Are You Paranoid? Anatomy of a Successful Hack

Posted on: February 25th, 2019 by jiml | No Comments

Are you paranoid? If so, good! Studies have shown that users who are paranoid about data security are actually more secure! A recent study from Datto, also reported that only 36% of small to medium sized businesses feel ransomware is a significant threat. Compare this to those that work in the Information technology field where that number jumps to 89% who feel ransomware is a significant threat. This is a very large gap between the general public and those in the technology field. Perhaps technology professionals deal with data security on a daily basis and are more in-tune with the threats. Regardless, it is surprising that only 36% of small to medium sized businesses take ransomware seriously. It might pay to be a little more paranoid.

In addition to ransomware, there are other significant threats out there. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, the majority of successful hacks start out as phishing emails. Phishing emails are much more sophisticated than in years past and hackers identified where they are going to make their money. The tactic is to attack people working in finance and management. Executives and finance workers are the primary targets of Business Email Compromise attacks.

Anatomy of an Attack

The hacker will send phishing emails to attempt to trick the user into entering their email credentials. They accomplish this by simulating emails from various popular email platforms like Microsoft Office 365 or Google’s G Suite service. There is a good chance at least some of the people they are phishing will use one of these popular services. Once the user enters their credentials, the damage is done. The hackers will immediately download the users email and later scour it to see who they might be able to attack next to extract money, like a payroll company, or  a customer or vendor. They will use web mail services to gain access to the phished users account and be able to send out emails as that user. (Legitimately coming from their account!) They will set up email rules to deliver responses from targets to themselves and ensure that the unsuspecting hacking victim in finance never sees the correspondence. They will send emails to payroll providers saying, “Please set up a 1099 worker quickly and wire them a paycheck to this account” or email a customer saying, “Please pay this old invoice ASAP or services will be discontinued”. The receiver will see this email as legitimately coming from the hacked finance user, someone they know. The victim may even correspond with the hacker via email asking questions, thinking they are talking to their finance contact. The unsuspecting hacked finance user will never see these conversations.

These attacks are the fastest growing type of attack statistically. They are a real threat to your business. How can you protect your business? Here are a few of the top methods:

• Educate users about the threat
• Enable two-factor authentication for email
• Disallow forwarding to external domains
• Ensure quality spam filtering
• Set SPF records for your domain
• Perform phishing simulations

Are you paranoid? Perhaps the better question is “Are you paranoid enough?”. The threats are real and businesses suffer financial harm every day as a result.

If you would like to discuss how better protect your business, call us at 888-600-4560, email us, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

 



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