How Malwarebytes was founded PT2

How the Malwarebytes company started and grew.

How the Malwarebytes company started and grew.

What made Mrs Kleczynski initially more alarmed was that her teenage son had launched the business with a man in his 30s called Bruce Harrison. Marcin and Bruce had been writing software together for more than a year, after they first started talking on anti-virus forums.

“Here’s this 17-year-old kid… he’s this 35-year-old man. Imagine telling your mum?…” says Marcin.

Marcin and Bruce hadn’t actually met in person at the time. Bruce was a computer repairman in Massachusetts, and Marcin was at home in Chicago. They didn’t in fact see each other in the flesh until Malwarebytes was more than 12 months old.

“We didn’t meet until we made our first million about a year after we launched the product,” says Marcin. “Even that was kind of anti-climatic. It was just, ‘Hey, Bruce!’ – We had a handshake and moved on.”

Today Bruce, who is head of research, still lives and works on the US east coast, while Marcin is based in the head office in Silicon Valley. The company now has more than 750 employees, and overseas offices in the Republic of Ireland, Singapore and Estonia. Since 2014 it has secured $80m of investment funding.

Malwarebytes says its software now performs 187 million virus scans every month for individuals and businesses, and is installed more than 247,000 times every day. Like many antivirus companies it operates a “freemium” business model – the basic version is free, but you can then pay for more advanced protection.

While the company has consistently grown strongly, Marcin has learned some hard lessons along the way. The most difficult time was navigating the business through an almost catastrophic period in 2014 where the product glitched on a huge scale.

“We had a false positive which means we detected a piece of malicious software that wasn’t actually malicious at all,” he says.

“Our software ended up mistakenly bringing down hundreds of thousands of computers. We had 911 emergency centres go down, hospitals go down, it was bad. This has happened to every anti-virus company, by the way, but these mistakes can be company killing because you lose trust.

“But we fixed it and got through it. Even today, the system that we created to prevent this from happening again is called ‘The Malwarebytes Extinction Prevention System’ – our engineers have a great sense of humour.”

Carl Gottlieb, a cyber security podcaster, says that despite operating in the “notoriously hostile” antivirus industry “Malwarebytes is thriving”.

“With so many competing vendors, brand awareness is key, and that step which Malwarebytes took to offer a free product years ago is paying dividends, with so many customers knowing the name and already using it in their homes. What Marcin and his team have achieved is impressive to see.”

Still only 29, Marcin says his young age has been an advantage. He encourages other budding teen entrepreneurs to start their own business.

“You’ve heard my story, I started the company when I was living with my parents,” he says. “And then even at college, it was all paid for on a student loan, so I was getting fed. If you’re in college now, instead of going out and getting drunk with your friends, maybe take one night a week just to see if there’s anything you want to work on personally.”

He admits that his university years were harder than his friends’, that he barely passed his degree, and his social life no doubt suffered. However, he’s glad his mum forced him to go. “For one thing, I met my wife there,” he says.

GCHQ warns of cyber security scams on Black Friday

GCHQ has issued an warning of cyber security scams on Black Friday.

GCHQ has issued an warning of cyber security scams on Black Friday.

Black Friday sales could be targeted as easy pickings for cyber-crime, according to Cheltenham-based GCHQ.

The National Cyber Security Centre, part of GCHQ, is advising shoppers of the risk of online threats. It is the first such official cyber security warning in the run up to Christmas.

GCHQ wants to start a “national cyber-chat” today (Black Friday), when billions are spent online. Known for working in secret, the agency wants to be open and engage with the public over the seriousness of the threat.

The National Cyber Security Centre has tackled more than 550 significant cyber incidents over the past year, and has taken down almost 140,000 “phishing” websites.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is giving tips for shoppers to avoid cyber-crime – and for the first time it will be publishing answers to questions from the public on Twitter.

The agency recently warned of a serious and sustained threat from elite hackers in other countries, which could include the theft of millions from retailers and attacks on the financial networks the shops depend on.

The British Retail Consortium is backing the calls for better cyber security during the Christmas shopping season, and retailers continue to invest heavily in protecting themselves against cyber-threats.

