What is a Botnet and Why Should I Care?

What is a Botnet and Why Should I Care?

If you’ve seen the news this week, you’ve no doubt seen articles about a botnet called “Reaper”, “IoT Reaper” or “IoTroop” that is enslaving vulnerable smart devices like wireless routers, security cameras, and DVRs. While botnets are interested to cyber-security professionals, I’m sure the news made many people think “what the heck is a botnet and why do I care about it?”

In a simple explanation, a botnet is an army of internet-connected devices or computers that have been infected by malware and are now under the control of hackers. The malware is designed to infect devices and create an army of devices that can be enlisted to create distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks like the one last October that took much of the East Coast offline. Botnets also can be used to steal data, send spam emails, or just simply allow a hacker to access the device and the internet connection it uses.

You may also hear the term “zombie” in connection with a botnet and that is simply because the malware lives on the compromised device and often the owner of the device is unaware of the infection of that the device is being used in attacks.

So what is it about this particular “IoT Reaper” botnet that has created such a buzz in the cyber-security industry? The sheer number of devices that are vulnerable, over 378 million, that can be brought into the botnet that has many worried. The hackers behind “IoT Reaper” are currently exploiting at least nine different vulnerabilities across different device manufacturers and appear to be adding to the list of vulnerabilities as they are found. Plus, like the Mirai botnet, “IoT Reaper” is a worm that jumps from one infected device to the next to spread the infection.

So all of that sounds scary, is there anything that can be done to prevent getting your devices enlisted into a “zombie” botnet army? YES!

As always, make sure that you don’t keep default username/password combinations on your internet connected anything. Also, check to see if your smart device manufacturer has released any firmware or security patches to close the vulnerabilities that are being abused by the botnet. Another great way to protect your IoT network is to place firewall protection at your internet connection but it’s also important to make sure that you keep your firewall up-to-date as well because threats are always evolving!

Is Your Cannabis Business Safe from Hackers?

Is Your Cannabis Business Safe from Hackers?

If you’re in the cannabis industry, you would have heard about the cyber-attack earlier this year that brought down MJ Freeway, one of the largest cannabis compliance software systems in the industry.

This should have been a wake-up call for everyone that hackers are targeting the industry for a variety of reasons: profit, notoriety, or political statement.

Despite the seriousness of the MJ Freeway cyber-attack, today we’re still finding many businesses in cannabis are not taking cyber-security seriously, leaving themselves wide open to an attack that could bring their operations to a grinding halt.

If you’re not taking steps to ensure your cyber- and data-security is airtight, here are some real consequences your cannabis dispensary could be facing with a cyber-attack:

Patient and Customer Data

When you accept medical patients and clients, do you store their personal information on your servers or in the mythical, magical cloud?

If you do, then your data is at risk if you do not take steps to ensure your cyber-security and data security strategy is strong and impenetrable by hackers.

These talented hackers can target your systems to steal your customer information, and use it against you by holding it for ransom like they did for HBO or sell it on the Dark Web, or worse, delete it so you cannot recover the information.

There is no worse way to compromise your cannabis business’s integrity than having to tell your customers you’ve lost their data.

The recent Equifax hack demonstrated the value of personal information on the Dark Web. Hackers can relatively easily steal your data to sell to other unscrupulous individuals who will use the information for identity theft.

If you collect data that is regulated under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and have a cyber-security breach, you’ll face serious finds from Health & Human Services.

Ransomware is the hot new cyber-crime trend that netted cyber-criminals hundreds of millions in ill-gained profits by encrypting business’ data and holding it for ransom, which puts businesses between a rock and a hard place: Do you pay the cyber-criminals to get your data back or do you start over from scratch?

Point of Sale (POS)

While credit card theft is not a large area of concern for many, there are still vulnerabilities within point-of-sale (POS) that need to be addressed.

POS systems are connected to the internet via servers and need to be protected and separated from the rest of the network to ensure that if a hacker gets into your back-office, they can’t move into your POS network.

There are plenty of examples of the theft of credit card data from POS systems infected by malware (Sonic, Whole Foods) but there also are verified cases where hackers have been able to change product prices for purchases after compromising a POS system. For example, instead of selling a product for $100, a hacker could change the price to $1 before checking out, costing you big money and allowing a hacker to take advantage of you big time.

Grow Operations

Grow Operations are increasingly sophisticated and use complicated internet-connected devices and HVAC systems.  Not taking the time to adequately secure you networks to ensure a hacker can gain access could allow them to gain access to your HVAC and change your room temperature and destroy your crop.

