Cyberattack – Why are we so vulnerable

By the end of 2022, it is predicted that not for profits, associations, charities and SMEs will face more than 50,000 cyberattacks per day.

99% of those attacks are automatic, random generated attacks that can be counteracted by available basic systems (AV, Firewalls, SPAM filters, SPAM blockers).

These automatic random attacks are created by in-training cybercriminals and cyber activists (script kiddies).

Although the numbers are astounding they also indicate that we need to be vigilant at all times.

Because we still need to address that 1%.

That approximate 500 attacks are targeted at YOU and your organisation.

That is focused on gaining access to your stuff, stealing your money or encrypting your data.

How do we stop that?

We do not and can not stop it by believing “it will never happen to me”, “we are not a target” “we have nothing worth stealing”

We stop it by being proactive.

We stop it by taking security seriously.

We stop it with increased awareness!

We stop it with capability.

Doing nothing is not an option.

If you are frozen like a kangaroo in the headlights of a fast-moving truck then you need a push

A push in the right direction.

A direction that delivers better business security.

Like any complex and dangerous journey, we start with a single step.

That first simple step is to have a conversation with someone like me.

Cyberattacks

Ransomware – why is it such an issue?

In 2020 we saw a 100% increase in ransomware attacks.

In 2021 we saw a 100% increase in ransomware attacks.

Ransomware attacks are literally doubling each year.

This year can we expect any differently?

With those sorts of statistics, we should be afraid, very afraid.

But we are not.

You would think that we would be concerned.

But we are not!

In fact, in most cases, we make it overly easy for a cybercriminal to steal our stuff.

We need to look at this another way as the bad guys have changed – again.

On the internet, there is now “Ransomware as a service”.

As a criminal, If you have a little bit of money you can get a system that creates and delivers malware to anyone on the internet.

With the success of ransomware, they are guaranteed to make money.

We have to do more.

More than what we are doing because it is not good enough

We still use bad passwords.

Have you done a password review?

We have complete backups.

Have we ever tested them?

We have patched systems and operating systems.

Are there any systems that have not been patched?

How do you avoid a ransomware attack?

Is there recovery from ransomware?

That really does depend on you.

A ransomware attack can happen to anyone, at any time and on any systems.

If you think it will not happen to me then you could have a problem.

Ransomware is the scourge of cybercrime.

It can be enacted by people who have no technical knowledge and are just following a script and system that was downloaded from the internet.

It can be enacted by sending a couple of thousand email to a list of people that they purchased on the internet.

It can be enacted by targeting a group of internet addresses that they thought would be lucrative.

There use to be a thing called “security by obscurity” where you can hide on the internet and we’re relatively secure.

 

That capability is no longer a viable defence strategy.

If you think you will never be targeted, too small or have nothing worth stealing and you do have a cyber event there is little chance of you being able to recover.

But

If you have a different attitude.

If you think the opposite.

Then there is a chance that you will not be a victim.

If you think that you could be a target then you are already thinking about your response.

You are already thinking proactive.

You are ready to think of contingencies.

Even if you do have a ransomware attack then you already know and your team already knows what to do because you have thought about it.

You have plans, processes, procedures and policies in place.

If you have tested them and improved on them then that makes it even more possible that you will survive.

The old adage expects the best but plan for the worst is prevalent today against the cybercriminal.

Why didn’t I insure my bike?

wHAT iF

When I was in the Navy, I was based at Garden Island in Western Australia on and off for 5 years.

In that time I was relatively fit and I represented the Navy in a number of sports.

I would pedal to work (20Km each way) at least 4 days a week.

On a good day 40 minutes from the front door to the office.

90 minutes on the way home because you had to stop at the pub to get the goss

If you know the island you know that there is one problem.

No matter what direction you were going morning, afternoon or even if you had the luxury of knocking off early, you ran into the wind

On the causeway, the easterly and the sea breeze were always in your face.

Both of them could get up to 40Km per hour.

