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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.Ransomware, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What Every Small Business Should Know Aug 30, 2019
The last few years have seen a large increase in ransomware incidents and 2019 has surely followed suit with many industries impacted. In the last few months manufacturing, municipalities, school districts and other small business sectors have all dealt with their share of attacks. Tens of townships in Texas were attacked in August 2019 with a total ransom of over 2.5 million dollars. School districts across the US were targeted for student and faculty data.
It’s been a rough one to say the least.
The best defense against ransomware for yourself and your business is still education and Andromeda can help with that. Read on to learn more about the threat of ransomware to your business and what you can do to prepare yourself.
Ransomware is a type of malicious program that encrypts a segment or all of your data. At that point, the data can only be decrypted with a key. The criminal ransoms your data until you pay them to decrypt it.
This means that whatever they get their hands on, is no longer of use to you until you pay up. Things like accounting information, client information, HR information – anything data related at the business.
With more and more incidents on the rise, it is important that you proactively defend yourself against this threat and have a plan in place to respond in case your business faces a ransomware incident of its own.
Employee Cyber Security Training
Over 90% of cyber security incidents facing businesses today originate with some kind of human error. Your staff and teammates don’t mean to make these mistakes and an honest error can happen to anyone. Clicking on a bad link, falling for a scam online, downloading an infected file – these things happen to the best of us.
Tricking you into downloading malicious files to your PC is still a method criminals use to try and get into your computer but the primary two methods to gain access and do damage to your systems in 2019 are via third party data breaches (learn more about third party breaches here and phishing email attacks (learn more about phishing scams here .
To help your employees stay ahead of criminals and defend your business, you want to invest in regular training for the team. Professional cyber security training programs include simulated phishing email tests, individual scores, weekly quizzes, newsletters and more.
Data Backups & Disaster Recovery Planning
Employee training will do a good job at helping your staff defend the business but there is still always a chance that ransomware can happen.
When it comes to ransomware, there is little you can do to remove the damages. There is no ‘debug’ or troubleshooting technique that will make it go away. To get the encrypted data, you have to have the decryption code.
The only alternate solution available to you would be to restore from a backup. That way, you don’t need to decrypt anything. Of course, this is dependent on the quality and safety of your existing backups.
We recommend looking for a backup solution with an on premises copy as well as a secure cloud copy of your data backups.
The best data backup and recovery solutions take regular snapshots of your environment. Even better solutions can spin up a virtual ‘copy’ of your environment so you can keep working while your IT team works in the background to get systems back up and running like normal.
Make sure to ask the team or individual who handles your backups how often they test them. It’s also good to have a clear understanding of what it takes to get you back up and running in the event of an incident (what does it look like if we have an equipment failure? How do you respond if we are hit with ransomware?).
Training staff on how to avoid scams and criminal tactics online is a great way to defend against Ransomware and other incidents.
Having a good data backup and disaster recovery plan is what you want to do to make sure your business can handle this type of attack.
The final piece of the Ransomware puzzle for now is going to be your business continuity plan.
When it’s said and done, you are most likely going to experience some amount of downtime in the event of a Ransomware attack. It’ll take time to recognize what is happening, to contact the proper parties (IT staff or your outsourced team and decision makers), respond to the incident etc.
All of this time costs your business money, productivity and opportunities. This is why many vendors suggest coming up with Business Continuity plans for different types of incidents at the office.
Have a plan for equipment failure (like a server crash), a plan for a major cybersecurity incident (ransomware across the network), have a plan for minor cybersecurity incidents (single user hit with malware or a virus). You get the idea.
Some great questions for Business Continuity plans:
- How does my business or staff respond to this incident?
- Do you unplug workstations?
- Does the employee call you first or IT?
- Is there anything you should do on site while your IT team gets to work?
- How long will it take to get us back up and running? (this will differ depending on what you face)
- How do we keep the business running while designated teams respond?
- Can we make use of the cloud?
- Do we need to work from pen and paper while things resolve?
A professional team will help you work through these questions and come up with the solutions your specific business and business model needs to keep things running in the event of a disaster, accident or incident.
The key is really in the preparation.
If you have any questions about any of the topics above or want to discuss your own disaster recover, data backups or business continuity plans, please give us a call at (815) 836-0030 or contact our team via email at Contact@wenetwork.com.
The post Ransomware, Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity: What Every Small Business Should Know appeared first on Andromeda Technology Solutions.Financial Institution Worker Put User Information At Risk Apr 01, 2020
Noam Rotem, a researcher for vpnMentor, recently made a startling discovery. A database connected to a now defunct app called MCA Wizard was found unsecured on the web. It contained a staggering 425 GB of sensitive corporate financial data.
The app, developed via a partnership between Argus Capital Funding and Advantage Capital Funding, is no longer available on the Apple or Google Play stores.
When it was available for download, however, it served as an MCA (Merchant Cast Advance), designed to provide businesses with short term loans based on their projected credit card-based sales.
The database contained more than half a million highly sensitive documents originating from Argus and Advantage and belong to a wide range of the clients of the two companies. Among other things, the documents include bank statements, credit reports, copies of driver's licenses, tax returns, social security information, and much more.
In recent years, vpnMentor's mapping project has unearthed several databases similar to the one most recently discovered, but none have been quite so large or potentially damaging. The company attempted to reach out to both Argus and Advantage, but the emails they sent to inform the companies about the database bounced back as undeliverable.
Some days after making the attempt to contact the two companies, the database was pulled offline, so clearly someone was watching. Although to date, all attempts to contact the two companies has failed.
While it's fantastic news that the database is now offline, the sensitive nature of the files it contained could have ruinous consequences for the businesses and individuals identified in those documents. There's more than enough details in the files to allow hackers to steal the identities of thousands of wealthy individuals and forge credentials in the name of hundreds of legitimate businesses.
Kudos to Noam Rotem and the folks at vpnMentor. If you do, or have done business with Argus or Advantage, know that some of your company's sensitive information may have been compromised.