Today, Cyber criminals are using sophisticated and scalable tools to breach a user’s digital privacy, and they are getting results. Statistically, in 2017, over two billion data records were compromised, and in the first half of 2018, more than 4.5 billion records were breached.
Australia’s economic prosperity and high adoption of technology mean we will remain an attractive target for cyber criminals in coming years.
“Cybercrime is a low-risk, high-return criminal enterprise in which individuals and groups of actors leverage cyberspace for financial gain or other malicious ends. In Australia, the term cybercrime refers to crimes directed at computers, such as illegally modifying electronic data or seeking a ransom to unlock a computer affected by malicious software. It also includes crimes where computers facilitate an existing offence, such as online fraud or online child sex offences.https://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/themes/cyber-affairs/aices/chapters/
This post presents the most pressing cyber security events likely in 2019, as well as a view into the rising trends for 2020. The aim of the post is education about your safety.
Advanced Phishing Kits
Phishing is on of the most successful attack vectors due to its speed, and as most phishing attack sites only are online for very short periods (4-5 hours), so the outcome is that users only report 17% of phishing attacks. The rapid and short life-spam masks the event as a low-risk activity.
By 2020, there will be more advanced phishing attacks, as there are a growing number of new phishing attack kits available on the black market. Such kits allow people with basic technical knowledge to implement their own phishing attacks.
The most impersonated sites in 2017 included some recurring names, such as Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Facebook, PayPal, and Yahoo, as well as some new ones.
Telstra Scam example: Telstra has been impersonated many times by cyber criminals abusing Telstas reputation and email billing system. As shown in the image below, scammers have duplicated the Telstra email bill format, wording and branding from genuine bills in an attempt to increase legitimacy. Typically, such scams advise that an outstanding amount is overdue and to follow the provided links (high risk site) for immediate payment. This scam however notifies many recipients that their account is actually in credit and is relying on the curiosity of victims to click without looking for suspicious warning signs.
Alert: Phishing remains one of the most common and most successful attack vectors. Highly targeted phishing attacks use social engineering, relying on themes that are relevant, interesting, or appropriate to the targeted person. When the user clicks a link in a phishing email that takes them to a malicious site, or opens an attachment carrying malware, they “invite” the attacker into the network.
Using Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence is now a dual-use technology – while more cyber security companies are implementing AI-driven algorithms to prevent threats, hackers are also taking the opportunity to become more effective by using AI.
The majority of AI qualities serve malicious purposes. As AI systems are very affordable, scalable, automated and anonymous, they provide physical and psychological distance for the attacker, thus impacting the morality of cybercrime.
AI and Cyber Security Evasion: AU allows cyber criminals to use more effective evasion methods to avoid detection.
AI and Phishing: AI would help create content that can pass trough cycber security filters, meaning a likely case that emails may be indistinguishable from those written by humans.
AI and Social Engineering: AI would help by collecting target information and writing emails or calling new victims.
About the Dark Web
Cyber criminals have access to cyber crime kits available on the “dark net” (aslo known as the “deep net”). The dark web operates as a separate environment on the internet. Normal web browsers, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, connect to the world wide web using the standard HTTP protocol. The dark web requires a special browser tool known as the TOR browser, which is fully encrypted and anonymous.
Sites on the dark web cannot be indexed by typical search engines, so you will not find that content through Google. When you connect through the TOR browser, all of your browsing traffic is sent through a global overlay network so that your location and identity cannot be tracked. Even IP addresses are masked on the dark web.
About Hacker Markets
In regards to cyber crime use, much of what takes place in the cyber underworld is illegal or unethical in nature, and that includes the marketplaces that exist. Suck blackmarket sites operate similar to eBay, where anonymous individuals can buy and sell illegal goods and services.
Today, dark web markets have shown a huge growth in demands for cybercrime tools and utilities. Entire phishing kits are sold to nefarious buyers, which include spoofed pages that can imitate real and legitimate companies and full guides on how to launch an email phishing scam.
In such “phishing attacks” email messages are often delivered through dark web servers that make it hard for junk filters to identify. Also the the “From:” address is commonly faked to look authentic.
Phishing kits can be purchased for as low as two dollars, meaning that inexperienced hackers can launch a cybercrime effort with little funding or training.
The Cost of Personal Data ID
How much your data is worth on the dark web depends on how complete a profile is to a potential identity thief. Below is a infographic for prices related to your identity (via the Dark Web).
Given that obtaining such (stolen) personal information, let alone selling and buying it, is illegal, it will come as no surprise to learn that the systems used to buy this information are complex by nature and mysterious (dark element). There are commonly a number of ‘middlemen’ who broker deals between those who steal data and those who sell it, and everyone in the chain takes great pains to protect themselves against discovery by any law enforcement agency.
What you can do to prevent ID Theft
It is absolutely vital to keep personal and business information secure! This is very true for any type of ID you may have. One of the best ways to protect yourself against someone stealing your data is to use a variety of strong passwords. Have at least three; One for Internet Banking, one for email, and another for Social Sites.
Don’t Give out Personal Information to Just Anyone.
Avoid Clicking on Links You Are Unsure About.
Shred Your Documents.
Only Carry Credit Cards You Actually Need Daily.
Protect Your Mailbox.
Security: Windows 10 is much safer than Windows 7!
Only 15% of the total files determined to be malware in 2017 were seen on Windows 10 systems, while a full 63% were found on Windows 7.
