Cyberattacks Using SSL Encryption Swells the Success Rate of Malware to 400%

Utilizing Microsoft’s latest partner release of the 2019 Security Intelligence Report, a report put together to inform Microsoft and Office365 Partners of the latest threat-analytics to hit the landscape. Of the 470 billion emails analyzed, the year-to-date trend was well over 250% since it’s last publication in 2018. As phishing attacks continue to trend upwards, attackers are beginning to leverage more sneaky tactics to accomplish their end goal, including blackmail, extortion and worst of all, data corruption.

For many businesses, encryption has become the norm as cyber-criminals begin looking to disrupt operations to turn a quick profit.  One of the largest goals behind any cyber-attack is stealth, the longer a malicious activity goes on unnoticed in your systems, the greater the chances of their attack succeeding. One popular avenue has begun involving SSL encryption to disguise the transmissions of the attack from your local anti-virus or malware agents.

As previously warned, these attackers are persisting to utilize website encryption to provide users with a false sense of confidence while surfing or researching something on the web. As we have mentioned here, Security Awareness Training can assist in informing your employees of the perils found in today’s connected businesses. Begin scrutinizing the sender’s domain name, and the content they want from you.

  • Phishing – 2.7 Million phishing attacks occur monthly, a 400% increase since we’ve been tracking these states in 2017.
  • Content is King – 196 Million instances of “malicious content” including websites, malicious scripts, and malvertising we all found on some of the most well-known websites this year.
  • Botnets – 32 Million botnet callbacks were performed and blocked on average each month since 2018
  • Domains – 32% of all spoofed domains or websites were using SSL to deliver content.

Most Phished Brands through HTTPS:

  1. Microsoft Office365 or OneDrive – 58%
  2. Facebook – 12%
  3. Amazon – 10%
  4. Apple or iTunes – 10%
  5. Adobe – 4%
  6. Dropbox – 4%
  7. DocuSign – 2%

By preparing your employees with a security mindset, we broaden business’ stance on security, to better prevent things like SSL attacks from reaching your end-users. Each of these acts leverages more ways for cybercriminals to establish credibility, and the context needed to fool business.

Recently, I received an email from one of our clients in the North Bay, and they copied me on an email that was dressed up to represent a Microsoft Office 365 notice. Now, this notice contained links to an “invoice” that were crafted and carefully coded, to send the staff to a fake Russian URL, where Office365 logos were plastered everywhere. Even more conveniently, was the willingness for this HTTPS encrypted website to take down ANY information relating to my own personal Office 365 account. Thankfully, this partner reached out to our staff to double-check the status of their Office 365 account and wouldn’t you know it, no issues were reported.

(Email Pictured Below)

7 Cybersecurity Tips That Give Your Business an Unfair Advantage in 2019

Clare Computer Solution’s partner and security experts, Webroot, revealed the findings on their 2019 Threat Report, displaying many “tried-and-true” attack vectors or methods are still at the top of the list, with new threats emerging every day. It would appear the attackers are innovative, to say the least. This comes just in time, as many of our partners spoke to these very claims at the 2019 RSA Conference hosted just last week in San Francisco, California.

Hal Lonas, Chief Technology Officer at Webroot reports:

 

“We wax poetic about innovation in the cybersecurity field, but you only have to take one look at the stats in this year’s report to know that the true innovators are the cybercriminals. They continue to find new ways to combine attack methods or compromise new and existing vectors for maximum results. My call to businesses today is to be aware, assess your risk, create a layered approach that protects multiple threat vectors and, above all, train your users to be an asset—not a weak link—in your cybersecurity program.”