The National Cyber Security Centre’s advice to reduce the risk of cyber crime is:

  • Install the latest software and app updates
  • Type in a shop’s website address rather than clicking on links in emails
  • Choose strong and separate passwords for accounts
  • Keep an eye on bank accounts for unrecognised payments
  • Avoid over-sharing unnecessary information with shops, even if they ask
  • Make sure all your home gadgets are secure

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UK business in the dark on impact of cyber security attacks

UK businesses so not understand the resilience required to withstand cyber security threats, a study shows.

UK business in the dark on impact of cyber security attacks

While 99% of UK business leaders believe that making technology resilient to business disruptions is important, only 54% claim their organisation is as resilient as it needs to be, a study has revealed.

In recent years, the security industry has increasingly recognised the importance of focusing on resilience to ensure that when defences are breached, organisations are able to reduce the impact on the business.

A fifth of more than 1,000 UK business decision makers polled by security firm Tanium admitted they would not be able to calculate indirect costs from lost revenue and productivity following a cyber attack.

The Tanium resilience gap study also found that there are more barriers to achieving the resilience that 97% of respondents believe to be important, with 38% of respondents blaming their organisation’s growing complexity as one of the biggest barriers to building business resilience, while 21% blame siloed business units.

Asked about their team and tools, 35% of respondent said the issue lies with the hackers being more sophisticated than IT teams, 21% claim that they do not have the skills needed within the company to detect cyber breaches accurately in real time, and 27% said poor visibility of entry points is a barrier to resilience.

Business resilience is fundamental to any strategy for long-term growth, yet the findings suggest that many UK businesses still have a long way to go.

The study also revealed gaps in accountability and trust across organisations.

One of the main reasons organisations are unable to achieve business resilience against disruptions such as cyber threats is due to growing confusion internally on where the responsibility for resilience lies.

More than a quarter (28%) believe it should be the responsibility of the CIO or head of IT, the same proportion said every employee should be responsible, while 13% said full responsibility lies with the CEO alone. One in 10 (11%) believe it falls to senior leadership.

Businesses are becoming entirely dependent on their technology platforms. But if that technology stops running, the business will too, with potentially serious consequences for sales, customer confidence, and brand equity, not to mention productivity.

To deliver resilience, a new discipline needs to be instilled across governments and enterprise organisations. This discipline is more than prevention. It’s more than recovery. It’s a shared practice that should unite IT, operations and security teams to ensure strong security fundamentals are embedded across the entire company network. Only then can organisations act and react in real time to threats.

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Cyber139 supports Safer Internet Day

Cyber 139 is backing Safer Internet Day which is building online safety practices with young people.

Cyber 139 is backing Safer Internet Day which is building online safety practices with young people.

Many organisations including Cyber139 around the UK are contributing to the important work on making the internet a safer place for everyone

Tuesday 6 February marks Safer Internet Day 2018. Using the hashtag #SID2018, organisations globally will celebrate the safe and positive use of technology.

In Britain, the UK Safer Internet Centre, will be coordinating the activities of over 100 countries to “unite for a better internet”.

Last year’s #SID2017 initiative saw its highest engagement with 1,645 UK organisations supporting the event. Some 42% of children aged 8-17 and 23% of parents heard about the day in 2017, and this year we hope to see more people aware and presented with the online resources to help young people navigate the web effectively and safely.

To achieve this, tech businesses can easily support the initiative by promoting and raising awareness through social media and using #SID2018. Some organisations will be going the extra mile by running events and creating resources that will be getting updated on an ongoing basis.

For example, the South West Grid for Learning run sessions for children, staff and parents throughout the year. Activities such as this mean a lot more schools directly working to involve parents actively, including online safety in the curriculum, and even empowering students in peer-to-peer activities to help each other stay safe.

Safe and secure environment

The idea of supporting #SID2018 is that we work throughout the year to ensure the internet is a safe, secure environment for young people at all times. This is not to negate the ongoing challenge that new technologies emerge every year, which adds complexity to this issue. Nonetheless, we need to understand that this evolving environment is one that our young children must move with, as it is likely to be them who will be using these technologies most in their future jobs, lives and relationships.

In a time where the UK must fill a digital skills gap, an acute understanding and practice of online safety education must evolve in parallel with the innovation of new products and services. This will enable individuals now and in the future to be safe, active digital citizens.

