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.

So if you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a cyber incident please ring us now on 01242 521967 or email [email protected] or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139

Cyber crime costs small businesses the most

New research has found that cyber crime is disproportionately effecting small businesses the most.

New research has found that cyber crime is disproportinately effecting small businesses the most.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that small firms are unfairly carrying the cost of cyber crime in an increasingly vulnerable digital economy.

The report Cyber Crime: How to protect small firms in the digital economy suggests smaller firms are collectively attacked seven million times per year, costing the UK economy an estimated £5.26 billion.

Despite the vast majority of small firms (93%) taking steps to protect their business from digital threats, two thirds (66%) have been a victim of cyber crime in the last two years. Over that period, those affected have been victims on four occasions on average, costing each business almost £3000 in total.

Cyber crime costs small businesses disproportionately more than big businesses when adjusted for organisational size.

Currently the responsibility largely falls on small businesses to protect themselves. FSB is calling for more support to be given to those smaller firms least able to bear the burden of the increasing global cyber threat.

Almost all (99%) of the UK’s 5.4 million small firms rate the internet as being highly important to their business, with two in three (66%) offering, or planning to offer, goods and services online. Without intervention, the growing sophistication of cyber attacks could stifle small business growth and in the worst cases close them down.

Mike Cherry, FSB National Chairman, said: “The digital economy is vital to small businesses – presenting a huge opportunity to reach new markets and customers – but these benefits are matched by the risk of opportunities for criminals to attack businesses.

“Small firms take their cyber security responsibility very seriously but often they are the least able to bear the cost of doing so. Smaller businesses have limited resources, time and expertise to deal with ever-evolving and increasing digital attacks. We’re calling on Government, larger businesses, individuals and providers to take part in a joint effort to tackle cyber crime and improve business resilience.”

The types of cyber crime most commonly affecting small businesses are phishing emails (49%), spear phishing emails (37%), and malware attacks (29%).

Small firms are also concerned about hacking and fraud when the card is not present, with the average information breach setting them back 2.2 days.

To combat this, four in five small firms (80%) use computer securing software, and well over half (53%) perform regular updates of their IT systems.

The FSB report also found room for small firms to improve security.

Currently just a quarter of smaller businesses (24%) have a strict password policy, four per cent have a written plan of what to do if attacked online, and just two per cent have a recognised security standard such as ISO27001 or the Government’s Cyber Essentials scheme.

Mike Cherry added: “Small firms are understandably focussed on building their businesses and creating the jobs which drive economic growth. The vulnerabilities of the digital world affects everyone and the responsibility for improving resilience should not be left to the group with least resource to do something about it.

UK organisations are still not taking ransomware seriously enough

UK organisations are still not taking ransomware seriously enough, and continue to fall prey to this method of low cost, low risk cyber extortion.

UK organisations are still not taking ransomware seriously enough

Businesses still get caught by ransomware, even though straightforward avoidance methods exist.The CryptoLocker ransomware caught many enterprises off guard, but there is a defence strategy that works.

Another factor promoting the popularity of ransomware among attackers, is that unlike many other forms of malware, ransomware does not require any special user rights.

“If your system gets infected by a keylogger, it has to escalate privileges to become an administrator on the system so it can survive a reboot, but all ransomware needs is access to the files the infected user can access,” said chief research officer at F-Secure Mikko Hypponen.

“This makes them a unique problem because you can’t fight ransomware by locking down systems, restricting user access or removing administrator privileges from users.

“I fully support this approach to security. Only give users access to what they need, take away admin privileges, but none of these things will protect against ransomware.”

The most effective way to counter ransomware, said Hypponen, is to backup all critical data, but many organisations are failing in this.

“They may be backing up data, but they are typically not doing it often enough. They are not backing up all the information they really need because files are not being saved to the right folders, and they are not testing their backups regularly. Even if they have backed up the information, they are often unable to restore it to a usable form,” he said.

“In addition to regularly tested backups, organisations should also ensure they would be able to detect and respond to a live ransomware Trojan on their network before it has succeeded in locking up all the data,” said Hypponen.

One way of approaching this is to plant dummy “canary” files throughout the network. These should never be touched by legitimate users and act as alarms. If these files are touched, it points to malicious activity on the network.

Ransomware is also popular, he said, because its developers are able to outsource the risk to partners whose role is infect computers in return for a share in the money extorted from victims.

In addition to ransomware, another new business model for cyber criminals is circumventing the fingerprint locks on iPhones.

“Once fingerprint readers were added to iPhones, users were able to lock and unlock them quickly and easily. This meant that if the phone was stolen, it was useless and could be only sold for spares, which did not yield very much,” said Hypponen.

But researchers are now starting to see criminal organisations that are able to trick victims of mobile phone theft into revealing their iCloud credentials.

