Category Archives: data leakage

SECURITY ALERT: Microsoft Accidentally Exposed 250 Million Customer Support Records

On January 22, 2020, Microsoft reported a security breach that involved one of its customer databases. Between December 5 and December 31, 2019, a change made to the database’s network security group contained misconfigured security rules that allowed the exposure of data.

Microsoft did not specify how many records were compromised, however, according to Comparitech, 250 million Microsoft customer service and support records ended up being visible on the web.

The databases were discovered by Bob Diachenko, a security researcher, who notified Microsoft immediately. Within 24 hours, all servers were secured.

No malicious parties are known to have accessed the data during the time it was exposed.

What kind of data was exposed?

According to Diachenko, most of the personally identifiable information, such as email aliases, contract numbers, and payment information was redacted. However, many records, like customer email addresses, IP addresses, locations, descriptions of CSS claims and cases, Microsoft support agent emails, case numbers, or Internal notes marked as “confidential” contained plain text data.

In the blog post, Microsoft acknowledged that some data may have remained unredacted under certain conditions. For example, if an email address was written in a non-standard format (name “XYZ @contoso com” vs “XYZ@contoso.com”), the data may have been visible.

Microsoft’s response and action

After the incident, Microsoft took immediate action, apologized to its customers, and began notifying them.

Here are the measures they took to prevent future similar events:

  • Auditing the established network security rules for internal resources.
  • Expanding the scope of the mechanisms that detect security rule misconfigurations.
  • Adding additional alerting to service teams when security rule misconfigurations are detected.
  • Implementing additional redaction automation.

How to protect yourself from potential future scams

If you’re a Microsoft customer, you may become a target of scammers trying to impersonate Microsoft’s official staff. Thus, make sure you don’t fall for these scams and read the advice I’ve included below on how you can stay safe.

Do not engage with tech support scammers pretending to work for Microsoft

Surely, Microsoft tech support scams are not new. Even one of Heimdal’s employees received a fake IT support phone call a while ago but recognized it was a scam right away. You can read the full story here and even listen to the phone call recording if you are interested.

Of course, the main piece of advice, in this case, would be not to provide any information about yourself or allow the scammer to remotely access your computer.

Do not open phishing emails pretending to be from Microsoft

Now that the Microsoft data breach incident has been made public, it will be a great time for malicious actors to start sending email phishing campaigns. They may try trick you into entering your Microsoft credentials so you can “reset” them afterward. In the past, we spotted a Microsoft phishing campaign that targeted Office365 users, with pages masquerading as official Microsoft and OneDrive pages.

In short, do not open these emails or click on the malicious links and you’ll be safe. And if you’d like to add an extra layer of safety in your organization, give our DNS filtering solution, Thor Foresight Enterprise, a try.

If you want to learn more about phishing (and spear-phishing, in particular) you may want to go through our complete guide. At the same time, here you can find out all you need to know about how social engineering tactics work.

Stay safe!

The post SECURITY ALERT: Microsoft Accidentally Exposed 250 Million Customer Support Records appeared first on Heimdal Security Blog.

GDPR Checklist For Small Businesses

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) which came into effect in 2018 meant some big changes in the way businesses collect and handle personal data. The idea behind the new legislation is to give individuals better access and control over their own personal data. While this is great news for individuals, it requires a little extra work from businesses who must now provide legal grounds for collecting data and must only use it for the intended purpose. What’s more, they need to follow these regulations to the letter and remain GDPR compliant at all times.

This applies to companies of all sizes – even your small business. If you collect personal data in any form, such as emails, addresses, names or financial details, your business needs to be GDPR compliant. If it’s found that you’re not effectively managing and protecting your data you could face a big fine. Though regulators may be a bit more lenient with smaller businesses depending on how much data you hold, an unwanted fine is always bad news. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist to help ensure your small business is GDPR compliant. In this guide we’ll look at:

  • Understanding your data and responsibilities
  • Defining your data consent policy
  • Access requests and disposing of old data
  • Setting up a data storage and security policy
  • Training all staff on GDPR
  • Creating data processing notices

  1. Understanding your data and responsibilities

In order to be GDPR compliant it’s important that you understand what data you’re collecting and your responsibilities as a business. It’s therefore a good idea to get clued up on what is defined as ‘personal data’ and set out strict guidelines on how much information you need to collect. This is because a huge part of GDPR is ensuring that you only collect personal information you actually need and that it is only used for the intended purpose. The less you collect the easier it is to stay compliant.

You’ll also want to ensure anyone that is involved in the handling of data understands how to collect and store the data effectively, as well as how to process it in line with GDPR. As you collect data, it’s a good idea to keep a note of how consent is being obtained and what processes the data goes through once it has been collected.

 

  1. Setting out your data consent policy

Getting clear and explicit consent from individuals to collect and use their data is one of the most important aspects of GDPR. For this reason, you need to outline to customers or those using your services why you’re collecting their data and how you intend to use it in the future. Once they have actively agreed, you can then collect their data – this is usually done through sign-up forms or pop-ups. However, if they do not give you permission then under no circumstances should you record their personal information.

You must be able to show that they have obtained consent for all the data that you have collected. Otherwise, you run the risk of being fined. Another point worth noting is that you can no longer rely on underhand tactics such as pre-ticked boxes to gain consent. This is now illegal under GDPR and can land you in trouble. Finally, you must make it easy for individuals to opt-out of receiving your communications. The best way to do this is by adding an unsubscribe button at the bottom of all emails.

 

  1. Access requests and disposing of old data

If you haven’t already, GDPR states that you must get re-permission from customers whose information you held before the new guidelines were implemented in May 2018. If they do not give you their consent once again or they do not reply to your email at all, you must delete their data as soon as possible. An important part of your GDPR checklist should be getting auditing processes in place that determine how long you will store data. For example, if a customer has not engaged with your brand in 12 months it is no longer necessary to keep their information and it should therefore be deleted.

What’s more, as part of GDPR every EU individual has the right to access their data. Therefore you need a system in place to deal with access requests. You’ll have 30 days from receiving the request to provide them with an electronic copy of all the information you have on them. They can also request that this be deleted, so you need a system in place to get this done as quickly as possible.

 

  1. Setting up a data storage and security policy

GDPR is set out to protect the rights and personal information of individuals, therefore you need to make sure you’re taking care of the data you’re collecting. This means knowing where it is stored and ensuring you’ve got the security measures in place to keep it safe. Mapping out all the places where you store data, be that email, databases or cloud-based systems, makes it easier to find and deal with access or deletion requests. Your storage and security policy should outline where everything is stored, how it is protected and who has access to said data.