A number of organisations working in partnership with UK industry to tackle illegal content issues, such as WePROTECT, Global Alliance and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), are excellent sources of information. The Royal Foundation’s Cyberbullying Taskforce has also set up a new code for children which offers simple steps to help tackle cyber bullying – Stop, speak, support.

There are also technical solutions provided by online services such as Google’s Safe Search function and YouTube Kids, as well as Instagram’s keyword moderation tool which allows parents and users to block comments that contain inappropriate language.

Cyber 139 wishes You a Safe and Secure New Year

Cyber 139 wishes You a Safe and Secure New Year in 2018

Cyber 139 wishes You a Safe and Secure New Year in 2018
With 2018 now here we hope that you have had a Merry Christmas and a great festive break and hope that you are looking forward to a safe and secure year ahead.

ICO wants jail terms for personal data misuse

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says it wants prison sentences for anyone misusing personal data unlawfully.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says it wants prison sentences for anyone misusing personal data unlawfully.

A nursing auxiliary has been fined for accessing a patient’s medical records without a valid legal reason, prompting the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to reiterate calls for prison sentences.

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court fined 61-year-old Marian Waddell of Newport £232 after she admitted accessing a patient’s records at Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital.

She was also ordered to pay £150 costs as well as a £30 victim surcharge for breaching section 55 of the 1988 Data Protection Act.

Waddell accessed the records of a patient, who was known to her, on six occasions between July 2015 and February 2016 without a valid business reason and without the knowledge of the data controller, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.

David Teague, the ICO’s regional manager for Wales, said it is disappointing that people continue to get into serious trouble over behaviour that is easily avoidable.

“Staff training, and the publicity around previous cases of this nature, means that they really should know better,” he said, adding that anyone whose work allows them to access sensitive personal data must realise that this information is out of bounds unless they have a valid and legal reason for looking at it.

Mike Shaw, enforcement group manager and head of the ICO’s criminal investigations team, warned that anyone accessing personal data without a valid reason or without their employer’s knowledge is guilty of a criminal offence and will be prosecuted by the ICO.

“If found guilty, you will face a fine and possibly have to pay prosecution costs,” he wrote in a blog post. “The court case will likely be covered by local media and the details played out over the internet. Not only could you lose your job, but your future employment prospects could be irreparably damaged too.”

“Of course, this issue is not unique to the NHS,” he said. “In 2017, we have also prosecuted cases involving employees in local government, charities and the private sector, the latter cases often involving an element of financial gain.”

Currently, section 55 offences can be punished only with a fine, and the nine convictions this year attracted fines and costs totalling more than £8,000.

“But in the future, we would like to see custodial sentences introduced as a sentencing option for the courts in the most serious cases,” said Shaw.

The ICO has long campaigned for custodial sentences for people convicted of accessing personal data unlawfully, especially for financial gain, under former information commissioners Richard Thomas and Christopher Graham, and now under current information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Million new cyber phishing sites created each month

Cyber phishing attacks continue to increase in volume and sophistication, according to researchers at security firm Webroot.

Cyber phishing attacks continue to increase in volume and sophistication, according to researchers at security firm Webroot.
In May 2017, the number of new phishing sites reached a new high of 2.3 million in that month alone, according to the September 2017 Webroot Quarterly Threat Trends Report.

Data collected by Webroot shows that the latest phishing sites use realistic web pages that are almost impossible to find using web crawlers to trick victims into providing personal and business information.

Once this data is harvested, attackers are able to steal digital identities to access business IT systems to steal data and compromise business email accounts to carry out CEO fraud attacks.

The Webroot data also shows phishing attacks have grown at an unprecedented rate in 2017, with it continuing to be one of the most common, widespread security threats faced by both businesses and consumers.

According to the report, phishing is the top cause of cyber breaches in the world, with an average of more than 46,000 new phishing sites created each day.

The sheer volume of new sites makes phishing attacks difficult to defend against for businesses, the report said.

Even if the block lists are updated hourly, they are generally 3–5 days out of date by the time they are made available, the report said, by which time the sites in question may have already victimised users and disappeared.

