kgBj”? This brings us to our next tip…
  • Use a password manager app to generate and store strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. (A password manager can also safely store those fake security answers mentioned above.)
  • Use security software to monitor and protect your digital devices from threats like malware, spyware, and phishing attacks, which can steal your private data.

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