People are busy, working fast, tired, and overly trusting. Cyber crooks are targeting people's preoccupation and fears around the coronavirus. IT can do its best, but one bad click can breach a system. Learn about current COVID-19 related IT threats in our latest ebook.
With the world grappling with a health pandemic, scams are shocking. Regrettably, bad actors are everywhere, always looking for opportunities, and they’re seeing one in the coronavirus. This article outlines what you need to watch out for and how to stay cyber safe.
The last thing you want to read right now is that there’s another threat out there – sorry, but it’s true. Cybercriminals take advantage of fear. They take timely concerns and use them to target victims. Using the anxiety and upheaval around coronavirus is their mission.
So far, several coronavirus-related attempts to cyberscam people have been reported. There are examples of:
- emails that appear to come from government health departments;
- offering a tax refund to get people to click on malicious links;
- memos to staff that appear to come from large employers;
- COVID-19 test offerings from private companies;
- fake websites promising to sell face masks or hand sanitizer;
- soliciting donations to help fund a vaccine.
What to Watch Out For
Another concern is the number of bogus websites registered with names relating to COVID-19. The site can look legit but is set up to steal information or infect the victim’s computer with malware.
You may get an email promising the attached information offers coronavirus safety measures, or information shared by the World Health Organization (WHO) if you click on the link, or a similar email pretending to be from a reputable news source, such as the Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
In another example, an email impersonating a healthcare company’s IT team asked people to register for a seminar “about this deadly virus.” Anyone who didn’t question why IT was organizing the meeting clicked to register. By filling out the form, they gave their details to hackers.
What to Do
Be cautious. It’s understandable that you’re anxious, but don’t let that stop you from taking cyber precautions. You should still:
- be wary of anything that tries to play on your emotions and urges immediate action;
- question where emails are coming from – remain vigilant even if the communication appears to come from a reliable source;
- hover over links before clicking them to see where they will take you – for example, in the WSJ example, the Web address was for the “worldstreetjournal”;
- avoid downloading anything you didn’t ask for;
- doubt any deals that sound too good to be true (“a mask that stops the virus 99.7% of the time!”);
- ignore any communications requesting your personal information;
- don’t be suckered by fraudulent pleas for charity.
Global health organizations generally do not send out emails with advice. Instead, navigate directly to that reputable health institution for real news.
If you’re still not sure about the validity of the communication, check it out. Do so by calling or using another medium to get in touch with the “source” of the received message.
While there is not yet a vaccine for COVID-19, you can put anti-virus protection on your computer. Also, make sure that you’ve applied all available security updates to keep your software safe.
We hope you’ll take care and stay healthy both physically and online in these tough times.
Need help installing security software and keeping your technology safe? Our cybersecurity experts can give your business a tech immunization. Contact us today at 432-279-0671!
Phishing attacks have been around for a long time in IT. Designed to steal your credentials or trick you into installing malicious software, they have persisted in the IT world precisely because they have been so devastatingly simple and effective. Today, a more modern and more effective version of the same attack is commonly used.
A typical phishing attack involves an attacker sending out a malicious email to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of users. The attacker’s email is designed to look like it comes from a bank, financial service, or even the tax office. Often aiming to trick you into logging in to a fake online service, a phishing attack captures the login details you enter so an attacker may use them to enter the genuine service later.
By sending out tens of thousands of emails at a time, attackers can guarantee that even if only one half of one percent of people fall for it, there is a lot of profit to be made by draining accounts. Spear phishing is a more modern, more sophisticated, and far more dangerous form of the attack. It’s typically targeted at businesses and their staff.
A Convincing, Dangerous Attack
While a traditional phishing attack throws out a broad net in the hope of capturing as many credentials as possible, spear phishing is targeted and precise. The attack is aimed towards convincing a single business, department, or individual that a fraudulent email or website is genuine.
The attacker focuses on building a relationship and establishing trust with the target. By building trust and convincing the target that they are who they are pretending to be, the user is more likely to open attachments, follow links, or provide sensitive details.
They do this by carefully researching your company and its key officers. Often using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other online sources of information so that they can successfully imitate someone you or your employees will trust such a key vendor or business partner, or even a fellow employee.
