In our previous blog post, we gave you a list of steps to take if you have been a victim of a data or security breach. In this article, we will continue this discussion and delve deeper into what to do if you’ve been hacked.
File a Police Report
To protect yourself against excessive financial liability, you need to file a report with your local police department as soon as possible. Your status as an identity theft victim is thus made official, and this creates an official document for you to show the credit bureaus to lock down any activity around your identity.
Reclaim your account
The majority of mainstream, online services (such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Apple, etc.) have tools in place that will help you get your account back after it has been compromised. Generally speaking, you will need to answer predetermined security questions in order to verify your identity before proceeding.
Check for backdoors
The more sophisticated hackers will not just access your account, they will also ensure they can get back in once you’ve gotten them out, by setting up tools. Thus, when you have your accounts back, you should immediately ensure there isn’t a backdoor in another place designed to let an attacker straight back in. Check your email rules and filters to ensure that nothing is getting forwarded to another account without your knowledge. Also, check if the security questions were changed, or if the answers were changed.
Restore from back-up
It is now time to restore your data from back-ups, and bring the system back to normal.
Ask Yourself “Why”?
Finally, while fixing things, take some time to reflect back and ask yourself this question: what was the aim of the breach? If it was your bank account, the answer may be obvious, in other cases, such as email for instance, it could have been for several reasons – from getting password resets on other services, to using it to send spam, to requesting money from your contacts. An attacker may even be trying to gain access to your business. Knowing why you were targeted can help you understand how you were breached.
…But Stay Calm!
Although getting hacked may seem like a nightmare, it is not the end of the world. By following the tips above, you can get up and rolling as quickly as possible.
Business depends on data and technology, both of which can be abused by cyber criminals. A study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reported that cybercrime costs the global economy a staggering $445 billion a year. Cybercriminals are gaining momentum by sharing information and launching more sophisticated attacks. Fighting cybercrime requires a holistic approach to safeguarding information.
To avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime and prevent unauthorized access to your data, here are some steps you can take:
Hackers are not the only ones who can gain power from information – by educating yourself on the existing types of scams and how to prevent them, you can stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. After all, cyber security begins with personal responsibility.
Automate software updates
Previously, we mentioned the fact that software updates are important as, apart from product enhancements, updates contain bug fixes and solutions to security vulnerabilities. The good news is that many software programs will automatically connect and update to defend against known risks; therefore it is best to configure automatic updates.
Click with caution
Whether chatting over an instant messenger or checking e-mail, you should be careful not to click on any links in messages from people whom you do not know. The link could download malware onto your computer, or it could revert to a fake website that asks for private information, such as user names and passwords. These data could be used to carry out identity theft or other crimes. The same concept applies even if the message is from someone you do know – you should always be vigilant. Certain types of viruses multiply and spread through e-mail, therefore looking for information that indicates the legitimacy of a message is advisable. Also, exercise caution when downloading any programs.
Apart from practicing safe surfing, you also need to be cautious when shopping online. Before entering your payment information on a site that you have never visited before, do a little investigating to determine if the seller is legitimate.
When it comes to payment, a credit card - rather than a debit card - should be used. If the site turns out to be fraudulent, your credit card issuer may reimburse you for the charges, but with a debit card, the money is lost.
Use Common sense…
Even though our awareness about cybercrime has increased, mainly due to the ongoing revelations by the ex-National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, cybercrime is still on the rise. Cybercrimes trajectory is fuelled by common mistakes such as replying to spam or downloading attachments. Therefore, common sense should be used whenever you are on the Internet. You should never post revealing personal information online, or share sensitive information, such as your social security number and credit card number.
…But be suspicious
Even cyber-savvy people still need to keep a guard up for any new tricks and act proactively to protect their safety. Although protecting oneself does take some effort, there are numerous resources and tools that can help. By adopting best practices and a few precautions, you can keep cybercrime at bay.
If you are looking for security solutions for your company, you can find valuable information on our website www.hobsoft.com. You will find several software security solutions “Made in Germany” that will help you protect your corporate network and files.
Would you hand out your name, social security number and email address to a total stranger on the street? Probably not. However, when it comes to giving out the same information online, we are somewhat less adamant. Is it really easy to gain information on an individual from seemingly trivial data? How could your online presence be used against you? In this article, we answer these questions and discuss how to mitigate these risks.
