Category: Ransomware

How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records

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How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records?

Schools handle numerous sensitive pieces of information about students and their families. Administrators must actively secure the data from unlawful disclosure by following laws, regulations, and ethical commitments.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which gives kids control over their educational data, is one of the statutes that the U.S. Department of Education is dedicated to upholding to protect students’ privacy. Schools, faculty, and employees must follow regulations governing internet safety and the protection of student data.

Data on students can easily be accessed thanks to technology. All student data must be strictly confidential to safeguard students’ rights, security, and dignity. Federal and state laws and regulations may have requirements governing the kinds of security measures that must be implemented concerning this data, but they might not list specific actions.

Unluckily, not all school districts might offer a more thorough analysis of those rules and regulations. As a result, particular precautions must be taken when protecting student data.

 

What is Student Data Privacy?

Student Data Privacy is a term used to describe the protection of student data, which can be anything from academic records to health information.

It aims to ensure that only authorized parties have access to student data and that it is used for the purpose for which it was collected.

State and federal governments enforce Student Data Privacy laws. The U.S. Department of Education has policies regarding student data privacy, and each state has its regulations.

 

Why is Student Privacy Important for Schools?

A school’s policy on student privacy should include information about what can and cannot be recorded, how often cameras will be used, and how long data will be stored. Schools should also provide students with clear information about exercising their rights under the law when school officials or third parties violate their privacy.

Students who feel their privacy has been violated should have an avenue for recourse available to them through their school’s disciplinary process.

Because there are ethical and legal limitations on the acquisition, use, distribution, and treatment of student data, protecting student privacy is crucial. Press the Tab to write more…

  • Make tailored adverts or email scam contact lists.
  • Find the emails and other contact details of your family members.
  • Grade adjustment for a student
  • View private information that should be kept confidential, including prescription medicines and learning and physical problems

Therefore, protecting student privacy is essential to averting issues like these.

 

Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records Middle7 Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records

Let’s look at some strategies schools can do to safeguard students’ privacy better.

 

1.    Purge Unnecessary Student Records

Purge unnecessary student records from your system so hackers cannot access these accounts. This is important because if hackers manage to break into your network and steal data from student accounts, there is no way for you to know who accessed it or for what purpose.

 

2.    Establish Transparency with Laws and Guidelines

Another thing that schools can do is establish transparency with laws and guidelines. These rules vary from state to state but often include policies for how long students’ records can be kept and what they can be used for after graduating high school or moving away from their home state.

This type of transparency will help ensure that students’ rights are being protected and help clarify terminology when discussing matters with parents or teachers.

 

3.    Choose Who can Access the Data

Yes, in daily life, your data must be protected, but what would happen if you had an electrical problem, perhaps in the thick of an emergency? Do you have access to the files and registers of every student?

You can purchase an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit, allowing you to continue working or accessing your files while on the premises. Alternatively, you might want to think about how to go outside the building to access your records.

 

4.    Encrypt Data

Likely, schools will still need to keep some sensitive information about children and their parents after completing minimization and cleansing efforts. Careful security should be maintained for those records using a combination of technical and administrative safeguards.

Adopting robust encryption technology to safeguard the information that is either at rest saved on a server or device or in transit, being transferred over a network, is the most significant technical control schools can apply to information. Schools should recognize equipment that houses sensitive data and implement encryption at the file and disc levels.

 

5.    Train Your Staff

Accessing student data comes with much responsibility. A school system cannot rely on the fact that staff workers always know how to handle this information in specific ways. Employees must understand how to access information safely, how to use a breach reporting system, and what to do in the event of a breach.

 

6.    Carefully Manage Data

You ought to be aware of the information that each individual or company has access to. If you handle the data correctly, you can ensure that it is treated correctly. Publishers of textbooks, for instance, do not require student addresses or phone numbers.

The precise forms of data that are required must be synchronized. Automated bi-directional data sharing is necessary for many contemporary learning management systems and can give you finer control over the data you send.

 

7.    Create a Student Data Policy

Make a plan to regularly assess the organization’s data privacy requirements since data privacy is a never-ending process. Make sure the schedule is consistently updated. Learn the fundamentals of the data gathering, storage, and sharing procedures used by your company first.

Create procedures for handling any data produced by the Internet of Things gadgets. There are more gadgets, which means there are more online targets. Preventive actions can be helpful, such as limiting bandwidth access and ensuring that devices are correctly patched and segmented.

 

Conclusion

Schools must use discretion and prudence to prevent inappropriate use of student and family information. Several basic security procedures can help educational institutions maintain public trust.

As such, a college or university must follow specific federal and state laws when handling student information. However, these laws can be tricky, especially when sensitively handling student information. For instance, a school may be required to follow specific privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) when handling student information. However, there are particular ways you can work with a school to help ensure that their student information is dealt with in a manner that complies with FERPA laws. One way to do this is to work with a cybersecurity provider expert to protect student records.

