Holiday Cyber-Security Tips

Holiday Cyber-Security Tips

With Cyber Monday just around the corner, it is important for consumers to be mindful of their online activity and avoid falling into the clever traps of cyber-criminals. For the most part, online shopping is safe if you stick to the well-known sites like Amazon, eBay, and other reputable online retailers. It’s when you start looking for those hard-to-find items from little known sellers that you need to start taking extra precautions and be vigilant.

 

There are several things you can do to make your online holiday shopping more secure and these are some of the most important:

1.) Keep your devices and computers updated

The first step to making sure that you are secure is to make sure that both your mobile (Phones, Tablets, etc) and computer are up-to-date with the latest patches to the operating systems and security software.

2.) Be cautious of too-good-to-be-true deals and emails about problems with orders

The problem with things that are “too good to be true” is that they usually are. This is particularly true during the holiday season while cyber-criminals are targeting shoppers with enticing deals. Be smart if you receive an email with a deal that’s unbelievably good or an email about a problem with your order that asks you to click a link. Go directly to the online retailer’s website in the browser instead of clicking on the link.

3.) Browse secure

Look for https and the lock next to the URL to make sure the transaction is secure and the online retailer is protecting your data during transmission.

Also, avoid purchasing from online retailers that you don’t know. There are many small reputable online retailers but there are also a lot of cyber-criminals setting up legitimate looking websites trying to steal information. If you want to purchase something from an unfamiliar retailer, take a few extra minutes to research them for reviews and see if they have an eBay or Amazon storefront as the policies of those sites will cover your purchases.

4.) Use safe payment options when possible

Never send cash or use a money-wiring service. Many credit card companies offer a temporary card option that will allow you to specify a limit for the transaction as well as provide you a temporary card number and expiration date for the transaction. Avoid using a debit card as much as possible.

5.) Protect your personal information

When making a transaction, give only the information that is required for the interaction. Fill out only the required fields while checking out and make sure to review the merchant’s privacy policy.

Don’t share personal information or banking information over unsecured (no password required) Wi-Fi networks.

The $5 Computer

The $5 Computer

This year when I got my Raspberry Pi 2, I thought it was the best low cost computer I would ever see. Well, the company that makes the Raspberry Pi just showed me how wrong I could be.

The Cambridge U.K. based Raspberry Pi Foundation just turned a $1 million dollar grant from Google into a $5 dollar computer distribution. The PC board is about as quick as an iPhone 4S and has ports for keyboard, mouse, USB, video, and a Wi-Fi dongle. It runs the free Raspbian Linux distribution. Other Raspberry Pi models also run Ubuntu, Kali and even Windows 10 IoT edition.

This platform has brought the cost of computing down to the point that just about everyone can afford to test and tinker with them. We use our Raspberry Pi 2 for a number of things. Our office PBX is a Raspberry Pi 2 running a Linux based Asterisk distribution. My home Raspberry Pi 2 is currently running the RetroPi project which is a distribution of old video games.

As the world embraces the Internet of Things, the Raspberry Pi platform will have a huge impact. Everything from home automation to holographic jukeboxes and everything in between, the IoT will continue to develop with the help of low price of compute.

Read the full article here: http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/11/26/raspberry-pi-rolls-out-5-computer/

Facebook and Phishing: The New Social Frontier

Facebook and Phishing: The New Social Frontier

With the holidays approaching, it’s not always all about cheer and goodwill. Crime tends to peak during the holidays and cyber crime is included.

Facebook currently has over 1.44 billion users. It’s no surprise that cyber criminals are using this popular social networking service as a gateway to identity theft. An incredibly popular method called ‘phishing’ is a common way for these thieves to trick you in order to gain your personal and financial information. It’s so common that with a simple google search, one can find step by step guides on how to hack Facebook accounts using phishing methods.

So what is phishing and how is it done? To put it simply, phishing is where users are directed to enter details into a fake website that looks and feels like the legitimate one. Basically, these cyber criminals goals are to get you to login to your fake login page and the criminal then successfully gets the Facebook email and password.

PhishingArticlePhoto
Nearly all cyber crime comes from some sort of phishing. National Counterintelligence Executive William Evanina said in a recent interview with the Washington Examiner, “We’ve looked at all of these intrusions and exploitation of personally identifiable information over the years, both government and private sector, and just about 90% of them either started with or were enhanced by a spear phishing success.”

Recently, a colleague shared an experience he had on Facebook. He had received a friend request from someone who he thought he was already friends with. He assumed that maybe his friend had accidentally removed him and was re-adding him. After some small talk, my colleague’s friend sent him a message with a link that said “Hey, have you checked this link out?”