Would You Give Out Your Email Address?
A social experiment conducted by People’s ID Bot Project and London agency Abundance has shown how incredibly easy it is for fraudsters to glean a disturbing level of personal information online, by simply using an email address. Bar customers wrote their email address on a sham mailing list, then researchers used their email addresses to evaluate the target’s details online. Within a matter of minutes, the researchers had gathered so much private information on the individuals that they succeeded in convincing the patrons that they had known them for years. Would the same have happened to you?
Sharing Your Life Online
The shocking experiment highlights the dangers of leaving yourself open to online identification fraud – it reveals how easy it is for a stranger to research individuals. People should be aware of the how much of their personally-identifiable information is freely available online. In the wrong hands, this information is used to commit identity theft or sold to other criminals. Usually, the victim is only made aware after a crime has been committed against them.
Often, people disclose all types of personal information on the Internet that allows identifying data to be deduced. Social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are libraries of personal minutiae – school and work chatter, snapshots of family vacations, and books read are just the tip of the iceberg. Such seemingly superficial pieces of self-revelation can gradually be gathered and reconstructed by computers to help create a picture of a person’s identity, sometimes even down to the Social Security number.
How to Prevent Victimization
People can increase their defenses against identification in social networks by implementing tight privacy controls on information in personal profiles. Unfortunately, an individual’s actions are not sufficient to protect privacy in the interconnected world of the internet. In today’s online world, personal privacy is no longer an individual phenomenon; although you may not disclose personal information, your online friends or colleagues may do it for you, denoting your gender, education or employer, location, and interests.
The Web offers us excellent value and convenience, however it is important to be vigilant in protecting our online identities. It is essential to exercise caution and implement these simple adjustments to online behavior in order to prevent victimization. People should exert more caution with personal details – it is by obtaining such data that the process of identity theft starts.
Most companies are turning to virtual private networks (VPNs) to reduce costs and increase security and performance. By using a public network, VPNs can connect off-site users, such as teleworkers and remote workers, vendors, and customers, to a larger centralized network. A VPN is considered as important as the internet connection itself, therefore choosing the right VPN solution is essential.
There are several different VPN solutions in the market today, therefore extra caution must be taken to ensure that the best possible decision is made when choosing a business VPN solution.
The two main product categories are dedicated VPN hardware appliances, and software VPNs (also called server-based VPNs). In the case of software VPNs, the VPN endpoint is actually software running on the device itself, whereas a hardware VPN is a virtual private network based on a single, stand-alone device.
The following four key points highlight how software VPNs are superior to hardware VPNs:
VPN software is generally considered to be a relatively low-cost way to deploy a VPN; dedicated hardware VPN appliances are more expensive than a software VPN because, generally, the VPN software is installed on an existing device. This means there is virtually no other investment required apart from software upgrades.
- Easy Network Management
A further advantage to the software VPN approach is that the network does not change. No additional devices need to be installed, and management of the network remains the same. In contrast, a VPN appliance involves adding a new piece of equipment to the network, therefore increasing the complexity of the networking environment.
- Less Training
Another benefit is that generally, less training is required in the case of software VPNs. Conversely, in hardware VPNs, the IT staff would require more intensive training since the configuration and management tools will probably be different than the ones used on the corporate routers.
- Performance and Scalability
The performance factor is equally as important. The ability to expand the VPN to support more sites or users should not be underestimated when choosing a VPN. Pure software VPN solutions benefit from high scalability. This is not the case for a hardware VPN. If a company were to start with a VPN appliance designed to support 50 simultaneous VPN sessions, and later experience considerable increases in personnel, the VPN would need to accommodate more users. This would require scaling up the VPN will require the purchase of more appliances. Selecting a VPN that is not scalable can easily double the cost if or when the VPN capacity is outgrown.
When choosing a VPN, special attention should be paid to the merits of the various deployment models (SSL VPN vs. IPsec VPN). Modern, pure software SSL VPNs do not require the installation of specialized client software on the end user’s computer. This translates to high scalability and the ability to support many different platforms (such as Windows®, Mac, Linux/Unix), from virtually any device. SSL VPNs enable secure server-based computing environment with strong SSL encryption and strong authentication.
