Category Archives: Data Breach

Cybersecurity in the Age of the Coronavirus: The Impact on Business Operations

Cybersecurity in the Age of the Coronavirus: The Impact on Business Operations

As the global workforce shifts to remote work, business operations and management face a number of obstacles. As mentioned in the previous article, the line between our work lives and our personal lives are blended now more than ever. Pre- pandemic predicted cybercrime will cost companies $6 trillion globally. According to research, last year, governments and government organizations were attacked most often, followed by industrial companies, healthcare, education, and finance. 

Business networks are now accessible from home, posing a risk to the security of business operations. We’ve seen changes in the way leadership makes decisions for business performance. During these unprecedented times, the movement to cybersecurity concentration is rapid, with little to no room for error. Cybersecurity is built in layers and it is impossible to protect a network forever. However, leadership must conform to a balance between risk mitigation and business efficiency.

In this day and age, business leaders are getting a daily lesson in large scale systematic failure during COVID- 19. They see and read how quickly COVID- 19 spread around the world and how it affects economic, social, political, and business systems. It is imperative to provide real- time capability and adaptability of the company’s cybersecurity defenses. The gap between cybersecurity risk and defensive effectiveness is as wide as it’s ever been for most companies, and experts warn that it could get even worse once the pandemic subsides. New cybersecurity risks will emerge and defense has to continue to be ahead of them.

Board members often ask “Are we spending enough on cybersecurity?” rather than “What do we need to protect, what is the value of what we need to protect, and how secure is it for what we’re spending?”. Digital success and failure start at the top, so they need to have a deep understanding of how cybersecurity complexities work. Some say the pandemic is actually helping companies by urging executives to focus on cybersecurity and their digital business system, calling for a structural reform for some companies. 

IT teams who once had physical access to employee machines now lack the time and accessibility to address commonplace issues. The absence of onsite diagnostic teams calls for automated threat reporting and diagnostic tools such as endpoint detection and response. Business Continuity Plans and Disaster Recovery Plans are important to the flow of business operations by ensuring that resources are available, to keep employees online, and to guarantee constant communication.

Additionally, the way employees access data is now heavily reliant on VPNs. As a result, VPN gateways are running at or near capacity. This means that corporate IT departments need to leverage all the tools at their disposal to keep loads manageable so that the VPN gateways aren’t overwhelmed and unable to provide the necessary access for remote workers. Because of this, just one DDoS attack can take down an entire company. Cybercriminals know that employees are more exposed and less cautious when working from home, so it is important that IT stays up to date with software patches and take appropriate actions to mitigate risks. 

Along with higher VPN precautions, companies have been increasing the use of advanced concepts of threat hunting, including detection and incident responses. It is not possible to keep the threat out of the perimeter forever, so it is important to seek out the target and actively address it without giving up a basic layer of protection. Organizations have also invested in educating employees on cyber threats and their impact. Organizations have reported higher victimization of phishing emails, prompting the adoption of more innovative approaches.

Security teams are now emphasizing employee security awareness and training. Doing this while providing a basic layer of protection can create a more effective prevention and defense strategy. Organizations that do not practice cyber hygine have reported higher phishing victimization.

The risks of entering networks through third- party vendors have also increased. There is more evidence of attempts to insert malicious code, exploit external suppliers and outsourced technologies, generating higher threats and more vulnerabilities. Organizations have shown a higher dependency on outsourced tools to maintain ongoing operations such as marketing and communication tools. This may result in the higher exposure of sensitive data, expanding the potentials for supply- chain attacks. There are also more consumer- oriented online services such as E- commerce websites that are open to public access. These websites are overloaded with requests, and many of the financial processes are now made as online procedures. Phishing through these E- commerce websites is aimed at victims as both individuals and professionals.

Experts urge companies to proceed with caution. Reducing reliance on office VPN and migrating to a cloud solution is a must. Also, lock down the supply chain, as they can be an entry point for hackers. Ask your suppliers what they do to maintain security. Scale up benefits of cloud migration to virtualize the workforce. CISOs must switch their focus to four main points, rather than sticking with the traditional viewpoints.

  1. Focus: Focus on supporting only those technology features and services that are critical to operations. Focus on employee safety on the frontline.
  2. Test: Test the company’s incident response plan, business continuity and disaster recovery plan, and vendor requirements right away. Eliminating risk is impossible, but you can reduce the risk associated with a poor response.
  3. Monitor: Monitor all resources, including collaboration tools and endpoints.
  4. Balance: Cybersecurity teams are likely to receive a flood of urgent requests for cybersecurity. Allow policy exceptions that will allow teams elsewhere in the organization to get work done.