You also need to know how data is being transferred and the flow of information around your business. This stops information seemingly getting lost or falling into the wrong hands. It also pays to have a system in place just in case your hardware is accessed or lost, whilst containing sensitive information. For example, if a laptop full of information is misplaced, having the data encrypted means you’re less likely to fall victim to a breach or face a fine.

 

  1. Training all staff on GDPR

Most data breaches or security mistakes come as a result of human error. But unfortunately, in this case ignorance isn’t bliss, you cannot use ignorance as an excuse for mishandling data. For this reason, it’s important that all members of your team are clued up on GDPR, their personal responsibilities for looking after personal data, and how to recognise a breach. As part of GDPR, you must report any data breaches within 72 hours, this becomes much easier if everyone in your team is educated on what this looks like and who they need to report to.

 

  1. Creating data processing notices

Finally, data handling needs to be a clear and transparent process and therefore it’s a good idea to create a notice to explain how your business collects and processes data. This is often called a Fair Processing Notice and can be sent out to customers/users as well as being displayed somewhere on your website. It should outline how you capture, use and store data, as well as giving instructions on how an individual can make and access or deletion request. This helps them to understand how you are protecting their data and can be great for building your reputation as a legitimate and caring business.

 

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Freeware vs. Shareware vs. Open Source – What is Each and How to Use Them Safely

During the last decade or so, software deployment for both SMBs and enterprise has become rather problematic – not so much on the upscaling part, but rather on the number of licenses an institution has to purchase and renew. The costs can be ginormous, which is the very reason why the company owner resorts to cost-effective alternatives such as freeware, shareware, and open-source. In this article, I’m going to run you through each category. After that, you can decide which is better for your business.  Let’s get to it – freeware vs. shareware vs. open source. Who will win the race?

What is Freeware?

Loosely defined as a type of proprietary software, that it’s being distributed at no cost whatsoever for the user, freeware is the answer to accomplishing very simple tasks without the need of investing in expensive, license-based software. Freeware software has no EULA, license, or rights of any kind, which means that it can be deployed on both home and enterprise machines.

Freeware is not a modern concoction. In fact, the term itself was coined in the golden 80s by Andrew Fluegelman, who sough of means of making PC-Talk (Skype’s long-forgotten ancestors) available outside regular distribution channels. The key differentiator between freeware, shareware, and open-source is that freeware does not make its source code available, despite being free of charge.

A couple of freeware examples: Discord (IM used by the gaming community), Yahoo Messenger (rest in peace, my friend), µTorrent, IrfanView, Groove Music, Winamp, DVD Shrink, CCleaner, and others.

Freeware pros:

  • Easy to use and deploy (for home users and enterprises\SMBs).
  • A great way to incentivize your potential customers (for soft makers and marketeers gunning for paid licenses).
  • Solve daily tasks without having to invest in expensive software.
  • Quickly grow your user base.

Freeware cons:

  • Limited functionality.
  • No way of reverse-engineering it since the source code is not made available.
  • Customers may sometimes perceive the product as inferior.

 

What is Shareware?

Probably most of the apps found online and offline fall under this category. Shareware is so widespread that it ‘felt’ the need to have its own consortium. Called the Association of Shareware Professional or ASP, for short, this international trading and trade organization comprises over 1,500 vendors, authors, and online retailers. The term was coined around the same time as freeware.

While Fluegelman was pushing his PC-Talk comm app. Jim “Button” Knopf, an IBM employee at that time, was releasing a database program called PC-File. In legal terms, the main difference between Knopf’s apps and Fluegelman’s freebie is that the database program was never meant to be offered free of charge.

Knopf himself called his creation “user-supported software” meaning that users would need to cover some of the fees associated with the continual development of the product. No doubt, an interesting marketing praxis, but a lucrative one, given shareware’s popularity and availability.

Shareware is an umbrella term, encompassing various types of apps, each following a unique business model.

Types of shareware

1. Adware

Also called “advertising-supported software”, this type of shareware has embedded ads running alongside the apps. The purpose of adware is to generate revenue for its creator. Ads may be present during the installation process or as part of the user interface. Most are ‘hardwired’ to analyze the users’ traffic in order to display customized ads. Adware is free-to-use, but the sheer number of ads can interfere with normal operation. A large number of apps currently available on Google Play are adware.

2. Crippleware

It may sound like a new form of malware, but it’s actually a legit type of software. Why is it called “Crippleware”? Because the author purposely “cripples” the app’s vital functions, making them available in the paid or premium version. For instance, if you have photo-editing apps, the download as jpeg function may be disabled or the photos may have watermarks that can be removed by upgrading to full.

3. Trialware

Trialware apps can be used for a limited period.  In most cases, users will be granted access to all of the app’s functions (including the ones available in the paid version). However, once the trial period expires, the app will be disabled or revert to a very basic (and very unusable version). From my experience, trialware that doesn’t cover vital system processes (i.e. antivirus or malware-scanner), will simply stop working. They will, of course, display a splash screen meant to inform the user that the software has expired and that he must upgrade to full.

4. Donationware

The software grants the user access to all of its features. However, it does come with one small request: the user is asked to shell out a small amount of cash to support the project or just show appreciation for the author’s work. The payout part is optional, having no bearing of the app’s functionality. Given its behavior, one could consider that donationware has more in common with freeware than with shareware.

5. Nagware

Pejorative in nature, the term “nagware” describes a software category that reminds users via on-screen messages that their licenses are about to expire and that they should upgrade to the full version. In most cases, the nags will continue well after the trial period is over. The functionality will be reduced, the user having access only to basic functions.

6. Freemium

A portmanteau term (“free” + “premium”) describing a type of software that ‘withholds’ advanced features, making them available in the premium version. The free version is fully functional. Nags are rare, but users might receive ads from time to time regarding the advantages of the premium versions.

Shareware pros:

  • Free to use.
  • Powerful feature. Great for getting a one-time task done.
  • Donationware is just as good as any license-based application.
  • Diversity and abundance.
  • Most of them are cross-platformers.

Shareware cons:

  • Some legal issues may arise if deployed on enterprise machines.
  • Poor compatibility with newer operating systems.
  • Ads and nags can become annoying.
  • Shareware doesn’t benefit from regular security and functionality updates as licensed software.

One last thing to mention – neither freeware nor shareware authors don’t make the software code available for studying or altering. Which brings us to the third software category: open-source.