Employing a professional IT solution, such as Protected Harbor, is the best way to handle your data digitally, monitor it, and safeguard student privacy. Rated by Goodfirms as the top cybersecurity and cloud service providers in the US, we have been protecting data for all industries, including schools, for the last two decades.

From anti-malware protection, ransomware protection, and identity and access management to threat detection and response, we have you covered. Our 24×7 tech team and proactive monitoring redefine security. Contact us today to get a free cybersecurity audit.

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

As the digital world continues to grow, so do cyber threats. Cyber-attack is on the rise, and businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly aware of the risk of a cyber-attack. Whether operating in a small business or managing enterprise IT systems, it’s essential to understand why cyber-attacks occur and how you can protect your organization from them. To achieve optimal cybersecurity and reduce risk from cyber-attack, businesses need to understand their threat level and know how attackers might infiltrate their systems. This article will explain why cyber-attack occur and what you can do as an individual or business owner to prevent them from happening again.

We are excited to welcome you to another video in the series Uptime with Richard Luna. We focus on important topics in today’s threat landscape, discuss best practices, and offer advice on staying safe and secure online. Today’s video will discuss cybersecurity, how cyber-attacks occur, and how to protect yourself against these attacks. Stay tuned.

 

What is a Cyber-attack?

A cyber-attack is any attempt to breach the defenses of a computer system. It’s a broad term describing malicious activity toward an organization’s network and data. A cyber-attack can be a denial-of-service attack, ransomware attack, phishing attack, or any other malicious activity. These types of attacks can cause damage to data and systems and can disrupt or shut down a business entirely. To protect your organization, it’s important to understand why cyber-attack occur and how to prevent them from happening again.

 

Why do Cyber-attacks Occur?

There are multiple reasons why cyber-attack occur. They can be carried out by curious teenagers, state-sponsored hackers, or cybercriminals. All of these scenarios pose serious threats to businesses of all sizes. Cyber-attacks occur in three ways:

  1. Theft of Information – Cybercriminals may want to steal your valuable information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other sensitive data.
  2. Damage to Systems – Hackers might want to damage your systems by deleting information, corrupting files, or shutting down your systems.
  3. Extortion – If hackers have taken your systems hostage, they might demand ransom in exchange for releasing them.

 

Why Are Cyber-attacks So Successful?

There are a few reasons why cyber-attacks are so successful. First, it’s hard to identify an attack in real time. It’s difficult to know if your systems are under attack because it happens outside your network.  Another reason why cyber-attacks are so successful is that it’s hard to predict who will be targeted next. Economies of scale have made developing and executing large-scale cyber-attack more economically viable.

 

How to Protect Your Organization from Cyber-attacks?

Implementing a solid cybersecurity plan is the best way to protect your organization from cyber-attack. This includes conducting thorough risk assessments, identifying vulnerabilities in your systems, and implementing best practices for your employees.

Conduct a Risk Assessment – Before implementing a cybersecurity plan, you must perform a thorough risk assessment. This involves identifying your organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Identify Vulnerabilities- After identifying your organization’s weaknesses, you can determine where you’re most vulnerable. Common vulnerabilities include being attacked online, having unsecured devices on your network, or being hacked through a mobile app.

Implement Best Practices – Once you’ve identified your vulnerabilities, you can implement best practices. For example, you can use two-factor authentication on your online accounts or install antivirus software on your computers.

 

Final Words

Whether you’re operating in a small business or managing enterprise IT systems, it’s important to understand why cyber-attacks occur and how you can protect your organization from them.

With a partner like Protected Harbor on your side, you can rest assured that your business is protected against any threat. Our solid cybersecurity plans are flexible enough to accommodate changes in the risk environment and ever-evolving threats. Therefore, partnering with a company that offers a customized cybersecurity solution is important.

Contact our expert today to receive a comprehensive cybersecurity solution that keeps your company safe.

The Most Common SMB Cybersecurity Threats

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The Most Common SMB Cybersecurity Threats And How to Protect Your Business

Even though cyberattacks on small and medium-sized enterprises don’t always make news, they pose a real threat to many professionals’ lives, their jobs, and the clients they represent. Because small and medium-sized businesses may lack the backup and mitigation capabilities of some of the more prominent players, SMB cyberattacks frequently impact them.

A new report from the National Small Business Association (NSBA) finds that small businesses are the most likely to be targeted by cybercriminals. The study, which was conducted in partnership with Norton by Symantec, found that small businesses make up 99% of all companies and are responsible for nearly half of all jobs in the United States.

 

Common SMB Cybersecurity Threats and Their Prevention

The research revealed that the most common SMB cybersecurity threats include social engineering, physical access to networks and data, malware (DDOS), phishing, ransomware, etc. Let’s discuss this in detail!

 

DDOS

A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack overwhelms your network’s capacity. The United States targeted about 35% of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in 2021. With slightly under 20% of attacks, the United Kingdom came in second and China third. The most common target is the computer and internet sector.

Using numerous compromised computer systems as sources of attack traffic, DDoS attacks are practical. Computers and other networked resources, like IoT devices, can be exploited by machines.