HOB RD VPN is a very performant software SSL-VPN solution, which was only recently certified by the German Federal Office for Information Security. If you are interested in VPN solutions, don’t hesitate to visit our website www.hobsoft.com and inform yourself about HOB software solutions “Made in Germany”.
In one of our previous blog posts, we started our discussion with cybercrime prevention tips. In the following article, we shall further provide advice on how to prevent cyberattacks, with a more in-depth focus on mobile technology and deployments.
Many cybercrime attacks can be avoided with the implementation of straightforward preventative steps. Cyber criminals prefer to attack easy targets, thus the more difficult you make their job, the more likely it is that they will move on to an easier target.
By implementing the following precautionary measures, you can effectively fight cybercrime:
- Protect your computer with security software
Several necessary security software elements are required for basic online security. Antivirus programs and firewalls are just two examples of security software essentials. Generally, a firewall is the first line of cyber defense, as it controls who and what can communicate with your computer online. Firewalls block connections to unknown or phony sites, and will prohibit certain types of viruses and intruders. Antivirus software monitors all online activities such as e-mail messages and Web browsing, offering protection from viruses, worms and other types of malicious programs. More recent versions of antivirus programs also protect from spyware and potentially damaging unwanted programs, such as adware.
- Secure your mobile device
Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, are also vulnerable to cyberattacks; these devices are attacked by cyber criminals in a similar way to computers. A more in-depth look into smart phone security can be found here.
When smartphones are used for business purposes, a number of safety practices should be followed, such as not saving any sensitive business data directly on the device, to prevent unauthorized data access.
- Turn off location settings
Numerous smartphones, tablets and even some digital cameras now come GPS-enabled, allowing geotagging (the addition of GPS coordinates to your online posts or photos) is especially popular with photos. A geotagged photo is the most marked threat for the user’s personal privacy and security.
The problem with such location-based services is not the information they provide, but rather the information they might also provide to other parties. Providing information about your current location is risky, but even more precarious, the data may be permanent and searchable, allowing criminals to build up a clear picture of your activities through time.
To mitigate these risks, the best thing to do is to completely disable the location settings when requested by applications and refrain from using geotagging. Alternatively, in some cases, these may be turned on only when you specifically need it, then turned off again immediately after; even in this scenario, only a restricted number of friends should be able to see the information of where you are and where you have been.
- Secure your offsite workers
Offsite workers, such as teleworkers and remote workers, including vendors and customers, making use of any type of mobile device (e.g., laptops, smartphones and tablets) should be equipped with remote access solutions or other modern solutions, so as to assure a secure access to the corporate network.
- Back up critical dataAlthough this is not strictly a way to prevent cybercrime, backing up critical data is a crucial step in the event of an attack. Recovery of data and return to normal operations is essential for business continuity; any down time to mission-critical systems may be harmful. Details of the backup processes should be part of the business continuity and disaster recovery plans.
The most really effective steps taken by a computer user to avoid being a victim of a crime render the user’s computer somewhat less convenient to use. Every user must balance how much security is considered enough to keep unauthorized intruders at bay. The German software developer HOB offers its customers the perfect balance between user experience and security. The Secure Remote Access Suite HOB RD VPN allows users to remotely access corporate files and servers from anywhere, at anytime. Due to SSL-encryption and modern authentication methods, HOB RD VPN offers its users a maximum of security. The recent Common Criteria (EAL4+) certification is yet another independent proof for the high security level of HOB RD VPN. If you are interested in learning more about HOB products, please visit our website www.hobsoft.com.
Every week, we hear new reports of new cyber breaches and the exploitation of security flaws. Internet connected activities are as susceptible to cybercrime as physical crime, and both can lead to severe damages and lasting negative consequences. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual to protect themselves and their families against cybercrimes through safe online practices.
Cybercrime Prevention Strategies
Preventing cybercrime is not an easy task, however cybercrime prevention can be achieved relatively rapidly and in a cost-effective way. The following tips help prevent cyber attacks:
Install the latest patches and updates
By regularly updating your computer operating system with the latest patches and other software fixes when they become available, you can block attackers from taking advantage of software flaws that would otherwise compromise your system.
