Another day, another data breach, it seems. On Friday, Quora became aware of an incident involving an “unauthorised third party” accessing data from 100 million users of the Q&A platform, and yesterday it began to notify users in an attempt to contain the incident. Quora Tweeted late last night, “We have discovered that some user data was compromised by unauthorized access to our systems. We’ve taken steps to ensure that the situation is contained and are notifying affected users. Protecting your information is our top priority” and directed users to a blog post with further information.
It’s 2018, and phishing emails are just an expected part of life for email users around the world, containing all manner of malware within concealed links and dodgy attachments. Most of us can recognise poorly spelled phishing emails that lack any real context, but what happens when something more complex hits your inbox? What if a cyber criminal emailed you your password – a real password you’ve used – and told you that they had compromising videos of you and more? What if they said that unless you pay a Bitcoin ransom, they would share this incriminating footage with everyone on your contacts list? That’s exactly what has been happening to thousands of Irish users, to both personal and corporate email addresses.
Cyber criminals are ever trying to find newer, more sophisticated means to scam the general public and businesses through phishing
Cyber criminals have always targeted users, finding it easier to trick unsuspecting employees than to bypass complex technical security measures – and this trend has been growing steadily the last few years. Identify fraud, where criminals impersonate someone else in order to steal their money or use their account to manipulate others, is now one of the most common types of cyber crime there is. Account takeover attacks, where criminals gain access to a user’s account and use it to send spam or phishing emails, is also on the rise, often allowing malicious emails to bypass email security filters.
Phishing remains one of the most common attack vectors for criminals – one study alarmingly found that 93% of phishing emails contained ransomware
Irish companies are believed to be reporting less than 5% of cyber attacks to police, according to disparities between figure from the Garda cyber crime unit and reports from private cyber security companies. Detective Superintendent and Head of the Garda Nation Cyber Crime Bureau, Michael Gubbins, has said that brand damage and embarrassment are among reasons given by companies for the under-reporting of cyber crime to the Gardai.
Gardai believe that companies are afraid of brand damage, leading to a vast under-reporting of cyber crime to authorities.
A strain of ransomware titled SamSam has earned its handlers over 5.1 million euros to date, according to estimates, since it first began hitting enterprises in 2015. Security firm Sophos has released the data in a report, after tracking the Bitcoin addresses found on SamSam ransom notes and sample files.