Over a Quarter of All Businesses Suffer Cyber Security Issues

Why undergo a cyber security penetration test? Most organizations simply do them to meet compliance standards or to test the methodologies used by the IT security team. However, did you know that about a quarter of all companies perform poorly executed penetration tests – and in some cases do nothing more than validate known vulnerabilities?

A recent RSA security conference survey  revealed a frightening statistic, 26% of companies are lagging in proper cyber security practices. Some companies even intentionally ignore their own security flaws. The reasons range from not having enough time to address the threat, to not knowing how or not wanting to spend the money to hire someone who does.

Only 46% Address Cyber Security Vulnerabilities Right Away

Of the companies that do address vulnerabilities, many do so only with half interest. During the conference, 155 security professionals representing many companies at the RSA conference revealed that only 47% of organizations fix or address their vulnerabilities as soon as they are known.

Even more amazing is that some companies wait – sometimes for significant amounts of time –before they do anything about it. Either by applying patches or “do-overs”, allowing time for hackers to infiltrate their IT infrastructure and attack it.

But if you think that’s jaw dropping, chew on this: 16% wait for one month to apply patches and 8% said they apply patches only once or twice a year.

There Is No Time, They Say

I once heard a preacher say that often people don’t have time to visit a relative, but always have time to come to the funeral. Almost 26% of respondents said their company ignored a critical security flaw because they didn’t have time to fix it. But if their systems go down – or worse yet, is compromised or hacked – they’ll have even less time because so much of it will be spent in restoration.

16% ignore critical security flaws because they didn’t have the skills to patch them.

The conclusion of this study is? Hoping for the best, is obviously not the best way to run an organization.

If You Can Hack Yourself, You’re in Trouble

71% of the IT professionals surveyed admitted that they would be able to hack their own company. And only 9% said this was highly “unlikely.” The fact that 71% felt they could indicates how weak and vulnerable many companies are – which means we are in dire straits.

But There Is A Difference Between Saying and Doing

During this survey, IT security analysts were asked how they might hack their own company if they so wished:

  • More than 30% said they’d use social engineering, something like a phishing email or program
  • 23% said they would think about attacking an insecure web application to get in
  • 21% said that accessing username and passwords for cloud would be the way they would get in
  • And another 21% said they’d target an employee’s smartphone,tablet or laptop

Now if the employees know how to hack their organization, how easy do you think it is for a professional hacker to do the same thing?

Testing, Schmesting

Does testing really matter? Why bother with something as routine as testing?

The truth is effective penetration testing offers an advantage over automated scanners. It allows you to see what a human attacker can easily determine and helps you discover misconfiguration vulnerabilities, something automated scans often can’t detect. And one of the biggest vulnerabilities found are the excessive misuse of user permissions which can easily give unauthorized access to hackers.

Human attackers often compromise a system by using a variety of vulnerabilities together. Penetration tests can simulate a variety of attack paths and thereby allow you to fix the errors.

All in All

It is important that you know all the vulnerabilities available to hackers through your organizations network. And sometimes the only way to really see these vulnerabilities is through penetration testing. It shows you which vulnerabilities are easy to exploit and which aren’t.

Yes, it’s important to know what vulnerabilities exist in your organization’s network. But which ones do you spend your finite resources correcting? Which vulnerabilities are easily exploitable, and which aren’t? Which put critical assets at risk? Which have to be fixed first? Without this context, you might spend time and money in the wrong place, leaving your organization exposed elsewhere.

A clearly described attack path, derived from a well-performed penetration test, can provide this context. For example, your organization might have an old Windows 2003 server running a mission-critical application. Because the server’s operating system is no longer supported by Microsoft, it will never receive patches – even for major, exploitable vulnerabilities. However, if the penetration test discovers that the server is in a properly segmented, hard-to-access network, then the vulnerability is likely of a lower severity. You should still address it, but only after more critical vulnerabilities have been mitigated. This kind of context enables better decisions about the use of finite resources to improve the organization’s overall cybersecurity posture.

Get Engaged, Get Value

Consumers of penetration testing can ensure a more valuable engagement for their organization by understanding what a penetration testing team does and by taking an active role from the beginning. Being highly engaged with the testing helps it generate and capture the appropriate context, which will allow the organization to make more informed decisions about where to allocate limited resources to improve its cybersecurity stance.

If you would like more information, contact LP3. We will be glad to help you make an informed decision on cyber security for your business or organization.