Consider how many times you have followed a link or opened an attachment just because it has come from a contact you have trusted before.
A Trusted E-mail
The malicious email can appear to come from a vendor you deal with regularly. It may even look like an invoice you are expecting to receive. Often attackers can simply substitute the vendors’ banking details for their own, hoping the target will not notice the difference.
Such an attack is very difficult to detect. It takes a keen eye, strong working knowledge, and constant awareness to keep your company protected. Even a single small mistake by an unaware member of staff can compromise your business accounts.
Defending Your Business
The key to stopping a spear phishing attack is education. Learning attack techniques, and how to protect against them is the single biggest thing you can do to enhance business security.
Whenever you deal with a vendor in a business transaction, you should always consider important questions before proceeding. Are you expecting this email? Is the vendor attempting to rush you into a quick decision or transaction? Have you checked all the details are correct and as you expected? Sometimes a simple query to the vendor can protect you against worst-case scenarios.
In many cases, a phishing attack can be halted in its tracks with a strong IT security package. Web and spam filtering can prevent malicious emails and links from entering the network, shutting attacks down before any damage can be done.
Good Security Practice
As with many types of IT threats, good security practices help mitigate damage. Locking down security to ensure employees only access the systems they need helps to prevent damage from spreading across the network.
Enforcing unique and strong passwords prevents leaked credentials from affecting systems related to the one that has been compromised. Getting employees set up with a password manager and good security policies can do the world of good to boost your security to the level it needs to be.
N-Line Technologies has the tools and know how to help protect your company from sophisticated Spear-Phishing attacks.
Don’t wait until they attack.
Contact us today at 432-279-0671 to audit your security practices.
Businesses around the world are being struck with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most employees. It’s an old scam that used to see bills faxed or mailed in, but it’s made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.
Chances are you’ve already seen some of the less effective attempts, like an email advising your domain is expiring, except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration. These new attacks are more advanced, in that they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors/suppliers you actually use. Logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on, and they might even refer to actual work or invoice numbers. The sender name may also be the normal contact you’d associate with that business, or even a co-worker, as cybercriminals are able to effectively ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it’s worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for, or even that fakes are a possibility. With that in mind, here are two types of invoice attacks you might receive:
The Payment Redirect
This style of fake invoice either explicitly states payment should be made to a certain account, perhaps with a friendly note about the new details, or includes a payment link direct to the new account. Your accounts payable person believes they’re doing the right thing by resolving the invoice and unwittingly sends company money offshore. The problem usually isn’t discovered until the real invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cybercrime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.
The Malware Click – Rather than go for the immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks or Xero, making the click seem safe. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed, especially with new and undiscovered malware. If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems, often silently lurking until detected or activated.
How to Stay Safe
Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place. Then, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking invoices against work orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts, or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple pre-emptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks right can also help. Like your own business, your contractors and suppliers are extra careful with their invoicing, so if anything looks off – even in the slightest – hold back on payment/clicking until it’s been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.
We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 432-279-0671
At last count, Facebook has clocked up over 2.7 billion users, which makes the platform more attractive than ever for scammers and hackers. While you may be logging in to share your latest family photos or catch up with friends, the chances of accidentally triggering a scam or malware are increasing daily. Here’s how to stay safe on Facebook and stop the spread.
Look out for freebies and surveys
Everybody loves a freebie and for the most part the competition posts on Facebook are legitimate. On the flip side though, when you see a giveaway for vouchers from a mega-store, alarm bells should ring. ‘Do this quick survey and we’ll send you a $50 Amazon Voucher!’ – it’s too good to be true. Even one click can take you on a messy journey through the underbelly of the web, picking up trackers and malware at every stop and at the end, you’re asked to share the post so your friends can get a voucher too…except nobody ever gets the reward.
Check your permissions with games and quizzes
Whenever you access a new game or quiz, you’ll need to give permissions for it to access your Facebook profile. Most people click the okay button without any thought, but if you review the permissions you’re giving, you’ll often find they’re asking for a massive amount of personal data; public profile, friend list, email address, birthday and newsfeed. Do they really need ALL this information? Sometimes the shakedown is from necessity, but sometimes the apps are preparing to launch attacks against you both on and off Facebook. For example, when you call your bank they ask certain questions like your full name, birthday and maybe which high school you went to. All that information is in your Facebook profile and now shared with your permission.