Attacks are increasingly sophisticated and more adept at fooling the victim, the researchers found. The note that while in the past, phishing attacks randomly targeted as many people as possible,today’s phishing is more sophisticated.

Cyber attackers now typically research their targets and use social engineering to uncover relevant personal information for individualised attacks. Phishing sites also hide behind benign domains and obfuscate true uniform resource locators (URLs), fooling users with realistic impersonated websites.

The researchers found that zero-day websites used for phishing may number in the millions each month, yet they tend to impersonate a small number of companies. Webroot categorised URLs by the type of website being impersonated and found that financial institutions and technology companies are the most phished categories.

According to an FBI public service announcement issued on 4 May 2017, phishing scams cost US business $500m a year, while Verizon found phishing to be involved in 90% of breaches and security incidents and a report by ESG showed that 63% of surveyed security and network influencers and decision makers have suffered from phishing attacks in the past two years.

In the ESG report, 46% of respondents said malware attacks have become more targeted over the past two years, and 45% said there is a greater volume of malware than in the past two years.

“Today’s phishing attacks are incredibly sophisticated, with hackers obfuscating malicious URLs, using psychology and information gleaned from reconnaissance to get you to click on a link,” said Hal Lonas, chief technology officer at Webroot.

“Even savvy cyber security professionals can fall prey. Instead of blaming the victim, the industry needs to embrace a combination of user education and organisational protection with real-time intelligence to stay ahead of the ever-changing threat landscape,” he said.

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Wannacry cyber security money laundering attempt thwarted

The Wannacry cyber security ransomware hackers have tried to conceal who they are by using a virtual currency that is more anonymous than Bitcoin.

Wannacry cyber security money laundering attempt thwarted

Victims paid more than £107,000 in bitcoins to recover files scrambled by Wannacry.

Earlier this week the gang behind the attack started to move the bitcoins out of the wallets they were paid into.

But the operators of the exchange they used to swap the bitcoins have now frozen the accounts they used.

Wannacry caught out thousands of firms around the world when it infected computers on corporate networks and encrypted their files, making them useless.

Victims were told to pay between £229 and £458 in bitcoins to have their files unscrambled and return computers to a working state.

Many security experts believed the money paid into three bitcoin wallets set up by the Wannacry creators would never be moved, because there was so much attention focused on who was behind the attack.

Moving the cash might expose key details about the attackers that could be used to track them down.

Whilst no one knows who owns the 3 accounts- the details of the acounts are known to the blockchain community as they can track the specific accounts.

But the bitcoins were moved earlier this week and some were piped to an exchange network called Shapeshift.io in an attempt to convert them to another virtual currency called Monero.

The Monero crypto-currency was set up to be more anonymous than Bitcoin and seeks to hide as much information as possible about every transaction.

The Wannacry gang is believed to have chosen Shapeshift.io for the digital cash transfer because the service can be used without signing up for an account.

However, the attempt to launder the cash via the platform seems to have been thwarted soon after Shapeshift was told what was happening.

Shapeshift said it would block any further attempts to change the Wannacry bitcoins into Monero or any other crypto-currency.

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Defence minister opens £3m cyber security centre in

UK minister for defence procurement has opened a new cyber security centre aimed at boosting UK cyber defence capability and skills.

UK minister for defence procurement has opened a new cyber security centre aimed at boosting UK cyber defence capability and skills.

The Cyber Works centre, which employs 90 people, will enable Lockheed Martin to work more closely with UK partners to share knowledge and best practice, undertake research and develop new cyber defence capabilities.

In February 2017, Lockheed Martin announced that it would support the UK government’s CyberFirst scheme to inspire and support young people considering roles in cyber security.

The Cyber Works centre is designed to deliver cyber capabilities to UK government as well as support the development of skills and careers in cyber security and intelligence.

Harriett Baldwin, UK minister for defence procurement, said that with its £1.9 billion National Cyber Security Strategy, the country is a world leader in the field.

“The opening of today’s cutting-edge centre is a great example of how partnerships with industry are at the heart of that strategy,” she said. “Together, we are developing solutions to national security risks.”