“Victims typically receive an email message a few days after their phone is stolen to say it has been located using the ‘track my iPhone’ facility, telling them to click the link embedded in the message,” said Hypponen.

“But the link takes them to a phishing site that asks them to log into their iCloud account, and once they have done that, the criminals have the information to reset the stolen phone and sell it as a fully working device.”

The second lesson learned in 25 years of cyber security, said Hypponen, is that people will never learn, and that user education is a waste of time.

“It doesn’t matter how many times you tell them, they will always double click on every executable. They will always follow every link, they will always type their password and credit card number into any online form that asks for that information, and they will always post their credit card picture and even CVV numbers on Twitter,” he said.

Admitting this may be overly pessimistic, Hypponen said that instead of trying to “patch” people by educating them, the responsibility should be shifted to those better equipped to handle it.

“We should be thinking about where we really want the responsibility to be,” he added. “Do we really want people to be responsible for security when most of them can’t handle it, or should we be thinking about taking the responsibility away from the user and giving it to operating system developers, security companies, and internet service providers and mobile operating firms that provide the connectivity that causes the problems in the first place?”

No final fix for cyber security

There really is no final fix solution endgame when it comes to cyber security.

There really is no final fix solution endgame when it comes to cyber security, according to security industry veteran and chief research officer at F-Secure Mikko Hypponen.The claim was made by security industry veteran and chief research officer at F-Secure Mikko Hypponen and two of the most valuable lessons in cyber security are to know your enemy and not to rely on users to be secure.

“We will always have cyber security problems because we will always have bad people, which means job security in security is likely to continue for ever,” he told the Wired Security conference in London.

Cyber attackers are continually evolving their techniques and capabilities to steal and monetise data in new ways, which means the goalposts are continually moving.

“If we were still fighting the enemy of 10 years ago, we would be in great shape,” he said, alluding to the security tools that have been developed since then, as well as the security improvements in software.

“Attackers will always have the upper hand because they have the luxury of time to study our defences, while defenders do not have that luxury, so it is an unfair contest – a never-ending race.”

Reflecting on lessons learned over his 25 year career in information security, Hypponen said the most important thing is to understand the adversary.

However, he said the days of being able to do that easily are long gone, with most organisations finding themselves faced with a whole range of attackers.

They are all looking to gain something, said Hypponen, whether they are hacktivists supporting a cause, nation state actors or criminals.

“But for most organisations, criminals are the most likely to be attacking them,” he said, noting that of the 350,000 to 450,000 new malware samples that F-Secure sees on a daily basis, 95% comes from organised cyber crime groups.

“It is different when you get targeted by foreign intelligence agencies, because they are really bad, but most organisations are not targeted by foreign spies because most organisations are of no interest to them,” he said.

Although these cyber criminals like to portray themselves as Mafiosi, Hypponen said most are just “geeks” looking to make money from selling things such as hacked PayPal accounts and credit card details along with step-by-step guides on how to use them to make money.

Ransomware most popular form of cyber crime

Ransomware that encrypts victims’ data and demands payment in return for restoring it is fast becoming the most popular way for cyber criminals to make money.

“This is a simple business model based on the principle of selling data to the highest bidder, which is often the person or organisation that owns the data in the first place,” said Hypponen.

F-Security is currently tracking more than 110 different ransomware groups operating around the world and competing for market share.

“Ransomware has become very competitive, with the result of some groups seeking to expand into new markets by translating ransomware campaigns into 26 different languages,” said Hypponen.

Another evolution of ransomware attacks is the shift away from consumers to target enterprises.

“As soon as an infected computer is connected to the corporate network, the attackers enumerate and mount all the file shares the user can access and dynamically set the ransom based on how many files they manage to encrypt on the network,” said Hypponen.

The biggest concern about ransomware for enterprises is that it will stop business operations. With continuity in mind, some enterprises are even setting up bitcoin wallets to be able to pay ransoms quickly and minimise the impact on business continuity.

“This idea of continuity is really backwards, because it does not address the problem,” said Hypponen. “The more enterprises pay these ransoms, the greater and more entrenched this problem will become.”

Gloucestershire Safer Cyber Forum accepts Cyber Security Force

The Gloucestershire Safer Cyber Forum has accepted Cyber Security Force to join it.

The Gloucestershire Safer Cyber Forum has accepted Cyber Security Force to join it.The Gloucestershire Safer Cyber Forum (GCSF)  was set up and run by the Gloucestershire Constabulary to to provide a source of crime prevention, advice and to share cyber threat information.

GSCF also provides a secure environment for Gloucestershire business to engage directly with peers and Gloucestershire Constabulary on incidents or concerns around cybercrime, along with the ability to report it anonymously.

Being part of GSCF means that we can be at the leading edge of information on how to avoid cyber security issues and when they do arise how best to prevent and recover from the bad guys out there.

