Posts tagged with "cybercriminals"

Graph via BeyondTrust.com for Atlas VPN for use by 360 Magazine

In 2020 Number of Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Products Exceeded 1,000 for the First Time

Microsoft products are used by billions of people worldwide. Historically, however, they are known to have many vulnerabilities that pose security risks to users of the software.

According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, the total number of vulnerabilities in Microsoft products reached 1,268 in 2020—an increase of 181% in five years. Windows was the most vulnerability-ridden Microsoft product. It had a total of 907 issues, of which 132 were critical. However, Windows Server had the largest number of critical issues. In 2020, 902 vulnerabilities were detected in Windows Server, of which 138 were critical.

Issues were also found in other Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Together, these browsers had 92 vulnerabilities in 2020. In total, 61 or even 66% of these vulnerabilities were of critical level. Meanwhile, Microsoft Office had 79 vulnerabilities, 5 of which were critical. 

Ruth Cizynski, the cybersecurity researcher and author at Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the situation :

 “These numbers are a massive problem because every Microsoft product has millions of users. Therefore, it is important that consumers update their software applications on time. Software updates can include security patches that can fix vulnerabilities and save users from getting hacked.”

Elevation of privilege is the most common Microsoft vulnerability

A wide range of vulnerabilities was discovered in various Microsoft products last year.  However, some types of vulnerabilities were more common than others. Elevation of privilege was the most frequently detected issue in Microsoft products. It was discovered 559 times and made up 44% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities in 2020.

Next up is remote code execution. In total, 345 such vulnerabilities were found last year, putting it in second place on the list. Remote code execution accounted for 27% of the total number of Microsoft vulnerabilities in 2020.

Information disclosure occupies the third spot on the list. There were 179 such issues discovered in 2020. Together, they made up 14% of all Microsoft vulnerabilities that year.

To learn more, click HERE.

Graph via Sophos for Atlas VPN for use by 360 Magazine

India, Austria, and US Most Hit with Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are one of the leading cyber threats that organizations have to face.

According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, organizations in India, Austria, and the United States are among the most hit with ransomware attacks. To compare, more than 50% of companies in the mentioned countries experienced such attacks in the past year, while the global average is 37%.

Out of 300 interviewees from India, 68% suffered from a ransomware attack. At the same time, 57 out of 100 respondents from Austria experienced a ransomware attack in the last year. Next up, in the United States, 51% of participants, out of 500 questioned, reported that they were hit with a ransomware attack.

Retail and Education Sectors Suffer the Most Ransomware Attacks

Some organizations in specific sectors are more susceptible to hacker attacks due to their lower security levels or valuable data. However, cybercriminals do not shy away from attacking even the biggest companies or government administrations.

Out of 435 respondents in the retail industry, 44% were hit with a ransomware attack last year. Hackers strike retailers when it could hurt them the most, for example, on Black Friday or Christmas seasons.

Retailers share first place with education organizations—out of 499 education interviewees 44% experienced such malicious attacks. Cybercriminals usually deploy ransomware attacks at the start of a school year to cause maximum disruption.

The business and professional services industry suffered the third most ransomware attacks, with a total of 42% out of 361 respondents stating they experienced a ransomware attack in the past year. Companies in this industry are usually smaller with less staff, meaning they might not have a dedicated person to ensure security. Out of 117 participants in the Central government and non-departmental public body (NDPB) sector, 40% reported being attacked with ransomware in the last year.

Conclusion

Cybersecurity writer and researcher at Atlas VPN Anton Petrov shares his advice on how to protect your organization against ransomware attacks.

“Prepare a plan in case you… get hacked. Always have a backup of your data so you don’t have to pay a ransom. Investing in cybersecurity will cost you less than having to deal with the aftermath of a ransomware attack.”

Like with everything else, there’s a way to protect your data in order to make sure hackers don’t get to it and cause serious financial damage.

Computer illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Your Online Privacy Is in Your Hands

Many Internet users don’t take online privacy seriously because they believe that they have nothing to hide. Even if you don’t want to secure your data from the curious eyes of big brother, you should be aware of other privacy threats on the Internet.

  • Other states: Even if you trust your own government, do you trust other states? Many foreign governments take a keen interest in the online activities of other citizens.
  • Marketers: Advertisers and other businesses use many methods to track your Internet activity to build an online profile that they can sell to other organizations.
  • Acquaintances: Many people who are curious about you will consume your publicly available data that’s of a private nature.
  • Stalkers: Ex-partners, jealous lovers, stalkers, or predators can use malicious software to breach your privacy. Some stalkerware can take your pictures and record your videos through webcams when you’re not aware. Stalkerware can also monitor your physical movements through the GPS on your laptop.