A key part of the Cyber Security Strategy is partnerships with industry, with £10 million being invested in a new Cyber Innovation Fund to give startups the boost and partners they need

Baldwin said the UK is already leading Nato in its support for offensive and defensive operations in the fight against Islamic State (IS) and complex cyber threats. “This centre will further boost the UK’s cyber capabilities,” she said.

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest aerospace and defence company and a longstanding leader in the fields of cyber security and intelligence.

The company pioneered the development of the cyber kill chain, an analysis method for cyber network defence that has been broadly adopted across industries and sectors.

Lockheed Martin is also a top provider of capabilities to defence and intelligence communities around the world and operates facilities to defend its own networks across 70 countries.

As well as investing in the new facility, Lockheed Martin plans to take part in the National Cyber Security Centre’s £6.5 million CyberInvest scheme to support cutting-edge cyber security research in the UK.

With National Offensive Cyber Planning allowing the UK to integrate cyber into all of its military operations, defence plays a key role in the country’s cyber security strategy, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Offensive cyber is being routinely used in the war against IS, not only in Iraq but also in the campaign to liberate Raqqa and other towns on the Euphrates, the MoD said.

In defence, the MoD said the £800m Innovation Initiative has already boosted investment in UK research and business, with multimillion-pound competitions to develop artificial intelligence and automated systems.

In January next year, the ministry will open a dedicated state-of-the-art Defence Cyber School at Shrivenham, bringing together all military joint cyber training into one place.

The MoD also has a key role to play in contributing to a culture of resilience, which is why the Defence Cyber Partnership Programme was set up to ensure its industrial partners protect themselves and meet robust cyber security standards, the ministry said.

 

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UK firms buying bitcoins for ransomware attacks

Large UK firms are prepared to pay out more than £136,000 on average to cyber criminals who launch ransomware attacks.

Large UK firms are prepared to pay out more than £136,000 on average to cyber criminals who launch ransomware attacks.

The amount firms with 250 employees or more are willing to pay ransomware attackers is up nearly four times compared with a year ago, according to a survey of 500 IT decision makers by One Poll.

The survey, commissioned by secure connectivity firm Citrix, also shows that more than two-fifths are stockpiling bitcoins in case of a ransomware attack, compared with a third a year ago.

On average, UK firms are stockpiling bitcoin cryptocurrency worth around £46,000, while a third have bitcoins worth more than £50,000 on standby.

The survey also shows that smaller companies are more likely to keep a supply of cryptocurrency such as bitcoin on hand than larger businesses.

Half of the businesses with 250-500 employees polled said they were stockpiling digital currency, up from 36% of this group a year ago. In comparison, just a quarter of businesses with 1,000 or more employees are accumulating cryptocurrency, which is unchanged from 2016.

The decision to stockpile digital currency reflects a widespread attitude that paying a ransom may be necessary. Only 22% of businesses polled said they would be unwilling to pay anything if struck by a ransomware attack, down from 25% a year ago.

UK firms unprepared for ransomware cyber security attack

The 2016 research revealed that one-fifth (20%) of companies with 250-500 employees did not have any contingency measures in place in case of a ransomware attack, however this has fallen to just 7% in 2017.

While many businesses are preparing to block ransomware attacks or pay out if hit, others are missing out on simple cyber hygiene procedures which can limit the impact of a ransomware attack. For instance, over half of large UK firms (55%) still do not back up their data at least once a day.

“Cyber criminals are resorting to ransomware to exploit the vulnerabilities that exist within UK organisations,” said Chris Mayers, chief security architect at Citrix.

“This is no secret, with global attacks hitting the headlines, yet many businesses are still being caught out. Organisations must ensure they’re prepared for the reality of this threat and take action to safeguard the IT network for an attack and protect mission-critical data,” he warned.

Stockpiling a potential ransom may alleviate concerns about ensuring constant access to data, but Mayers said there was no guarantee that data would be returned once a ransom had been paid.

“Instead, committing to robust cyber security techniques and ensuring specific contingency measures are in place to deal with an attack can reduce the chances of falling prey to ransomware in the first place.”

“While more companies are preparing to pay out, many still fail to back data up each day. Organisations should look at dedicated techniques, from encryption to virtualisation, to keep data and apps safe across all devices and desktops – and out of reach of today’s persistent cyber attackers,” he said.

 

 

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