Many organizations never really take cybersecurity projects seriously because they are lower priority, but the Coronavirus has pushed cybersecurity projects to the forefront. Management has acknowledged that things will not go back to the way they used to be. This transition period marks a point in time where there are distinct opportunities for a new and more aggressive type of cyberattack to damage or slow business rather than the traditional goal of attaining money from many parties.

Security and Privacy Issues with Zoom

Security and Privacy Issues with Zoom

With the increase of employees turning to remote work during the pandemic, companies have been relying on video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, for regular meetings and communication between employees. According to Check Point, there have been 1,700 new Zoom domains registered since the pandemic began, a quarter of these domains were registered just in the past week. Attackers have noticed the spike in users, which raises concerns for businesses that use Zoom. There have also been an increase in privacy concerns due to the sensitivity of information that is now being transferred over the platform.

In Zoom conferences, anyone with the right link can enter a teleconference and share a screen, even without a Zoom account. There have been new complaints about users being Zoom- bombed, which is when unwanted guests intrude on video meetings for malicious purposes. Recently, two online classrooms in Massachusetts were interrupted by an anonymous attacker during instruction. During the online classroom meeting, an unidentified person yelled profanity during instruction before shouting the teacher’s home address. Another classroom was disturbed by an intruder who displayed his hate tattoos to all the students and the teacher.

There have been several of these intrusions on online classrooms as well as in business conferences. Users have made several reports of conferences being interrupted by graphic images and threatening language. As a result, many schools and businesses have completely switched to other platforms, such as Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts.

This is not the first time Zoom had security flaws in their platform. In 2019, security researcher Jonathan Leitschuh found a vulnerability in the Mac Zoom Client. When a user downloaded the Zoom app, Zoom silently installed a hidden web server on the device without the user’s permission. This web server allowed websites to join in on any Zoom call when their video camera was activated, a flaw that also impacted Ringcentral. This web server remained on the device, even if the Zoom app was uninstalled. At the time, there were 750,000 companies using Zoom for business purposes that were put at risk due to this vulnerability. Apple and Zoom have since resolved this issue for Mac users.

Another vulnerability found by Check Point researchers was quickly fixed by Zoom. Zoom calls had a randomly generated ID number between 9 and 11 digits long that allowed users to locate and join a specific call. Check Point researchers were able to predict which were valid meetings and join in on them. Zoom allows video conferences to have hundreds of participants, so it was easy for an attacker to join a call unnoticed. Zoom recently changed the randomly generated numbers into a more “cryptographically strong” one, added more digits to meeting ID numbers, and made requiring passwords default for future meetings.

Allowing vulnerable servers to run on devices makes it easier for attackers to intrude on conferences. While removing the vulnerable web server was a big help, attackers are still able to access meetings over Zoom. Officials warn businesses and individuals about an increase in phishing emails for attackers to enter and exploit networks. These can be especially detrimental to remote workers, as cybersecurity and information security is often weaker at home than in the office. Check Point researchers confirmed that at least 70 of the newly created Zoom domains were being used maliciously, often as phishing websites in order to steal unsuspecting users’ personal information.

Users have also expressed concerns over Zoom’s privacy flaws. Zoom allows hosts to see if participants have been on a different screen for more than 30 seconds. Additionally, for paid subscribers, a host can record the meeting and have access to text files of any active chats that take place during the meeting. The host can then save these files to the cloud where it can be shared and accessed by other authorized users.

Earlier this week, there were questions raised about Zoom sharing customer data with Facebook, even if the users did not have a Facebook account. The Zoom app notified Facebook when the user opened the app, details on the user’s device including where the device is located and phone carrier, and a unique advertiser identifier created by the user’s device. With this information, companies could target a user with specific advertisements. This practice is not new and is fairly common with major applications. Several apps use Facebook’s Software Development Kit (SDK) to implement features on their apps, which ultimately sends information to Facebook. This concern has since been addressed and fixed by Zoom. Zoom now enables users to log in with Facebook via browser, rather than through the Facebook SDK.

The privacy of Zoom calls has particularly raised concerns for parents whose children are now using Zoom for education. However, Zoom claimed that their service for schools complies with federal laws on educational and student privacy.

Many officials are worried that Zoom has not taken any precautions when dealing with the spiked volume of users. The New York Attorney General warns that the existing security practices may not translate well with the volume and sensitivity of data now being transferred through Zoom.

Zoom’s cloud meeting app is now one of the most popular apps being downloaded on iPhones. Here are some tips to protecting your Zoom conferences:

  • Keep conferencing private rather than public and refrain from posting the links to your conferences on social media
  • Keep the screen- sharing feature only to the host
  • Lock meetings when they are in session so no new participants can join
  • Mute participants and disable the file transfer feature when it is not in use
The Importance of IT Security Policies

The Importance of IT Security Policies

IT security policies are necessary in organizations as they define who has responsibility of what information within the company. Policies are the baseline of all procedures and should be maintained regularly.