Clare Computer Solutions Couldn’t Agree More; Here are some from Webroot’s 2019 Security Report highlights:

  1. A staggering 40% of malicious URLs were found on “good” or “safe” domains. Legitimate websites are frequently compromised to host malicious content. To protect users, and employees data cybersecurity needs URL-level visibility or domain-level metrics to accurately showcase these dangers. Far too often, standard antivirus or endpoint protection can lack the capabilities, leaving these links in an employee inbox.
  2. Phishing attacks have increased by 36%, with the number of malicious sites swelling to 220% from last year. We’ve even seen phishing sites use SSL Certificates, and HTTPS to trick unknowing users into believing they’re secure and legitimate. Microsoft’s latest Security Intelligence Report, confirms this with analytics reporting 250% increase in phishing messages being sent through Office 365.
  3. 77% of spear phishing attacks impersonated financial institutes, and most likely to use HTTPS over other types of target. With over 80% of financial institutions finding compromised links residing on an HTTPS page.
  4. Google followed by Microsoft, and UPS/FedEx ranked among the most impersonated brands in phishing overall for 2019.
  5. Security Awareness Training reports from Webroot and KnowBe4 both show an average of 80% less likely to fall for phishing attempts, especially with phishing simulations, and on-demand training.
  6. One-third of all malware makes attempts to hide inside of %appdata% folders. What makes these locations price for hiding, is the commonality between paths. Every user directory, with full user-permissions, will install here and are hidden by default in most operating systems. Although malware can and will hide almost anywhere, the most common locations are as follows:
    – 29.4% in %appdata%
    – 24.5% in %temp%
    – 17.5% in %cache%
  7. Devices using Windows 10 are at least 2x more secure than those systems still on Windows 7. Webroot has reported a steady decline in malware on Windows 10 machines in the business space.

Furthering your Security Measures

While ransomware was less of a problem in 2018, it has become more targeted, and companies, customers, and employees will fall victim to ransomware. In 2018 many attacks saw the use of Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) as an attack vector. Leveraging tools to scan systems with inadequate RDP settings. It’s these unsecured RDP connections that hackers can use to gain access to a given system and browse through all its shared data. Further providing criminals with sensitive information that ransomware can exploit.

Begin furthering your security measures today, with the use of a cybersecurity assessment. Easily track your current security posture, and rely on the experts to build you a roadmap for securing your business. Dive-deeper into your network than ever before, with the use of our Security Posture Assessment from Clare Computer Solutions. If you wish to view the Webroot report, you can find that here.

Domain Name System DNS does not mean Do not Secure network infrastructure for IT Support with Clare Computer Solutions

Domain Name System: DNS Doesn’t Mean “Do Not Secure”

Recently, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security(DHS) and Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA) have begun the tracking of a Domain Name System (DNS) hijacking campaign. With using the following techniques, cybercriminals can redirect user traffic to attacker-controlled infrastructure, access valid encryption certificates for agencies’ domain names and launch attacks keeping your organization as the man-in-the-middle, including:

  • Compromised credentials or obtained via account w/ with to make changes to Domain Name System records.
  • Modifying any of the original addresses, mail exchange, name servers, and other Domain Name System records.
  • EstablishDomain Name System records value and falsy-obtain encryption certificates for the executive branch.

How Staff Can Address these Domain Name System Attacks?

  1. Audit Your DNS records – By reviewing business records associated with services offered to users and the public to verify their location.
  2. Update DNS account passwords – Begin to modify your passwords on every account that has the power to make changes to agency Domain Name System records. Utilizing a password manager can assist in providing better passwords to secure this even further.
  3. Leverage multi-factor authentication (MFA) – Implement MFA for all accounts on systems that can make changes.
  4. Track certificate transparency logs – Monitor certificate transparency log-data for certificates issued by CISA OR DHS.

So, What Exactly is at Risk Here?

Software or SaaS applications have become more prevalent than ever, with threats associating with data theft beginning to soar, with a record of 28% increase on attacks related to Office 365 and Googles GSuite. By utilizing these three key strategies, you can begin securing your business and turn Domain Name System from Do Not Secure, into another fortified line of network defense. By shielding your network with a filtered Domain Name System and utilizing browsing policies, you can successfully keep users safe from malicious sites, and their downloads. This keeps networks secured, with minor tweaks to an Office 365 environment, also preventing harmful attachments out of email inboxes.

