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Technology

Phishing Attacks In The Real World

 

When was the last time you almost lost $23,000 to a phishing email? This nearly happened to one of our clients this week. Fortunately, this phishing attempt was spotted before the funds were transferred, however, there are a few good lessons to take away from this story and we want to educate you so you can protect your company from these sorts of attacks.

“Bob’s Company” received an email at Accounting@Bobscompany.com. The email was from Bob@Bobsscompany.com.

The email wrote:

“Good Morning,

Please pay the attached invoice in the amount of $23,000.

Thank you,

Bob”
For the accounting manager, this was business as usual. The boss regularly sends requests to the accounting department to have bills paid. At a glance, there is nothing wrong with the email but in this instance, the tone of the email was unusual which caused for further investigation.

This phishing attempt was sophisticated enough to the point where the scam artist even took the time to forge a signature on the attached invoice that matched Bob’s signature. Fortunately, the accounting manager double checked with the boss before processing the transaction. What’s scary is just how close the accounting manager came to processing the payment which is a mistake any one of us could make. If they weren’t paying attention or were just in a hurry, anything could have happened.

What’s important to take away is just how predictable we are. Most companies operate the same way with similar departmental and communication structures. If this wasn’t true then social engineering scams wouldn’t work. This was a close call for just one company and it isn’t hard to believe that whoever sent this email has sent thousands of them and likely got paid on a handful.

These types of attacks are becoming more prevalent than any other because they are cheap, easy and work on businesses of all sizes. “Bob’s Company” is a small business, not a behemoth company that you surmise a hacker would go after. Small businesses are easy targets from a hacker’s perspective because many of them do not invest in security and user training like large companies do.

Some actionable steps you can take to avoid falling prone to this type of attack are:

  1. Avoid using departmental emails like Accounting, Payroll or HR. This lets the hacker know that they are sending the phishing email to the right person making it more likely for the email to have the hackers desired effect.
  2. Use regularly changing keywords when sending requests for a transfer of funds. Change this keyword every month and instruct your staff never to transfer funds without the keyword in the email. This is a really low tech solution but it works. These attacks are intended to trip you up when you aren’t paying attention. The majority of attacks never involve someone spying on your network and learning your passwords and company secrets. Simple though it may be, this is an effective form of two-factor authentication.
  3. Use free spoof phishing tools like KnowBe4 to test your employees to see who is likely to click on phishing emails. Invest in those employees by training them on what to watch out for.

We are living in an ever-developing world where cybercrime is global, the barrier to entry is low and we humans are the weak link in the chain. Since cybercrime has such low risk and high reward these scams will become more frequent and sophisticated. Businesses will have to adapt to these changes and develop strategies to protect their resources. It is important to consult with your IT partner to learn how you can train your employees and set up security measures that will prevent this coming wave of cybercrime.

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Technology

Stop Ransomware In It’s Tracks

Today we are going to review a brilliant tool that stops ransomware and other spam in its tracks. It’s called Sendio Opt-Inbox, and it’s more than just antivirus and spam filtering; it’s all of that combined with two-factor authentication, meaning that if anyone sends you an email, a human has to verify that they sent that email to you.

Sendio
Sendio Anti Ransomware Protection

This nifty tool is different because it completely filters out mass email attacks. Ransomware is a numbers game; large scale attacks use automated systems to send out thousands of emails, knowing that some portion of those emails will inevitably succeed. However, hackers and their automated systems do not account for any kind of authentication process.

When you sign up for Sendio, you are opting to re-route your mail through their system. This allows them to run a series of scans on the email and check the IP address to see if the email is coming from a trusted source. Before Sendio hands off the email to you, the sender will go through the “Sender Address Verification SAV” process or their email won’t be delivered. This means that someone actually has to tell Sendio “It’s okay, I’m a real person and I want to have a conversation with the addressee.” Sendio makes sure that you are only having meaningful conversations with people who you want to talk to.

What about automated emails, like newsletters, that you voluntarily subscribe to? Sendio takes this one step further: you can not only choose to trust certain newsletters, but also choose when these emails get sent to your inbox.