My colleague had an odd feeling at this point. In conjunction with the unique scenario and the poor spelling, he realized something was not right. He then asked his friend “Hey, how exactly do we know one another?” The friend responded but brushed the question aside, “We’ve been friends forever.” After a little more back and forth, the friend refused to share details on their friendship. My colleague successfully avoided this likely phishing attack. Had he clicked on that link, he would’ve been asked for his password, and had he entered it, he would’ve had a problem on his hands.

These phishing attacks can come in many forms. It may look like Facebook is emailing you about a photo violation or maybe a friend is sending you a holiday e-card. Warning bells should go off immediately if it links you to a website and asks you for your password. Odd spelling and a poor use of English is also a dead giveaway when it comes to cyber crime.

Facebook addresses how to keep your account safe with the following tips:

  • Protect your password. Use a combination of at least 6 letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Avoid including your name or common words. Your password should be difficult to guess. Don’t use your Facebook password anywhere else online and never share your password.
  • Never share your login information (ex: email address and password). Sometimes people or Pages will promise you something (ex: free poker chips) if you share your login info with them. If you’re ever asked to re-enter your password on Facebook (ex: you’re making changes to your account settings) check to make sure facebook.com is still in the URL (web address).
  • Log out of Facebook when you use a computer you share with other people. If you forget, you can log out remotely.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. Sometimes scammers will create fake accounts to friend people. Becoming friends with scammers might allow them to spam your Timeline, tag you in posts and send you malicious messages. Your real friends might also end up being targeted.
  • Never click suspicious links, even if they come from a friend or a company you know. This includes links sent on Facebook (ex: in posts) or in emails. If one of your friends clicks a spam link, they could accidentally send you or tag you in spam. If you see something suspicious on Facebook, report it. You also shouldn’t download things (ex: a .exe file) if you aren’t sure what they are.
  • Watch out for fake Pages and apps/games. Be suspicious of Pages promoting offers that are too good to be true. If in doubt, check to see if a Page is verified. Be mindful when you install new apps or games. Sometimes scammers use bad apps and games to gain access to your Facebook account.
  • Log in at www.facebook.com. Sometimes scammers will set up a fake page to look like a Facebook login page, hoping to get you to enter your email address and password. Make sure that you check the page’s URL before you enter your login info. When in doubt, you can always type facebook.com into your browser to get back to the real Facebook.
  • Update your browser. The newest versions of internet browsers have built-in security protection. For example, they might be able to warn you if you’re about to go to a suspected phishing website. Facebook supports: Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer.
  • Run antivirus software. To protect yourself from viruses and malware, scan your computer.

Axiom Cyber Solutions is offering Cyber-Security Protection for Small Business starting as low as $199 per month. We realize that most small businesses do not have a dedicated IT team and business owners may be handling their cyber security matters on their own. Let us take over and provide you with peace of mind. Axiom will provide your business a firewall and manage it so you don’t have to worry about securing your business. We will assess the security risks for your business and will help implement the right cyber security service for your business.

Axiom’s solutions come in different sizes and all our solutions are designed to deal with the attack vectors of today while being adaptive and flexible enough to continue to secure your network for years to come. For more information, check out our website at axiomcyber.com or give us a call us at (800) 519-5070. #FightBackWithAxiom

Why the FTC Ruling on Cyber Security Affects Every Business Owner

Why the FTC Ruling on Cyber Security Affects Every Business Owner

In late August, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously affirmed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) power to regulate cybersecurity under the unfairness prong of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. §45).FTC v. Wyndham, Case, No. 14-3514. The ruling states businesses must have cybersecurity protection for their customers or be subject to fines. This ruling is especially important for those businesses who keep customer data such as financials.

Philadelphia judges ruled 3-0, giving the FTC the authority to sue Wyndham Worldwide, for cyber breaches in 2008 and 2009. In this case, over 619,000 customers had their personal financial information endangered. It has been reported that more than $10 million of fraudulent charges came after.

 

FTC, 2012. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

FTC, 2012. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

The FTC argued that Wyndham Worldwide was guilty of numerous unfair practices. Not only was Wyndham not storing their payment card information in a safe manner, they were also using easily guessed passwords in their property management systems. The FTC stated that the business lacked cyber security policies, including prevention and incident response plans.