  1. Domain Name System (DNS) – Begin switching towards a Domain Name System (DNS) service that can actively monitor and block known malware sites to begin reducing the risk of exposure to malware. Unless you’ve custom-configured some settings, it’s likely that a site’s DNS provider is your current Internet Service Provider. DNS providers can block this type of access in two methods. Blocking a request made from a user, or by preventing malware from “phoning back home” with your data.
  2. Internal Policies – These style of filters work to block harmful sites and downloads at the browser level. Similar to the DNS provider at the network level, these systems calculate the risk and based on the amount of potential harm done, will flag these malicious downloads for greater review. Most that need the power to download from harmful websites do receive notifications, although they can go ignored in some cases.
  3. Email Filtering – In the latest statistics from WebRoot, Microsoft, and Sophos, report ransomware’s #1 attack-vector is still email delivered payloads. Far too often, recipients open files without realizing it wasn’t a file, but instead a malicious application. Microsoft does give Office 365 administrators the ability to block any of the 100 different file types. Although in most cases, businesses need attachments to be sent via email, that’s when the use of Microsoft Ondrive to view files can assist your organization.

If your business feels this is out of the scope of your current provider, or would like another expert opinion, give us a call to schedule a time to chat with one of our technology specialists, or have us visit your site. Reach out to us, and let us know if you need DNS help.

ccs anti spear phishing help and fixes sf bay area

The Latest Spear Phishing Scams to Pass-Through Your Email Filter

Unfortunately, everything malicious isn’t always caught by your email filtering or anti-virus. Because of the rise in email born attacks over the last few months, we’ve begun debunking some of the most well-known spear phishing emails sent to local business owners. With an estimated 91% of successful data breaches started by spear phishing, this type of scam has garnered a lot of media attention. Once reserved for the C-level executive, spear phishing has grown, targeting managers and other employees as an essential component of a social engineering attack.

Did You Know That 91% of Successful Breaches Start with a Spear Phishing Attack?

1. “Funding for Your Business DocuSign Scam”

One of our partners here at CCS sent this brilliant example of a spear phishing scam, that can get past ANY email or web filtering.

This message sails through filters and protects devices as it’s presented as a close-to-real document. Utilizing Adobe DocuSign, this example is built to grab your information, not to deliver a malicious payload.

DocuSign IT Support Company finds Phishing email example

By reviewing documents, and clicking the entirely legit DocuSign page, it will spawn what appears as a loan application. By completing this form, it will send your information directly to the hackers. Making it even easier for them, towards the bottom of this application there is a place to upload your last three paychecks or pay stubs.

Spear Phishing Email Form Top 1

If someone in your account’s receivables, accounting, or finance department were to submit this information, the damage could be extensive, and bankruptcy has unfortunately become a harsh reality for small-to-medium sized businesses due to the potential repercussions.

Spear Phishing Email Example Form 3

2. Unwitting Job Applicant Victims to Malware Ad Attacks

The way spear phishing works is by evoking trust and credibility to entrap victims into providing information that grants them access to personal records, employee information, and company data.

Like many professionals in the SF Bay Area, I’m on LinkedIn, where thousands of people are searching for employment opportunities. Given you’re on a website that knows your job title, industry sector, GPS Location, etc. it wouldn’t raise suspicion in most cases.

That’s exactly what these hackers were counting on when they hosted several malicious LinkedIn Ads to target a bank employee. The victim was a financial company employee that was contacted by, and even held a Skype call with the potential “new-employer.” Once the interview was conducted, and the employee’s defenses are down, cybercriminals asked the employee to install a program called “ApplicationPDF.exe” that would generate his application.

Because this program was able to bypass anti-virus and suspicion, it’s believed the hackers were attempting to gain access into the network of financial records, debit cards, and control over localized ATMS.