Keeping your computer up-to-date renders it much more difficult for cyber criminals to gain access to your system. Although updates alone do not guarantee protection, they block several basic and automated attacks completely and may discourage a less-determined hacker to look for a more vulnerable computer somewhere else. Fortunately, most Windows-based systems can be configured to download software patches and updates automatically.
Choose strong passwords… and protect them
Choosing a password, meaning one that is not easily guessed, is the first step towards keeping passwords secure and out of the wrong hands. Strong passwords use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters or symbols (such as ?, @, $ and &). Any type of personal information or dictionary words should be avoided.
A different password should be used for each service used; although this makes it more difficult to manage your online accounts, it is well-worth the effort. Passwords should be changed regularly so as to limit the damage caused by someone who has already gained access to one account. It is essential to store passwords in a safe place. If you suspect that one of your online accounts may be hacked, one of the first steps to take is to change your password.
Shred old or unwanted paperwork
Any paperwork that contains personal details should be shredded or made illegible before discarding or recycling it. Criminals can go through your trash to recover sensitive information such as receipts and letters from banks that they can use online.
Protect your personal information
Refrain from revealing personal confidential information in the public domain, for example social media websites. Overexposure can lead to social engineering, whereby attackers gather small bits of personal information from several portals, such as Twitter and Facebook, to launch an attack.
Although absolutely not divulging any personal information is rarely possible, the following is a checklist for how to share personal information safely online:
- Pay attention to privacy policies on websites and in software
- Steer away from fraudulent websites used to steal personal information
- Keep an eye out for phony email messages – do not open email attachments unless you are certain that they are authentic
- Do not respond to email messages that ask for personal information
Be social media savvy
Check your security setting to ensure that your social networking profiles (such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) are set to private. Once information is posted online, it is extremely difficult to remove it!
Cybercrime: No Intention of Slowing Down
As the technology evolves, so does cybercrime. This exposes new vulnerabilities which attackers can exploit, therefore implementing the rightful preventative measures is essential to stay one step ahead of attackers. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog series where we will discuss further methods to protect against the ongoing threat of cybercrime.
The dependence on mobile browsers to accomplish security sensitive operations is increasing. With this comes an increase in mobile cyber threats, as cybercriminals are now moving beyond computers and shifting to mobile handheld devices.
A phishing survey reported that the number of phishing targets increased from 2012 to 2013, indicating that e-criminals are spending time looking for new opportunities. Mobile phishing occurs when identity thieves collect the user's information, including financial or account information such as user name and password, Social Security Number, date of birth, and credit card information from mobile devices, for the purpose of committing fraud or other illegalities.
Limitations of Mobile Devices
Specific limitations of the mobile platform make mobiles susceptible to phishing attacks:
1. The mobile device’s much smaller screen size constrains the ability of the mobile browser to entirely display any anti-phishing security elements a website may contain. Most mobile browsers in use today simply lack any room to incorporate security indicators and certificate information that alert users of site identity and the presence of strong cryptographic algorithms, as is done with their desktop counterparts. This leaves users unable to verify whether the website they are logging into is legitimate or not; a critical security flaw rendering mobile browsers unsafe.
2. The permanent default browsers preinstalled on certain phones are another limitation. Their ability to automatically start up and display links the user opens makes it less difficult for cybercriminals, who can now focus on only one browser to exploit.
This combination of a radically reduced screen size and absence of security indicators makes it difficult for users to determine the security standing of mobile browsers, and makes mobile browsing more dangerous for average users, since it provides a false sense of security. Research has shown that mobile browser users are three times more likely to access phishing sites than users of desktop browsers.
Advantages of Mobile Devices:
However, the mobile platform also has some benefits that reduce the concern of mobile phishing:
1. The mobile platform allows phishing targets, including online shopping and banking sites, to develop their own apps for customer use. Assuming there are no spoofed apps and there is a mechanism for constant updates, these legitimate apps facilitate more secure exchanges of information between organizations and their customers.
2. Mobile browsers are increasingly becoming more powerful, and are able to process and run complex scripts. Websites that involve login details may take advantage of this fact to implement better security measures.