When viewed from a distance, a DDoS assault resembles unexpected traffic congestion that blocks the roadway and keeps ordinary traffic from reaching its destination.

How to Prevent DDOS

It is not enough to choose a good hosting provider; you also need to ensure that your website is configured correctly so that it will not be susceptible to a DDoS attack. You should use an effective Content Delivery Network (CDN) if possible because CDNs can help reduce the load on servers operated by your website and thus reduce the stress placed on them during an attack.

 

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks can also come through social engineering because they use spam messages that look authentic but contain links or attachments that look like something else. Financial institutions targeted 23.6% of all phishing attacks during the first quarter of 2022.

These attacks can be hazardous for small businesses because their employees may not know how to recognize fake emails from their bosses or co-workers.

How to Prevent Phishing Attacks?

The simplest way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to educate your people on how to respond if they encounter one. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t click on links in emails that aren’t from someone you know.
  • Never enter personal information into forms in emails
  • Don’t open attachments unless they come from someone you know and trust.

Malware

Malware is malicious software that can infiltrate a network, damage files, steal sensitive information, and encrypt data. It can spread through email attachments or links in social media posts. The professional sector was the first worldwide industry affected by malware assaults between November 2020 and October 2021. There were 1,234 malware incidences in the industry throughout the measurement period. With 775 such events, the information sector was in second place.

How to Prevent Malware?

  • The good news is that there are several ways to protect yourself against malware attacks.
  • Use antivirus software
  • Keep your operating system up-to-date
  • Use antivirus software with real-time protection
  • Perform regular backups

 

Ransomware

In ransomware, data on a victim’s computer or mobile device is encrypted, and the victim is demanded to pay to have it decrypted. Ransomware affected 68.5% of businesses in 2021. This was the highest figure reported thus far and increased from the prior three years. Each year, more than half of all survey respondents said their employer had fallen victim to ransomware.

To release the data, cybercriminals demand ransom money from their victims. A vigilant eye and security software are advised to guard against ransomware infection. Following an illness, malware victims have three options: either they can pay the ransom, attempt to delete the software, or restart the device. Extortion Trojans use the Remote Desktop Protocol, phishing emails, and software flaws as attack vectors.

How to Prevent Ransomware?

A ransomware infection can’t be removed by turning off one computer and switching to another due to encryption. Getting your data back requires either recovering from a backup or paying the attackers. A malware infection can take anywhere from days (if it’s relatively simple) to weeks (if it’s more complicated).

 

Viruses

A security breach or loophole allows viruses to enter the equipment. Viruses come in various forms and are designed to damage your electronics. Computer viruses can impede computer performance, destroy or eliminate files, and impair programs. A virus can be acquired in several ways, including file sharing, corrupt emails, visiting malicious websites, and downloading destructive software. An increase in pop-up windows, unauthorized password changes to your account, destroyed files, and a slowdown in your network speed indicates that you have a virus on your computer.

How to Prevent Common Viruses?

There are many ways to protect from viruses attacks, but here are some of the most important ones:

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown sources.
  • Use antivirus software regularly. Antivirus software protects computers from viruses.

The Most Common SMB Cybersecurity Threats And How to Protect Your Business middleSQL injection

Relational databases can be accessed using the standard language known as SQL or Structured Query Language. Databases are used to store user information like usernames and passwords in apps and other forms of programming. Additionally, databases are frequently the most efficient and safe way to store various types of data, such as private bank account information and public blog postings and comments.

SQL queries frequently employ parameters to send data from users into a secure database or the other way around. Attackers can leverage the points where your app talks with a database using a SQL argument to access private data and other secured locations if the values in those user-supplied SQL arguments aren’t protected by sanitizing or prepared statements.

How to Prevent SQL Injection?

To prevent SQL injections, Use parameterized queries. Parameterized queries allow you to specify what parameters will be used in the question and what values will be permitted for each parameter. This prevents hackers from entering malicious data into your application.

 

Conclusion

Unfortunately, you can’t avoid cyber threats. But you can protect your business from them by investing in cybersecurity solutions.

Even though small businesses don’t have the same resources as larger enterprises, they can still protect themselves from cyber threats. You can start with basic security measures, such as installing antivirus software, updating your computer’s operating system, and using strong passwords. Additionally, you should consider investing in a cybersecurity solution.

Choosing the right cybersecurity service provider is just as important as the other steps your company takes to protect its data.

Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the resources to hire a full-time staff to manage their cybersecurity. That’s where a managed service provider like Protected Harbor comes in. Protected Harbor protects your data against cyber threats, including malware, ransomware, and data leaks. In addition, you have a team of experts at your side.

Our main focus is on risk reduction and breach prevention, so you can expect a lot of attention to detail regarding accounting monitoring and protection against malware, viruses, phishing scams, and other threats. The service also strongly focuses on data privacy, a highly sought-after feature among customers who work with sensitive data.

Get a free cybersecurity assessment, network penetration testing and secure your business today. Contact us today.

The Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs: Ebook Release

The Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs: Ebook Release

Ransomware is a new kid on the cyber-security block, and it’s bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “cybercrime.” With ransomware’s growing threat, Small and Mid-sized Businesses (SMBs) don’t have time to learn how to protect their online presence from ransomware. Now they need protection that is easily accessible and affordable.

The good news? With some preparation, SMBs can protect themselves from these cybercriminals without breaking the bank or sacrificing security effectiveness. Today we are excited to give you an exclusive sneak peek at our new eBook – Your Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs. Download it for free to read in detail.

 

What is Ransomware, and Why Should SMBs Care?

Ransomware is malicious software designed to block access to computer systems or data by blocking inaccessibility by the owner, operator, or other authorized personnel. A ransomware attack may happen when you least expect it, and it has become increasingly common among businesses of all sizes.

It can infiltrate your business computer systems through unsecured networks, emails, social media, and even your employees’ infected devices. Once inside a computer system, it can be almost impossible to remove, and most importantly, it can be extremely costly to get rid of.

Ransomware can pose a severe threat to SMBs. Nearly half of SMB cyber attacks are due to ransomware, making it the number one threat.

 

Don’t Be Scared; Be Prepared!

While it’s true that the best defense against a ransomware attack is not to get infected in the first place, that’s easier said than done.

The best way to prevent a ransomware attack is to:

  • regularly back up your data
  • keep your systems fully patched and updated with the latest security patches and software updates
  • use antivirus software with behavioral analysis and real-time scanning enabled
  • use an internet firewall that blocks malicious URLs
  • use strong and unique passwords for all accounts
  • avoid clicking on suspicious links
  • train your employees to avoid opening attachments from unknown senders
  • have a plan of action in place in case a malware attack hits you

Complete-Guide-to-Ransomware-Protection-for-SMBs-middle-imageHow can an SMB detect a potential ransomware attack?

If you’re unsure if you have been infected with ransomware, you can check your system for indicators of a ransomware attack. Look out for strange network activity, your internet connection dropping out, your systems slowing down, or your employees receiving pop-up messages on their computer screens. Should SMBs pay the ransom if they get hit with a ransomware attack? There is no easy answer to this question. Every situation is different, and it is best to consult your company’s IT department to determine the best action.

 

The Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs: Sneak Peak

The dangers of ransomware are real. But they don’t have to spell disaster for your SMB. The key to protecting yourself is to have a proper backup strategy, keep your systems updated with the latest security patches and software updates, and use an internet firewall that blocks malicious URLs. Don’t let ransomware take control of your company. Be prepared for these malicious threats with the Complete Guide to Ransomware Protection for SMBs.

This eBook is the ultimate guide to defending against ransomware threats and protecting your SMB from potential ransomware attacks. We’ll show you how to keep your employees educated and informed on how to avoid ransomware attacks, how to avoid becoming an easy target, and what to do if they accidentally become infected.

We’ll also show you how to protect your computer systems and data with the best anti-ransomware solutions. We’ve compiled the best ransomware protection software, tips and tricks, and expert advice to help you withstand these malicious threats and keep your SMB safe from ransomware.

Download the free ebook today, and keep reading our other resources to stay safe. Contact us today to get a free cybersecurity audit.

 

Social Engineering Email Scams to Look Out For

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Social Engineering Email Scams to Look Out For

Do you ever get the feeling that someone is watching you? In today’s digital age, it can be hard to know who might be keeping tabs on you. Fortunately, cybercriminals aren’t half as clever as they think they are. They tend to make obvious mistakes, letting us know they’re not the sharpest knives in the drawer. In other words, if something seems too good to be true or too suspicious to be genuine—it probably is.

That being said, there are still specific types of scams and email messages that seem so out of place that we have to ask: What are these people thinking? Keep reading to learn more about some of the most common cybersecurity email scams.

 

What is Social Engineering?

Social engineering is an attack that relies on manipulating people and tricking them into giving away sensitive information. While social engineering is often associated with human interactions, it can also be used in digital contexts.

In many cases, social engineering attacks occur when a hacker uses an account with the same name and email address as someone who already has access to a system. This tactic is called “social engineering with the same username and password.”

Other times, hackers might use an unauthorized account to obtain privileged access to a system. With access now granted, the intruder then conducts the social engineering attack.

 

Social-Engineering-Emails-to-Look-Out-For middleEmail Phishing Scams

A phishing scam is a fraudulent email that directs a person to visit an incorrect website and enter sensitive information. Once the information is stolen and put into the wrong hands, it is called a “phishing scam.”

There are several ways that a phishing scam might go about fooling people. For example, a malicious email might appear from a trusted person, such as a friend, colleague, or relative. The email might even include a link that directs the person to visit a website they trust, like Amazon.

 

Baiting

A bait is malware that a cybercriminal uses to lure a person into downloading a malicious file. The bait is usually disguised as a legitimate message linked to the file. Bait files are often used to spread malware through compromised websites. When a visitor visits the website, the site’s code will download the malware and infect the visitor’s device.

