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What is the Dark Web and why it matters for your business Mar 29, 2019
Ransomware, cybercrime, hackers . . .
It’s safe to say that you’ve at least heard of these terms in the news and if you are like most people, you’ve heard them over and over on the news, in the office and just in everyday conversation for the past few years.
This progression in the cybersecurity world may come with unique phrases and buzzwords but the trend itself is nothing new. Since the internet’s beginning, there have been people working to cause chaos.
Think computer viruses, Trojan horses, scams, spam, malware etc.
Like most technology, the internet is used predominantly for good. But, there are always a few bad apples who take good technology and choose to use it with less than the best intentions. And while there have always been “bad guys” out there trying to disrupt good works from being done, over the last decade and specifically in the last few years we’ve seen an incredible increase in spending, vulnerability and rates of incident for large scale cyber-attacks.
To put this in perspective, spending on cybersecurity is projected to exceed 1 trillion dollars by 2021. In 2017, information security (a subset of the cybersecurity industry) spending hit over 86 billion dollars.
On top of this, there has been a dramatic increase of incidents in the small to medium sized business arena. When a local business gets hit, it may not make the 5 o’clock news like Home Depot or Target, but it hurts just the same – and maybe even more.
The crazy thing when it comes to cybercrime, ransomware and other infections is that you can be doing regular updates, implement antivirus etc. and you still can fall victim to identity theft, breaches and other cyber incidents.
All of this cyber-security and cyber-crime discussion lays the groundwork for this Dark Web discussion.
What is the Dark Web?
First, what is the Dark Web? In a simple and brief explanation, the Dark Web is a mostly anonymous space online that you need special software to access. The experience is much like a normal internet browser but the sites and activities available are very different.
Many times the Dark Web is described using an iceberg illustration.
- The internet as we know it is what you can see above sea level.
- There is a larger space just below the surface of the iceberg where the ‘darknet’ lives, this is dominantly used for large data stores. Financial records, academic databases, government records etc. live here.
- Then there is the bottommost layer of the iceberg, this is the Dark Web – here you’ll find illegal activity like drug trafficking, illegal gun sales, and even personal data for sale.
Now, you may be thinking,
“This is interesting information but what in the heck does the Dark Web have to do with me? Why do I care about it? I don’t use it. I don’t know anyone who does. . .” And we get that, but even if you don’t use the Dark Web you may be on it.
The Dark Web is one of the largest sources of stolen data available to criminals. While some may use it to buy goods, other criminals purchase pieces of your information like credit card information, passwords, social security information and more to use for their own purposes.
When cybercriminals go to places like your local grocery store, Experian and other sites to wreak havoc, the information they steal ends up for sale on the Dark Web.
All of this taken into consideration, the everyday consumer and business professional shouldn’t be scanning these areas of the web to try and protect their data.
Instead, a business professional like yourself should make sure that you are following proper security protocols:
- Anti-Virus Software Regularly Updated and on every device
- Proper Firewalls and regular updates
- Employee training
- Regular Professional Backups (also regularly tested and verified)
- Disaster Recovery Plan
- Spam filtering
- Encourage employees to speak up if they see a weird email or link
- Bring in professional cyber security consulting
With all of these items and a few more in place, you make it much more difficult for a cyber-criminal to get into your network and steal your data. This in turn will help keep your data and that of your employees off of the Dark Web. Of course, nothing is foolproof and that is why an exceptional cyber-security partner should offer Dark Web monitoring.
Dark Web monitoring is a program some IT professionals offer businesses where scans are going on constantly in the background and are looking for a specific domain. When the scan recognizes your domain in a database, it flags the software and you are alerted to change passwords or address the breach.
This way, you are always a step ahead of the criminals without lowering yourself to the “Dark Web” itself.
We hope you found this first installment in our Dark Web series helpful. Look out for our next article in February focused on 5 ways you can keep your information off of the Dark Web entirely.
