It seems that everyone in the cyber security sphere is talking about ransomware these days. Last year, attacks such as WannaCry, NotPetya and BadRabbit took the business world by storm, costing billions in damages. Ransomware is by no means a new threat (it has been around since at least 2005), but it is one of the fastest growing and most costly. Cyber crime is constantly changing, and criminals keep creating news ways to steal money. Ransomware has gotten increasingly sophisticated since 2005, but the people using and deploying it haven’t necessarily – now some cyber criminals are making more money selling high-tech ransomware strains to non-technical criminals than if they were to conduct the attacks themselves. The result is that more and more ‘hackers’ have access to ransomware and need very little technical know-how to operate it, leading to more and more ransomware attacks each year. It may come as a surprise, then, to hear that the FBI received less reports of ransomware attacks in 2017 than in 2016 and 2015, despite the increase in attacks.
The cryptocurrency saga continues. A malicious extension has been removed from Google’s Chrome browser after it was revealed that it had been spreading through Facebook, attempting to steal passwords from unsuspecting users and taking advantage of their PCs to mine cryptocurrency. This isn’t the first time that cyber criminals have attempted to hijack other people’s computers in order to mine cryptocurrency for them. The extension, named FacexWorm, used Facebook messenger to spread to other users, sending what appears to be a Youtube link, which actually redirected the user to a fake landing page. The extension then communicated with criminal servers in order to download further malicious code onto the user’s PC.
Last month, Google announced that it would no longer accept Chrome extensions that mined cryptocurrency, in a move suspected to coincide with the removal of FacexWorm
The ongoing battle between cyber criminals and cyber security forces rages on, as one of the world’s largest DDoS-for-Hire websites has been taken down by Dutch police. The website was the target of Operation Power OFF, a coordinated effort by police from the Netherlands, UK, Spain, Croatia, Canada, US, Germany, Europol and several other countries. The site in question, webstresser.org, was believed to have been responsible for attacks against several of the UK’s largest banks in November 2017, as well as carrying out attacks on government websites and police forces around the world. DDoS, or Distributed-Denial-of-Service, is an attack where many online devices (such as PCs or IoT devices) are used to overwhelm a website or online service with traffic, essentially forcing them to freeze up or shut down.
Webstresser.org, the largest known DDoS-for-Hire site, was seized by Operation Power OFF, a coordinated effort from cyber police from a dozen countries.
We’ve all seen the headlines when a large multi-national corporation suffers a data breach, but are small businesses able to ‘fly under the radar’ for cyber crime? Well, according to Verizon’s annual data breach incident report, the opposite may be the case. While large organisations make headlines, the report found that 58% of data breaches actually occurred in small and medium-sized companies.
“Many small businesses don’t have the resources focused on security and training, and employees are not cognizant of being at risk,” according to the Vice President of Experian Data Breach Resolution, Michael Bruemmer. “Some of these businesses, especially startups, may have no or small revenue, but they may be processing credit cards or holding personal data for other companies, and they don’t realize they have to protect it.”
Half of all cyber attacks are currently believed to target small businesses (Source: Verizon Annual Data Breach Report)
According to Dave Hogue, the technical director of the NSA’s Cybersecurity Threat Operations Center, the technology used to implement cyber attacks evolves over time but the tactics used to carry them out rarely changes. Hogue told the crowd at the CyberUK conference in Manchester, “Every day we’re battling a new cyber-threat, but the more that things change the more that they stay the same.”