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

If you want to save yourself stress, money and a damaged reputation from a cyber incident – for a cyber security incident prevention, protection and training please ring us now on 01242 521967 or email assist@cyber139.com or complete the form on our contact page NOWContact Cyber 139

Camelot’s National Lottery accounts are hacked

It could be you- as tens of thousands of online lottery Camelot players’ accounts are hacked.

It could be you- as tens of thousands of online lottery Camelot players' accounts are hacked.National Lottery operator Camelot says the login details of thousands of people who do the lottery online have been stolen.

There are 9.5 million national lottery players registered online, but Camelot said only around 26,500 accounts were accessed. It added that fewer than 50 accounts have had suspicious activity, such as personal details being changed, since the breach.

The company said it unearthed “suspicious activity on a very small proportion of our players’ online National Lottery Accounts” during its online security monitoring on 28 November 2016.

It added that there has been no unauthorised access to core systems. “In addition, no money has been deposited or withdrawn from affected player accounts,” said Camelot.

“However, we do believe that this attack may have resulted in some of the personal information that the affected players hold in their online account being accessed.”

The company said it is now trying to find out what happened, but it believes that “the email address and password used on the National Lottery website may have been stolen from another website where affected players use the same details”.

The affected accounts have been suspended and Camelot will contact the account holders to re-activate them. Camelot added that it is working with the National Cyber Security Centre on the incident.

Are you an online lottery player?

If so, just crossing your fingers is not enough. To mitigate risks in the short term, account holders should update passwords and avoid using the same password across multiple sites.

Yahoo hack effects Sky and BT emails as well

The world’s largest hacking of Yahoo also effects BT and Sky email users.

The world's largest hacking of Yahoo also effects BT and Sky email users.Yahoo wasn’t the tech giant in Silicon Valley that it used to be, but the news that half a billion user details were stolen from it over two years ago in 2014 should still concern everyone.

It now transpires that both BT and Sky used Yahoo’s email system and labelled it as their own.  Which is particularly ironic given that Sky’s parent company Fox has had to pay out hundreds of millions to people it had itself hacked it’s customers.

What is even more worrying is customer inertia- that’s because stubborn user behavior and the economics of darknet markets mean the chances of a serious breach at another major internet service increase dramatically with each hack.

The user behavior part is that people like to reuse their passwords—a lot.

One estimate, from Cambridge University’s Security Group, puts password reuse as high as 49%.

That is, we use the same password for every two accounts that require a log-in.

When a big cache of hacked passwords ends up traded on darknet markets, it often gets added to password databases. These databases can be used by corporations to ensure their users don’t use previously published, insecure passwords—or more maliciously by hackers, who will try to find passwords reused on other services.

It’s the equivalent of trying millions of different keys on a particular door, except it’s all automated and can be done in days, as the password cracker Jeremi Gosney has detailed for Ars Technica.

Password reuse and marketplaces for stolen data mean that password databases grow larger and more robust with each major breach. For example, LinkedIn was hacked in 2012 for more than 100 million user accounts. Parts of those stolen credentials wound up in darknet data dumps.

One of those log-ins belonged to a Dropbox employee, who apparently reused a password, allowing a hacker to enter the file-sharing platform’s corporate network. This led to the theft of 70 million Dropbox user passwords, which the company confirmed in August. One massive hack leads to another, forming a daisy-chain of insecurity.

The Yahoo breach is five times the size of the LinkedIn theft. That’s a lot more data to add to password-cracking lists.

The only thing we internet users have going for us now is to hope the “state-sponsored actor” that Yahoo says is behind the hack doesn’t dump the data in public, or sell it for profit. When that happens, we’re due for a password reset.

You can check if your email has been hacked and touted online at: https://haveibeenpwned.com/

Cyber crime included in official statistics

Cyber Security Force welcomes the inclusion of cyber crime in the latest crime survey for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Cyber Security Force welcomes the inclusion of cyber crime in the latest crime survey for England and Wales by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

According to the latest report, there were 5.8 million incidents of cyber crime and fraud in the 12 months up to March 2016, affecting one in 10 people in England and Wales.

Just over half of the fraud incidents were cyber related, with 28% of these being non-investment fraud relating to online shopping or computer service calls. Some 68% of computer misuse crimes were related to malware and 32% were from unauthorised access to personal information including hacking.

However, the ONS cyber crime and fraud figures are an estimate, as specific questions relating to cyber crime were only added to the survey in October 2015 following a field trial.

“Headline estimates will include these offences for the first time in January 2017 once the questions have been asked for a full 12 months,” the report said.

According to the report, there were 4.5 million crimes reported in the period, excluding the 3.8 million cyber-related fraud incidents and 2 million compute misuse offences.

But the ONS said it would be incorrect to assume that once the figures are combined in the next report that the overall crime figure will double.