What is Open-Source?

Open-source software or OSS is a type of software in which the author releases the source code. Furthermore, as far as the copyright is concerned, whoever holds the software’s license can distribute, study or alter the source code. Enterprises would often turn to open-source solutions since they’re much easier to customize compared to licensed software.

The best example of OSS I can think of is VLC player, one of the most popular video players available online. That’s on the consumer side.

As for enterprises and SMBs, there are a number of open-source software that successfully replaced their license-based counterparts: OpernCart (online shopping platform), SuiteCRM (useful for managing customer info), Helpy (self-service support), Mailman (management tool for email lists), WordPress (blogging), Daawarpper (data visualization), Gimp (powerful image editor), LibreOffice (perfect and free alternative to Microsoft Office), and the list goes on.

Open-source software pros:

  • Free and cheaper compared to (paid) license-based products.
  • Modable, reliable, and easy to use.
  • Safer from a cybersecurity standpoint compared to free and even some license-based products.
  • Very flexible. It can be used beyond its intended purpose (you’re going to need a talented backend hand for that).

Open-source software cons:

  • It can incur some long-term (and unforeseeable) costs. Any issues that arise have to be dealt with by yourself or your dev team. This usually happens when the software has been outstretched or altered more than necessary. Doing in-house patching and/or repair points to another con: no support for the product. So, if something goes wrong, you’re on your own.
  • Less-than-friendly UI. It will also take you a while to learn the product.

 

Freeware vs. Shareware

Now that we’ve got the basics in place, let’s take a closer look at the first contenders: freeware vs. shareware.

First of all, I think it’s important to see which category the two of them address. We can agree (to disagree) that both types of software can be used on home and work machines alike. As someone who didn’t have a lot of money to spend on software, I can wholeheartedly say that freeware is what dreams are made of – imagine what it would have meant to buy a Photoshop license just to tweak some family photos or to pull a plank on your roommate.

Game streaming – for those of you familiar with the concept, the costs alone can make your head spin, that is if you want to go pro. Still, even the basics can cost a pretty penny. Luckily you can accomplish basic tasks like screen or voice recording with some very nice (and free) online tools.

Things change a bit when it comes to deploying freeware on enterprise machines. Of course, some shareware can handle some of the routine tasks. For instance, ePrompter is a great and hassle-free alternative to Microsoft Outlook or some other desktop-based email management tool. Even TeamViewer, the (over)glorified remote computer control tool is free and can be used to accomplish very simple tasks.

Other honorable mentions: Discord (great alternative to Teams, Skype for business, and even WhatsApp), B1 Free Archiver (if you really don’t want to buy WinRAR), Recuva (powerful data recovery application), CCleaner (registry cleaner), Foxit Reader (open and print pdf files), and Microsoft Visual Studio Express (supports multiple IDEs, pitch-perfect for web designers).

Indeed, they are very powerful tools, but, in my opinion, simply not enough to meet the needs of a bustling enterprise. It all boils down to statistics: the bigger the database, the likelier it is to find a solution (or more) to suit your needs.

Why shareware? There are literally thousands of apps, available both online and offline, some of them just as good, if not better than license-based software. One thing about shareware – it’s a short-term solution.

Basically, it’s your ‘emergency-only’ kit: problem – shareware – problem solved. This type of software wasn’t designed for long-term use. As I pointed out in the section about shareware, most have some kind of built-in ‘safety’ to prevent users from doing just that; except for donationware, of course. There’s also the matter of overexposing your machine(s) to malicious content. I will cover this in the last section of the article.

The main reason why shareware is better than freeware for enterprise needs – evergreen(ess). Most freeware is outdated, meaning that they may not even run properly on Windows 10 machines. If you also add the fact that they are unpatched, you’ve got yourself a major cybersecurity vulnerability. Last, but not least, to my knowledge, few freeware support platforms other than Microsoft Windows. So, if you need to deploy freeware on a machine running Linux or macOS, you’re in for a world of pain.

Winner – shareware. Hassle-free, tons of content, suitable for any kind of needs, be them home- or enterprise-related.

Shareware vs. open-source

Clearly, shareware is the better alternative to freeware, but how does it fare against open-source software. Clearly, the latter category holds the high ground here. Why? Because, as the name suggests, the source code is made available, which means that a talented backend hand can easily customize it. But, will it prove to be a match for shareware’s availability and ‘widespreadness’?

It could and it does. Open-source software is definitely getting a lot of attention and for a very good reason – even though OSS is free, it’s extremely reliable and tends to take quite a beating when subjected to repeated reverse-engineering. And, on top of that, OSS software, compared to freeware and shareware, is much more secure.

Open-source software is amazing simply because it’s out there and can potentially be molded into anything you like. However, it’s not the Holy Grail of enterprise software, nor does it want to be. OSS is scalable, dependable, and, in all cases, it’s made by an experienced computer engineer who isn’t necessarily motivated by money. Don’t get me wrong – shareware-type software is also developed by experienced people, but on the sample-now-buy-full-later basis.

As an enterprise, you should also consider the support aspect. If something goes terribly wrong with the software, there’s no one out there to help.

Well, that’s entirely correct; there’s an entire community out there of experts willing to give you a helping hand, but that means hours upon hours of digging through forums, asking questions and praying for someone to come up with the right answer. This perspective is not exactly compatible with an enterprise’s credo.

So, do we have a winner here? It would say that it’s a tie: open-source is dependable, flexible, and scalable, but low on support and could incur unforeseen costs, especially when you try to use for purposes other than it was designed for. On the other hand, shareware holds an abundant database but falls back as far as a long-term commitment.

Freeware vs. shareware vs open source

Now that we have all the pieces of the puzzle, it’s easier to figure out which is the best enterprise-grade solution.

Let’s start with freeware.

Major advantages – it’s free, easy to install, and can solve any number of issues. On the other hand, disadvantages wise, the freeware pool is very limited and can only address a handful of issues. Freeware would best be used on home machines. Take that and its questionable compatibility, no support of any kind, and the fact that most of them are obsolete, it’s safe to assume that freeware and enterprises just don’t mix.

Shareware – an entire database, laid down at your feet. Plenty of possibilities, but is shareware the answer to your company’s needs? It’s just a matter of how you look upon the problem: if it’s a one-time thing, then you should definitely consider deploying software on a couple of machines.

There’s no need to concern yourself with the trial period, as long as you can solve the task or tasks in one go. Just bear in mind that some apps will revert to basic functions or stop working altogether after a certain number of uses. Of course, if the app suits your needs, you can always activate the full version by buying the license.

