Tag Archives: BEC

Security News for the Week Ending November 27, 2020

Senate Passes Legislation to Protect Against Deep Fakes

While I agree that deep fakes – photos and videos that use tech to make it look like someone is saying something or doing something that they never did – can be nasty, is that really the best use of the Senate’s time right now? In any case, they did pass the legislation, the IOGAN Act (S.2904) and sent it to the House. It directs the NSF to support deep fake research and NIST measure the problem and see if they can get private companies to spend their money on solving the problem. The bill plans to allocate a total of $6 million over 6 years towards the problem. Credit: The Register

Apple’s Global Security Team Charged with Bribing Sheriff with iPads

Not only is Apple in trouble but so is the Sheriff. Apparently the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office has decided that concealed carry weapons permits can be bought and sold – or at least they can be bought. Apple offered the Sheriff’s Department 200 iPads worth $75,000 if they got the permits. The undersheriff and a captain are now charged with soliciting bribes. Other folks, including Apple’s security chief are charged with offering bribes. Business as usual. Credit: The Register

Feds Fine JPMorgan $250 Million For Failing to Maintain Controls

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fined JPMorgan Chase Bank for failing to maintain sufficient internal controls and internal audit. The OCC said the bank’s risk management practices were deficient. Probably not something you want the feds to tell you. Credit: Reuters

You Know Those Nigerian Hacker Stories – They Are Real

The feds have broken a Business Email Compromise (BEC) scam operating out of Lagos, Nigeria. So far they have identified 50,000 targeted victims and 26 different malware tools. BEC attacks are growing in size and some Russian attacks netted over a million dollars each. Three men have been arrested. Credit: Threatpost

Comcast Imposes More Bandwidth Caps

While bandwidth caps have no real effect on network performance, they do have a great impact on Comcast’s balance sheet, so they are back to imposing them across the country. If you use more than 1.2 terabytes a month, they will charge you $10 for every extra 50 gigabytes up to $100 extra a month. Unless, of course, you buy their unlimited plan for an extra $30 a month, whether you use extra or not. Or unless you rent a modem from them for $25 a month. Given that American Internet prices are among highest in the world and American mobile Internet performance is below countries like Ethiopia and Uganda (see chart), it makes perfect sense that Monopolistic Internet providers will figure out how to charge us more for less. Credit: Vice

The Trump-Bytedance Dance Continues

The Trump administration has been trying to force Bytedance, owner of TikTok to sell the company or the administration was going to shut it down. The only problem is that there are 100 million users of TikTok in the U.S. and some percentage of them are Republicans and, politically, pissing off 100 million Americans is not a really great thing to do. As a result, the administration, which told Bytedance to sell in August, gave Bytedance another 15 day extension recently and now gave it another 7 day extension. Personally, I am fine with the administration killing TikTok off; it doesn’t seem like an important national asset, but those 100 million American users/voters probably disagree with me. Credit: Cybernews

Minneapolis City Web Sites Hit by Denial of Service Attacks

Last Thursday, early in the morning, a number of City of Minneapolis web sites were disabled by denial of service attacks. The attacks are short lived and the city was able to restore most of the services within a few hours. It is certainly possible that we will see more cyberattacks as a way to continue civil disobedience. Credit: The Hill

GA Gov. Kemp’s (R) Claims that Dems Hacked his SoS Web Site In 2018 Are False

Two days before the 2018 election, then GA Secretary of State Kemp opened an investigation into what he said was a failed hacking attempt of voter registration systems by the Democratic Party.

Newly released case files from the GBI says that there was no such hacking attempt. The report says that Kemp got confused by an authorized and planned security test by HOMELAND SECURITY with a hack. Kemp’s CIO approved the scan by DHS.

The GBI did say that there were significant security holes in the web site at the time, even though Kemp said that patches to the web site two days before the election were standard practice. No one in their right mind would make changes to critical election systems two days before the election unless it was an emergency. Credit: Atlanta Journal Constitution

Chinese and Iranians Hacking Biden and Trump

Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) warned the campaigns that the were seeing the Chinese targeting Biden and the Iranians targeting Trump. Currently, there is no sign of compromise, but we still have months to go before the election. Not only is there lots of information to steal, but they have the possibility of impacting the election or causing a loss of trust by voters in the process. Credit: SC Magazine

FBI Says Big Business Email Compromise Attacks on the Upswing

The FBI has reports of multiple fraudulent invoice BEC attacks in April and May. In on case hackers used a trusted vendor relationship and a transportation company to steal $1.5 Million. They are reporting multiple incidents in different industries, so caution is advised. Credit: FBI Liaison Information Reports 200605-007, security level GREEN.