Companies really need to think about the following 5 things when it comes to their cyber security, lest they be subject to fines and headaches:

  1. Businesses should analyze their data and how they collect it, use, and store it. This is especially important for businesses who withhold financial information.
  2. Is the business taking reasonable steps to secure their data? Are they limiting administrative access, assigning secure passwords, limiting access to the network, and regulating access to data?
  3. Companies need to compartmentalize the network and oversee who’s trying to gain access. Firewalls and intrusion detection mechanisms need to be in place to prohibit cyber criminals from gaining access to your network.
  4. Do my service providers offer me cyber security measures? Companies need to do their research on what is offered by their service provider when it comes to information security risks.
  5. What procedures do I have right now that are keeping our security up-to-date? Frequent updates and patches to software should be priority, ignoring these things or going into denial about cyber breaches does not do anyone any good.

The bottom line is, any company that has experienced a cyber security data breach is required to take proactive measures to avoid future breaches. If a company does not take some sort of precautionary steps, they will be subject to fines by the FTC.

And it doesn’t stop at fines. A business can lose their reputation, the trust their customers and clients have given them, Even after all of this, it is still not done. The doors have been opened for class action lawsuits. The years of time and money that have to be spent to deal with the fallout of a cyber security data breach is a huge inconvenience and there’s no guarantee that a business will even be able to continue to stay open. Axiom Cyber Solutions can help businesses of all sizes stay safe from hackers.

Data breaches will continue to rise and will evolve with new social and technological attack vectors. It’s important for any organization or individual with sensitive data to exercise caution and deploy best practices in securing your network. Axiom’s solutions come in different sizes and all of our solutions are designed to deal with the attack vectors of today while being adaptive and flexible enough to continue to secure your network for years to come.

For more information, check out our website at axiomcyber.com or give us a call us at (800) 519-5070. #FightBackWithAxiom

Hackers are Targeting Small Business

Hackers are Targeting Small Business

“60% of businesses close within six months of a cyber attack.”  (The National Cyber Security Alliance)

What side of that statistic do you think your business would fall on?

Do you believe you’re immune from hackers because you’re nowhere near as well-known as Anthem or eBay? You are dead wrong. Smaller businesses do not have the same cyber security resources as larger businesses and hackers are banking on the fact that you are ignoring your cyber security. As a small business, you are a more attractive target because you are more likely to be less secure. Thanks to automation, cyber criminals are mass producing their attacks with numbers in the thousands with little to no investment.

It’s all over the news and almost impossible to escape from. Every day a new story pops up about a data breach or cyber crime. Corporations worldwide are beefing up their cyber security. It is not only the retail and financial organizations, the Pentagon is also following in their footsteps to protect their data.

Cybercrime has cost the US economy $100bn a year, worldwide that total goes up to $300bn annually, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In fact, McAfee found that almost 90% of small and medium sized business in the US do not use any data protection for their company and customer information. Less than half secured company emails to prevent phishing scams. Where does that leave the hackers? It leaves them to focus on you.

Despite the growing number of cyber crimes, many small business owners believe that hackers will not waste their time on small business. However, hackers are stealing enormous amounts of cash from small businesses and because these are small businesses, they do not get anywhere near the amount of news coverage like a Target or Sony would get. Most of these cyber crimes occur before the business owner can even realize their security has been compromised. The loss of customer data will change how your customers view you and these security threats are not going away anytime soon.

For small business owners, being proactive is an absolute must. Just like in football, your best defense is good offense. Otherwise, the fallout from a data breach can be astounding. You do not want to wait until your data is being held ransom before you think about cyber security. Otherwise, you will face quite the fallout from a breach.

Not only will you have to pay fines and penalties, you will have to conduct a forensic investigation and a PCI assessment. A small business will lose their reputation and lose the faith of their customers. Punishment will come in many shapes and sizes. You may not be able to continue to take credit card payments once a cyber breach has occurred, many merchants will suspend your account once this has occurred. Your payment processor may impose stricter PCI requirements and compliance which of course means it will cost you more money to continue to do business. Anti-virus and anti-malware can only protect a single computer from an attack. It does not protect your network hardware from attempted breaches. You need a good firewall and transport security in conjunction with updated virus and malware protection.

How can Axiom Cyber Solutions help secure a small business?

Axiom Cyber Solutions is offering Cyber-Security Protection for Small Business starting as low as $199 per month. We realize that most small businesses do not have a dedicated IT team and business owners may be handling their cyber security matters on their own. Let us take over and provide you with peace of mind. Axiom will provide your business a firewall and manage it so you don’t have to worry about securing your business. We will assess the security risks for your business and will help implement the right cyber security service for your business.

