Friday, 29 April 2016

Cyber Security Roundup for April 2016

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was finally approved by the European Parliament this month. Coming into force in 2018, the GDPR has serious teeth with an up to 4% global turnover fine for non-compliance, and 72 hour mandatory data breach reporting amongst ground breaking data protection changes geared at improving EU citizen's privacy rights. The new data protection regulation will have significant impact all businesses in UK, even if the UK votes to leave the EU. 

An updated version of PCI DSS was also released; there are a number of minor changes to requirements within V3.2 which PCI DSS compliant businesses need to be aware of in order to avoid being caught out during compliance assessments. 

There were several huge data breaches from around world, with entire country populations personal data being compromised.  There was what could be a very defining UK lawsuit by 6,000 Morrisons staff against their company, after an employee stole and posted their personal details online.


Friday, 1 April 2016

Cyber Security Roundup for March 2016

Ransomware attacks continue soar across all UK industry sectors, Trustwave SpiderLabs provided a excellent overview of how one of the most prolific ransomware strains works in How the Locky Ransomware Works

March saw media headlines dominated by Apple refusal to co-operate with the FBI in breaking the iPhone’s security, which concluded with the FBI successfully hacking iPhone via an anonymous third party, sparking the old but much needed Privacy V Security debate. 

There were also notable hacks of Law Firms and a major ‘Cyber Heist’ at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York by hackers. Another major TLS vulnerability named ‘DROWN’, highlights the importance of patching OpenSSL and not using weak crypto.


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Cyber Security Roundup for February 2016

This month saw the trend in Spear Phishing and Ransomware cyber attacks continues across all industry sectors. Snapchat disclosed their CEO had fallen victim to a spear phishing attack which led to disclosure of Snapchat employee payroll information. 

Two German hospitals were victim to ransomware after a member of staff opened a malware infected email attachment. The ransomware crippled X-ray machines and email systems for two weeks, underlining the business risk ransomware presents.



Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Internet is Fast running out of IP Addresses - IPv6 V IPv4

The explosion in the number of connected devices on the Internet, as fuelled with more users worldwide getting cheap access to net, now over 3.2 billion users, and the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), means the Internet is fast running out of IP addresses.

IP addresses are important on the World Wide Web and every internet-enabled device has at least one IP address. Unfortunately, the current IP addressing system has a limited number of IP addresses, which means they’ll soon be running out. This outdated system, IPv4 was deployed more than three decades ago and it is still in use. IPv6 is an improvement on IPv4 and it’s seen as its replacement since it offers almost an infinite number of IP addresses.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has created and asked I share an excellent Infographic on How Engineers can insure the web doesn't run out of IP Addresses, comparing IPv4 to IPv6 .  

Sunday, 24 January 2016

10 Steps to Building a Secure Network Infrastructure

Irish based Exigent Networks has produced the following Infographics on Building a Network Infrastructure. The graphic outlines the steps that need to be taken in building a network infrastructure, detailing each part of the process, while also advising as to the benefits of having a quality network infrastructure in place, and provides security tips.

Considering all the security requirements at the design stage is far cheaper, and indeed results in a more secure network infrastructure, as opposed to trying to bolt on security to a poorly designed network. Also remember keeping the network infrastructure secure is an ongoing process, vulnerability testing, patching systems and devices, including switches, firewalls and routers, requires a continued process.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

2016 Cyber Security Predictions

In 2015 saw the rise of hackers motivated to steal data for the purpose of public extortion and public shaming. The Ashley Madison data breach was one highest profile examples, where the hackers attempted to blackmail the company to close down its infidelity website operations. When the company failed to comply with hacker's demands, the hackers released millions of Ashley Madison members account details online. In 2016 I think we will see more company sensitive user databases targeted for the purpose of blackmail by cybercriminals, and for the purpose of public shaming by hacktivists, hell bent on causing reputational damage to any companies they take a dislike to.

2016 will finally see the demise of arguably the greatest user inconvenience and 'Achilles Heel' in cyber security, the humble password. In the coming year more organizations will embrace ‘no password’ authentication models, using authentication alternatives to a password, such as biometrics, picotographs, and Bluetooth/geotagging proximity. These methods are not only more secure to passwords, but offer a quicker and more convenient authentication experience to users, as proven with Apple’s iPhone 6s and ApplePay. The iPhone’s clever biometric fingerprint scanning authentication allowing users to securely unlock their smartphone at speed, and is even secure enough to be used to make payments at shops without the user having to key in a passcode or password.

As manufacturers continue to rush towards IoT technology, namely the network connectivity and monitoring or controlling of physical world objects, it will led to more insecure IoT devices, caused inadequate IoT software development and post support. As I explained in my recent IoT article for IBM. We can expect to see state sponsored hackers, cyber criminals, hacktivists and even terrorists target this new found low hanging fruit. In 2015 we saw cars, planes, various kitchen appliances and even toys with network connectivity were shown to be insecure by IoT security researchers. This situation could be a frightening  precursor to more significant IoT attacks in 2016 and beyond. IoT cyber attacks carries risks well beyond the traditional data theft and IT systems outage scenarios, such IoT attacks could specifically target the destruction of physical world infrastructure, and endanger human life.

A key priority in 2016 for any European company, and non-European company which stores or processes EU citizen personal data, is to prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as I blogged about here.