Is this new fancy widget expensive, or even worth the extra cost? The starting price is $34 per month, and the pricing changes depending on whether you have Sendio host the application for you, or if you host it on your own network. You can run a quick cost-benefit analysis to see if an application like Sendio would be cost effective for you and your organization. Go to the store and get a cheap stop watch, and click the stopwatch every time you sort through junk mail. Do this for a month, and you will see how much time you could save sorting through junk mail alone. Multiply this estimate by the number of employees in your company, and you can see that a product like Sendio is easily worth the price. Beyond the amount of sheer time saved, you can assume increased productivity, and thus an additional capacity to increase revenue. Furthermore, a product like Sendio could save you countless amounts of time, money, and data loss by preventing ransomware attacks.

It sounds great, but are there any downsides to this magical tool? Unfortunately, no tools on the market are 100% foolproof. Potentially, if you are subject to a highly targeted attack, the attacker could manually go through the verification process, assuming that Sendio hasn’t already flagged their domain or IP address for fraudulent behavior. However, with the high volume of fraudulent emails sent out by hackers every day, it seems improbable for hackers to find an effective way around this new gateway.

Ransomware has caused too many executives and management sleepless nights and it is time for a system that can help you take back your peace of mind. Talk to your IT partner about implementing Sendio across your network. Get you time back, become more efficient, and most importantly, get a few more hours of sleep!

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Technology

How Windows 10 Protects You From Ransomware

Microsoft is making improvements slowly but surely to help protect you from ransomware. In the second major update released for Windows 10, Microsoft has started plugging a lot of holes that leave you vulnerable to an attack. Microsoft claimed that no Windows 10 users were affected by the recent WannaCry strain of ransomware and remarked further that there are no known strains of ransomware that could affect the Windows 10 operating system.

bigstock-Computer-Security-Concept-Lap-62334479

This may sound like a good time to breathe a sigh of relief. However, it didn’t take long for hackers to rise to Microsoft’s challenge. It only took three hours for a white cap hacker to find his way past Microsoft’s security. That being said, Windows 10 is a vast improvement over previous versions of the Windows operating systems. What is apparent is that Microsoft realizes the pains that its users are feeling with the onslaught of ransomware attacks and they are working hard to come up with a secure solution.
The list of improvements that Microsoft has made to Windows 10 is too long to list. For a company that is looking to be preventative in the approach to the ransomware threat, one of the most important investments you can make is in updating your computer operating systems to Windows 10 company wide. The vast majority of ransomware infections start at the end user level through some form of social engineering scam. Microsoft is dumping all of their time and attention into Windows 10 to overcome this challenge. If your network is comprised of mostly Windows 8 operating systems or older, understand that this will become an increasing threat to your business as more threats are created for the unprotected operating systems. If you would like more information about how you can protect your company from ransomware, contact eTop today!

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Technology

How to prepare for ransomware

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about ransomware: a type of computer virus that encrypts your files and holds them for ransom. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that your data will be released if you pay the ransom fee. In light of the most recent ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that infected a substantial number of businesses in Europe, it is important that you are taking measures to ensure that your business is safe.

Antivirus and firewall concept with businessman protected with umbrella

If you are not familiar with the statistics, ransomware was a billion dollar industry in 2016, and every cyber criminal knows it. There is exceptional financial motivation for these scams to be produced indefinitely, and they become increasingly sophisticated every day. As a business owner, ransomware is a constant threat that cannot be ignored.

Playing defense in the ransomware game is a layered approach, with several security methods to prevent ransomware from getting to your network. The first line of defense includes anti-virus, a good firewall, and effective spam filtering. The next important step in any security plan is user training. Ransomware is generally not a problem until someone within your network clicks on the wrong email or web link. The final layer of defense are things like an insurance policy or data backups.

Preferably, investing in each one of these layers is best practice. However, if you have to choose one component over another, backups are the most important investment that you can make. With a good backup system, you may lose some time and a nominal amount of data after an attack, but you will be able to restore your data without the ransomware affecting your business.

In addition to having the data backups in place, it is also essential to ensure that your backups are up-to-date and running properly. Backups have a tendency to face errors that can disrupt a backup schedule. With proper backup monitoring, you may find that your backups were not operating as expected, thus leaving your data vulnerable.

Talk to your IT professional to ensure that you have both preventative security measures and contingencies in place to protect your data in the event of a ransomware attack.