Why Do Organizations Need Security Policies?

IT security policies outline rules for user and IT personnel behavior. These policies also identify consequences for not adhering to them. Policies are also crucial in ensuring compliance with regulations such as NIST and HIPAA. Policies should define risks within the organization and provide guidelines on how to reduce these risks. They should be modified to fit the company’s need.

Writing an Effective IT Security Policy

  1. Conduct a Security Risk Assessment to identify all your critical assets, vulnerabilities, and controls in your company. Use this assessment to determine ways to reduce or eliminate these risks.
  2. Determine the scope of the policy including who the policy will address and what assets will be covered.
  3. Ensure your policy is written to be easily understood by employees and enforced by management. Employees need to be explicitly aware of the consequences of not complying with the policy. These policies will help with the development of procedures, so it is important to write the policies clearly.
  4. Update your policies at least once a year to keep them up to date with your company’s procedures and security concerns.

Common IT Security Policies:

  • Access Authorization
  • Acceptable Use
  • Breach Notification
  • Change Management
  • Data Backup Plan
  • Employee Screening
  • Employee Training
  • Encryption and Decryption
  • Media Security
  • Network Security
  • Password Management
  • Secure Development
  • Security Incident Response
  • Vendor Management
  • Vulnerability Management

The need for certain IT security policies is dependent on the company data itself. For example, if a company handles customer health data, they should consider implementing a HIPAA Acceptable Use Policy.

Is Your Password Secure?

Is Your Password Secure?

Tips for Creating a Strong Password

Passwords can be an inconvenience to remember, especially when you have dozens of applications and accounts to log into everyday. However, with the increase in phishing and ransomware attacks, passwords can be the main line of defense when securing your data. Once an attacker knows your password, your personal data and your company’s data may be at risk. Employees are often the weakest link of any organization’s information security, so it is important to ensure that you and your employees follow these tips. These steps should be outlined in a strong, detailed password policy.

1. Use a longer password with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols.

Making passwords more complex can hinder the possibility of an attacker guessing the password. Using an easy password such as NYClover can be strengthened by adding numbers and symbols. For example, the password N3wY0rkC!tyL0v3r is more secure.

2. Never use a word or phrase that is easy to guess or contains personal information.

Using personal information such as your middle name or birthday can be risky, especially when it is found on your social media. Using full words or phrases in your passwords may also make them easy to guess. See the list of 1000 most used passwords and avoid using them.

3. DO NOT use the same password for all your accounts.

Using the same password for all your accounts can be dangerous. By doing so, an attacker may be able to access all of your accounts with just one password.

4. Never write down your passwords on paper.

Writing down your passwords can make you a target for shoulder surfing. Passwords managers, such as LastPass, should be used to remember your passwords and should also have a strong master password.

5. Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA).

Using MFA can help secure your account just incase your password is compromised. MFA can be a one time code sent to your phone or email. Google allows users to set up MFA manually.

6. Change your passwords consistently.

Passwords should be changed on a regular basis, just in case your current password gets compromised. Many applications require users to change passwords after 90 days or X increment, while others may just recommend changing your password after a certain period of time. Best practice is to change your password on a consistent basis, preferably 90 days or less.

Top 10 Overlooked Security Risks: 3 of 10

Data Destruction and Disposal

Companies often forget about data once they stop using it day-to-day. Leaving outdated data on sunsetted systems increases your potential exposure in the event of a data breach. Ensure that data no longer actively used is properly disposed of and devices that contain data, such as laptops, old hard drives and USB drives are properly DoD data wiped or destroyed. Retired company laptops may still retain recoverable data on their hard drives even after formatting. A policy-driven culture enforcing proper destruction and disposal of retired equipment is best practice.

Breach Exposes Sensitive California State Employee Data

Data Breaches occur almost on a daily basis. You may not know that your IT Security problem is. We will find it and we’ll develop and implement real-world solutions.  Read on to learn more about the data breach that leaked state government material.

News has surfaced of a breach of sensitive data of California state employees.

As reported by The Sacramento Bee, it appears thousands of Social Security numbers have been exposed at the Department of Fish and Wildlife, with the department confirming so in a memo sent to its staff.