“This is the first time we have published official estimates of fraud and computer misuse from our victimisation survey, and ONS is leading the world in doing this. Together, these offences are similar in magnitude to the existing headline figures covering all other crime survey offences,” the ONS said.

“However, it would be wrong to conclude that actual crime levels have doubled, since the survey previously did not cover these offences. These improvements to the crime survey will help to measure the scale of the threat from these crimes, and help shape the response.”
Security should be top of board’s agenda

According to the ONS, cyber crime now makes up 40% of all recorded criminal incidents.

The technical capabilities of cyber criminals continue to outpace the UK’s ability to deal with cyber threats.

For the majority of organisations, the main two lessons to take from these statistics are the rapid evolution of cyber crime, and the number of threats that any individual or organisation will face.

As a result investment tends to flow into areas where it will be most productive, and crime is no different.

While there are government initiatives underway to tackle fraud, it is largely down to organisations to take care of themselves and the people they service.  The basics still apply:

  • Using strong passwords,
  • applying caution when using public Wi-Fi networks,
  • not revealing too much information about ourselves online and
  • regularly backing up personal data.

Experian’s Annual Fraud Indicator 2016 said fraud could be costing the UK economy up to £193 billion a year, with phishing attacks up by 21% in 2015 and were estimated to cost the UK more than £280 million.

Some of the biggest tech companies are expanding users’ data encryption

Some of the Silicon Valley’s leading technology companies – including Facebook, Google and Snapchat, are increasing privacy technology as Apple fights the US government over encryption, the Guardian has learned.

Some of the Silicon Valley’s leading technology companies – including Facebook, Google and Snapchat, are working on their own increased privacy technology as Apple fights the US government over encryptionWork on new encryption projects began before Apple entered a court battle with US authorities over the San Bernardino killer’s iPhone.

The projects could antagonize authorities just as much as Apple’s more secure iPhones, which are currently at the center of the San Bernardino shooting investigation. They also indicate the industry may be willing to back up their public support for Apple with concrete action.

Within weeks, Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp plans to expand its secure messaging service so that voice calls are also encrypted, in addition to its existing privacy features. The service has some one billion monthly users. Facebook is also considering beefing up security of its own Messenger tool.

Snapchat, the popular ephemeral messaging service, is also working on a secure messaging system and Google is exploring extra uses for the technology behind a long-in-the-works encrypted email project.

Engineers at major technology firms, including Twitter, have explored encrypted messaging products before only to see them never be released because the products can be hard to use – or the companies prioritised more consumer friendly projects. But they now hope the increased emphasis on encryption means that technology executives view strong privacy tools as a business advantage – not just a marketing pitch.

Barack Obama has also made it clear he thinks some technology companies are going too far. “If government can’t get in, then everyone’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket, right?” he said 11 March at the SXSW technology conference in Austin, Texas.

WhatsApp has been rolling out strong encryption to portions of its users since 2014, making it increasingly difficult for authorities to tap the service’s messages. The issue is personal for founder Jan Koum, who was born in Soviet-era Ukraine. When Apple CEO Tim Cook announced in February that his company would fight the government in court, Koum posted on his Facebook account: “Our freedom and our liberty are at stake.”

WhatsApp already offers Android and iPhone users encrypted messaging. In the coming weeks, it plans to offer users encrypted voice calls and encrypted group messages, two people familiar with the matter said. That would make WhatsApp, which is free to download, very difficult for authorities to tap.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has talked publicly about how tech companies can help the west combat Isis online and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, recently joined a Defense Department advisory group on how tech can aid in future battles.

Those matters may seem separate, but US national security officials view the increasing availability of encryption technology as a major aid to Islamic State’s online recruitment efforts. At some point, tech firms may have to choose whether they care more about being seen as helping the west to fight terrorism or standing as privacy advocates.

Some technology executives think one middle path would be to encourage the use of encryption for the content of messages while maintaining the ability to hand over metadata, which reveals who is speaking to whom, how often and when. That is why the specifics of the new products will be key to determining both their security and Washington’s reaction to them.

Businesses warned to take action on Data Protection Day

This year Data Protection Day is warning businesses to do more to protect personal data.

This year Data Protection Day is warning businesses to do more to protect personal dataData Protection Day is an international holiday that occurs every January 28. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. It is currently observed in the United States, Canada, and 47 European countries.

Global businesses are re-evaluating their data privacy programmes this year as new privacy regulations targeted at businesses start to gather.

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is expected to come into force in 2018, provides for fines of up to 4% of annual global revenue or €20 million- whichever is greater for failing to safeguard data of EU citizens and residents.

However, despite the introduction of this legislation, many enterprises are still not doing enough to protect consumer data, according to security and privacy industry experts.

“Data privacy day is a great opportunity for organisations to re-evaluate their privacy programme,” said Tim Erlin, director of IT risk and security strategy for security firm Tripwire. “Privacy is often treated as part of larger security initiatives. While this approach addresses some key privacy issues, others may not get the attention they deserve.”

