To keep your company safe from cyber criminals, it is important to become at least as knowledgeable as the perpetrators in the best practices of system security. Smarter is always better, but the latest security threats evolve so quickly that it becomes extremely difficult to get ahead of the cyber criminals and their security-related attacks.

 

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Took Effect in January 2020

Similar to how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) affects how a company can hold and process data for any European Union (EU) resident, the CCPA works similarly for organizations that need to hold and process data for residents of California. Maximum penalties for non-compliance are $7,500 per intentional security violation or $2,500 for unintentional ones. Perhaps worse, though, is the consumer’s ability to sue, which can get even costlier. Compliance is required when at least one of the following criteria is matched: personal information processing of at least 50,000 users/devices, gross annual revenue over $25 million, and/or at least 50% of revenue coming from selling the personal information of consumers.

 

Identity Theft Through SIM Card Swapping Is Real

If you’re not familiar with SIM cards, they are a small piece of plastic and wiring that you place in your phone that contains your phone number and valuable data. With something physically inside your phone, you wouldn’t think it was susceptible to breaches. Think again. SIM card swapping occurs when someone else contacts your mobile carrier and convinces them that you lost your phone, and you want your current phone number ported over to a different SIM card: theirs.

SIM card swapping has become a pervasive form of fraud, effectively becoming another form of identity theft, as your identity is more tied to your devices. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) has been touted as a cybersecurity solution to the security threat of cyber criminals. Still, if the criminals get your personal information, like a phone number or login credentials, through phishing attempts and are then able to intercept those login challenge-response codes. Cybercriminals can then log right into your current accounts and have full access to your world. Authenticator apps are becoming a popular option for MFA because these apps generate the challenge-response to security threats and the security code is only good for a short period of time.

 

There’s Real Money to be Made by Criminals from Cryptojacking

If you’ve ever wondered why your browser, system, or mobile phone run slowly when you’re not doing anything, consider that some malware might have jacked it. Cyber criminals compromise devices through malicious links via email or by infecting a website or online ad with malicious code. Cryptojacking, also known as malicious cryptomining, is an emerging cyber attack that infects devices with malware to illegally “mine” for more cryptocurrencies. 

The term cryptocurrency comes from the two words cryptography and currency. Cryptocurrency represents digital money, such as Bitcoin, and has no physical form nor the backing of any country. Instead of printing physical money, you get new cryptocurrency “coins” through a mining process. This mining process is CPU intensive. Instead of paying for large data farms, the cybercriminal will steal the CPU cycles from thousands of systems, unknowingly from their owners. Consider getting a security-related browser extension like No Coin and MinerBlock to block common mining activities in your favorite browsers to protect yourself, or at least the resources of your system. As the price of BitCoin has declined from its just under $20,000 high in 2017 to less than half that now, the amount of cryptojacking is reportedly down. Cyber criminals controlled these slave systems through what is called a botnet (short for robot network). They still try to control the same number of systems, but have changed their course of action to a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, preventing legitimate users access to the systems under attack. 

 

Data Breaches are Costly

It seems a week doesn’t go by where you don’t hear about another company whose customers’ highly sensitive data have been unwittingly exposed, thanks to some cyber attack and lax cybersecurity. Whether it’s credit card numbers, social security numbers, passwords, medical tests, or just plain email addresses, without threat detection tools and monitoring services, leaked data can be exposed for months before anyone realizes the damage. Wawa is an east coast convenience store. They discovered some malware on the systems in December that had left payment processing information exposed since as early as March. There is only so much free credit monitoring and identity theft prevention services a company can offer in response to security breaches, especially if your customers are already getting those services for free due to someone else’s breaches. It is important to come up with an intelligent Incident Response Plan in the event of future breaches.

 

Phishing isn’t Going Away Any Time Soon

Phishing is the attempt to get sensitive information from you by posing as a trustworthy source. You tend to think of phishing as only associated with email and browsing, but nowadays, it includes everything from text messaging, instant messaging, and even just a phone call. With all the cybersecurity scares going around, you wonder if you can trust anyone you don’t physically see anymore. Caller ID can be spoofed, so you can’t trust it to tell you who is really calling. If caller ID said it was your current bank, and the person on the other end asked you to enter your account number and PIN, it’s more than likely a phishing attack and not your real bank, hang up quickly. If an email claims to be from a service you used and asked you to verify your login credentials, so they can reset your account due to some malware discovered on their servers, do not reason and delete the email. Thanks to spear fishing (more targeted) and whaling (CEO fraud), email messages can be so targeted that it’s difficult to tell them apart from the real thing. With more and more parts of a company’s infrastructure moving into the cloud, the potential for unwittingly exposing your organization’s sensitive data continues to grow. Microsoft Office 365 offers the core office applications to your staff through the cloud. Those same credentials that you use to access your Outlook email server or next week’s PowerPoint presentation on your OneDrive can be captured and then reused to access the corporate SharePoint environment. How much damage could that do to the bottom line?

 

Is It Just Cheaper to Pay the Ransom If Your Systems Have Been Hit by Ransomware?

Ransomware occurs when malicious entities attack a company’s computer system to encrypt data stored within.  If you don’t have a good offsite backup plan in place, where the backups don’t get encrypted, too, then you’re without access to all your data. And, that’s where the ransom part comes into play. What started years ago as a ploy to target individual users for a couple hundred bucks, ransomware has recently evolved into a more serious threat to companies, hospitals, and cities. In order to gain access back to their data, organizations often pay the ransom to receive decryption key.  

Not everyone wants to pay the ransom, though. In 2018, the city of Atlanta was hit with a cyber attack that ended up being ransomware. System access would be restored for a ransom of $52,000. The city took a risk and refused. Instead, they paid $2.6 million to restore the systems on their own, and then later added another $9.5 million for the recovery effort. To avoid ransomware demands like this, cyber insurance protects businesses with liability coverage to minimize the impact of an incident. 

If your business is not serious about cybersecurity just yet, it should be, or you may be putting your company’s data at risk in the event of a breach. The cost for cybersecurity is projected to reach $6 trillion by the year 2021, up from just $3 trillion in 2015. You want to spend those security-services dollars preventatively, not reactively. Learn more about these risks and how to combat them in our State of Cybersecurity infographic.