Axiom’s solutions come in different sizes and all our solutions are designed to deal with the attack vectors of today while being adaptive and flexible enough to continue to secure your network for years to come. For more information, give us a call us at (800) 519-5070. #FightBackWithAxiom

The Reality of Internal Denial of Service

The Reality of Internal Denial of Service

Internal Denial of Service            

It’s a term we don’t often hear. An internal denial of service is simply something on the internal LAN that floods the network with traffic causing a loss of connectivity and it happens more than you think.

Sometimes internal denial of service happens by accident as was the case for a client of Axiom’s earlier this year. A switch had gone bad and was multicasting traffic across the LAN to the point that it brought the company’s phones down. Although the phones had their own VLAN, the faulty switch flooded all VLANs making all applications and phones useless.

Imagine a multi-lane interstate. Normal traffic is organized and manageable. When internal denial of service occurs, flooded traffic takes over all lanes and clogs the highway to the point that no one moves. It’s gridlock. In this example, the customer’s internal applications like Email, CRM and ERP were down, the phones were down and their customers from outside could no longer reach the locally hosted web app. It was a nightmare. Everything was down.

Flash forward to this month. We consulted with a private high school. A couple of students decided they didn’t want to take part in exams so they started an application on a workstation that flooded the network with traffic. In this example, the flood again caused the LAN to be saturated with traffic and the online test came to a halt. The students were identified and removed from the school, but the downtime was significant.

This last example is more common. A client had an internal denial of service at the same time that they were being attacked from the outside. Forensic analysis found that an employee’s computer was infected with a malware that remained dormant for months. At some point before an external distributed denial service, an employee clicked a suspicious link and unknowingly became infected with a malware that would later launch the internal denial of service. This act was coordinated by the external group to coincide and took the business out of commission for nearly a week.

The FBI recently stated that 90% of companies would be susceptible to similar malware. (http://read.bi/1vZbFAr) Axiom has found that just as in the case of UK based Internet Service Provider Talk-Talk, DDoS is a precursor to a breach in a large number of cases.

What’s the solution? Axiom has developed next generation denial of service mitigation appliances that stop the internal and external threats of denial of service. By inspecting every packet on the LAN or WAN, our Sentinel is able to respond within 10 milliseconds of an attack. Sentinel will isolate and absorb that traffic so that it cannot affect the rest of your network. Sentinel can mitigate up to 100GB of traffic in a single 1U appliance and can inspect more than 120 million packets per second.

Axiom is on a mission to stop denial of service attacks. Internal, External, Distributed… We have the solution. With the availability of our next generation, multi-core processors and proprietary algorithms we can make DDoS a thing of the past.

Contact us today for a personalized solution discussion regarding your unique use case. Give us a call at 1-800-519-5070

Ransomware On The Rise

Ransomware On The Rise

Imagine the following scenario. You receive an e-mail that appears to be from, for all intents and purposes, your superior. There’s a familiar link to a payroll policy update included and you click to investigate. Soon after, a pop up has appeared on your computer screen informing you that your system and data are locked – and access can only be restored if a payment is made. At this point, you realize that you have been infected with something and the only two options you have are to either pay the ransom, or to ignore it, effectively losing all of the data on your system and/or network.

This is a classic example of digital extortion by ransomware.  Ransomware is defined as a kind of malware that locks your computer screen and prevents you from accessing your data until you pay the “ransom” to the cybercriminal. Money of course is the motivating factor for these cyber criminals and ransomware is only increasing and making it easier for them to follow the money. A report by the Cyber Threat Alliance found that ransomware generated more than 325 million dollars in ransom income. Ransomware is only going to evolve. In fact, ransomware hackers are now threatening to publish your personal files on the web if you do not pay up. The threat of having your personal data and files in the public domain is terrifying for those who possibly have embarrassing or sensitive data.

It should come as no surprise that many businesses will choose to simply pay off the ransom. In fact, recent headlines show that even the FBI is encouraging people to pay up.

Recently, during the 2015 Boston Cyber Security Summit, Joseph Bonavolonta, an assistant special agent in charge of the FBI’s Cyber and Counterintelligence Program in the Boston office stated,

“The easiest thing may be to just pay the ransom. The amount of money made by these criminals is enormous and that’s because the overwhelming majority of institutions just pay the ransom.”

Ransomware relies on the human aspect and programs like antivirus protection are not guaranteed to stop ransomware. The FBI recommends the following tips to help avoid ransomware.