Open-source – dependable, can easily be taken apart by any IDE, and free to use. Do take in mind that OSS can come with hidden costs and it’s harder to get used to it compared to shareware or license-based software. If you encounter issues along the way, you can always ask the dev community for help. Just don’t expect the answer to be prompt as in the case of an app that offers round-the-clock support.

In the end, it’s all up to you to decide which one clicks with your company’s needs.

Cybersecurity issues and safety tips

Tackling non-licensed-based software should come with a warning label. Up next, I’ll be discussing the risk of using shareware, freeware, and open-source software. I will also include some cybersecurity tips along the way.

1. Adware also means malware

If you plan on using shareware, pay extra attention to apps that use ads-generated revenue. Some of them may contain links to malicious websites that could seriously harm your machine. Best to check the security certificate after clicking on an ad, though I advise you not to.

2. Fake apps

Some applications advertised as freeware could be fake. Don’t download the first app you find on Google. Take your time and do some research. You would do well to stay away from websites that use too many CTAs and “free download” buttons. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your personal data.

3. Freeware used as a malware entry point

As you know, outdated and unpatched software can be used by malicious hackers to circumvent your antivirus\antimalware solution. Since freeware does not receive regular security patches, it can become an entry point for malware.

4. Strengthen your cyber-defenses

When all else fails, ensure that you have a good antivirus\antimalware solution. Thor Premium Enterprise, our product that incorporates two of our award-winning technologies (Thor Foresight Enterprise and Thor Vigilance Enterprise) will ensure that no malware lands on your machine, by continuously scanning your outbound and inbound traffic, severing any malicious C&C connection it detects.

Wrap-up

Companies, regardless of their size and needs, can also benefit from freeware, shareware, and open-source software. It’s all about figuring out your needs and selecting the solution that makes the most sense. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to send me a message.

The post Freeware vs. Shareware vs. Open Source – What is Each and How to Use Them Safely appeared first on Heimdal Security Blog.

Cybersecurity And Privacy for a Co-Working Space

The way we work and the spaces we work in have evolved considerably in the last fifty years. Corporate culture is nothing like what it used to be back in the 80’s and 90’s. Cabins and cubicles have given way to open offices. Many in the work-force today prefer to work remotely and maintain flexible hours. As such, hot-desking is common in many multi-national companies including those who have large office spaces. As the start-up culture evolved, there was a need for multiple small offices. This growing breed of self-employed professionals and start-up owners need other resources that are commonly required in the office environment like printers, shredders, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms, video-conferencing abilities etc . They also need a common place to meet people, network and exchange ideas because working solo could be monotonous at some time. Co-working has provided an all-in-one solution for the needs of such individuals and small groups of people by providing a common space where equipment and utilities could be shared between businesses who rent the space. Co-working spaces have thus become very popular across the world and especially in cities where real-estate is very expensive. According to statistics the number of co-working spaces has increase by 205% between 2014 and 2018

In any business however, security is paramount. Corporate espionage is very much a reality for small businesses that are very often the breeding ground for great ideas and innovations. Co-working spaces provide a melting pot for all kinds of unrelated people some of who cannot really be trusted. Thus it is necessary that when sharing space, equipment and utilities, users do not unknowingly end up sharing information and trade secrets. Ensuring data privacy and cyber security in a shared office can be very difficult but may be achieved by laying down the ground rules and ensuring that everyone follows it. Following are some of the security best practices for a co-working space.

  1. Ensuring network Security: While shared Wi-Fi access is probably one of the most popular and over utilized services provided by a co-working space, it is also the most vulnerable from a cyber security perspective. Following are some of the practices that would ensure secure access of Wi-Fi networks for all users.
    1. Having a dedicated administrator who would ensure that networks are set up correctly and securely. This person can also liaise with users to ensure that they are following the guidelines
    2. Setting up strong passwords for every network and ensuring that all passwords are changed frequently. This would also prevent old or previous members from accessing the network.
    3. Setting up individual networks and access pages for every business that is using the space including a separate network for guests.

 

  1. Securing smart devices: IoT has enabled intelligence in every device like TV, refrigerators, coffee machines and printers. A co-working space may be home to many such devices which are connected to the network. Tampering with any of these devices can allow people to access the Wi-Fi network or vice-versa. Therefore it is necessary to secure these devices by ensuring that their hardware is tamperproof and firmware is continuously updated. All devices that can connect to the network including laptops and phones should be password protected and should not be left around unlocked and/or unattended.

 

  1. Blocking websites: It is best to block potentially malicious websites which are not likely to do anyone any good. Corporate offices have always taken this step to prevent unwanted traffic and ensure network and data security. There is no reason why co-working spaces cannot offer this as a service.

 

  1. Vetting users: Co-working spaces may do a minimum background check on users to ensure that they fit-in with the business culture of the space and would not disrupt the normal functioning of the users in any way.

 

  1. Physical monitoring: Physical monitoring using cameras can ensure that users do not try to steal any data or equipment that does not belong to them. Providing physical access cards, logging in and out time of users and installing cameras can contribute to the overall security system of the space.

 

While these guidelines are general they should be useful to both the co-working space operators and users and would provide an idea on what to look out for and how to secure their private data and intellectual property.

 

 

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Maze Ransomware Operators Publish User Information

As if it wasn’t hard enough to have their data compromised, businesses who fell victim to Maze ransomware are now facing another threat: their data could become public.

Maze’s operators have been collecting data from victim organisations for a while, ultimately using it as a weapon until payment is received to decrypt archives. Now, for all those victims who refuse to pay the ransom, they threaten to release the data.

In this respect, a website was created by the threat actor where they identified the names and websites of eight businesses who allegedly refused to pay the sum demanded to retrieve their records.

According to technology journalist Brian Krebs, even though the event did not make news, at least one of the businesses on that list was actually targeted by Maze ransomware.

The Maze operators publish data on that page, such as the initial date of contamination, certain compromised records (office, text and PDF files), the overall volume of data allegedly obtained from the company, and the IP addresses and computer names of the infected servers.

The step is not shocking, particularly since the people behind Maze have been engaging in exfiltrating victim details for a while now and are also threatening to publicly disclose that information if the victim does not pay the demanded ransom.

Throughout one instance in which the Maze ransomware was introduced, the perpetrators first leveraged Cobalt Strike since obtaining access to the network, collecting data about the target area before advancing laterally. Also used was a tactic commonly associated with Russian agent of danger Cozy Bear.