Scott Lawler is CEO of LP3 and provides enterprise cyber security architecture advice to government and commercial clients.

 

 

 

Wiper Malware Can Wipe You Out

You show up for work all bright and shiny one day, fire up your computers and…suddenly you feel your heart leap in your chest and your hands begin to shake. Your data, the lifeblood of your organization, has been erased. What happened? Now what are you supposed to do?

When it is all wiped clean by wiper malware, there is not much you can do. Which is why it is so important to protect your data and implement state-of-the-art data security measures that will help you replace that lost data.

It Is Wiper Malware

Wiper malware, the villain of this real life horror story, almost brought Sony Entertainment to its knees in 2014. The recent attack associated with North Korea, used something called Destover to do its dirty deed.

The cyber world has captured the imagination of criminal minds and other hackers. It is the wild west all over again, but this time wars will be waged without bullets. Attacks will come without bombs or soldiers. Instead cyber attacks will be fought from swivel chairs.

Every business and every person that is connected to the web can easily become a victim.

So if you have a 100,000 word novel or your company’s financial life on your computer systems, you better have some type of cyber security plan and backup in place.

What Is Wiper Malware?

A rose by any other name is still a rose, only in this case it is Wiper malware, also known as Shamoon, Black Energy, Destover, ExPetr/Not Petya and Olympic Destroyer and others. Their purpose is to destroy systems or data and cause reputational damage or financial loss.

Even so, most of the actuators of Wiper code are bent on one of two things:

  • Sending a message – typically to make a political statement.
  • Cover their tracks after data exfiltration.

Yes, destructive cyber attacks have been around for a long time. But the delivery method of wiper malware is significantly more evolved and damaging and can range from overwriting files to the destruction of entire file systems.

The Wiper Anatomy

The typical Wiper malware looks at three targets: files (data), system boot section, and backups (located on the system). It usually targets all three areas simultaneously.

Cyber Security Measures Are Essential

It is an unsettling moment when fact and truth are no longer the same things. The newspaper and 24/7 cable news channels show that opinion, elections, and information can be manipulated, controlled, targeted and (gulp…) erased. So far it’s been mostly politics, but that will soon change as hackers learn to do more and more damage.

Patterns of Attack

In a report entitled “Wiper Malware Analysis,” David McMillen stated that malware attacks basically began in 2008 with a malware called Narilam. This computer compromise method attacked financial and business software packages primarily used in Iran.

In 2009 and 2010, two more, called Dozer and Koredos were deployed in South Korea. Shamoon, reared its ugly head in 2012 and took out 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco. Another in the growing list of villains called GrooveMonitor/Maya, was reported in Iran and an aptly name package called Dark Seoul showed up in South Korea.

The Hostages

Some launch one-time attacks on a specific date, others move more gradually doing their damage over a longer period of time, allowing remote command-and-control center access to the system.

Hackers can now potentially move into extortion, blackmail, and ransom as the value of data increases exponentially. As creative as the malware becomes, so too will the creativity of the hackers or political activists that want to sway things their way. With vast amounts of money, influence and power at stake, the duty to protect your data have never been higher. Erasure, exposure and extortion can all come your way, regardless of how careful you think you may be.

What Can You Do?

Don’t be defensive, but instead be offensive – prepare for an eventual cyber attack. When it comes to malware, it is not a matter of “If” you will be attacked but when. The best things you can do are:

  • Prepare is to take proactive security steps to minimize the risks
  • Isolate crucial intellectual property in hardened systems that can only be accessed through security passwords
  • Back-up important files and store them off-site
  • Institute and test an emergency response and recovery plan

If you take these vital steps to secure your data, you won’t have to worry about Wiper Malware ruining your bright and shiny day.

If you would like more information, contact LP3. We will be glad to help you make an informed decision on cyber security for your business or organization.

Scott Lawler is CEO of LP3 and provides enterprise cyber security architecture advice to government and commercial clients.

 

 

Cyber Attacks Against Cryptocurrency Traders

Virus Alert: If you’re a cryptocurrency trader, this worm can cost you everything.

Blockchain it is the new buzzword on the Net – the brainchild of a person or group of people known as Satoshi Nakamoto. But since its invention it has changed into something of importance to everyone.

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain allows for digital information to be distributed and not copied. It was originally created to be the foundation of a new type of internet and digital currency known as cryptocurrency.

These currencies go by many names (including Bitcoin) and have been called digital gold. Today the value of this new currency runs into the billions of dollars.