Share Your Data Sensibly

It’s a good idea to take basic security precautions on social media. Accept friend requests carefully. Verify suspicious-looking profiles to ensure that they’re legitimate. Limit posts that carry sensitive information to your friends and avoid sharing confidential information publicly.

When downloading apps, avoid handing out permissions needlessly. For example, does your fitness app really need access to your contacts, camera, and videos?

Of course, set strong passwords for all your social media accounts to keep hackers at bay. A good password should be at least 12 characters long and feature upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

Avoid Suspicious Websites and Emails

Avoid visiting unknown websites and clicking strange emails and files. Cybercriminals can infect fraudulent websites, emails, and files with malware like adware or spyware that’s designed to breach your privacy, security, or both.

Stay Wary of Strangers

Trust your instincts and be cautious. Avoid friend requests from people you don’t trust. Likewise, please don’t click on links from such people as they may be Trojan horse attacks engineered to install stalkerware on your devices. Similarly, don’t accept tech gifts from strangers. For example, a USB drive or keyboard could be a keylogger that records your keystrokes, allowing a cybercriminal to read your emails or learn your login credentials.

Find a Good VPN Service

Protect your network with a firewall and a top-of-the-line VPN service. For example, Malwarebytes VPN protection will encrypt your data with its technologically advanced software and even mask your IP address.

Without your IP address, states, threat actors find it exceptionally challenging to track you to your location across the Internet. There are other advantages to subscribing to an excellent VPN service too. For one, you can bypass geo-blocks and consume entertainment from different parts of the world. For example, a VPN can allow you to watch Netflix USA while in Canada! But please steer clear of free VPNs as they’re slow, carry spyware, and may even spy on you.

In addition to network security tools, use advanced antivirus software to protect yourself from malware like viruses, worms, spyware, adware, ransomware, and even dangerous stalkerware. With the right cybersecurity software and some vigilance, you can surf the Internet all day stress-free.

Focusing on People & Data to Distract Hackers

We live in times when it’s become easier than ever for hackers to breach an organization through social engineering. Breaches are primarily caused by phishing attacks, representing a huge security problem for businesses.

But why is this type of cybercriminal so widely represented in the statistics? What is it that makes it so easy and so profitable for hackers? We might not like the answers. The ever-increasing connectivity and focus on people and data is leaving us vulnerable to malicious attacks. To protect your business, you need to start thinking like a hacker. Let’s take a look at how they infiltrate big business and what can be done about it.

How Social Engineering Works

Since social engineering relies on personal information hackers can find online, it’s pretty difficult to counter. Before; that required some digging on the hacker’s part – now all it takes is a data-matching service like Spokeo and PeekYou, and they get all the information they might need and more. Cross-matching public records is one thing, but employees also freely share a lot of information on social media. This personal info is then used to target employees within a company with malicious emails, by posing as a trusted individual. From there, all a hacker needs to do is convince an employee to click on a malicious link or perform a wire transfer.

Are Individual Threats the Same as Company Threats?

As we can see, cybercriminals can efficiently use your social media information to reach their desired target within your company. Does that mean company executives should stop using social media altogether, or ban their employees from sharing any work-related information?

The short answer is yes. The long answer, if not “yes,” is that there should be strict policies in place about the use of social networks and what can and can’t be shared. For example, if a company executive posts about being on a business trip, hackers take that as a signal to try and perform BEC. Anything an employee posts about work projects or people they spend time with inthe office can help cybercriminals construct an elaborate and believable social engineering scam. It is why every employee must assume the whole world is watching them when they want to post anything work-related on social media.

The frequency of Social Engineering and Phishing

It’s no accident that social engineering and phishing attacks are responsible for 95 percent of data breaches. They exploit what will always be the weak link in any company’s security chain – the people who work there. Relying on traditional protective measures such as firewall, antivirus, anti-spoofing techniques, etc. cannot stop all of these attacks. Education is vital for prevention, but with these scams getting more elaborate and difficult to spot, it doesn’t ensure safety.

What Can Protect Your Business?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to worry about phishing? Good news, the worrying stops today. It seems challenging to prevent phish, but Area 1 Security offers an Anti-Phishing Service that finds and eliminates phish through a combination of web crawling and small pattern analytics. With Area 1 Horizon, your business will be safe, and you won’t be adding to the pool of $5.3 billion in losses due to phishing attacks last year.

With the ever-increasing focus on people and data, businesses are leaving themselves wide open to hackers. In those circumstances, there are two options – limiting the information hackers can get about you through social media, or investing in preemptive and comprehensive phishing protection. At Area 1 Security, we stop phishing for good.