Cybercriminals use a variety of ways to lure people into downloading malware. For example, a malicious website’s code might trick you into thinking you must download a file to visit the website. You might also come across a link that looks like it comes from a friend or family member. Such links might appear in social media messages or emails.

 

Scareware

Scareware is malware that tricks you into believing a legitimate problem exists on your computer. After you pay to get rid of the supposed problem, the malware author demands payment again.

Scareware is often disguised as an alert that claims your computer is infected with a dangerous virus. What you are lured into paying is usually the “scare amount,” which is generally a few hundred dollars or more.

Another way scareware is used is to trick you into downloading malware, which then proceeds to charge your credit card or other financial accounts. Some of the most common scareware themes include medical problems, threats to children, and pornography.

 

Pretexting

Pretexting is a type of social engineering involving tricking someone into revealing sensitive information by impersonating someone in authority. For example, an attacker might pose as a technician and trick you into giving away your password.

A pretexting attack might also involve impersonating a friend, colleague, or family member. The attacker might call you and claim that they have missed you or that an emergency requires your attention. You might also be tricked into revealing sensitive information by an impostor pretending to be from a government agency, bank, or other financial institution.

 

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

A Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of social engineering attack that uses the credentials of an employee who works at a company to gain access to the system. Cybercriminals often use phishing emails to trick employees into clicking malicious links that give hackers access to their systems.

Another way BEC works is through “spearphishing,” — where an attacker sends a fake email that uses the email address of a legitimate employee. The fake email might use that employee’s and company names to fool the person into thinking it comes from a colleague. The fake email might also include a link that directs the employee to enter their credentials into a website.

 

Bottom line

Social engineering attacks are pretty sophisticated and involve various tricks to fool people. Besides, it is possible to steal sensitive information with little to no effort if you use a phishing email address or get tricked by a malicious website. The best way to protect yourself from social engineering attacks is to practice safe online behavior and resist manipulation.

Protected Harbor provides complete cybersecurity, including email filtering, secure network endpoints, employee training, and data recovery. The company’s mission is to protect the most sensitive digital assets from third-party theft, loss, or compromise.

We offer comprehensive protective solutions for both on-premises and cloud environments. We have a 24/7 service team with experienced technical experts who can expediently respond to critical incidents.

In addition to security monitoring and threat detection, Protected Harbor offers a full range of managed cybersecurity services, including antivirus protection, encryption, data backup, endpoint security, network security, and remote access.

Contact us today to get a free cybersecurity assessment and ransomware protection.

How Social Media Angler Phishing Attacks Target Businesses

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How Social Media Angler Phishing Attacks Target Businesses

Cybercriminals develop new methods every day for committing online fraud. This also applies to Angler Phishing, a recent type of cybercrime. This threat targets its victims via social media. The criminal gathers private information by posting false messages on a bogus social network account.

Social media is an effective tool for phishing attacks. The key to social media phishing is using personal information, such as a username and password, to trick users into revealing sensitive information about themselves. Most attacks are carried out via fake email messages, but there has also been an increase in phishing websites and malicious links.

In this blog, we’ll explain how Angler Phishing operates, how to spot it, and how to safeguard yourself against the potential loss of your data and possibly even your money.

 

What is Angler Phishing?

Angler phishing is a form of email fraud that uses fake websites to trick you into clicking on a link. This scam aims to steal your login credentials and use them to gain access to your bank account or other personal information.

The act of pretending to be a customer care account on social media to contact an irate customer is known as angler phishing. In these attacks, victims were lured into providing access to their personal information or account credentials in almost 55% of cases last year that targeted clients of financial institutions.

These scams are often spread by emails that appear to be from banks, authorities, or other reliable companies. The emails contain links or embedded images that can direct you to fake websites that appear legitimate. Once there, you’ll be asked to enter your account information — including login credentials for your bank accounts and email addresses for various social media platforms.

The goal is to steal your login credentials and use them to gain access to your bank account or other personal information.

 

How do Angler Phishing Attacks work?

Angler phishing attacks are simple but effective because they exploit a vulnerability in business-related social media accounts. In most cases, the attacker will create a web page with an identical URL address as the legitimate page they are trying to access.

When a BEC attack targets a business through social media, companies must take precautions against these cyberattacks.

 

How-Social-Media-Angler-Phishing-Attacks-Target-Businesses-middle-imageImpact Of Angler Phishing Attacks on Business

If you run a company or have a presence on social media, you should be aware of the impact of an angler phishing attack on your brand’s reputation:

 

1.   Business Disruption

A business may suffer a substantial loss due to a cyberattack, mainly if malware infestation is involved. A complete reversal of operations may be necessary to address the hack. The virus may require the company to operate on a skeleton crew or suspend operation altogether until the malware has been removed.

An interruption of business services can cause significant economic disruptions if the economy is already fragile. A cyberattack could also increase crime rates, making the situation worse.