According to Erlin, the top five data privacy mistakes businesses make are:

  • Failure to keep only essential consumer data
  • Failure to encrypt customer data
  • Failure to secure access to data at all times
  • Failure to patch known vulnerabilities
  • Failure to monitor and control simple misconfigurations

Many organisations keep a lot of customer data in case they need it, he said, but it can easily become a major target for cyber attackers, and may not receive the same level of protection as business critical data.

The EU’s data protection rules will impact every entity that holds or uses European personal data both inside and outside of Europe.

More than two thirds of global companies expect EU data protection laws to dramatically increase costs of doing business in Europe.

Erlin said companies need to establish internal processes to keep data encrypted. “Leaving customer data unencrypted makes it much easier for attackers to grab.”

And while encrypting customer data is important, it must be decrypted for use in an application at some point, with attackers trying to compromise those applications so they can get to that data, Erlin warned.

Successful attacks are more likely to exploit vulnerabilities that are several years old if that gets them access to high value data. Patching systems isn’t glamorous but it’s essential to protecting data.

More than one of the security breaches that have been in the headlines recently has been the result of a misconfigured database or server, said Erlin. “If you’re not monitoring server configurations for change, you have a blind spot in your security that attackers can exploit.”

The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also highlighted the potentially devastating effect of reputational damage as a result of a personal data breach.

And it is not only the new privacy legislation in Europe and the US that is a factor. Lawrence Munro, European director at security firm Trustwave for Europe and Asia-Pacific, said the mounting number of breaches involving consumers’ financial and private data means that people are increasingly aware that their information is at risk, and much less willing to forgive businesses that betray their trust.

Munro said security professionals see “Password1” as the most common password year after year. “Such abysmal security presents an open door to hackers. Likewise, phishing scams over email and phone continue to trick droves of workers,” he said.

According to Munro, security in many organisations continues to be seen as a “box to be ticked” as cheaply as possible rather than an essential operation necessary for survival.

“Practices such as regular intensive network testing using real experts rather than occasional automated scans are crucial if businesses are to avoid the reputational and financial fallout of a breach this year,” he said.

Phishing cyber fraud up 21% reports police fraud unit

Cyber fraud linked to social engineering phishing attacks has increased by 21% in a year according to the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB).

Cyber fraud linked to social engineering phishing attacks has increased by 21% in a year according to the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau (NFIB)Social engineering phishing is a non technical method of intrusion used by cyber criminals that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves tricking people into breaking normal security procedures.

Typically, the aim is to trick people into malware laden email attachments or to divulge sensitive information that can be used to steal information and credentials to commit fraud.

The harvesting of account and login information is known as phishing and can happen through fake emails, phone calls, texts or social media posts.

Phishing attacks frequently involve piecing together information from various sources- such as social media and intercepted correspondence, to appear convincing and trustworthy.

The most common themes for contacting potential victims are an update to BT account details, an iTunes invoice and a tax refund.

Others themes include Tesco vouchers, Apple ID, accident injury claim, invoices, suspended bank and credit card accounts, and Sky services upgrades.

According to the government backed GetSafeOnline campaign, cyber criminals have become increasingly sophisticated in their attacks, with more than 95,500 phishing scams reported in the 12 months up to October 2015.

Research by GetSafeOnline reveals that 26% of victims of online crime have been scammed by these types of social engineering emails or phone calls.

According to the research, 29% of reported phishing emails contained a potentially malicious link that could infect a victim’s computer with malware, 17% requested a reply and 15% requested personal information.

The research notes that although the number of emails with malicious links is decreasing, requests for money transfers are on the rise.

In response to these findings, GetSafeOnline has launched an advertising campaign to warn of the dangers of social engineering, in partnership with Barclays, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Halifax, Bank of Scotland, City of London Police, anti-fraud organisation Cifas and Financial Fraud Action UK (FFAUK).

Phishing attacks are the most popular causes of data breaches in the enterprise. Phishing attacks on mobile devices are increasing as adoption of internet connected mobile devices and services grows.

Tony Neate, chief executive of GetSafeOnline, said social engineering is becoming ever more targeted and personal.

“What is worrying, however, is the complex nature of these scams and how they tap perfectly into feelings that make us panic,” he said. “If you get an email purporting to come from someone we trust, such as our bank, about something that is emotive to us all, like money, and then demand that we act urgently, it’s almost like the perfect storm.”

The newly launched advertising campaign aims to encourage people to think twice before they act and not to let panic override common sense.

The campaign highlights the importance of having strong passwords or pass codes to secure devices, and ensuring that all software and apps are up to date.

Research shows that email is the most popular channel for phishing, accounting for 77% of all reported incidents, followed by phone calls, making up 12% of incidents.