Blockchain technology has been a game changer for the finance industry and crypto-currencies have been trading at record levels this year. Investors find them a great alternative to mine wealth. Unfortunately, other miners find it easier to let you do all the work, then take the proceeds for themselves.

The FacexWorm Attacks Crytocurrency Investors

You can catch the virus called FacexWorm as easily as opening a video link from someone you know via Facebook Messenger. If you get one, you better keep your eyes wide open and your fingers still. If you click it you may regret it, and all of your new blockchain acquisitions might be gone in a second.

The FacexWorm

Cyber security experts are warning users of blockchain technology of a dangerous and invasive Chrome extension being spread through Facebook Messenger. Prime targets are users of blockchain cryptocurrency trading platforms. The mission: access all their account credentials, info and data.

FacexWorm, first showed its ugly face in August of 2017, but apparently it’s being improved because recent versions have a host of new malicious capabilities.

These New FacexWorm Capabilities include:

  • Stolen account credentials from websites like Google
  • Invasion of numerous cryptocurrency and trading sites
  • Redirecting traders to cryptocurrency scams sites
  • Interjecting web page miners onto cryptocurrency trading platforms
  • Redirection to a miner’s link for cryptocurrency referral programs so they can not only mine you but also any of your contacts with blockchain currency accounts

Facebook Messenger has now become a favorite target to spread worms and other forms of cyber-destruction.

Other cyber security issues that relate to blockchain attacks are a Monero-cryptocurrency mining bot, called Digmine. It targets Windows and Google Chrome and is spread through Messenger by redirecting crypto-traders to popular video sites like YouTube.

The FacexWorm extension targets only Chrome users so far. If the user does not use Chrome, they will be redirected to a benign useless advertisement.

How FacexWorm Does Its Damage

FacexWorm works by transmitting specifically engineered links via Facebook. If clicked on while using the Chrome browser, FacexWorm redirects you to a bogus YouTube page. To continue, the user must download a fake Chrome extension as a codec extension.

Once installed, the FacexWorm Chrome extension automatically downloads additional modules from its command and control server and creates a replicant clone of Chrome. In addition to its routine functions, the FacexWorm also contains a code snippet that it injects onto the affected system. The destructive new worm spreads every time a new web page is opened.

Researchers reported “FacexWorm will query its C&C server to find and retrieve another JavaScript code (hosted on a Github repository) and execute its behaviors on that webpage. With all permissions accepted at installation the worm can access or modify data for any websites opened.”

How Much Damage Can the FacexWorm Do?

By obtaining a user’s friend list, it can send out bogus YouTube video links and request authorization access to everyone on your list, spreading itself around the globe.

It can capture account credentials and info for Google, MyMonero, and Coinhive, when the user opens a target website login page. It can also install a cryptocurrency miner to any opened web pages, utilizing the user’s own computer to mine Cryptocurrency.

Highjacking

FacexWorm can highjack cryptocurrency related trading transactions by redirecting the keyed-in address and replacing it with the attackers address. When any one of the 52 crypto-currency trading platforms like “blockchain,” “eth-,” or “ethereum” are typed into the URL, FacexWorm redirects to the scam webpage where the hacker can steal any or all of the crypto-coins. Targets include Poloniex, HitBTC, Bitfinex, Ethfinex, and Binance, and the wallet Blockchain.info.

This Blockchain Malware Is Sneaky

FacexWorm is sneaky. To avoid discovery and extraction it immediately closes an opened tab when it detects Chrome is being opened. There is even an incentive for hackers every time a victim registers an account on Binance, DigitalOcean, FreeBitco.in, FreeDoge.co.in, or HashFlare.

Targeted crypto-currencies by FacexWorm include Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Gold (BTG), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Dash (DASH), ETH, Ethereum Classic (ETC), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), Zcash (ZEC), and Monero (XMR).

This is only the beginning with just one Bitcoin transaction being recently affected. With the widespread use of Facebook Messenger around the globe, the worm will spread with it. The malware already has surfaced in Germany, Tunisia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Spain.

Bottom Line

Facebook spam campaigns are nothing new, so it is always smart to be careful, especially with banking and currency sites and the potentially tremendous losses.

Many malicious extensions have already been removed by Chrome, but they keep reappearing so be careful with your currency trading.

If you would like more information, contact LP3. We will be glad to help you make an informed decision on cyber security for your business or organization.

Scott Lawler is CEO of LP3 and provides enterprise cyber security architecture advice to government and commercial clients.