The hackers then began using PowerShell to exfiltrate data and connect to a remote FTP server. They only implemented Maze ransomware after this phase was done to encrypt the data of the victim.

Cobalt Strike was used again after the original breach in another event that Cisco Talos attributed to the same perpetrator, and PowerShell was used to dump large amounts of data using FTP. Without making the information available, the attackers then demanded payment.

The two events are primarily linked through the Command and Control (C&C) technology used— the data was deposited to the same server as in the previously mentioned accident— using 7-Zip to compact the collected data, interactive logins through Windows Remote Desktop Protocol, and remote execution of PowerShell.

“The use of targeted ransomware attacks isn’t new and, unfortunately, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. This is an extremely lucrative attack avenue for adversaries and as such, its popularity is likely only going to increase. What makes these particular attacks interesting is the additional monetization avenue of exfiltrating data in the process,” Talos points out.

The threat agent could demand more money from the victim with this data in hand, or could monetize it by selling it to other cyber criminals on dark web platforms. Not to mention that entities will pay for the damage incurred by their data being published.

“This trend of achieving maximum monetary gain for their nefarious activities is increasingly common in the crimeware space […]. Expect adversaries to be increasingly aware of the systems and networks they are compromising as all systems and networks are not created equally and some have much higher profit margins, when compromised,” Talos concludes.

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5 Promising vendors focusing on Cyber Security for Medical IoT (IoMT)

Medical IoT devices operate in care facility environments that encompass care giving, case management, customer service, and clinic management. As such, the risk of data gathered and managed by medical devices extends beyond the device itself. A compromise of clinic management services can propagate to IoT device command and control, allowing compromise of devices in attacks that do not directly touch the device at all. This is clearly the major driver for the emerging category of “Medical IoT (IoMT) Cyber Security ”

A large hospital for examples could be home to as many as 85,000 connected devices. While each of these devices has a significant role in the delivery of care and operational efficiency, each connected device also opens the door to a malicious cyberattack. A recent report from Irdeto,  found that 82 percent of healthcare organizations’ IoT devices have been targeted with a cyberattack within the last year.

Going over the players in this industry, it is clear that the Medical IoT security category includes a number of different approaches with the common target to provide the customer with a clear assets discovery and timely alerting on security breaches and attacks on its Medical environment.

Although many large security players are addressing this niche too, CyberDB identified a number of emerging players that are focusing on this industry and as such we expect them to benefit from the growth in this market. These players are (in alphabetical order):

Due to the clear use case and the growing awareness and need in this market, we can see general-purpose IoT security players moving towards the Medical IoT security market.

According a recent report by BisResearch, the overall Medical IoT Cyber security market has been witnessing a steady growth. The market is expected to continue to grow with a double digit CAGR of 41.38% during the forecast period 2019-2028.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CyberMDX

CyberMDX is a pioneer in medical cyber security, delivering visibility, threat prevention and analytics for medical and IoT devices and clinical assets. It is a best of breed product built from the ground up for healthcare delivery organizations. CyberMDX is established in 2017, acts globally and raised so far $10M of funds. Its headquarters reside in Tel Aviv & New York City

 CyberMDX counters and prevents growing cyber-threats against hospitals, ensuring its critical assets operational continuity as well as patient and data safety. CyberMDX  delivers endpoint visibility, network threat prevention and operational analytics for medical, IoT, and OT devices. The agentless solution automates the most granular, context-aware device profiling available on the market and combines it with healthcare tailored risk assessment and remediation capabilities.

Using CyberMDX, healthcare teams can easily:

  • Audit devices for software vulnerabilities and prioritize patching
  • Detect malicious activity and behavioral anomalies, triggering responses accordingly
  • Manage risks proactively via smart micro-segmentation planning and automation
  • Streamline clinical compliancy programs
  • Report device-relevant FDA recalls
  • Optimize device allocation and procurement decision based on usage insights
  • Track and manage medical asset lifecycles
  • Provide rich reports in support of HIPAA and corporate compliance efforts
  • Seamlessly integrate with existing cyber and IT solutions to enrich data sets, enhance workflows, and enable operational excellence

Differentiators

  1. Interdepartmental HDO functionality and true workflow enablement: CyberMDX takes a holistic, 360° view of healthcare organizations and understands that only by building a common frame of reference and cross-departmental synergies can wholesale progress be achieved. Beyond mere security, CyberMDX provides security, IT, clinical engineering and compliance teams with a platform for data-driven workflow enablement and collaboration.
  2. Unmatched, context-aware visibility: CyberMDX delivers deep visibility into medical devices, protocols, and connected things of all sorts — along with a clear-eyed view of their clinical context. This deep and contextual visibility drives prevention, incident response, risk mitigation, and lifecycle management (including patch availability notifications). The solution covers medical devices, IoT, and OT across the entire network — providing a single pane of glass from which to view all connected healthcare assets.
  3. Superior depth and breadth of risk reporting around clinical and critical assets: CyberMDX has a dedicated research team focused solely on connected healthcare and IoMT. The team works with medical device manufactures and regulatory bodies such as CISA, ECRI, MITRE and the FDA to spot and lock down cybersecurity hazards and vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by malicious actors.

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Cynerio

Cynerio was established in 2017 by a versatile team with expertise in cybersecurity, medical devices, and healthcare IT. Headquartered in New York City, Cynerio works with leading Healthcare Delivery Organizations (HDOs) worldwide and delivers the only medical-first cybersecurity solution clinical ecosystems require to stay secure and operate with the peace of mind they need to put their focus where it’s needed most: on patient care.

The Problem

The IoT is an emerging space with a broad sphere of challenges that gets even more complicated when placed in the healthcare context. Hospitals and other HDOs have limited visibility into which devices exist on their networks, device behavior, and vulnerabilities. This limited visibility and understanding impairs IT personnel’s ability to remediate without interrupting patient care.

Securing the healthcare IoT poses the multifold challenge of securing medical devices developed without security in mind. Many of these devices run on outdated operating systems and can’t be patched. Hospital staff often has limited knowledge of the scope of security risks and vulnerabilities introduced to the network by unprotected devices. This is further complicated by traditional security solutions that are ineffective in dealing with connected devices in general.

Hospitals also rely on various non-traditional medical devices to help deliver essential care, such as elevators used to transport patients and smart refrigerators used to store sensitive biological material and medications. These devices are connected to the clinical ecosystem and are involved in medical workflows but are often not given the proper priority when evaluating the security strategy.

