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.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

The Next War Will Be Fought Without Firing A Single Bullet

Bombs, bullets, mortars, tanks. They are all so World War II. The next war, if it happens, will be waged in cyber-space.

Imagine the chaos of no air traffic control, no electrical grid, no banking, money, food or fuel. In a matter of days, life as we know it will be either over or damn close to it. No soldiers needed, no buildings blasted to smithereens. Cyber war is the doomsday scenario being played out in war game exercises around the globe.

Penetration Testing at NATO

NATO’s annual cyber-attack exercise, “Locked Shield,” prepped member states in how to deal with a cyber-attack. Over 2 days, different teams from different nations simulated attacks that compromised air-traffic control centers and the electric grid.

“You don’t need to start a war by targeting the military,” Merle Maigre, Director of NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence recently said. “Malicious codes could render fighter pilots unable to respond even before they take off.”

Cyber Security Damage is Extensive

If that isn’t a concern for you, then add in the rest of the damage a cyber-blast could affect: banking, food distribution, power, fuel. These are most of the things we need in modern society to survive.

Our systems were set up in the 1970s, well before the current level of concern existed. We are clearly vulnerable and way behind the times – and the threats. Our society is so intertwined we can no longer survive without each other. We need to get ready.

30 countries from the EU and NATO took part in the exercise held in Tallinn, Estonia. U.S. Commander Michael Widmann said real-world practice exercises are needed to prepare for an attack. He claimed, “we look at real-life incidents and then we apply them to our exercises. We’re not trying to make things up.”

It Sounds Like a Sci-Fi Novel, But Cyber Attacks Are Real Threats

This is not a future maybe. Cyber attacks have already presented real damage to areas or industries we thought untouchable. So for those of you who play a role in protecting the cyber security of your organization, let us show you how very real these cyber attack and security breaches are – these are some real examples of what cyber criminals have done before.

The Breach of Hospital Ventilation Systems

In 2011, a data breach affected the ventilation system of a hospital. The hacking took place by injecting malware into the hospital computer system. The vulnerability caused significant physical damage to the hospital and as a result the HVAC system stopped. This immediately put patients at risk and placed an immediate threat on the medical supplies held at the hospital. In this incident, the hacker compromised the system and controlled both the air and heating systems from a remote location. As a result of this issue the hospital made proper cyber security measures a priority and performed several server hardening tasks to better protect their data.

A Compromised Turkish Oil Pipeline

Another serious incident occurred in 2008 when hackers disabled the pipeline computer systems.  There was no serious damage, but the potential risks were immense – causing the businesses to hire a managed security services provider. If this incident had not been controlled properly, people in Southern California would have been exposed to an immense oil leak along their coastline – and it would have gone undetected by the pipeline management system.

Derailing of a Train

A teen in Poland used a homemade transmitter to trip the rail switches and redirect four trains. As a result of this compromise, 12 people were injured when a train derailed.

German Steel Plant Explosion

In 2015, a steel plant in Germany experienced severe consequences due to hacking. The compromise closed crucial areas of the plant and caused a furnace that was not shut down properly to explode.

Raw Sewage Dump

Hackers can oftentimes be very disgruntled and take out their frustrations on IT systems. Back in 2001, a young Australian hacker took out his vengeance on the town he lived in by hacking into the town’s computerized waste management system and spilling millions of gallons of raw sewage into the town’s parks and rivers.

 Power Grid Sabotage

Back in 2015 another critical compromise occurred showing us just how much damage cyber attacks can really do. Faulty firmware placed into a power grid in the Ukraine caused the blackout of an entire city.

Please Pay Attention!

Cyber attacks are no longer confined to stealing information or ransoming information for money. Sometimes hackers just want to do physical damage to a community, a city, an institution or a business. In order to prevent or avoid these horrendous possibility of a Cyber World War III, it is imperative that we implement server hardening measures that prevent infiltrations and improve cyber security.

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.

 

 

 

Law Firm Faces Negligence Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Poor Cyber Security

A Chicago law firm faces a lawsuit alleging they failed to properly protect sensitive client information.  Johnson & Bell faces a class action citing JBoss, VPN, and SSL vulnerabilities.  Interestingly, according to the filing, there was no evidence of compromise but the suit claims the firm could have been easily penetrated.

How many other law firms could face similar legal actions for allegations of poor cyber security practices? This could be a significant issue for legal firms of all sizes across the country.

LP3 is watching this case carefully; we ensure that our clients are implementing sound cyber security practices based on NIST and CIS Top 20 best practices.

Visit https://lp3.com/assessandtest/ or email CyberHELP@LP3.com for a comprehensive vulnerability and business risk assessment.

References: http://privatepomm.com/2017/01/01/cyber-malpractice-negligence-lawsuit-hits-a-chicago-law-firm/

Another Hospital Breach…not a Surprise Unfortunately

A few questions:

  1. How exactly did the third-party get compromised? What network segmentation was in place or not?
  2. How much is the breach going to cost Sentara?
  3. Did Sentara conduct any cyber security due diligence with the third-party vendor? Vulnerability assessments? Monitoring?
  4. How was the breach detected? Did Sentara detect it?  Or were they notified from elsewhere? What worked? What didn’t work?

It’s critically important to work closely with HIPAA/HITECH business associates on a technical cyber security level since the hackers will take advantage of the weakest link in the connected IT systems.

Heck…with any business associate…Target was compromised through an HVAC vendor.   If the company networks are connected, they need to be under continuous monitoring and vulnerability tested at least annually.