Business disruption can result from both natural disasters and manufactured events like cyberattacks. The latter category includes everything from information theft to destructive viruses that target specific industries or sectors of society.

 

2.   Revenue Loss

Loss of revenue can have a huge impact, especially for businesses that rely on the internet and e-commerce. The costs of fraud, cyber security breaches, and other types of attacks can be very high, so it is essential to prevent them from happening in the first place.

The first step is creating an active cyber security policy that clearly outlines what the organization expects from its employees, what it will do if a breach happens and how it will respond to such an event.

Secondly, training employees about the importance of validating incoming data before acting on it is essential. Employees should also be made aware that no information should be shared with anyone outside their team without prior authorization.

 

3.   Intellectual Property Loss

Even if businesses are not protected under a ransomware attack, they risk losing user data, trade secrets, research, and blueprints. Regulatory companies, tech companies, pharmaceutical and defense providers are often hit the hardest. A company losing a patented invention for millions of dollars would no longer be able to afford to undertake the kinds of research and development that precede it.

Attempting to struggle directly with financial setbacks is simpler than you might think, but it’s far more challenging to do well without handling sensitive company info appropriately.

Trade Secrets Theft also has severe implications for manufacturers and suppliers who rely on customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track sales trends and contact lists. Suppose a hacker could access these systems and steal trade secret information such as product formulas or pricing strategies. In that case, this could seriously impair their ability to compete against other companies that have not been victimized by cybercrime.

 

4.   Reputation Effect

While the damage to reputation is the most significant consequence of a data breach, it’s not the only one. The costs involved in mitigating a breach can be substantial.

Although many companies have experienced data breaches, few have suffered the consequences. However, even though there are many benefits to having your own data breach preparedness plans, you still need to consider some risks before implementing one.

 

Conclusion

While many types of attacks from botnets or DDoS attacks use malvertising to gain access to sensitive business data, Angler phishing can potentially allow for the same. As a result, businesses need to be aware that such attacks exist and how they work to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Another tip is to be wary of links in emails. Most email links don’t go anywhere and are just there for decoration.

Many companies are likely unaware of such attacks against their networks, trying to mitigate them once they occur. The best way to avoid these attacks is to be skeptical of any links or offers you see on social media. Protected Harbor is your partner in safeguarding your business against cyber threats. With our risk-based approach to security and our experience with thousands of customers, we can create a solution that works for you. Our team of experts will assess your organization’s security posture and recommend how to improve it. We will also develop a detailed action plan to help you stay secure from phishing emails, ransomware, and threat detection and response.

We offer a free cybersecurity audit to all businesses, regardless of size or industry. Contact one of our cybersecurity experts today.

Top 10 Scariest Types of Malware

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Top 10 Scariest Types of Malware

It’s a dangerous world out there, and plenty of malicious actors lurking to infect your gadgets. You may be surprised that computer viruses can attach themselves to any of your devices, not just your computer. Malware can have devastating effects and jeopardize your personal information. Fortunately, you can defend yourself against various malware in the future, but that’s another story.

This Halloween, we bring you the top 10 scariest types of malware. Also, keep up with our other resources published weekly in Cybersecurity Awareness Month to keep you safe.

 

What is Malware?

Malware is malicious software that a threat actor uses to wreak havoc on a target company or individual. Malware is typically discovered online, including emails, false links, advertising, hidden text, and websites you (or your employees) may visit. Malware’s ultimate objective is to damage or exploit systems and networks, frequently to steal data or money.

One employee making a mistaken click is all it takes for the malware to install itself and start running its program.

Malware attacks are increasing, particularly in the wake of the epidemic. Attacks now total an astonishing 10.4 million every year, on average. Threat vectors and attack patterns are also evolving. Ransomware gangs and malware-as-a-service are more prevalent now than before the epidemic, and supply chain and ransomware attacks are also on the rise.

It’s crucial to remember that many malware attacks start as phishing or social engineering scams. Although there are technologies that people and organizations can and ought to use to stop malware attempts, user training is crucial because it protects them from social engineering.

 

List of Top 10 Scariest Types

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of Malware

  1. Ransomware- It is inarguably the most dangerous type of malware. As the name suggests, this malware is set up on a computer to prevent user access. A ransom is frequently demanded to restore control.
  2. Botnets- Botnets infect a network of computers and are typically disguised to allow third parties to operate them. Fraudsters frequently utilize them to engage in fraudulent behavior.
  3. DDOS- Also known as Distribute Denial of service. This is a deadly attack that launches from several computers, which are already infected, and floods web servers with requests until they break and users cannot access the service.
  4. APT (Advanced Persistent Threat)- This sophisticated malware will breach the system security to keep an eye on it and continuously steal data from a machine.
  5. Exploits- This malware will try to access and take control of particular activities without the user’s awareness by taking advantage of any system flaws.
  6. Backdoors- You feel helpless due to the intrusive infection controlling the system through the back door.
  7. Keyloggers- The goal of this spyware, as its name implies, is to read your keystrokes (everything you enter), exposing your important information.
  8. Phishing- This is a form of online crime. Consider it malware that sought out your personal information. The bait is frequently presented as an email to fool you into thinking it is coming from a reliable company. When you let your guard down, you inadvertently give fraudsters access to your personal information. If fraudsters manage to access your bank accounts, this might have disastrous consequences.
  9. Worms- Not so much the adorable franchise characters. They set up shop on a gadget and then spread themselves over more devices by communicating through those devices.
  10. Trojans- It seeks to blend in with other apps and open a backdoor. The name is a play on the trojan horse of old. This gives access to a vast array of harmful software that is undetectable.