The Solution

Cynerio’s holistic medical-first approach to healthcare  / Medical IoT cybersecurity management provides HDOs with a one-stop shop they can rely on by prioritizing patient care and privacy above all else while contextualizing risk and remediation within the framework of healthcare business goals. This approach to security allows HDOs to gain control over their clinical assets and helps achieve immediate security goals and meet strategic, long-term objectives.

Cynerio’s agentless and nonintrusive solution analyzes device communications and behavior to provide ongoing, accurate, and contextual assessments of risk and security posture. This enables swift remediation without impacting operations.

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Medigate

 

Medigate is a comprehensive platform for IoT cybersecurity. Distinguished by powerful capabilities driving use-cases that have revolutionized expectations around what clinical visibility can mean, Medigate is successfully partnering with health systems across the world to monetize risk reduction practice.

Not unlike other industries, Healthcare’s vaunted digital transformation is based on unprecedented, new levels of visibility. Although having the ability to identify connected endpoints represents a step forward, it is not the game-changer. Rather, it’s the device-specific, detailed attribution and utilization metrics passively captured by Medigate that competitively separates its offering. Made even more real by meaningful and fully operationalized integrations to the systems that can naturally benefit (e.g. NAC, firewalls, SIEM, CMMS and emerging applications in supply chain, procurement and finance), Medigate’s excellent track record with some of the nation’s largest health systems is easily verified.

It is not “magic” and Medigate’s engineering-heavy company profile reflects it. Medigate has done the heavy lift required to passively fingerprint all connected assets, including serially connected modules and/or devices “hidden” behind legacy and modern integration points. The approach is known as deep packet inspection (DPI).  Having invested in the engineering talent required to effectively parse the transmission flows between devices, nested modules, integration points and their payload destinations (e.g. EMRs), Medigate delivers the most detailed and accurate baselines available, while also providing continuously monitored, dynamic views of the entire connected ecosystem.

Emboldened by widely publicized and successful attacks, the FDA’s changing guidance, Joint Commission directives and the recognition by acute care providers that ultimately, it’s a patient safety issue, risk capital has poured into the problem space. Validating Medigate’s approach, competitors use deep packet inspection (DPI) when they can and rely on probabilistic methods (i.e. behavioral models promoted as AI) when they cannot. For DICOM and other protocols packaged in the HL7 framework, all vendors use DPI, but that’s as far as they go, and that’s a seminal difference. Solution evaluators should investigate that difference and make up their own minds.

Medigate’s deterministic approach relies on its proven ability to resolve more than one hundred unique medical device protocols encompassing thousands of common devices that would otherwise go uncovered. The skillsets required to do that, and the resulting superior data quality, have fueled far more meaningful system integrations, non-traditional cross functional collaborations and numerous new use-cases that are turning risk reduction into a more strategically diverse, revenue creation practice. In terms of clinical network visibility, Medigate-powered “views” of what’s now possible are strengthening IT’s ROI mission to the enterprise.

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Sternum

Sternum, the multilayered cybersecurity solution offering real-time, embedded protection for IoT devices, was founded in 2018 in Tel Aviv by a team of highly experienced R&D and business leaders. Sternum has a profound understanding of embedded systems and deep insights into the dynamics of today’s threats, offering a new standard of cybersecurity for medical IoT devices. In accordance with the FDA’s pre-market cybersecurity guidelines (which included our commentary), and with unique technology that is ensuring the security of all connected medical devices, Sternum is protecting patients’ lives.

The result: Robust defense of lifesaving devices such as pacemakers and insulin pumps by mitigating known threats while simultaneously adapting to and combating new ones.

 

The company has developed two holistic solutions:

  • Sternum’s Embedded Integrity Verification (EIV) identifies and blocks cyberattacks in real time. This integrity-based attack prevention can be deployed to any medical device, including distributed and unmanaged IoT devices. EIV operates like an on-device firewall, validating each operation within the device. EIV only needs to be deployed once. Once EIV is installed, every new piece of code (including 3rd party) receives protection automatically, fitting into the low resource environment of medical devices and providing security throughout the device’s lifecycle.
  • Sternum’s Real-time IoT Event Monitoring System (RIEMS) provides first-of-its-kind visibility from within IoT devices (including operating systems and other 3rd party components) so that OEMs who manufacture the devices, enterprises who implement them, and consumers who use them are immediately alerted to indications of any cyber breach, including prevented attack attempts. RIEMS also continuously monitors devices outside managed networks, enabling OEMs to maintain control of product security for all distributed devices.

How is Sternum’s software-only product suite revolutionary in the medical IoT world?

  • Sternum, as a high-diversity and platform-agnostic solution, is the only on-device, real-time cybersecurity solution supporting all types of real-time operating systems (RTOS) and homegrown OS.
  • Sternum’s solution operates during runtime with exceptionally low overhead of 3%.
  • Because it operates in real time, the solution thwarts zero-day attacks.
  • While network security solutions fail to adequately secure today’s distributed medical devices, Sternum provides real-time monitoring of devices outside managed networks.
  • Cyberattack prevention is near-perfect when utilizing Sternum’s EIV solution; for over 170 cyberattacks, 96.5% were prevented when benchmarked with RIPE (Runtime Intrusion Prevention Evaluator).

Sternum’s unique, flexible cyber security solution for the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) can be seamlessly integrated with any medical device’s operating system and development process.

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VDOO

Founded in 2017 by serial cybersecurity entrepreneurs Netanel Davidi and Uri Alter, VDOO has raised $45 million from top-tier investors including 83North, Dell Technology Capital, WRVI Capital, GGV Capital, NTT DOCOMO Ventures and MS&AD ventures. The company currently has more than 65 employees at our offices in the US, Japan and Israel, and dozens of well-known customers around the globe including Medtronic, Stanley Healthcare, NTT and MS&AD.

With device security quickly becoming a strategic imperative for the healthcare market, product security teams that work on medical devices cannot keep making long-term decisions based on a partial picture of possible vulnerabilities at a single stage of the device lifecycle. In order to scale their ability to provide optimal security, they must replace the time- and resource-intensive point solutions they are using today with a single integrated platform.

This is where VDOO comes in. Our Product Security Platform for Connected Devices is the only automated security solution that is integrated across the entire medical device lifecycle – from design and development all the way to deployment, post-deployment and legacy. The end-to-end platform includes modules for security analysis, gap resolution, regulatory compliance, embedded protection, operations monitoring, executive insights and threat intelligence.

