The Next Generation of Phishing, Laser Phishing

Criminals are changing the way they use phishing campaigns, targeting upper management and CEOs. Microsoft is warning users of an increase in “laser phishing”, or “spear phishing” attacks. Microsoft data shows traffic associated with phishing campaigns doubled year over year in September.

A spear phishing attack targets a specific person. This person receives messages from someone they purportedly know or are familiar with. Typically, the email will look like it is coming from this person’s boss or someone even higher up in the company they are working for. A spear phishing attack takes much more time and effort on the part of the criminal to find out everything they can about the person they are attacking. Criminals are using social media to find out things this person is interested in, place of employment, friends, and travel.

This is a big change from phishing attacks we are used to seeing. A normal phishing attack sends out a more generic email to many users often trying to get them to click on a link in an email, or enter a username and password, like your Amazon account information for instance. We talked about this example in our Social Engineering video you can see HERE.

There have been reports of employees in the financial department of a company receiving emails from the CFO or CEO telling them to transfer money to a specific account for an urgent deal they are making. This new form of phishing cost US businesses over a billion dollars in 2018.

What this means for your business:

Educate your users on this new form of phishing. Public facing users are more susceptible like HR recruiters, customer service, and even some admin roles. Your users can be your biggest asset against attacks, or your biggest liability.

Be aware of what personal information you have on social media. Is there anything on there you wouldn’t want a potential scammer to see? Double check your privacy settings and make sure they are set to a level you are comfortable with.

Use smart passwords and two-factor authentication where possible. Don’t use the same password over and over. There are secure password managers that can help manage passwords and keep accounts secure. Microsoft found that using two-factor authentication blocks 99.9% of automated attacks.

Keep your systems patched and updated. When software companies find tactics being used by criminals, they update the software to block some of these attacks. If you are not updating your systems on a regular basis, you are leaving yourself open to known hacking methods.

Do not click links in emails. If there is any question the email could be fake, go straight to the source instead of clicking the link.

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Posted by Charles Wright in Cybersecurity, Information Security, Physical Security, Recent Posts, Small Business

Cyber-Threats Continue to Rise

Criminals are getting more and more sophisticated with their attacks methods.  The number one-way criminals are being successful is still through social engineering.   Social engineering is getting someone to do something they would not normally do.  Two new terms in the cybersecurity world are, corporate account takeover and business email compromise.

Many business owners believe that their staff understands how to recognize spear phishing attacks.  In reality, we are seeing successful spear phishing attacks against key employees.   In the last six months we have seen successful attacks against small financial institutions, food processing and distribution service companies, trade-show associations and more.  It is imperative that security needs to be taken seriously by everyone.

While there is no full proof way to prevent a successful attack there are several key things that must be done to minimize the risk of a successful attack.  Today’s best practice calls for a layered approach, at Quanexus we call this our Q-Stack.  The basics of a security stack include:

  • Policies/procedures
  • Firewall
  • Security awareness training for employees, and management
  • A managed antivirus solution
  • A patch management solution
  • A backup solution

Quanexus has just published a white paper with specific details on how the criminals have been successful and you must do to minimize the chance of your organization becoming a victim.  Include details on how to download the whitepaper.  This should require them to enter their email address.

If you would like more information, contact us here or call 937.885.7272.

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Posted by Jack Gerbs in Recent Posts

Windows 7, Windows Server 2008R2 and Office 2010 are Reaching End of Extended Support

The time is quickly approaching when Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 and 2008R2 will no longer be supported. Technically these products are reaching the end of their extended support. Microsoft gradually ends support on their products. There is an official date for end of main stream support and another date for end of extended support. Extended support ends on January 13th, 2020 for Windows 7 and Server 2008. Extended support will end on October 13th, 2020 for Office 2010.

End of main stream support means that there will be no feature enhancements added to the product. Microsoft will continue to release patches that fix stability and vulnerability issues as they are found. End of extended support is defined as Microsoft will not issue stability or vulnerability updates.

Running software that is no longer supported represents a great risk to organizations and the end user. When criminals know that security patches will no longer be developed, they begin to work very hard at finding new vulnerabilities and will continue to do so. The new exploits that are discovered, near the end of support date, won’t likely be released immediately. The criminals will release them after the end of support date, because the vendor will no longer be supporting the product. These new exploits will be used to target Windows 7 systems, fully knowing that the systems are vulnerable.

Businesses, if you must run Windows 7 or Server 2008 after the end of extended support, there are a few things you can do to keep these older systems protected.  If you already have a good security stack installed, like our Q-Stack, the likelihood of a successful attack is reduced, but that is still not good enough. An additional firewall will need to be installed to separate the Windows 7 and Server 2008 devices. This firewall will require very tight rules that limit the device’s access to the internal network and the Internet. Depending on the type of firewall you have, it may be possible to create a virtual firewall on your existing device to create this additional layer of protection.

If you would like more information, contact us here or call 937.885.7272.

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Posted by Jack Gerbs in Recent Posts