Protection Against Mobile Phishing
One can prevent mobile phishing from taking place by adopting and following the following best practices:
1. Avoid opening links in emails, especially from suspicious or unknown senders. One should always verify the legitimacy of the email messages received.
2. Utilization of official apps. If the website one is trying to log in to has an official app, one should use it rather than the browser.
3. Checking the permissions of all the downloaded apps. One should exert extreme caution when choosing which apps to download, as some apps may be requesting too much data, which could result in a violation of privacy.
4. The URLs of the websites one visits should be manually typed in and subsequently bookmarked for future visits. This procedure eliminates typographical errors in the URL that can be directed to a phishing website.
5. Installation of a security solution. Modern solutions for mobile devices enable secure access to data located in the corporate network, without the data ever being downloaded to the device. This eliminates the risk of phishing.
The direction of cybercrime is shifting towards the “post-PC” era, as cybercriminals follow where the users and their money go. Cyberattacks on mobile devices can be prevented by adopting mobile computing best practices.
Cyber security starts with improving the individual responsibility of each user within an organization. A single user’s lack of responsibility may not only harm the individual, but could provide a platform for attack on other users within the network; older threats, such as viruses, have been replaced by sophisticated attacks that can cripple the entire organization’s IT system. Knowledge of how to protect computers and engaging in appropriate behavior while logged on to the corporate network, will decrease vulnerabilities.
How to Act Responsibly in Cyberspace
Cyber security is a shared responsibility, and each user has a role in preventing cyber threats. Every person should take these basic security measures to improve the organization’s cybersecurity.
1. Strong Passwords
Choosing a strong password cannot be stressed enough! Weak passwords are just as bad as no passwords at all, as they can be easily cracked by relatively simple hacking techniques. Strong, hard-to-crack passwords are normally the first line of defense against a security breach. Strong passwords generally cannot be found in the dictionary and include special characters or numbers.
2. Beware of Social Engineering
Not all threats come from online. The term “social engineering” describes a non-technical type of intrusion that relies mainly on human interaction – a scam or fraud, where people are deceived into disclosing valuable data, breaking the normal security procedures. Social engineering can take several forms, and is normally considered to be the easiest and most successful type of attack. One of the most traditional cracks is simply to call a person and ask them questions. Users should never divulge a password to anyone, including people who claim to be from customer service, nor communicate a password via telephone, e-mail or instant messaging.
3. Recognize the Importance (and Vulnerability) of their Data
One of the reasons social engineers are successful is because people are not aware of the value of the information they possess and are therefore not vigilant protecting it. Better security awareness by each individual facilitates businesses to safeguard their trade secrets and intellectual property, and decreases loss of productivity due to downtime.
4. Keeping Track of Business Data
In addition to keeping the information safe, protection of business data ensures compliance with relevant data protection rules and legislation. Employees downloading business documents to a public drive, attaching and sending unencrypted confidential documents from the workplace using personal (Web-based) email accounts, and downloading, storing and transferring unencrypted confidential documents from a workplace desktop to a generic USB drive are all examples of security risks that can arise in organizations involving negligent or malicious users.
5. Back Up Data
Data is one of the most important assets of the business; a lot of information, such as employee records, is irreplaceable. Users should plan ahead and back up critical data as preparation for worst-case scenarios.
Independent of the type of multi-layered defense one opts for to safeguard the corporate network, it must be combined with good judgment, common sense, and safe computing and safe Web surfing habits.
Author: Hazel Farrugia
Today, smartphones are designed for both work and play – in fact, smartphones are a necessary technology used by organizations to keep employees connected and productive. Although BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is a dominant trend amongst employees, this policy poses a significant security threat.
Approximately 16 percent and 17 percent of iPhone and Android owners, respectively, state that an unauthorized person has at some time accessed their phone in a manner that invaded their privacy, according to a study by The Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.
When confidential business information is stored on smartphones, enterprises should ensure that employees take the necessary precautions to safeguard sensitive information contained there. Nonetheless, unauthorized persons can still physically come into possession of a mobile phone.