The volume of malware seen on Windows 10 devices was relatively consistent over 2017, with spikes in August (14% of the annual total) and December (12%).
The statistics show that for Home and Business, Windows 10 is more than twice as safe as Windows 7. See this link about Windows 10 Security.
“Almost all the devices that fell victim to the WannaCry ransomware attack were running Windows 7, and that attack alone is estimated to have caused $4 billion in losses to businesses.Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/wannacry-ransomware-attacks-wannacry-virus-losses/
Businesses Should Care about Home User OS Migration
It’s good news that home users are adopting Windows 10 at a rapid clip, but the not-so-good news is that business and enterprises are migrating to Windows 10 at a much slower pace, thus their exposure to risk grows with each passing day.
Universal Threat of Malicious Mobile Apps
Smart-phones and tablets are now used by a large number of people. By 2019, the global number of users of smart-phones have passed the 2.5 billion mark. For such users, the malicious mobile app is the most common form of attack. Legitimate apps can be downloaded from official app stores, however, similar apps and look-a-like clones are also available on many other sites. Malicious apps can masquerade as popular games, corporate utilities, and a wide variety of other “attractive” application types.
Malicious apps can be devastating, especially when they steal information or download ransomware. LeakerLocker ransomware was found hiding inside two Android apps in 2017: Booster & Cleaner Pro, and Wallpapers Blur HD. Rather than encrypt files, the malware threatened to extort a payment to prevent the spread of the victim’s private information.
Attacks via Smartphones
Today, more and more people use their phones to manage financial operations or handle sensitive data outside the security of their home network. One of the most common attack vectors to smartphones are related to unsafe browsing (phishing, spear phishing, malware). Today, mobile fraud is outpacing web fraud. More than 60% of fraud originates from mobile devices. Notes: 80% of mobile fraud comes from mobile apps (as mentioned above).
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Many cyber criminals are turning to social media, transforming it into what may well be the fastest-growing communication channel for cyber criminals. Using social media allows them to vastly extend their reach to more people, and this translates into increased earnings, with malicious activities targeting social media platforms criminals netting roughly $3.25 billion per year.
To achieve such success, cyber criminals are quite busy, infecting one in five businesses with an active social media presence during 2018 and stealing approximately 1.3 billion social media accounts since 2013.
Social media used as Crime Ware Marketplace
Social networks offer an “over the counter” marketplace where various crimeware services and tools are being offered for sale, from a wide range of hacking tools and services, to botnets for hire and facilitated digital currency scams.
On Facebook—the single most popular channel—active groups in all regions of the world are openly sharing live, compromised financial information (such as credit card numbers with PII and authorization codes), cybercrime tutorials, malware and hacking tools, and cashout and muling services. Some cyber criminals even sell stolen credit card data and hacking kits from their own personal profiles.
Internet of Things (IOT) Devices
IoT devices—including doorbells, fridges, activity trackers, smart watches, home heating systems and medical devices—are becoming part of everyday business and consumer life. These devices are an increasingly attractive target for cyber criminals, who are taking them over with ransomware and adding them to their targets.
The consumer Internet of Things (IoT) industry is expected to grow to more than seven billion devices by the end of 2020.
High Number of High-Risk URLs
Hundreds of thousands of new websites are created each day. Many are benign, but a sizeable number are compromised, or are created specifically to carry out cyber attacks. The image below shows the relative distribution of the categories in 2017. 25% of all URLs fall into the High Risk, Suspicious, and Moderate Risk categories, representing significant risk to users and organizations.
Remote access attacks
Remote access attacks are among the most common attack vectors in a connected home. Hackers target computers, smartphones, internet protocol (IP) cameras and network attached storage (NAS) devices, since these tools usually need to have ports open and forwarded to external networks or the internet.
Raise cyber crime awareness in Australia
Australia is home to a vast number of first-time Internet users as the connectivity has rapidly grown recently. Cyber security education is necessary to inform people of good cyber security practices, such as avoiding the use of pirated software that cybercriminals can exploit to gain access to personal devices. The Australian Government is becoming more involved in cybersecurity in 2019, creating new laws and regulations in the interest of protecting consumers’ information.
One of the best ways to learn how to prevent cybercrime is to check out STOP. THINK. CONNECT.™ site at stopthinkconnect.org.
In Australia, if you believe you are a victim of a scam, cyber crime or identity theft then report the incident.
What’s the Difference: Computer Virus vs Malware, vs Spyware, etc? (YouTube)
General Tips & Advice
Keep security software current: Having the latest security software, web browser and operating system, along with updates, is the best defense against viruses, malware and other online threats.
Automate software updates: Updates will help programs and the OS to be defended against known risks. Turn on automatic updates if that is an available option.
Protect all devices that connect to the Internet: Along with computers, your smartphones, gaming systems and other web-enabled devices also need protection from viruses and malware.
Plug & scan: USBs and other external devices can be infected by viruses and malware. Use your security software to scan them.
Protect your $$: When banking and shopping, check to be sure the sites is security enabled. Look for web addresses with “https://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information (using SSL) . “Http://” is not secure. SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and, in short, it’s the standard technology for keeping an internet connection secure and safeguarding any sensitive data that is being sent between two systems, preventing criminals from reading and modifying any information transferred, including potential personal details.
Back it up: Always protect your valuable work, music, photos and other digital information by making separate electronic copies of your important files and storing them safely.