Cyber security criminals outspend businesses in security battles

Cyber security criminals are spending 10 times more money finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations than the organisations they target are spending on protecting against attack.

Cyber security criminals are spending 10 times more money finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations than the organisations they target are spending on protecting against attack.

Research from Carbon Black carried out in August also asked 250 UK-based CIOs, CTOs and CISOs about the attacks they faced over the past 12 months.

In total, 92% of UK businesses have had cyber security breaches in the past year and nearly half off those reported falling victim to multiple breaches (three to five times in the past year).

A total of 82% of respondents said they have experienced more attacks this year than last year. In the financial services sector, 89% said this is the case, while 83% of government organisations and 84% of retailers had also experienced an increase in the number of attacks.

Malware was the most common attack on the UK organisations surveyed, with about 28% experiencing at least one such attempted breach. Ransomware was the next most common, with 17.4% reporting at least one attack.

“Following a global trend, cyber attacks in the UK are becoming more frequent and more sophisticated, as nation state actors and crime syndicates continue to leverage fileless attacks, lateral movement, island hopping and counter incident response in an effort to remain undetected,” said the report. “This issue is compounded by resources and budgeting. Not only is there a major talent deficit in cyber security, there is also a major spending delta.”

The report found that IT leaders believe Russia and China to be the source of the vast majority of cyber attacks, but it identified North America as the starting point for more attacks than Iran and North Korea combined.

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Money transfer frauds are top aim of business email cyber attacks

Tricking recipients into transferring money to cyber criminals is the top objective of business email compromise (BEC) attacks.

Tricking recipients into transferring money to cyber criminals is the top objective of business email compromise (BEC) attacks.Business email compromise is increasingly popular with cyber criminals to steal money and information as well as spread malware, security researchers find

The second most popular objective is to get the recipient to click on a malicious link aimed at stealing information or spreading malware, according to an analysis of more than 3,000 BEC attacks by Barracuda Networks.

BEC attacks are also known as whaling or CEO fraud because attackers typically compromise the email accounts of CEOs and other top executives so those accounts can be used to send messages to more junior staff members, tricking them into taking some action by impersonating the email account holder.

This tactic is extremely effective in manipulating employees as well as partners and customers of targeted businesses because few organisations have processes in place for checking or verifying instructions ostensibly received from a top executive in an email message sent from a genuine account.

In most cases, cyber criminals focus efforts on employees with access to company finances or payroll data and other personally identifiable information(PII).

The study shows that PII is another top target for BEC attackers, accounting for 12.2% of the attacks studied. Another 12.2% were aimed at establishing a rapport with recipients, which in most cases was followed up with a request for a money transfer.

The effectiveness of this attack method has made it extremely popular with cyber criminals, as is indicated by an 80% increase in the number of BEC attacks in the second quarter of 2018 compared with the first quarter, according to a recent report by email management firm Mimecast.

The Barracuda study reveals that in 46.9% of the cases studied, the objective was to trick employees into transferring business money into accounts controlled by the attackers, while in 40.1% of the cases, the aim was to trick them into clicking on a malicious link.

According to Barracuda, email is the top threat vector facing organisations due to the growing number of email-related threats, which include ransomware, banking trojans, phishing, social engineering, information-stealing malware and spam, as well as BEC attacks.

Not surprisingly, the analysis shows that CEO email accounts are the most commonly impersonated (42.95%), followed by other C-level account holders (4.5%), including the CFO (2.2%), and people in the HR and finance departments (2.2%).

CFOs are among the top recipients of BEC emails, representing 16.9% of recipients in the attacks studied, on a par with the finance and HR departments in general and compared with 10.2% received by other C-level execs.

However, the analysis shows that most recipients of BEC emails are in more junior roles, with 53.7% holding roles outside the C-level, underlining the need for regular, ongoing user awareness training.

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Most UK Britons concerned about personal data sharing

More than half of UK consumers (57%) are worried that about how much personal data they have shared online.

More than half of UK consumers (57%) are worried that about how much personal data they have shared online.

Britons also feel that the data they share is not being used to benefit them, with 48% saying businesses benefit the most and 63% saying the organisation holding the data should be responsible for protecting it, according to a poll of more than 2,000 UK consumers commissioned by identity management firm ForgeRock.

Only a third (36%) of consumers say they would be likely to share personal data to get a more personalised service, with over half (53%) saying they would not be comfortable for their personal information to be shared with a third party under any circumstances. Just 15% say they would be likely to sell personal data to an organisation or business.

At the same time, UK consumers underestimate how much personal information is available online, with 46% saying they do not feel they know how much data is available about them online, 19% saying they think Twitter has access to data on users’ political affiliations, 31% believing Instagram has access to location data on its users, 48% thinking Facebook holds information on whether they have children, and 20% believing Facebook does not have access to any personal data about its users, despite the fact that social networks have access to this data on a large number of their users.