The GDPR comes into force in 2018 and is biggest shake up in history, to how enterprises legally must meet information security and individual citizen privacy rights. The new regulation comes with serious financial teeth for any compliance failure, with fines of up 20 million Euros or 4% of enterprise's annual global turnover. Businesses must also disclose any personal data breaches within 72 hours, which is another major game charger, as currently under the existing EU data protection directive, companies do not have to disclose any personal data breaches to a body or the public.  There are new individual rights which will require redesigns of IT systems and business processes, such as the right to be forgotten and data portability. Even though the GDPR doesn’t come into force until 2018, give the major changes required to businesses handling personal data, together with the risk of large financial penalties if not done correct, 2016 should be a year to commence preparation the GDPR.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

What is Tor and Should your website block Tor users?

Great infographic by State of the Internet which raises an interesting question, should websites block Tor users?  Certainly one for debate, my view is it depends on your website 'marketplace', function and risk, in other words perform a risk assessment, a lazy answer I know.

But if like me you find yourself often explaining what Tor is to business folk, so they can perform those risk assessments properly, you'll find this infographic comes in quite handy. As it does a simple job of explaining Tor; who uses it, how it provides anonymity online, and how cyber criminals are embracing the tool for various illicit purposes.

I recommend checking out the State of the Internet website for further info, statistics and reports on Web and DDoS attacks, which continue to blight the Internet.

Friday, 23 October 2015

TalkTalk Hacked (again) - Consumer Advice

A lot of TalkTalk customers have been contact with me today asking for my advice following TalkTalk's announcement of yet another major data breach.

The TalkTalk press release states "there is a chance that some of the following data may have been accessed:

Date of birth
Phone numbers
Email addresses
TalkTalk account information
Credit card details and/or bank details"

And given TalkTalk are unable to confirm whether any of this data was encrypted when assessed, if you are a TalkTalk customer you should take this statement seriously and assume your personal information, bank account and/or credit card details you held with TalkTalk are now in the hands of cyber criminals and fraudsters.

What to Do
In summary all TalkTalk customers must be extra vigilant in checking their bank and credit card accounts for fraudulent transactions, and for attempts of fraud by covert cyber criminals using their personal information against them.

Statement Checking
From this point on all TalkTalk customers should regularly check bank and credit card accounts shared with TalkTalk for fraudulent transactions. Transactions such as multiple mobile phone pay-as-you top-ups transactions, online casino and betting payments are common ways in which cyber criminal cash out on stolen account details. Even legitimate looking transactions with companies you know for low amounts need to be verified, as often criminals will test a stolen bank account or credit card by performing a transaction for a low amount before committing further fraud at a later date. Criminals tend to go for lower transaction amounts at first, as they tend to go under radar of some bank fraud detection systems. Some banks and credit card providers are better than others at detecting fraud, but it is important not rely on any bank or credit card company to detect the fraud for you, as they are far from 100% in their detection.

If you do find any fraudulent or even suspicious transactions, contact your bank or credit card company immediately. Do not report it to the Police, TalkTalk or the company for which the fraudulent transaction was made, only the bank and the credit card provider can take immediate steps like cancelling your card/account and reissuing new one, and they are best placed to investigate the fraud and are ultimately the party in a position to return your money, even if they can't get the cash back. Do not worry you will quickly get your money back as long as you have done nothing wrong.

Identity Theft
You may wish to consider registering yourself with a credit checking company to ensure no one is using your stolen personal information to take out finance in your name (identity theft). Expect to pay £10 to £15 a month for privilege, you never know TalkTalk might provide this service to you for free as way of an apology.

Beware of Phishing and Phone Scams
Criminals may use your stolen personal information against you, for example they could use your information to send you highly realistic and personally customised email, enticing or scaring you into visiting a compromised website, or opening an attachment which installs malware onto your computer or smart phone, or general messaging that attempts to harvest further personal and financial data from you. These targeted email scams are known as spear phishing in the cyber security industry, and can even originate from criminals that don't have your TalkTalk info, but are seeking to take advantage of the situation by impersonating TalkTalk, guessing you are a TalkTalk customer.

Beware of phone call scams where criminals use your stolen information to convince you the call is genuine, as we know TalkTalk customer phone numbers have also been compromised in this breach. These types of phone scam attacks are known as vishing attacks in the cyber industry. Always hang up on such calls and call the contact number on your bills and statements if you are concerned.

The TalkTalk statement doesn't say that passwords were compromised in this breach, but I strongly advise to not take any chances and to change your TalkTalk password immediately. Also make sure you aren't using your old TalkTalk password with any of your other online accounts, especially your email account and bank/credit card online accounts.

Choose Who you Share Your Personal and Financial Information With
Consumers should always consider the “cyber security hygiene” of companies that they intend to trust with their personal and financial information before using them. This is the third data compromise TalkTalk has reported in the last 12 months, in my experience these types of cyber attacks aren't carried out elite master hackers, the real cause tends to be due to companies under investing in protecting your information properly. Indeed encrypting financial data is considered an industry security best practice, while encrypting debit/credit card data at rest is a fundamental requirement of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which for the last 9 years is a security standard which all companies handling and storing debit/credit card data are suppose to comply with.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Top security best practices for IoT applications - Combating IoT cyber threats

I have written the following article for IBM which was published today on IBM Development Works.

The Internet of Things is changing the way that businesses operate, especially in the areas of warehousing, transportation, and logistics. These changes make the security of IoT devices even more crucial, given the time and money that is required if a hacker breaks through the defenses. This article outlines the best practices for securely developing robust IoT solutions.