VDOO’s unique approach to providing optimal security for medical devices is based on the combination of our patented technology with advanced binary analysis and highly sophisticated machine learning capabilities. This is augmented by our research team, which includes some of the world’s leading embedded security experts, that has built the most comprehensive device security database available today based on the thorough analysis of hundreds of millions of binaries and tens of thousands of connected products.

The VDOO platform’s key differentiators and benefits:

  1. Contextual and focused device-specific security – Speed up time-to-market and reduce the risk of attacks by cutting out the noise and focusing on the right threats
  2. Automated security processes for the entire device lifecycle – Improve the efficiency of SDLC processes, reducing operational resource requirements across the board
  3. Verified compliance with leading standards and regulations – Increase product sales while improving customer adoption by ensuring that all devices are compliant
  4. Full visibility into the software supply chain – Reduce dependency on third parties by owning your security, thus lowering legal, monetary and reputational risks
  5. Comprehensive end-point security visibility and analytics – Monetize security as a business model by offering monitoring and protection services to end-users

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Major Web Hosting Hazards You Should Take Seriously

“I’ve read that my web hosting provider’s website that they have a good security solution in place to protect me against hackers.”

This is a pretty common answer that a lot of bloggers and small business owners gave me when I ask them if they know about how secure their web hosting is. Also, they often add that their budgets are pretty tight so they’ve chosen to go with “an affordable provider.” By “affordable,” of course, they mean ‘ridiculously cheap.”

Come on, people.

Do you really think that a cheap web hosting has everything in place to stop a website attack? Do you think that they will protect you from all types of hacker attacks?

While I don’t know everything about how web hosting providers choose security solutions, I can tell you with some confidence that a lot of them have laughable solutions.

If you don’t believe me, you can Google something like “Hacked website stories” and you’ll see that many web hosting companies, from some of the cheapest to even some well-known ones – don’t have adequate security solutions in place. As a result, lots of people have lost their websites. These horror stories are quite common, and even a simple Google search can return a lot of them.

Shocking Stats

Unfortunately, hackers are becoming more and more skilled at what they do, and stats support this. If you visit the live counter of hacked websites on Internet Live Stats, you’ll discover that at least 100,000 websites are hacked DAILY (for example, I visited the counter at 7:07 pm and it showed that 101,846 websites have been hacked since 12 am).

From what I saw on Internet Live Stats, I could tell that one website was hacked every second. This is horrible, and one of the bad things about this was that many of the owners of these websites thought that they were protected by their web hosting provider.

The next bad thing about all of this is that the number of websites hacked daily is getting higher. For example, there were about 30,000 websites hacked a day in 2013 according to this Forbes piece, but as we could see on the live counter, this number has more than tripled in 2019. If this negative trend continues, then we could easily see even more website owners losing their business on a daily basis very soon.

While this information is certainly alarming, website owners are typically to blame for the fact that their website was stolen from them (not trying to be rude here at all). If we dig a little bit deeper into the data on hacked websites, we discover that many use ridiculously simple passwords, poor hosting providers, outdated content management systems (CMS), and do other unwise things that help hackers get in.

For example, many bloggers want to focus on content writing, editing, and lead building rather than think about stuff like hosting. While content proofreading is something they could get help with by using numerous online tools like, Grammarly and Hemingway Editor, getting quality assistance with a hacked website is a whole new ballgame.

Next, there’s an issue with passwords. According to a recent survey by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), 23.2 million web accounts they’ve analyzed had “123456” as a password. Moreover, about 7.7 million people relied on “123456789” for protection of their data, while “password” and “qwerty” were also quite popular with about 3 million users each.

While a password is something that could be changed in a matter of seconds to protect your site against brute force attacks, it may not protect you from most cyber threats. This is the responsibility of a hosting provider, and unfortunately, a lot of people disregard this requirement for web security.

That’s why we’re going to talk about hosting security issues that you should protect your site from.

How Web Hosting Affects the Security of Your Website

Before we talk about major web hosting hazards, let’s quickly discuss the connection between the security of your website and the web hosting you’re using. I’m going to say this right away: choosing a web hosting provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when setting up for your website, and the implications go way beyond security.

For example, if you’re a blogger or a business owner, you’ll get:

  • A high level of protection against hackers. “This means that you’ll be able to concentrate on content creation,” says Peter O’Brien, a content specialist from Studicus. “If I selected a poor host, I wouldn’t spend so much doing the creative stuff, that’s for sure”
  • A fast loading time. People don’t like to wait; in fact, Google claims that websites that load within 5 seconds have 70 percent longer visitor sessions, 35 lower bounce rates, and 25 percent higher viewability compared to websites that load between 5 and 19 seconds. That’s why Google has released the mobile-first indexing update and designed own PageSpeed Insights tool to help users optimize the performance of their websites
  • High reliability and uptime. Most web hosting companies claim that the websites they service are online for 99.9 percent of the time, but the real time can vary and depends on the quality of the provider.
  • Better security. This one means that different web hosting providers have different security packages, therefore the websites they power have different protection from hackers. Moreover, a good host can help you to recover quickly in case if you’ve suffered an attack.

Let’s talk a little bit more about the last bullet point. So, how can one tell that their hosting provider is poor? That’s pretty easy:

  • Slow loading times. If your website loads for more than five seconds, then chances are that its performance is affected by the hosting provider that has put a lot of sites into one server
  • Frequent security issues. If your website doesn’t have backups and suffers from various cyber attacks often, then you should definitely talk to your provider (make sure that your passwords aren’t the problem)
  • Regular unexpected downtime. A poor choice of a web hosting provider often leads to this problem, which, in turn, is often caused by overloaded servers. In other words, the provider simply can’t handle the volume of visitors that your website (and other websites hosted on that server) are experiencing.

So, to sum up, the quality of hosting is essential for the success of your online venture, and making a poor choice can lead to disappointing outcomes (just remember the figures from the live counter again). But with so many websites getting hacked on a daily basis, what do you need to know to protect your own one? Read the next section to know.

Beware of these Major Web Hosting Hazards

  1. Shared Hosting Issues

Sharing hosting is a tricky business, and you don’t know how many websites are on the server where your own one lives. It’s quite possible that the number is quite high, up to a thousand, and this could be one of the reasons why your website might be underperforming.

For example, this discussion threat had some interesting information on this. A person asked how many websites are typically served on one shared server, and some of the answers were astonishing! For example, one user responded by writing the following.

Can you believe it? 800 websites on one server! Talk about performance issues, right?

While I realize that a single server can host up to several thousand websites, can you imagine what would happen if at least ten of them are high-traffic ones? Think crashes, slow loading times, unplanned downtime, and lots of other issues.