Don’t friend people you don’t know
Having lots of friends is always nice, but that friend accept could end up costing you. It might be someone pretending to know you, or a picture of a pretty girl to entice men (and vice versa). Once you friend them, they get access to everything your friends can see. In this case, it’s more than the risk of someone knowing your personal data, you’ve just given them intimate access to your life. It’s exactly how romance scams start, and there are even cases where the victim finds photos of their children circulating the internet.
If it’s weird, forget it
It doesn’t happen very often, but hackers find ways to take advantage of flaws in Facebook. A common hack that keeps popping up in various forms is to embed malware in a link. The virus then infects your machine and contacts all your friends with an enticing message, like asking whether a picture is of them. When they click to view the picture, the virus catches them and their friend list, and so on. Facebook is pretty good at staying on top of these flaws, but they need time to fix it. Just like if you got a weird email with an attachment from a friend, use that same level of scrutiny in your Facebook and don’t open messages or links that seem out of place.
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You can have top-notch security in place but there is still one danger: social engineering. It’s the old kid on the block, but most of us have never heard of it. Perhaps the more familiar term is ‘con’: the art of manipulating people to take certain actions or divulge private information. Social engineers are a special type of hacker who skip the hassle of writing code and go straight to the weakest link in your security defenses – your employees. A phone call, a cheap disguise or casual email may be all it takes to gain access, despite having solid tech protections in place.
Here are just a few examples of how social engineers work:
Email: Pretending to be a co-worker or customer who ‘just quickly’ needs a certain piece of information. It could be a shipping address, login, contact or personal detail that they pretend they already know, but simply don’t have in front of them. The email may even tell you where to get the data from. The hacker may also create a sense of urgency or indicate the fear that they’ll get in trouble without this information. Your employee is naturally inclined to help and quickly sends a reply.
Phone: Posing as IT support, government official or customer, the hacker quickly manipulates your employee into changing a password or giving out information. These attacks are harder to identify and the hacker can be very persuasive, even using background sound effects like a crying baby or call-center noise to trigger empathy or trust.
In person: A delivery man uniform gets past most people without question, as does a repairman. The social engineer can quickly then move into sensitive areas of your business. Once inside, they essentially become invisible, free to install network listening devices, read a Post-it note with a password on it, or tamper with your business in other ways.
It’s impossible to predict when and where (or how) a social engineer will strike. The above attacks aren’t particularly sophisticated, but they are extremely effective. Your staff has been trained to be helpful, but this can also be a weakness. So what can you do to protect your business? First, recognize that not all of your employees have the same level of interaction with people, the front desk clerk taking calls all day would be at higher risk than the factory worker, for example. We recommend cyber-security training for each level of risk identified, focusing on responding to the types of scenarios they might find themselves in. Social engineering is too dangerous to take lightly, and far too common for comfort.
Talk to us about your cyber security options today.
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The online con artists and hackers will be lining up in droves for this one. And hitting your email mailbox hard.
On Thursday the Credit Reporting Bureau, Equifax reported that they have suffered a massive data breach in which 143 million Americans have had their credit data stolen. This information includes Social Security Numbers, Drivers License numbers and most of your basic account information on file with the credit bureau. The potential for abuse should be obvious. Crooks can take this information and steal your identity to create credit card accounts run up massive debts and vanish leaving you with a major mess to clean up.
As this is major news the hackers will, of course, use your fear of credit fraud to trick you into opening virus laden emails in hopes of capturing passwords.
What to do about it?
- Check with Equifax and see if your information is part of the data breach. You can do so at https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/
- Don’t open emails that are warning about Equifax. If you have an account with Equifax use the link above to check your status. NEVER CLICK ON LINKS in an email.
- Update your antivirus. If you don’t have an antivirus get one now.
- Get a good spam filter. We have several spam solutions for your business such as Office 365. Switching your business to Office 365 for email can dramatically reduce your spam and virus risk with the built in protection from Microsoft.
- Use a good ad block program in your web browser. At N-Line we recommend Ublock Origin for Google Chrome.