 

Conclusion

There are many more malicious programs out there that you should be cautious about; these are just 10 of the worst that might infect your computer. Be sure to take precautions by installing a solid defensive system, never disclosing your personal information, and never downloading anything you do not recognize to stop your devices from coming into contact with any of these.

Malware constantly threatens your business, systems, and, most importantly, assets, regardless of its form. We continuously advise investing in your security environment and taking a proactive approach, whether through a proactive security operations partner like Protected Harbor or a proactive solution like Protected Harbor Malware Security with Threat Detection and Response.

With the help of our 2022 Cybersecurity Awareness resources, learn more about malware and other new risks.

Discover how security operations can defend your business against malware threats. Get in touch with our specialists today for a free consultation and cybersecurity assessment.

Hackers Stole My Data: Should I Pay the Ransom?

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Hackers Stole My Data: Should I Pay the Ransom?

Ransomware attacks are surging around the globe at a mind-blowing pace. In the 2022 Cyber Threat Report by SonicWall, ransomware attacks on governmental institutions worldwide increased by about 1885% in 2021. The healthcare industry alone witnessed an increase of 755%. According to a report by Cybersecurity Ventures, the total loss incurred globally was around $20 billion in 2021. According to the same report, the loss is now projected to cross $265 billion by the year 2031.

These statistics show that ransomware attacks are imminent for most companies regardless of size; it’s just a matter of when. So, in this surge, everyone wants to know if they need to pay for ransomware or not.

 

Do We Need to Pay for Ransomware Attacks?

The facts legitimize the debate over whether the ransom should be paid once the illegal encryption has compromised your important data. The answer is not an easy one; it is a double-edged sword. The theory and practice differ in answer to the question of payment of the ransom.

You need to know both sides of the coin before you conclude.

 

Reasons in Favor of Paying the Ransom

Most of the time, the companies who fall victim to a ransomware attack choose to pay the ransom. One might feel that they should have made a better choice, but given their considerations, it is never clearly an irrational decision. The affected organizations opt to pay the ransom because of one of the following reasons:

  • To Reduce the Recovery Time

The companies have to consider the time. The time required to recover the encrypted data may exceed the limit which companies can withstand. The service delivery firms may find themselves in an extraordinary situation in this regard. They may lose revenue and clients swiftly, and prolonging the recovery may be unbearable in terms of the cost incurred. Consequently, the companies decide to pay the ransom in hopes of recovering the data quickly and easily.

  • To Save Their Reputation

The companies fear that hackers may publicize the news of their victimhood if they don’t act fast and pay the ransom. The name and reputation built over decades may go down the drain with a click. Resultantly, the companies choose to pay the amount instead of jeopardizing their reputation.

  • To Avoid Huge Recovery Costs

The companies are business enterprises, after all. Rational actors make cost and benefit analyses before making crucial decisions. If they feel that the cost to recover the data might not be rationalized in terms of the ransom amount, they decide to pay the ransom instead.

  • To Protect the Information of the Clients and the Employees

Perhaps the most valuable asset at stake is the personal information of the clients and the employees. The companies can hardly accept the exposure of sensitive information, which may risk the people associated with them. Naturally, they choose to go ahead with the ransom payment.

 

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The reasons in favor of paying the ransom may be theoretically valid, but the experience, in such cases, suggests otherwise. Most security experts agree that ransom should not be spent. They have the following reasons to support their view:

  • No Guarantee of Data Recovery

As a company, you might decide to pay a ransom to recover sensitive information, but you might never get it back. Either you might not receive the decryption key, or you might not be able to locate the data where it was before the attack. Hence, you might risk dooming yourself with a payment that might not pay you back.

  • Risk of Future Attacks

This is a natural occurrence. Once you put out your weakness by paying the ransom and the word gets out, you will become a potential prey to more attacks in the future. The hackers will use the money to come back even more powerfully. Furthermore, the hackers watching the whole episode will attack you hoping to get paid as you paid earlier. You don’t wish to see yourself in such a situation as a company or an individual.

  • Blackmailing Without Any Bounds

The hackers might ask for more payments. They might steal your data, meaning getting a decryption key might not get you over the hook. The hackers might blackmail you into paying them so they don’t publicize your data. Hence, you might be in a vicious circle of repetitive payments to save your life as a company, but such payments might destroy you rather than save you.