The sad and scary news is, your competitor may be the brains behind hacking your unsecured connections and data. Some companies are hiring hackers to destroy your business through a cyber attack and put you out of business.

The Target data breach was orchestrated when hackers jumped from the building’s unprotected HVAC systems into the company’s network and then into the point-of-sale system. This shows that not only are the HVAC systems vulnerable, but the HVAC system could be a your point of vulnerability that will allow a cyber-criminal access into your entire computer network.

Keep Asking Yourself This Question

Keep asking yourself this question for your cannabis retail operation: “What harm could a hacker do?”.

The answer is a lot and if any of these thoughts keep you up at night, contact Axiom Cyber Solutions or our partner, Hardcar Security, to discuss how you can achieve peace of mind and proper cyber-security protection for your cannabis business.

Axiom Cyber Solutions Nominated for Launching Las Vegas Award

Axiom Cyber Solutions Nominated for Launching Las Vegas Award

For the third year in a row, the Launching Las Vegas award is celebrating Vegas-based startup companies—and voting for the 2017 contest is officially open for public voting. Launching Las Vegas, was created to honor the hard work local startups and entrepreneurs devote to helping Vegas shine as a hub for business.

Axiom Cyber Solutions is honored to have been nominated along with two other Las Vegas start-ups for the third annual award.

“I’m proud to see Launching Las Vegas grow and evolve as our business community diversifies,” says Dr. Samir Pancholi, creator of the award. “I am continually inspired by our local entrepreneurs, and it has been an honor to spotlight and support these stellar businesses over the last few years.”

The winner of the 2017 Launching Las Vegas award will be chosen via an online voting system, Tuesday, October 17, 2017 through Thursday, November 2nd, 2017. Users will be able to vote for their favorite startup company once per day through the duration of the contest.

“Our voters will have a difficult time choosing from our talented group of nominees this year. I encourage everyone to spread the word, vote every day, and help support local business,” emphasizes Dr. Pancholi. “I wish our nominees the best of luck and look forward to continually finding new ways to support and elevate our incredible community.”

Another Day, Another Data Breach – Should We Just Get Used to It?

Another Day, Another Data Breach – Should We Just Get Used to It?

It seems like we can’t go a week without news of a data breach affecting a major company: Target, Home Depot, Yahoo (all 3 Billion account holders), HBO, Equifax (3 times), Deloitte, Sonic, Whole Foods. With the prevalence of personal information being exposed and stolen, people often wonder should we just get used to having our data breached? Should we get used to the fact that cat photos on Facebook are more secure than our social security number?

In short, no! We should never simply accept that the companies are not responsible for the security of the data they collect about us. We should be upset when our data is breached and demand action so that companies begin to take data security seriously. And one of the worst things about data breaches is that nearly all of them end up being far worse than initially reported.

The Equifax hack occurred because the company failed to install a patch for vulnerable systems for over six months after the patch was released. The Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) which ironically issues regulations telling other companies to clean up their technology infrastructure and can fine them for failing to take the necessary cyber-security measures suffered a data breach of its “Fort Knox” system called EDGAR which companies use to file all the important stuff about the business like quarterly earnings, merger & acquisition, IPOs, market news, and more. And Deloitte’s email administrator failed to secure his/her account with two-factor authentication and hackers were able to get in with privileged, unrestricted administrator access and steal millions of email records, many with sensitive information.

With the onslaught of lawsuits and regulatory inquires against Equifax will teach businesses anything, it is that our lawmakers and the people they represent are tired of having their data compromised and soon we can hope there will be real, tangible changes in how businesses consider data security. In its most recent shareholder packages for at least five years, Equifax did not mention data security once as a company priority. This must change and any business that collects personal information must be serious about the protection and should they fail, there must be repercussions because the theft of data can lead to real harm to individuals.

The news of the credit card data breach at Sonic has made many wonder, how are credit cards still getting hacked? The credit cards themselves are fairly secure but when the point-of-sale (POS) system used to process the credit card transaction is compromised, there is little the new chip technology can do to protect the consumer. USA Todayattributes part of the problem to the increase in the use of technology by businesses without the budget and skillset required to secure those new internet-connected POS systems. Companies need to ensure that they not only invest in the new systems but also hire the technical staff or find a trusted partner, like Axiom Cyber Solutions, to ensure that the POS systems are properly protected. Companies that take credit cards need to consider PCI requirements and ask the question, “If I get breached and lose the ability to take credit cards, can my company survive?”

Don’t get used to having your data breached. Demand that businesses protect your data and encourage your lawmakers to consider new legislation that would allow regulation of data security standards and penalties for data breaches.