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Macro Malware: A Common Weapon for Phishing Attacks

A macro is a small piece of code that runs within a software program such as Microsoft Word or Excel, and is normally used to automate common or repetitive tasks. Macro malware is the practice of hiding a virus in a macro code and enticing unsuspecting users into downloading a Word or Excel file and running the macro script within, which then will download a virus, malware or even ransomware onto that person’s PC. Macro malware was common during the 1990s, but lapsed in popularity through most of the 21st century as increasingly savvy PC users learned how to spot the spam or phishing emails that delivered them, which were often riddled with typos. Nowadays, however, macro malware is seeing a big return due to two factors – Phishing emails are becoming increasingly sophisticated and no longer have obvious typos in them, and ransomware – a very profitable form of malware for criminals – can be easily downloaded via a macro, leading to entire networks being encrypted and held to ransom. It is now critical that all users understand the threats that macro malware can pose, particularly to their organisation, and learn how to spot the attacks before it’s too late.


Excel files are a common means of transmission for macro malware, which can download ransomware to infect entire networks at a time

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Central Statistics Office P45 Data Breach Caused by Human Error

The Central Statistics Office has admitted to a data breach involving an error by a staff member, leading to a sever breach of data protection rules. Reports were made last week that a past employee for the CSO has been sent P45s of other past and present employees in error. The past employee was outraged at the time, as she believed that 1000 people’s records had been breached.

The CSO has since issued a “sincere apology” for the incident, and volunteered that the incident had not affected 1000 people, but had actually concerned 3000 former employees.


The Central Statistics Office has apologised for a staff error which sent 3000 P45s to a past employee – a catastrophic data breach

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Uber: How Not to Handle a Data Breach

Uber is back in the hot water again after it has revealed that over 57 million records were exposed in a 2016 data breach, which it subsequently covered up. This news comes not long after Uber ousted founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who was suceeded in August by Dara Khosrowshahi. Kalanick was forced out of his own company due to a litany of scandals, and now Khosrowshahi is keen to do things the right way – hence the fresh statement declaring the breach. However, this has put Uber into a very troubling situation as not only do they face legal action for covering up a data breach, but it has also revealed an incredibly poor security culture within the company.


Uber will already be subject to regular external data audits for the next 20 years due to a previous, much smaller data breach

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New Survey Estimates 75% of Irish Businesses Not Ready for GDPR

A new survey has been conducted by Mazars and McCann Fitzgerald on Irish businesses around their levels of GDPR readiness, and the results are not pretty. An astounding three quarters of businesses surveyed say that they’re not ready for the GDPR, which comes into effect in six months time. This latest insight into how the new EU data protection regulation will affect Irish businesses has revealed that they are facing serious levels of difficulty in complying with the new rules.


The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has stated that there will be “no leeway” for non-compliance come May

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Shane Chambers No Comments

Credential Stuffing

Credential Stuffing is a common practice in cyber crime where a hacker or cyber criminal gains access to a user’s email addresses and password, and proceeds to try that password against other accounts/services belonging to that individual. This is performed based on the knowledge that users often reuse the same passwords between different accounts/services, albeit sometimes with slight variations.

This is a highly effective means of attack, as users may change passwords for services that they are aware have been breached, but may not think to change that password where it is in use on other accounts. Credential stuffing is also commonly used when attempting to commit identity theft against a user.

It is highly recommended that all users do not reuse passwords between services, and to use a password manager if required to help them remember distinct, secure passwords.