Since people are always looking to save costs, chances are that shared hosting issues will continue to impact a lot of websites.

  1. Attacks that Exploit an outdated version of PHP

It’s a known fact that about 80 percent of all websites in 2018 ran on PHP. However, since the beginning of 2019, the support for PHP 5.6x will be ended, meaning that all support for any version of PHP 5.x is gone. In other words, the sites that fail to update won’t get any security patches, bug fixes, and updates.

However, recent reports suggest that this news didn’t trigger any massive moves to the newer versions of PHP. For example, according to Threat Post, about 62 percent of all server-side programming websites are still using PHP version 5. Here are the full data.

Source: Threat Post

“These sites probably include old libraries that haven’t had the joy of an update…” the abovementioned Threat Post post cited a web security expert, as saying. “The libraries probably have bugs and security holes in themselves, never mind the hosting platform or the website code itself. In some cases library code can be updated easily, others not.”

For hackers looking for some business, this means that they have a lot of work to do. Can you imagine it: since the beginning of this year, more than 60 percent of websites stopped getting security updates!

“Faced with the urgent requirement to update the PHP version, a lot of websites owners will make a corresponding request for their web hosting providers,” shares Sam Bridges, a web security specialist from Trust My Paper. “This means that the latter will face a flood of support requests, which could translate into a slow pace of the update process.”

On top of that, some providers may not be willing to notify their users about the requirement to update their PHP versions, so a lot of websites may still be using outdated ones in the next few years.

Well, hopefully you’re not going to be one of them.

  1. More Sophisticated DDoS Attack Techniques

DDoS attacks are nothing new. However, they are still a common type of a cyberweapon used against websites that should be considered when choosing a hosting provider. In fact, the situation here is a lot more complicated than one thinks.

For example, the research suggests that the total number of DDoS attacks has decreased by 13 percent in 2018, which may seem like a positive signal by many.

The comparison of the number of DDoS attacks between 2017 and 2018. Source: Kaspersky

Unfortunately, the stats don’t provide the big picture here. According to Kaspersky, hackers are reducing the number of attempts to break into websites using DDoS attacks, but they are turning to more advanced and sophisticated attack techniques.

For example, it was found that the average length of attacks has increased from 95 minutes in the first quarter of 2018 to 218 minutes in the fourth quarter of 2018. While it means that the protection against this kind of attacks is getting better, it also suggests that the malefactors are becoming more selective and skilled.

 

For example, 2018 has seen the biggest DDoS attacks in history; one of these situations involved a U.S.-based website that reported a 1.7 TB/s assault (this means that the attackers overwhelmed the site with a massive wave of traffic hitting 1.7 terabytes per second!), according to The Register.

Source: The Register

Therefore, we may see an increase in unresponsive websites due to DDoS attacks in the next years (clearly, not a lot of websites can survive an attack like this one), as hackers deploy more sophisticated techniques.

Since a lack of DDoS-protected hosting is a major risk factor in this situation, make sure that your hosting provider has this protection in place.

Stay Protected

Web hosting is not the first thing that many website owners think about when setting up their businesses, but it’s definitely one that could make or break them. The success of your venture ultimately depends on the uptime, loading time, and overall reliability of your website, so being aware of the threats that you can face in the nearest future could help you to avoid losing your website and joining those 100,000+ unfortunate sites owners who get their sites hacked every day.

Hopefully, this article was a nice introduction to the importance of web hosting and the risks that come with it. Remember: if you want your data to be protected, pay attention to the existing and emerging risks right now and make appropriate decisions. Eventually, this’ll pay you nicely by maximizing uptime and reliability of your website.

 

Dorian Martin is a frequent blogger and an article contributor to a number of websites related to digital marketing, AI/ML, blockchain, data science and all things digital. He is a senior writer at WoWGrade, runs a personal blog NotBusinessAsUsusal and provides training to other content writers.

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Protecting Your Engineering Business from Industrial Espionage and Cybercriminals

Industrial espionage is a much more common occurrence than many people realize. As a business grows and begins to compete at a higher level, the stakes grow and their corporate secrets become more valuable. It isn’t just other businesses that might want this information, hackers who think they can sell the information will also be sniffing about.

Even if you can’t eliminate the risk entirely, there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of a security breach in your business.

Shred Documents

While hackers do much of their work from their computers, they also often rely on a number of offline methods to enhance their effectiveness. For example, social engineering is regularly used to coerce people into unwittingly undermining otherwise very secure systems. Countering social engineering is difficult, although educating your employees about it will go a long way to mitigating the risk.

If a hacker wants to access your systems but is struggling to breach your cybersecurity, they may well turn to other methods to get through your security, including rummaging through bins for any discarded documents. If that sounds desperate to you, you might not realize just how often it works.

Make sure that any documentation that contains information that would be of interest to a would-be hacker, or corporate competitor, is completely destroyed when it is no longer needed. Make sure that if you use a shredder to do this, it is one that shreds documents securely.

Don’t Print Sensitive Information if You Don’t Have to

Of course, what would be better than having to securely destroy documents would be to not generate those documents to begin with. If you don’t have to print out sensitive information – don’t! If your sensitive documents are protected by a decent cybersecurity system, they will be about as safe as they can be. A physical document is much less secure.

Keep Your Schematics Under Wraps

Anyone who has access to the design schematics of your most important products will be able to reverse engineer them and probe them for weaknesses, even if they don’t have access to a physical device. Modern engineering businesses, like businesses in a number of other industries, make extensive use of printed circuit boards. If a competitor gets their hands on your PCB schematics, they can easily copy your proprietary technology.

Designing your own PCBs using Altium.com or a similar software package means that you can produce hardware that is unique to your engineering business. This should give you an added layer of security, as a potential hacker or criminal won’t know the internal layout and therefore won’t know what the potential entry points are. However, if they get their hands on your schematics, you instantly lose this benefit.

Keep it Need to Know

Your most sensitive corporate secrets shouldn’t be given to anyone who doesn’t need them. In any business, there will be coworkers who also become friends. Even if people only see each other when they’re at work, they will often develop friendly relationships with one another. It is important to maintain a distinction between business and pleasure – don’t feel bad about withholding sensitive information from someone that you trust if there is no reason for them to have that information.

If you want to keep your engineering business secure, you need to make sure that workers at all levels understand their individual role in ensuring the security of the business as a whole. All it takes is one clueless person to undermine even the most secure cybersecurity system.

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