Consequences of lost or stolen smartphones
A 2011 study by Ponemon Institute entitled “The Lost Smartphone Problem” examined how many employees lose their smartphone or have it stolen, and the consequences of these lost devices to the organizations. Around 4.3 percent of all smartphones issued to or used by employees are lost or stolen every year, with an insignificant amount recovered. Approximately 60 percent of lost or stolen smartphones are believed to contain sensitive and confidential information; however, more than half (57 percent) of lost smartphones were not protected with mobile security features.
As expected, lost or stolen smartphones prove costly to businesses and their employees. Lost data can have significant financial consequences for businesses, which outweighs the replacement cost of the mobile phone itself. A lost or stolen smartphone permits unauthorized access to the device, the organization’s data and call logs.
Using business smartphones safely
A more viable option for accessing company data in the corporate network would be for data to not be downloaded to the smartphone at any time. This is a distinguishing characteristic of HOBLink Mobile – This feature makes HOBLink Mobile easy-to-use, extremely secure and, through the optimization of bandwidth usage, high performance. Since all data remain completely and securely located in the central corporate network with no data being uploaded to the iPhone, data can be lost or stolen if the iPhone is lost,
Apart from improved security, HOBLink Mobile is also advantageous because data volumes, which are much larger than the mobile device itself could process, can be worked with. Furthermore, it requires no large amount of memory on the mobile device.
Businesses should seek to establish data protection solutions for smartphones in order to prevent abuse or misuse of the confidential information on the device in the case of theft or loss of the device. Indeed, “better safe than sorry” is a good phrase to abide by for preventing the costly consequences of lost data assets.
Readers, have you protected your smartphone from unauthorized data access? Please share in the comments below.
Author: Hazel Farrugia
In our previous post on IT security, we discussed four key findings from a data breach study conducted by Ponemon Institute. In this article, we will further discuss these four key findings and outline preventative measures to avoid security breaches.
Key Findings (Continued)
5. Cybercrime Costs Differ by Company Size, but Smaller Organizations Sustain a Significantly Higher Cost than Larger Organizations
While everyone is vulnerable to cyber-attacks, smaller organizations are more at risk. A common cyber-attack is the theft of sensitive data, and for a small organization, the loss of project files or customer databases can put them out of business.
Smaller companies (employees<20) should implement a VPN for secure connectivity anytime, anywhere. Due to their ease of use and versatility, SSL VPNs are well-suited for small companies allowing users to only access specific applications and services, and providing access to Web applications, Windows Terminal Servers and their applications or internal network connections.
6. Information Theft, Followed by the Costs Associated with Business Disruption, Represent the Highest External Costs
Annually, information loss and business disruption (or lost productivity) account for 43% and 36% of external costs, respectively. (In the context of this study, an external cost is one that is created by external factors, including fines, marketability of stolen intellectual properties and litigation)
Setting up strong network security is therefore crucial. Increasingly, more organizations are adopting SSL VPNs, which ensure a secure network connection through the use of encryption, single-sign on options, and firewalls.
In order to minimize costs associated with business disruption, it is imperative that all organizations have a contingency plan in place that outlines how to contain and recover from a substantial security breach. The IT staff must quickly solve the issue, hopefully restoring data from backup files, and returning systems to service without any significant downtime. Nonetheless, any downtime can be disastrous in the case of mission critical systems.
7. Recovery and Detection are the Most Costly Internal Activities
Combined, recovery and detection account for 49% of the total internal activity cost per year; cash outlays and labor account for most of these costs. This highlights the importance of back-ups. A data-backup policy is especially important if the organization has several laptops or other mobile devices that can be lost or stolen. To avoid data theft from loss or stolen mobile devices, no data should be downloaded to the device, but rather all data is completely and securely located in the central corporate network.
8. A Strong Security Policy Minimizes the Cost of Cyber Attacks
As expected, businesses that invest in a strong security policy and system are better off than their counterparts. This stresses the importance of a strong security policy, which provides the plan for the overall security program adopted by the organization.
As cybercriminals have become more sophisticated in their tactics, fighting cybercrime has become increasingly challenging for organizations worldwide. Although sustaining an organization’s security posture or compliance with standards, policies and regulations also comes at a cost, the benefits of strong security measures outweigh the plausible costs incurred by cyber-attacks.
Author: Hazel Farrugia