One in three would take legal action and 24% would contact the police about their personal data being shared.

British consumers are also clear that there would be consequences for any company sharing their data without their consent, with 58% saying they would stop using a company’s services completely if it shared data without their permission, 49% would remove or delete all the data held on them by that company, 44% would advise their family and friends against using the company, and 30% would request financial compensation.

Growing concerns about data sharing

With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to give consumers much more control over their personal data and how it is used, the survey report said it is crucial that members of the public understand their rights and how their data is being used and shared.

The ForgeRock survey suggests there are growing concerns about data sharing, which businesses and regulators should address. Some 63% of UK consumers say they know little or nothing about their rights regarding personal data and 64% have never heard of or know nothing about GDPR.

Banks and credit card companies are most likely to be seen as trusted holders of personal data, the survey shows, with 82% of consumers reporting that they trust these organisations to store and use personal data responsibly. Amazon also performed well, with over three-quarters (78%) of consumers saying they trust the ecommerce company to manage personal data.

Social media platforms performed less well, with 63% of Britons saying they trust social networks to treat personal data in a responsible manner.

There is a clear correlation between the organisations consumers trust with their data and how in control they feel, the report said, with Amazon (60%), banks and credit card companies (58%) and mobile phone operators (51%) ranked as the organisations that give users most control over their data. Just 51% of UK consumers said they feel in control of the data that is shared with social media platforms.

In contrast, social media companies offer consumers experiences without any financial payment – instead they pay in data. If companies were more transparent about how their business models rely on purchases, attention or data, consumers would have a much stronger understanding of what their privacy risks are and could tailor their behaviours and trust levels accordingly.

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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.

Digital identity needs to be cyber security priority in 2018

Protecting digital identities and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018.

Protecting digital identities and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018

The issues of protecting digital identity, gaining data visibility and protecting employees are key cyber security challenges for 2018 according to the cyber security 2018 predictions report by security firm FireEye.

“The idea that you can get someone’s date of birth, and their Social Security number and steal their identity and do fraudulent tax refunds, or try to get a loan or credit card – that has to change,” FireEye said.

“This has to happen. Otherwise, every five months, we’re going to have another huge data breach,” they warned.

In addition to the imperative of finding a better way to manage identity, RedEye said it was also important to find a way of dealing with international privacy.

On the topic of nation state actors in the cyber realm, RedEye considers Iran the most interesting country to watch, rather than Russia, China or North Korea.

RedEye said while Iran started “acting at scale” in 2017, the extent of that activity was not really known. “We don’t know if we are seeing 5% of Iran’s activities, or 90% – although I’m guessing it’s closer to 5% – but they’re operating at a scale where, for the first time in my career, It feels to me that the majority of the actors we’re responding to right now are hosted in Iran, and they are state sponsored,” they said.

On the topic of cloud security, RedEye claimed better visibility was of paramount importance. I know that a lot of people are depending on the cloud, and we need visibility.

“Many of these cloud providers are providing it, but we don’t always have security operations that can take advantage of that visibility and see what’s happening,” he said.

An area many companies are still overlooking, RedEye said, is protecting employees from cyber attack.

He said companies needed to consider whether hackers could access corporate accounts through hacking employees’ private accounts, or if they could make it appear as though they have hacked the enterprise.

“There are hackers out there who will hack an employee at a company, and they will post any document they can get, and they will say they hacked the company even if they haven’t. It’s a reputational thing – while it’s hard to gauge the public response to these types of incidents, right now many companies are being deemed irresponsible or negligent or compromised when they are none of those things,” he said.

RedEye said all security professionals should be thinking about what employees are doing when they go home, how they can be secured, how they can be helped, what policies are needed and how those policies could be enforced.

They advised that all organisations moving into the cloud should know everything that is going on.

While there are bound to be new, interesting attacks in 2018, organisations should be preparing for modified versions of current attacks

“For instance, do you have places where documents are getting uploaded and then going into your back office? That’s a good place to ensure there is some high-grade detection, beyond an antivirus scanner. Because you essentially have unauthenticated input going directly into the key parts of your organisation.”

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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.

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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SMEs failing to address cyber security threats despite risks

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) are failing to prepare adequately to address cyber security threats – despite the growing risks.

SMEs failing to address cyber security threats despite risks

Despite the WannaCry and Petya global cyber attacks, only 42% of SME IT decision makers polled in the UK, US and Australia are concerned about ransomware.

In fact, ransomware ranked lowest among concerns, with new of malware infections topping the list, followed by mobile and phishing attacks, according to a survey commissioned by security firm Webroot.