Security News for the Week Ending January 31, 2020

UK Proposes Weak Security Law for IoT Devices; Calls it Strong

The UK is proposing a law similiar to California’s existing IoT law and calls it strong security.  What makes it strong is that they call it strong, maybe?

The bill requires that default passwords on IoT devices be unique (likely part of the serial number) and not resettable to a single default password.  It also requires the manufacturer to provide a public point of contact for security researchers to report bugs and finally it requires manufacturers to tell consumers the minimum length of time they will provide security updates.

It does not require that they fix reported bugs at all and it doesn’t say how over the manufacturer will provide security updates.  It also doesn’t make manufacturers liable for the damage their bugs do.

All in all, it is a pretty weak bill and even so, it has not been enacted yet.  Source: The UK Gov web site.

 

Business Email Compromise victim sues MSP for Professional Negligence

A Business Email Compromise victim who paid fake invoices to the tune of $1.7 million to businesses in Hong Kong and Cambodia is suing it’s managed service provider (MSP) for messing up.  The fake invoices came from the business owner’s hacked email account which the MSP was supposed to protect.  Source: Channel Futures

 

Travelex Says They Are Back Online

After a MONTH of downtime, Travelex says they are now back online.  They are still saying that it won’t impact their 2019 or 2020 financials.  Sources say that part of the losses will be covered by insurance.  This calls out the importance of having a tested incident response, disaster recovery and business continuity program – and the importance of having cyber insurance.  Source: Reuters

 

Apple Dropped Plans to Encrypt Cloud Backup After FBI Complained

Apple dropped plans to fully encrypt iCloud backups after the FBI told them that it would harm investigations according to multiple sources.  They often turn over iCloud backups to help police investigate crimes.

While Apple publicly says it protects your privacy and in many ways they do, sometimes they make business decisions that they would prefer their customers not  know about.  Source: Reuters

 

Extradition Hearing for Huawei’s CFO has Begun in Canada

The extradition hearings for Huawei’s CFO and daughter of its founder, Meng Wanzhou, have begun in Canada.

The U.S. says that she and her company violated the U.S. ban on selling to Iran.  China says it is a political stunt.

Currently, she is free on bail and living in one of the mansions she owns in Vancouver.  If she gets extradited to the U.S. her accommodations will not be as comfortable.

On the other hand, President Trump has indicated that all things with China are bargaining chips.  Stay tuned;  it is a long journey.  Source: The L.A. Times

Weekly Security News for the Week Ending December 20, 2019

Retailer LightInTheBox Exposes 1.6 Billion Customer Records

The challenge with today’s big data world is that the breaches are enormous.  LightInTheBox left customer transaction data exposed due to, apparently, a server misconfiguration.   They effectively breached themselves.  The data was a web server log with dates from Aug  9 to Oct 11 of this year.   It appears that there was no payment data in the log files, which is a good thing.  Also, they did not figure it out;  a security researcher told them about it.  1.6 billion records will cause them some pain.  The good news is that this happened before CCPA went into effect.  This time next month and it would have been a much, much more expensive breach.  Source: SC Mag

Facebook, Twitter Disable Sprawling Pro-Trump Disinformation Operation

Facebook and Twitter this week disabled a  global network of hundreds of fake accounts distributing pro-Trump messages which used AI to generate fake photographs to cover its tracks.  The accounts, they say, were associated with two media groups, the BL and Epoch Media.  They said that the accounts were suspended because of their tactics and not because of their content.

Facebook said the BL was linked to hundreds of fake accounts that posted political messages at high frequencies and attempted to direct traffic to their web sites.

On Facebook alone, the disabled network had more than 600 accounts and had purchased $9 million in advertisements.  Twitter deleted 700 accounts.

Some of these activities were linked to the countries of Georgia and Saudi Arabia.

It looks like 2020 election engineering activities have already begun.  Source: WaPo

Business Email Compromise Scams Google and Facebook out of $120 Million

While $120 million to Facebook and Google is kind of like $120 to you and me, still, it is impressive that the hackers were able to present $120 million of fake invoices and fake supporting documents  like contracts.

One of the hackers was caught and made a plea deal for 60 months in jail and fined $26 million.  Source: The Register

While British Politicians Demand Facebook Doesn’t Encrypt Your Messages, They Switch to Signal So Their Messages Can’t Be Read

At the same time that the Brits, Australians and U.S. are demanding that Facebook doesn’t encrypt Messenger messages in a way they can’t read them, they are shifting their own messages from WhatsApp to Signal.  The reason?  They don’t want their messages to be intercepted.  Source: The Register

Credentials Can Now Be Extracted From iPhones

iPhones have a well deserved reputation for being secure, but now the Russian software company Elcomsoft says that they can extract some information from iPhones, even before its first login after power up, the most secure state.