It is alleged the breach was discovered in December last year but was only disclosed to employees this week. The California Highway Patrol is thought to be investigating the incident, which is believed to have been brought about as a result of a former state employee downloading data to a personal device before taking the device outside of the state’s network. Read more »

The most common type of data breach in hospitals? Paper records, study suggests

Our HIPAA risk assessment includes a comprehensive review of your current IT and data security policies, procedures, networks, systems, and configurations. Adsero Security can help your company or practice improve its security and HIPAA compliance. Read on to discover what type of data breach is most likely to happen in a hospital and how this could lead to a HIPAA disaster.  Read more »

FedEx data breach: 119,000 passports or photo IDs found on unsecured server

We are solutions, builders who provide comprehensive, complete, IT security management programs. In an IT security solutions initiative involving many vendors, we are the project managers who pull it all together and make sure it works as planned- for the long term. Breaches such as the one afflicting FedEx could have been avoided if Adsero Security were involved. Read on to find out how this happened.

Thousands of FedEx (FDX) customers’ private information was exposed after the company left scanned passports, driver’s licenses and other personal documentation on a publicly accessible server.

The incident was first discovered by researchers at a German-based security center called Kromtech earlier this month.

According to the security firm, the server belonged to Bongo International, a company that helped customers with shipping calculations and currency translations. FedEx purchased Bongo in 2014 but renamed the company FedEx Cross-Border International a year later before discontinuing the service in April 2017.

FedEx said on Thursday that it has secured some of the customer identification records that were exposed earlier this month and added that so far it has found no evidence that private data were “misappropriated.” The company, however, said it continues to investigate.

“After a preliminary investigation, we can confirm that some archived Bongo International account information located on a server hosted by a third-party, public cloud provider is secure. The data was part of a service that was discontinued after our acquisition of Bongo. We have found no indication that any information has been misappropriated and will continue our investigation,” a spokesman confirmed to FOX Business on Friday.

The data breach could affect anyone who might have used Bongo’s services anytime from 2009 to 2012, and it’s possible the data were exposed online for several years,” according to Bob Diachenko, Kromtech’s head of communications.

Viewpoint: Equifax breach is a reminder of society’s larger cybersecurity problems

Our society is faced with an array of opportunities of being hacked. This is why Adsero Security’s specialty in writing IT security policies and training your staff on policy adherence thus developing a culture of compliance is so important. Read on to discover why cybersecurity issues affect society as a whole.

The Equifax data breach was yet another cybersecurity incident involving the theft of significant personal data from a large company. Moreover, it is another reminder that the modern world depends on critical systems, networks and data repositories that are not as secure as they should be. And it signals that these data breaches will continue until society as a whole (industry, government and individual users) is able to objectively assess and improve cybersecurity procedures.

Although this specific incident is still under investigation, the fact that breaches like this have been happening – and getting bigger – for more than a decade provides cybersecurity researchers another opportunity to examine why these events keep happening. Unfortunately, there is plenty of responsibility for everyone.

Several major problems need to be addressed before people can live in a truly secure society: For example, companies must find and hire the right people to actually solve the overall problems and think innovatively rather than just fixing the day-to-day issues. Companies must be made to get serious about cybersecurity – at a time when many firms have financial incentives not to, also. Until then, major breaches will keep happening and may get even worse.

Finding the right people

Data breaches are commonplace now, and have widespread effects. The Equifax(NYSE: EFX) breach affected more than 143 million people– far more than than the 110 million victims in 2013 at Target, the 45 million TJX customers hit in 2007, and significantly more than the 20 million or so current and former government employees in the 2015 U.S. Office of Personnel Management incidentYahoo’s 2016 loss of user records, with a purported one billion victims, likely holds the dubious record for most victims in a single incident.

Read more »

Uber says hackers behind data breach were in Canada, Florida

Hackers can strike from anywhere. This means that any organization is vulnerable. Adero’s penetration testing allows clients to detect their areas of vulnerability. Read on to discover how easy it was for two people to hack into Uber’s system.

The two people behind a 2016 data breach at Uber Technologies Inc. were found to be in Canada and Florida, an Uber cyber security executive told the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

About 25 million users affected by the breach are users located in the United States, John Flynn, chief information security officer at Uber, said in written testimony to a Senate Commerce Committee panel.

Uber announced the breach of 57 million worldwide users last November. Of those impacted in the United States, 4.1 million were drivers, according to the testimony.

Uber Canada announced late last year that 815,000 Canadian riders and drivers may have been affected.

The testimony from Flynn is the most comprehensive public account to date of the Uber hack, the handling of which prompted newly appointed Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi to fire two of the company’s top security officials.

Reuters reported in December that a 20-year-old man was primarily behind the massive data breach, and that he was paid by Uber to destroy the data through a so-called “bug bounty” program normally used to identify small code vulnerabilities.

Flynn confirmed the man who obtained data from Uber was in Florida and that his partner, who first contacted the company on Nov. 14, 2016, to demand a six-figure payment, was located in Canada.

The company’s security team made contact with both people and received assurances the pilfered data had been destroyed before paying the intruders $100,000, Flynn said.

Read more »