The only consolation was the flatness around the area.

One day my bike was stolen.

Taken out of the backyard.

It wasn’t until it was gone did I realize what it was doing in my life, apart from keeping me fit.

I didn’t have to drive so the wife could have the car to ferry the kids and do all of the other stuff she needed to do.

I didn’t have to drive so there was always extra money in the budget for everything we needed.

I could no longer come and go as I pleased, I now had to fit in with everyone else.

I could no longer go to the pub on the way home.

In fact, apart from the initial cost, the bike had cost me nothing.

This is what is happening in the digital world.

We do not know or understand the heavy lifting that our digital devices and services are doing for us.

That is until they are gone.

When they are gone, we realize that the business, organisation, association or ourselves have taken them for granted.

They were doing everything.

So an accidental loss, a cyber event or an insider will cause havoc unless you have stood back and thought:

What If?

What if we turn it all off?

Now what!

That “what if” makes you proactive.

It builds in resilience.

It is the first step to increased revenue, improved capability and scalability.

Have you looked at the business and thought WHAT IF????

Cybersecurity for the C suite executive (CEO, CFO,COO)

Cybersecurity for the C suite executive (CEO, CFO, COO).

Lets look at the facts!

No matter the size, shape or industry of an organisation.

No one is fully prepared for a full-on, bare knuckles, cyber ninja assault.

We are not talking about a random attack.

An attack that is being perpetrated against your organisation with Metasploit and a new copy of Kali.

This attack is from Mr. Creepy!

He knows what he is doing.

He knows what he is after.

But, more importantly, he also knows how to get it.

He has studied your organisation for months to find your weaknesses.

He has the skills and resources (very important) to break in and steal your crown jewels.

These are the people who give my industry grey hairs and stress lines.

Thinking that there is no way that you would be targeted by a professional is a grave mistake.

Because It no longer needs to be a professional!

They are quite happy to train others in the required skills.

They are quite happy to sell others their expertise.

They are quite happy to tell others where they are going wrong.

They have created capabilities and skills that they have incorporated into something to sell.

This increases the capability of the inexperienced cybercriminal immensely.

Want to avoid being on the radar as a prime target then YOU NEED TO DO SOMETHING.

Here is something to start with.

Cybersecurity checklist

#nonprofits #ExecutivesAndManagement #AccountingAndAccountants #ProfessionalWomen #ceo #CareMIT #cybersecurity #infosec

How to avoid being a target of script kiddies!

There is a huge difference between a cyber attack generated by a script kiddy running an automated system and one where you are being targeted by a dedicated hacker.

For one, if you are targeted by a dedicated hacker then you already know that you have something worth protecting and you have, hopefully, done something about it.

The biggest problems with cyber attacks on the internet are that 95% of them are coming from an automated system controlled or managed by trainees (script kiddies).

Automated systems have three reasons they are used:

  • They are easy to get.
  • They are easy to use.
  • They are easy to make money out of.

They are easy to get!

There are a number of ways for anyone to get hold of an automated system. They can download an operating system that has an automated system running on it. Kali, Parrot OS or Black-arch are all very good examples but there are others.

Designed as penetration testing tools, these systems have all of the requirements that they need to target organisations, multinationals, or anyone connected to the digital world.

Before you ask, yes it is all legal and above board as long as you are not targeting someone else.

To make these systems more effective they allow them to either download additional components from GitHub or design and program your own applications.

They are easy to use!

The old saying that whenever anything is free you are the product rings true with these systems as well. The creators of these systems keep track of people using them and incorporate any updates into their own releases.

To set up one of these systems all you need is a computer. Once you have administrator access to a computer you can download a virtual environment (VMware if you have some money or Virtual Box for free) and you can then install these operating systems as a virtual operating system.

You can even run the operating system on a microcomputer (Raspberry Pi) for under $100.