  1. Make sure you have updated antivirus software on your computer.
  2. Enable automated patches for your operating system and web browser.
  3. Have strong passwords, and don’t use the same passwords for everything.
  4. Use a pop-up blocker.
  5. Only download software—especially free software—from sites you know and trust (malware can also come in downloadable games, file-sharing programs, and customized toolbars).
  6. Don’t open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, even if they come from people in your contact list, and never click on a URL contained in an unsolicited e-mail, even if you think it looks safe. Instead, close out the e-mail and go to the organization’s website directly.
  7. Use the same precautions on your mobile phone as you would on your computer when using the Internet.
  8. To prevent the loss of essential files due to a ransomware infection, it’s recommended that individuals and businesses always conduct regular system back-ups and store the backed-up data offline.

However, these tips still offer no guarantee that protects you from ransomware.

Axiom Cyber Solutions offers the Axiom Sentinel, an enterprise firewall and security appliance, to help with ransomware by making sure that criminals have no way to call home. Sentinel makes malware and ransomware communication out of your network impossible, rendering these applications ineffective and unable to encrypt your data. We have identified key transactions in the TCP/IP stack that must occur when a ransomware is executed. This allows us to block ransomware communication in real time.

Ransomware infections will continue to rise and will evolve with new social and technological attack vectors. It’s important for any organization or individual with sensitive data to exercise caution and deploy best practices in securing your network.

Axiom’s solutions come in different sizes and all of our solutions are designed to deal with the attack vectors of today while being adaptive and flexible enough to continue to secure your network for years to come. For more information, check out our website at axiomcyber.com or give us a call us at (800) 519-5070. #FightBackWithAxiom

Axiom researcher Linda Johnston, in Las Vegas, Nevada contributed to this article.

DDoS: All Hope is Not Lost

DDoS: All Hope is Not Lost

With recent news revealing that the TalkTalk UK hack was preempted by a Denial of Service attack, Axiom feels the time is right to reiterate the sentiment that all businesses are susceptible to the dangers of these attacks.

Cloud “Scrubbing” and intelligent routing will not be enough to protect the American core transport infrastructure throughout the coming cyber-attacks of tomorrow. Powerful, efficient, and scalable appliance-based solutions like the Axiom Sentinel are where tomorrow’s protection exists, today.

For those of you that do not know, a Denial of Service attack occurs when a malicious entity sends more traffic to your network than it can handle. When this occurs, your network equipment can become overloaded and fail into a state known as “hub mode” in an effort to maintain communication across the network. When this “hub mode” is enabled, all of the traffic on your network is blasted to every port, allowing an attacker to gather meta and packet data in an effort to map topology of your equipment.

Having a map of your network makes it easier for attackers to push forward with deeper penetration into your infrastructure, allowing them to breach data systems and steal information about your business and clients.

Over the past two years, a popular defense against these attacks has been to pipe your Web domain through a cloud scrubbing service that filters out requests not coming from legitimate users. While these services do a good job of keeping your Web site up and running, the continued use of Cloud scrubbing stems from the ill-conceived idea that DOS and DDoS are only about taking a service off-line, or restricting access.

The bottom line is that these services often only:
1) Protect your domain against application layer (HTTP, HTTPS) traffic.
2) Stem the flood of traffic at their Cloud data center, creating a failure scenario wherein that attack is eventually routed to you. Effectively leaving your susceptible to the brunt of the attack.

Do you run a compliance environment? Payment Cards Standards has recently stated that simply doing business with a “PCI Compliant Cloud Provider” does not make that traffic compliant. Similarly, a HIPPA certified cloud environment will not provide the same level of compliance as your certified internal network.

The bottom line: Working with cloud security providers in standards complaint environments is still an exercise in time and well-formed business agreements.
Axiom engineers believe that to effectively defend against today’s DOS-type attacks, best practices involve protection both up-stream and at the edge of your network using powerful, appliance-based, solutions like Axiom Sentinel. These premise-installed devices are capable of analyzing and processing over one-hundred million packets per second, enough to mitigate some of the largest enterprise-targeted DOS and DDOS attacks.

When deployed in combination with a multitude of failover internet circuits, Axiom Sentinel will keep your network and business online and communicating when the worst attacks come downstream.

Wherein your provider has failed to mitigate the attack, or ported your traffic to stop the flow of packets into their own network, Axiom’s Sentinel allows you to use your backup internet circuits while continuing to defend against any malicious data coming from the compromised route.

Easy deployment, intelligent management, flexible placement, and industry-leading performance make Axiom Sentinel the most robust security platform available on the market.

Why only protect your Web-site when you can protect your entire network.

Axiom’s solutions come in different sizes and all our solutions are designed to deal with the attack vectors of today while being adaptive and flexible enough to continue to secure your network for years to come. For more information, check out our website at axiomcyber.com or give us a call us at (800) 519-5070. #FightBackWithAxiom