Ransomware increasingly dangerous cyber security threat

Ransomware attacks now account for around a quarter of cyber security threats targeting internet users in the UK- according to Eset.

Ransomware attacks now account for around a quarter of cyber security threats targeting internet users in the UK- according to Eset.Eset’s LiveGrid telemetry shows an increase in detections of the JS/Danger.ScriptAttachment malicious code, which tries to download and install various malware variants to the intended victims’ machines.

The majority of the code consists of crypto-ransomware, including some well known groupings, such as Teslacrypt.

The most recent wave of attacks has been focused on victims in the UK, where it accounted for roughly every fourth threat in the third week of April 2016, said the security firm.

“To reach as many potential victims as possible, attackers are spamming inboxes in various parts of the world,” said Ondrej Kubovič, security specialist at Eset. “Therefore, users should be very cautious about which messages they open.”

Meanwhile, the latest Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) also warns that ransomware attacks are steadily increasing.

Laurance Dine, managing principal of investigative response at Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said: “Ransomware is going crazy. It is everywhere. As an incident response team we are dealing with ransomware attacks all the time.”

Eset’s Kubovič recommends that companies should train their employees to report incidents to their internal security departments.

“Users should keep their operating systems and software up to date, as well as install a reliable security suite offering multiple layers of protection and regular updates,” he added.

“Last but not least, users need to back up all their important and valuable data, allowing for its recovery in case of ransomware infection,” he said.

While ransomware is becoming an increasing problem for businesses, a recent spate of attacks on hospitals in the past few months – mainly in the US, but also in Canada, Germany and New Zealand – has underlined the potentially life-threatening impact of ransomware, which works by encrypting data and demanding a ransom to be paid for its release.

The dangers of the IoT

A report by Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT) has also highlighted the fact that internet of things (IoT) devices offer a potential growth opportunity to any ransomware operation, given the devices are interconnected by design and many lack any form of security.

According to the report, while a lot of traditional malware will be too large to ever run on many IoT devices, ransomware (predominantly consisting of a few commands and an encryption algorithm) is much lighter.

Many medical devices, such as insulin pumps and other medication dispersion systems, are internet- or Bluetooth-enabled, the report pointed out, and warned that ransomware could used to open connections to infect the IoT device.

Part of the problem with the security of IoT communications is that the designers are more concerned by the ease of connectivity than the safety of their users.

New ransomware threat- with your address

A new email ransomware that quotes people’s postal addresses is a costly new cyber security threat.

A new email ransomware that quotes people's postal addresses is a costly new cyber security threatAndrew Brandt, of US firm Blue Coat, contacted the BBC after hearing an episode of BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours that discussed the phishing scam.

Mr Brandt discovered that the emails linked to ransomware called Maktub. The malware encrypts victims’ files and demands a ransom be paid before they can be unlocked.

The phishing emails told recipients they owed hundreds of pounds to UK businesses and that they could print an invoice by clicking on a link – but that leads to malware, as Mr Brandt explained.

Maktub doesn’t just demand a ransom, it increases the fee – which is to be paid in bitcoins – as time elapses.

A website associated with the malware explains that during the first three days, the fee stands at 1.4 bitcoins, or approximately £400. This rises to 1.9 bitcoins, or £550, after the third day.

The phishing emails tell recipients that they owe money to British businesses and charities when they do not.

One remarkable feature of the scam emails was the fact that they included not just the victim’s name, but also their postal address.

Many have noted that the addresses are generally highly accurate.

According to Dr Steven Murdoch, a cybersecurity expert at the University of London, it’s still not clear how scammers were able to gather people’s addresses and link them to names and emails.

The data could have come from a number of leaked or stolen databases for example, making it hard to track down the source.

Several people contacted the You and Yours team to say that they were concerned data might have been taken from their eBay accounts, as their postal addresses had been stored there in the same format as they appeared in the phishing emails.

The UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre has been flooded with queries from people targeted by the scam.

“We have been inundated with this,” said deputy head Steve Proffitt. “At Action Fraud on Monday we received an additional 600 calls and from then onwards we’ve received 500 calls to our contact centre a day,” he added.

Mr Proffitt advised people who had received the phishing emails to under no circumstances click on the link, but instead delete the message from their system and inform Action Fraud.

Referring specifically to Maktub and the approach taken by the phishers, Dr Murdoch said he believed the scam was “significant” in more ways than one.

“It also appears to be quite widespread – I’ve heard about it from multiple sources so it seems like they were fairly successful getting a lot of these sent out,” he told the BBC.

He added that it was hard to know how to advise people who were unfortunate enough to have their files encrypted by ransomware.

For some individuals without backups, paying the ransom might be the only way to retrieve their data.

“However, every person that does that makes the business more valuable for the criminal and the world worse for everyone,” he said.

From:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-35996408#sa-ns_mchannel=rss&ns_source=PublicRSS20-sa