Once set up you now have access to the tools and capabilities that, if used correctly, can rival someone who has been in the industry for years. Almost like a novice woodworker creating a dovetail joint on their first try without knowledge of what to do.

No training, just using other people’s knowledge.

In addition, and a bigger issue, what they do not know can be learned or discovered by simply searching google.

The capability and effectiveness of these systems allow them to set up the automated attack and target a huge number of vulnerable systems based on blocks of internet-based addresses.

Simply they can find out if there is a targetable vulnerability just by using facets of the automated systems.

They are easy to make money out of!

These free operating systems have the capability of making money.

To make serious money, though, you need to work with partners. Working with partners can be both beneficial as well as detrimental to their own security.

When it comes to making money it is either through selling information on the dark web, selling cryptovirus decryption keys to vulnerable people or selling access to compromised systems to leverage other attacks.

How to avoid being a target of script kiddies.

To avoid being a victim you need to implement some protective strategies.

You need to apply the CareMIT business security methodology to the organisation but to start at the basics this is what you need to do:

  • Patch and update everything – operating systems, application and to really be secure remove anything that you do not use from the system. This is applied to computers, websites, servers, and smart devices.
  • Disable macros – do not allow macros to run on the computers
  • Use complex, unique and more than 12 characters for every site, service or system in the digital world
  • Use 2 factor or multi-factor authentication. If you manage websites or other cloud-based services make sure the third level of security is in place – captcha
  • Only allow good applications to run on the system. This is called application whitelisting and only approved applications are allowed to run. There are some anti-virus systems that allow you to do this.
  • The last one is critical to your sanity – DO A BACKUP. All the bad guys have to do is win once. A backup ensures that if and when they win they have not really won.

At the basic level, the users of these automated systems are just as vulnerable as the people that they are targeting. A severe case of “user beware”, because if you do not configure the system correctly you are just as vulnerable as your targets.

At the most fundamental level, we all know that most people between 13 and 30 have a limited ethical attitude and good and bad is debatable.

That’s why we have the proliferation of these systems.

Secure your business!

Get proactive!

Do the scorecard!

Read your report!

Linkto scorecard https://caremit.scoreapp.com

#ceo #ExecutivesAndManagement #ProfessionalWomen #CareMIT #cybersecurity #infosec

All organisations must face up to their business security requirements

Since small and medium businesses, charities and not for profit organisations are now the bread and butter of cybercriminals targeting.

Isn’t it about time that we started to look at the reasons?

Reason 1 – SME’s have a lack of expertise!

The digital world is complex.

Every area requires a different set of skills and knowledge.  There are areas where some of the skills and requirements flow from one area to another, but these are definitely an uncommon occurrence.

The skills to implement and manage a website are different from networking which in turn are different from the requirements for coding.   Its not the fact they are different, the problem is the required level of skill to do it correctly.

Anyone with a little bit of help can write code, but to write it correctly, securely and properly requires years of skill and practice.

When it comes to the business world, we have a significant requirement for using the digital world.  In most cases, we see the introduction of a digital component into an organisation as easy.

It is not.   To implement and configure is easy.   To implement and configure securely, correctly and in a way that will benefit the organisation takes more than a fundamental underlying knowledge.

Reason 2 – SME’s have a lack of time!

Most SME’s are doing more with less just to keep themselves in profit.   Throw in another complicated process or system and they now have more to do with the same amount of time.

Business security takes time.   To secure an organisation takes time.

A solution is to employ someone on staff to manage the ICT and we will then give him the role of security professionals.   Getting someone with the required skills will cost money.

The second alternative is to enter a service level agreement (SLA) with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) and contract the support of the OCT and security to someone else.   Again this requires the correct skills as well as culture.

Both options will free up some time.

Reason 3 – SME’s have a lack of money!

Security solutions for SME’s can be expensive.   When it comes to technology and the integration of different technologies into the business environment we see some significant costs.

Comparing the costs of a breach to the costs of putting the right technology in place, it is a no brainer, but not until after the fact.