The post What is the Dark Web and why it matters for your business appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Guidelines & Tips for Employees Working Remotely Mar 30, 2020
Working remotely, whether short-term or permanent comes with many perks, but it also poses many new risks for the security of your organization’s data. For example, if an employee-owned device (laptop, PC, etc.) is infected, that could compromise your business network as well.
We’ve developed a list of guidelines and tips to assist you as you prepare to work from home in a safe, functional work environment. Note, this list is intended for guidance and information purposes only. If you have any questions regarding these tips, please reach out to your supervisor or IT provider for additional information.
Guidelines & Tips
- Ensure that you have the ability to lock your devices (laptop, PC, etc.) and any business relevant information when not in use. Cable locks for laptops should be used when necessary. Laptops and devices should be locked out of sight and/or in the trunk if it must be left in a vehicle unattended
- Avoid using your personal devices for work-related business
- Safely perform conversations without visitors eavesdropping or shoulder surfing, especially while working in a mobile setting, such as a coffee shop
- Protect the data you are accessing by using a VPN to log into the company network, and ensure you are protecting data visible on your screen with a screen protector. This is especially critical for employees who are required to be HIPAA compliant, PCI compliant, etc.
- Restrict the use of devices containing business-relevant information. Do not let family members, friends, or anyone but yourself use company-owned devices or personal devices used for business purposes
- Use strong unique passwords on all your devices and accounts to prevent unauthorized access
- Change default Wi-Fi Router passwords
- Enable WPA-2 or higher encryption
- Ensure your local router firmware is up to date
- Limit the use of public Wi-Fi. Always use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi. Never use public Wi-Fi to send sensitive information without a VPN
Ensure all personal devices are secure with company-provided or personally owned antivirus and anti-malware software company
Updated IOT Device firmware (smart thermostats, surveillance cameras, etc.)
- Ensure default passwords are changed
Ensure the software on all devices within your home network is kept up to date (corporate laptop, IOT devices such as cameras and smart thermostats, personal laptops/tablets, etc.)
Review and follow corporate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and other relevant policies and procedures
- Remote Work Employee Awareness
- Be extremely cautious of email phishing scams
- Limit social media use
- Don’t reveal business itineraries, corporate info, daily routines, etc.
We provide this list of guidelines to assist you as you work from home. These tips are meant to facilitate a safe, functional work environment.
Note, this list is intended for guidance and information purposes only. If you have any questions regarding these tips, please reach out to your supervisor or IT provider for additional information. We are always here to assist in your transition in any way possible. Give us a call to pick up this conversation today (815) 836-0030 or email us.
The post Guidelines & Tips for Employees Working Remotely appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Paradise Ransomware Using Internet Query Files To Deliver Payload Mar 25, 2020
The Paradise ransomware is like a bad penny; it just keeps turning up.
The strain first appeared back in 2017, when it was spread far and wide via phishing emails. Then it seemed to fall out of favor for a while, and now, it's back again. Even worse, it's back with a new trick up its virtual sleeves. In its latest incarnation, it's still being spread via phishing emails.
Now, its controllers are leveraging interest in IQY (Query) files, which are text files read by Microsoft Excel to grab data from the internet. Given that fact, IQY is a completely legitimate file extension, so most organizations don't even think to block it.
The researchers at Lastline who discovered the latest campaign had this to say about it:
"We're seeing attacks using IQY files because many commodity security products and automated systems do not, or cannot, parse these file types. Attackers realize they have a very good chance of making it past rudimentary defenses."
The approach seems to be working as Paradise's phishing emails are being opened by unsuspecting users at an alarming rate. Of interest, the researchers found evidence in the code that this strain is still a work in progress. Consider this latest campaign to be a beta test for the redesigned code.
Lastline's researchers had something to say about that as well:
"Malware authors will often deploy malware that isn't quite ready for prime time yet - they want to see how successful early versions of a new campaign are and how detectable their malware is against security products."
As is the case with most ransomware, this one is designed to sniff out high value files, exfiltrate them to a command and control center, then encrypt everything and demand a ransom. As such, it has to be regarded as a genuine threat and is certainly one to keep a watchful eye out for.