They are using the Checkm8 vulnerability in the boot ROMs of most iPhones before the iPhone 11 that, it appears, will be impossible to fix.  If you have $1,495, you, too, can hack into anyone’s iPhone that you can physically get your hands on.  In theory, they only sell to good guys, but that definition is probably a bit loose.  Based on the price, the cops probably love it as they have complained that encrypted devices stop them from solving crimes.  Source: 9to5Mac

$1.3 Billion is a Lot of Money

The FBI says that reported losses due to Business EMail Compromise attacks reached a whopping $1.3 billion in 2018, double the losses reported in 2017.

On the other hand, the number of ransomware complaints is down to levels reported in 2014.

There were 20,373 Business EMail Attacks reported last year, compared to 15,690 in 2017.   The losses in 2017 were $676 million, but increased to a whopping $1.297 billion last year.

For ransomware attacks, there were 1,783 attacks reported in 2017 and 1,493 attacks last year.   This represents $2.3 million in 2017 and $3.6 million last year (fewer attacks but more cost).

The Securities and Exchange Commission reported late last year that they investigated around a dozen companies who spent $98 million on Business EMail Compromise scams.

Also remember that this only represents what was reported to the FBI.  The total costs are unknown.

This probably means that people are getting better at backups and having emergency plans, so other than the massive ransomware attacks, people are beginning to understand what they need to do in order to avoid paying the ransom.  Are you prepared?

On the other hand, it apparently means that businesses have not gotten their arms around sending money to scammers.  The dollars basically doubled from 2017 to 2018.  That is not a good sign.

The attacks are, for the most part, straight forward.  Usually they send someone an email saying change the destination for a payment (ACH or wire into the scammers account) or create fake invoices and see if they get paid.  Creating some processes should really reduce the likelihood of falling for an attack.  One common thread to these scams is that they try to create a lot of urgency around getting the money out to them.  They probably figure that the longer the request is in accounting, the greater the chance that the scam will be detected.

Train your employees to resist the temptation to respond to the urgency, to walk down the hall to executive row if some large or odd request comes in and follow the defined payment processes.

$1.3 billion is a number that is enough to get my attention.  Does it get your attention?

Source: ZDNet.

New Business Email Compromise Scam Variant

Some of the most popular business email compromise scams (BEC) target accounting and finance or human resources.

The scam usually works something like this.  Someone in the target department – often not too high up in the food chain –  gets a email pretending to be from an executive like the CEO or CFO.

The email urgently requests something like all of the W2s from last year or a wire transfer for a secret project.

The mid-level person, wanting to please the executive and being told that there is urgency, quickly processes the request without  the normal thought process.

Over the past couple of years, this has led to billions of dollars of losses, but companies have been doing extensive employee training so this attack is not working as well as used to.

So now a new attack method has been added to the mix.

Steal the credentials of employees, log on to the HR platform and change the direct deposit information.  The employee is completely unaware of this until they don’t get paid.  The attacker has already emptied the account by the time that the employee talks to HR.

Now the company has a problem:

  1. Do they believe the employee that he or she didn’t change the direct deposit instructions.
  2. The employer did nothing wrong so do they just eat the loss and pay the employee twice.

I suspect that most employers will make the employee whole and the law could be on the employee’s side, depending on the state.

If that vector doesn’t work, target the HR employee.  Using that account the attacker could change several paychecks at once and get a bigger payday.

Or both.

There are a number of things that an employer can do to protect themselves and their employees.

First of all, if you are do not have two factor authentication in place, do that now.  If you are using an outsourced Payroll/HR system and that vendor doesn’t support two factor authentication, “encourage” them to do that by including a contract clause to make them financially liable for any losses caused by their lack of two factor authentication.

Geofencing is the technology that restricts access to your HR system to a limited geographic area.  For example, if your company only operates in the continental U.S., block access from any I.P. address outside the U.S.  While this is not perfect, it does make it harder for the hackers.

Finally, generate a report just before the payroll run (assuming the hackers will try to make changes at the last minute so that it can’t be undone in time) of all direct deposit changes during that pay period.  If the number of changes or the location of changes or anything else seems out of whack, sound the hacker alarm.

And of course, educate people.

None of these changes should be particularly expensive or hard to do and could save you significant pain.

Source: Helpnet Security