Cybercriminals Target US Colleges

Cybercriminals Target US CollegesThe FBI released a Private Industry Notification informing US colleges and universities that login credentials are publicly available for sale on criminal marketplaces and online forums. The notification cites an evolution of attacks against universities starting in 2017. Criminals cloned university home pages and used them in phishing campaigns for credential harvesting. Instead of using the credentials themselves, the criminals put them up for sale on the web. The FBI says criminals use the bought credentials to create new phishing campaigns with a trusted email address, log into other online services if the password is recycled and leverage the accounts for credit card numbers or other personally identifiable information.

Colleges and universities are a desirable target because of the combination of personally identifiable information, financial information, and cutting-edge research data which can all be exploited by attackers. Cyberattacks on colleges and universities increased during the pandemic but are still going strong as the sector is a popular victim among criminals. The average higher education ransomware payout is $112,000, but the actual cost to recover from the incident is $2.7 million to recover data and get students and employees working again.

The cost is so high it put one 157-year-old college out of business this year. Lincoln College in Illinois was already facing enrollment issues from the pandemic, but a ransomware attack in December pushed them over the edge. The attackers blocked access to data, which stopped the college’s ability to recruit, fundraise, and register students for classes. Even though they paid the ransom, the total cost of recovery was too much for them to continue to stay open.

The FBI notification urges higher education institutions to “…establish and maintain strong liaison relationships with the FBI Field Office in their region. Through these partnerships, the FBI can assist with identifying vulnerabilities to academia and mitigating potential threat activity.”

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Posted by Charles Wright in Cybersecurity, Information Security, Recent Posts

Small Business Not Prioritizing Cybersecurity

Small Business Cybersecurity PriorityA recent small business survey showed only 5% of small business owners viewed cybersecurity as the biggest risk to their business. This is the first survey since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the cybersecurity risks and warnings that came from the conflict. The warnings that came from numerous government agencies seem to have no impact on the small business community. The same 5% level of concern was found in the previous survey from the first quarter of 2022, before the conflict began.

Less than half of the small business owners say they use an antivirus, complex passwords, or external backups which affirms the statistic that cybersecurity is not a priority. The number falls even lower when we get into software updates and multi-factor authentication.

The NSA and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released an advisory on Weak Security Controls Exploited for Initial Access. The advisory, in part, highlights many of the security controls small business owners admit to not using. Multi-factor authentication, software updates, and strong passwords are among the weak controls highlighted by the NSA advisory.

Customers disagree with small business owners regarding cybersecurity. About 75% of customers think businesses they use, will suffer a cybersecurity incident over the next 12 months, and 55% say they would be less likely to continue doing business with a company after a security breach.

Even if a company can recover data from a cybersecurity incident like ransomware, there is the added cost of paying the ransom, company downtime and loss of productivity, and the loss of public trust in the business. The most recent data available shows about 31% of US businesses that suffered a cyber-attack ultimately went out of business as a result of the incident.

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

Cyber Insurance Update

Cyber Insurance for Small Business Updates 2022

Cyber Insurance Explained is our most popular video, so we thought it was a good time to talk through some updates we are seeing in Cyber Insurance.

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

A Future Without Passwords

A Future Without PasswordsApple, Google, and Microsoft are on the road to eliminating passwords for all online services. The three tech giants committed to adding or enabling the technology needed to allow users to choose their phone as the main authentication device for websites and digital services. A user would be able to unlock their smartphone, as they do now, with a PIN, face ID, or fingerprint, and that action would take the place of entering a password on a website. The authentication would work through a cryptographic token called a passkey. The new authentication method would also make phishing more difficult because login would require a physical device.

Passwords are an ineffective way to authenticate for a service. Users are bad at password management. About 25% of people re-use passwords, and an equal 25% use weak, easily guessable passwords. But we can relate to these users. Passwords are a pain, and we are expected to remember a different password for every service. There are password managers, but they have  low usage rates because users don’t know what they are, or don’t trust them.

The FIDO (Fast Identity Online) Alliance is the group behind the higher-level authentication technology. To maximize adoption FIDO was looking for something end-users already have and making the process as user-friendly as possible. The FIDO Alliance takes authentication out of the hands of the individual service and moves it to a higher-level security mechanism.

“This shift from letting every service fend for themselves with their own password-based authentication system to relying on the higher security of the platforms’ authentication mechanisms, is how we can meaningfully reduce the Internet’s over-reliance on passwords at a massive scale,” FIDO said.

The FIDO Alliance has been working on a password-free workflow for a decade now. This latest announcement is the largest step we have seen in the quest to zero passwords.

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