However, Webroot’s threat research from June 2017, which is based on data from a variety of businesses, reveals that more than 60% of companies have already been affected by ransomware, with the financial and retail sectors being hit the hardest.

In the UK, the research highlighted a false sense of security among IT decision makers. Even though 72% of UK respondents admit their businesses are not prepared to address external threats, 87% are confident their staff would be able fully address or eliminate an issue.

According to the survey report, when a business suffers a cyberattack, the consequences are felt both internally and externally.

Almost 58% of UK respondents, compared with 65% globally, believe it would be more difficult to restore the company’s public image than to restore employee trust and morale.

Underscoring the need for proactive security solutions, respondents estimate a cyber attack on their business where customer records or critical business data were lost would cost an average of £737,677 in the UK compared with an overall average of £773,483.

SMEs typically face the same threats as bigger organisations, but lack the same level of expertise and other security resources.

Addressing the growing threat, nearly all respondents plan to increase their annual IT security budget in 2017 compared to 2016, according to the report.

SME with 100 to 500 employees currently manage IT security in various ways, the survey revealed. In the UK, 22% of SMEs have in-house employees who handle IT security along with other responsibilities, compared with the average of 20%.

A third of UK SMEs use a mix of in-house and outsourced IT security support, compared with an average of 37%, while 25% have a dedicated in-house IT security professional or team, compared with 23% on average.

In the UK, 92% of respondents believe outsourcing IT solutions would protect their organisation against threats and increase their bandwidth to address other areas of their business, compared with an average of 90%.

Using a third party cyber security provider

Among businesses that do not currently outsource IT security, 82% of UK SMEs will likely use a third-party cyber security provider in 2017, compared with an average of 80%, which represents a big opportunity for managed security service providers (MSSPs), the report said.

The lack of planned investment in cyber defences is surprising in the face of increased attacks, the costs associated with those attacks, and the fact strong cyber security has the potential to give SMEs an opportunity to stand out from competitors, with as many as one in 20 claiming to have gained an advantage over a competitor because of stronger cyber security credentials.

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Half of UK SMEs spend less than £1,000 on cyber security

Almost 50% of UK small to medium enterprises plan to spend £1,000 or less on cyber security in the next year and 22% do not know how much they will spend, insurance firm Zurich has found.

Almost 50% of UK small to medium enterprises plan to spend £1,000 or less on cyber security in the next yearAs many as 875,000 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK – 16% of the total – have been hit by a cyber attack in the past 12 months, according to the latest Zurich SME Risk Index.

Businesses in London are the worst affected, with almost a quarter (23%) reporting suffering a breach within this period.

Of businesses that were affected, more than one fifth (21%) said it cost them more than £10,000 and one in 10 (11%) said it cost more than £50,000.

Yet despite the volume of attacks and potential losses, the survey of more than 1,000 UK SMEs showed that business leaders are not committing to investing significantly in cyber security in the year ahead.

The survey, by YouGov on behalf of Zurich, found that 49% of SMEs admitted they plan to spend £1,000 or less on their cyber defences in the next 12 months, and almost a quarter (22%) do not know how much they will spend.

The lack of planned investment in cyber defences is also surprising in the light of the fact that business leaders report that strong cyber security is giving them an opportunity to stand out from competitors, with as many as one in 20 claiming to have gained an advantage over a competitor because of stronger cyber security credentials.

This trend is confirmed by a separate survey of SMEs by security e-learning firm CybSafe, which showed that half of SMEs polled have had cyber security conditions included in contracts with enterprise customers in the past five years, and one-third of respondents said they have had their cyber security measures questioned as part of winning contracts in the past year.

Also, 44% said they have been required to hold a recognised cyber security standard, such as ISO 27001, by their enterprise customers in the past five years and 28% in the past year alone, demonstrating a clear trend in enterprise approach to supplier information security.

“While recent cyber attacks have highlighted the importance of cyber security for some of the world’s biggest companies, it is important to remember that small and medium-sized businesses need to protect themselves too,” said Paul Tombs, head of SME proposition at Zurich.

“The survey results suggest that SMEs are not yet heeding the warnings provided by large attacks on global businesses.”

However, Tombs said that although the rate of attacks on SMEs is troubling, it also shows there is an opportunity for businesses with the correct safeguards and procedures in place to use this as a strength and gain an advantage.

In September 2016, a report by Juniper Research revealed that 74% of UK SMEs believed they were safe from cyber attack, despite half of them admitting having suffered a data breach.

The report showed that 86% of the SMEs surveyed thought they were doing enough to counter the effects of cyber attacks, and 27% believed they were safe from attack because they were small and of no interest to cyber criminals.

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