We often begin seeing employees as the easiest line of defense in your cybersecurity. It’s stories like these that continue to keep our clients vigilant with security and elevate the awareness employees have to surround these malicious threats and looking for red flags. In this case, the PDF application was the scam that allowed access into localized network operations.

 

Steps Towards a Spear Phishing Remedy:

By focusing on the unique needs of your network, and it’s users there are low-cost solutions for making major strides in stepping up spear phishing prevention. With the implementation and setup of policies, permissions, and email filtering, begin minimizing the risk your business can incur. As part of our commitment to the SF Bay Area Community, we have begun offering Security Awareness Training for companies looking to strengthen their security posture. We understand the uniqueness of your business, and so do each of our employees. Leverage our staff, and knowledge to toughen-up security today.

Secure Now, or Pay Later: “Collection #1” Data Breach Reports 773 Million Personal Records

A developing story regarding one of, if not the largest data breach dump of all time. Deemed “Collection #1” for its collated structure. Collection #1 was a series of data dumps from over 2,000 databases, and this data breach hits close to home. After being alerted early Saturday, January 19th, 2019, I noticed an odd email forward from a website I’d never seen or heard of, alerted me that an older personal email and password was compromised. Taking this notice, we’ve used our experts to dig deeper into the Collection #1 data breach.

By starting with the raw-data first, Collection #1 is a set of email addresses and passwords that have totaled 2,692,818,238 rows, of spreadsheets, with decrypted passwords. Made up of several smaller breaches organizations, forums, social platforms make up the varying sources. In total, the data creates 1,160,253,228 unique combinations for emails and passwords. (emails are NOT case sensitive) It should be noted, 772,904,991 unique emails and 21,222,975 other personal data records were released on the dark web on Friday, January 18th, 2019.

Origins of this Data

To further heighten the stakes, with the original documentation pictured above, we can see hackers are neatly formatting their data-dumps, and this shows the delimited text formats (commas, semicolons, syntax) further proving the original origin of this data. Posted late last week on the popular dark web service MEGA, over 12,000 separate files were collected, totaling 87GB of data that has since been removed from the dark web site. Referencing the image below, the expanded view shows the file listing and the many alleged sources. (it’s very difficult to discover the source of data breach information)
Clare Computer Solutions MSSP Managed Security Service
What I can say, is I checked, and verified my own personal data, though it was inaccurate, it was credentials, that I personally used several years ago. Like many of you reading this, I’ve bared witness to my data being in these breaches and although it’s always outdated credentials it still provides me with a sense of dismay, though I know it’s not personal.

How “Hashed Passwords” are Used in Hacking

As I’ve mentioned, there was a mix of “hashed” and “de-hashed” passwords that were cracked, and output to plain-text. These massive files are used with automation tools to resplendently attempt numerous credentials. For an example, if you head over to HIBP, and you enter the word “P@assw0rd” it will return the password as being cracked or broken 51,000 times, so this is obviously ill-advised though it meets common password standards, like upper case, lower case, number, and 8 characters long.

So, What’s at risk here?

In short, if you’re involved in this data breach, many of your passwords could already be compromised, in this case, used for credential stuffing. Credential stuffing is the process of automated injection of breaches usernames, emails and password pairs to gain fraudulent access to your accounts, once reporting with access, they leverage this same list across banking, emails, and website servers.

The cold reality of this situation is 140 million emails were taken with 21 million in passwords not already disclosed or discovered. My hope is that many will be prompted to broaden their security posture and look past the basic steps in password difficulty. There is something big to take away from all these breaches occurring. Two-step verification could prevent access to many business’ vital applications that are now being moved to the cloud or online.

To learn more about the launch of our latest security initiatives, head over to our Managed Security Services page, to learn the latest technology used to combat cyber attacks in for small to medium business. Providing greater uptime maximization, and peach of mind through fully securing your network.