SME’s have the same compliance and governance of multinational corporations but do not have the resources to implement tier 1 or 2 technological solutions.

They make do with what is available and inexpensive not realizing the impact of these additional vulnerabilities can have on their business.

We know the problems here are some solutions

To reduce all three of these issues, as already mentioned is a contractual agreement with an MSP or a Managed Security Solution Provider (MSSP).

They bring the required expertise, they free up time and in most cases they are a viable and cost-effective.

A better solution is to look for an Organisation that has normal MSSP skills but has the capability to add additional security components around your Organisation.

Why 2022 could be a bad cybersecurity year for SME’s

SME’s are a prime target for cybercrime.

They have reduced expertise, minimal money, and an attitude, we are too small to be a target, that leaves them wide open to a cyber event.

Our industry, the people who know and think we understand the bad guys have been pushing for an attitude change for the last 10 years. In a large number of ways, we have failed, especially in the SME space.

In some, we have failed significantly.

By the time we get called in, after a cyber event, it is way too late.

To late to recover, too late to respond and definitely too late, in a number of organisations, to get back to business as normal.

Most SMEs, after a cyber event and especially after a ransomware attack, have but 3 choices,

  • pay the ransom,
  • recover from backup and hope you have a decent backup (a decent, tested backup is vital, no matter the situation)
  • or go out of business.

Here are 3 cybersecurity strategies that every SME should implement to be more secure and avoid that devastating cyber event.

Training users

Increased awareness of business security in a workplace is vital in today’s business world.

Not many businesses know where to go to get that training.

Training needs to be done as an ongoing process.

Once or twice a year is inadequate. But training and education has to be easy, bite-size pieces, easily digested, easily implemented and easily followed.

In addition to ongoing training, you also need to incorporate business security into your onboarding process to instill the required cultural elements into new people on staff.

Want some free cybersecurity training, here is something that will definitely help
https://wizer-training.com/partner/caremit

Risk management and gap analysis

SME’s have a limited understanding of the new risks delivered to the business via our digital components.

The game has changed significantly in the last 10 years and we, as small and medium businesses, are constantly playing catch-up.

We are significantly hampered and handicapped by the impact and scale of our digital usage.

It is everywhere, used in every component and used all of the time.

To understand the risks without understanding the systems you need some help.

Here is some help for you.
Https://CareMIT.scoreapp.com

With the report, you can now implement a gap analysis and work out what you need to do to increase security around your organisation.

The report also ties in well with:

Implemented a framework

If you are looking for a better way to manage security within your Organisation, you need to look no further than a framework.

A framework is a documented system that allows an organisation to follow the bouncing ball and tighten up the security in a regimented way.

The more the components of the framework are implemented the more secure and mature the organisation.

Frameworks are easy to follow and implement and the one I recommend is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework.
https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework

Answer the 98 questions, honestly, and you now have a road map to implement cybersecurity in a significant way.

The NIST cybersecurity framework also gives you a number.

Between 0 – 4, it can be used as a comparison between businesses, supply chain components, and government departments so you can do business with like-minded organisations.

What can SME’s do?

It is not too late to implement any of these strategies. The bad guys are getting more and more clever, so time is running out.

They are targeting everyone who is connected to the digital world, the internet, with more sophisticated systems, a number of them are now fully automated.

Some of those automated systems have minimal human involvement after the initial set up.

From initial social engineering attack, all the way through to payment of ransom everything is automated and driven by machine learning.

Every SME should be implementing a training and education process, doing a risk and gap analysis and implementing a cybersecurity and business security framework.

With that everything else will follow.

The business will be more stable, the culture of the organisation will change and getting back to business as normal after an attack can be significantly easier.

The impact of a cyber event for an organisation implementing these 3 components or not is significant.

If you haven’t implemented these 3 strategies in the last 12 months, 2 years or 5 years then 2020 is going to be a bad year.

But it’s not too late.