  • Legal Troubles

There is consensus among security experts that the proceeds of cybercrimes are used to commit even more significant crimes. Around 79% of the experts in a 2021 survey by Talion advocated criminalizing ransom payments. The money which you pay might be used used to commit terrorism. National security agencies will advise you against paying the ransom to prevent the funds from landing in the hands of those who commit heinous crimes like terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking, etc. Your payment might be seen as aiding the criminals in their destructive motives by the law of your land or the country to which the hackers belong. You might end up paying for lawsuits, then.

 

Consider all the Possible Options before Paying

Let the law and the empirical evidence guide your decision. You may do the following things:

  • Paying Ransom Must Not be Prioritized

It would help if you went by the opinion of the experts. According to the empirical data, paying the hackers won’t help you in the future. Your payment will only encourage the hackers and make ransomware attacks a lucrative option for them. Don’t jeopardize your money and prestige by bowing down to the hackers, not as the first option, at least.

  • Bring Law Enforcement Agencies into Play.

Get the law on your side. You might be able to guide the law enforcement agencies(LEAs) in their quest to find more information about the hackers. Possibly, the LEAs might identify the hackers, or they might be able to prevent other companies and individuals from victimhood.

  • Look for a Decryption Key

You might be lucky enough to find a decryption key online. For this, you will have to know the attack variant first. Many online websites might help you with the recognition of the attack variant.

  • Pay Ransom as a Last Resort

After looking at all the facts and legal liabilities involved, if you believe you have no other option but to pay the ransom, negotiate wisely before paying. Tell the hackers to delete the data, if possible; otherwise, they might use it to blackmail you again.

 

Conclusion

Ransomware assaults are impossible to avoid altogether. You can best prepare for an attack and have measures in place to respond quickly. To put it in a nutshell, don’t pay unless you have to. It all boils down to proactive measures to avoid an attack in the first place rather than scrambling for help when little can be done.

Additionally, it’s essential to strengthen backups and test restores for all critical business operations. Assuming the backups are reliable and that recovering from a disaster would never be more expensive than paying a ransom for an uncertain result.

“In most cases, organizations only start testing restore after being hit by ransomware,” says Protected Harbor CEO Richard Luna.

Additionally, guarantee that executives are fully informed about the matter and participate in decision-making. The more they are aware of the hazards, the more equipped they will be to decide and defend it in court.

In conclusion, paying a ransom demand needs to be carefully considered because it is typically not wise to do so. As always, it is preferable to be proactive and invest in safeguarding your crucial data assets from cyberattacks than to be forced to take protective measures.

Protected Harbor offers single sign-on (SSO), multifactor authentication (MFA), automated password resets, isolated backups, easy remote management, and much more at an affordable price to protect your systems and data from attack by cybercriminals using a stolen or phished password. And for more than 20 years, we have been defending our clients.  Additionally, we provide both trainers and trainees with an easygoing training experience.

To learn more about how our digital risk prevention platform can help you safeguard your company and your clients from ransomware threats, get in touch with the solution specialists at Protected Harbor right away. Visit Protected Harbor to get the necessary guidance and a ransomware audit that shields you from malicious attacks.

How do I Remove Malware

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How do I Remove Malware?

Cybercriminals always hunt for more advanced ways to attack your home network or business as the world moves toward a more connected digital life. According to an FBI report, cybercrime losses grew considerably in 2021. The losses, which primarily occurred in the United States but were reported globally, were estimated at $6.9 billion last year, up from $4.2 billion in 2020.

Malware has been around for years but has become increasingly sophisticated over time. The number of new malware detections worldwide increased to 677.66 million programs in March 2020, up from 661 million at the end of January 2020. With so many people connecting smart devices to their home networks, it’s no wonder that cybercriminals are looking for ways to exploit these devices, too.

This article will discuss detecting and removing malware from your mobile devices and personal computers. Let’s get started.

 

What is Malware?

Malware is a broad term for various malicious software (or “malicious code”) intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. It includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.

It can be programmed to steal your personal information or lock up your system until you pay a ransom to unlock it. If you see pop-up ads on your screen or if your browser locks up or crashes frequently, these are signs that your computer may have been infected with malware.

Malware is often distributed via email attachments or links on websites. Often people click on the links because they are curious to see what they lead to, and before they know it, they’ve downloaded malware onto their computer.

 

Finding and Removing Malware from Your Devices

It may seem impossible to remove malware from your computer once infected. But with cautious and prompt action, eradicating a virus or malware program can be easier than you think.

 

Malware from Mobile Devices

Anyone who uses the internet frequently is sure to come across the malware. Your smartphone carries much personal information, making it a prime target for cybercriminals.

Fortunately, malware can be found and removed from your Android device.

 

Signs of malware on Android

If you’re experiencing these issues, your device may have malware.

  • Your phone is slow and unresponsive.
  • You see ads or pop-ups on your screen, even after locking your device.
  • Your battery life has decreased noticeably since you got the phone.
  • Your device has become very hot while charging or after using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Skype for a long time (this is especially common with Android devices).
  • You see “Your device needs to be restarted” error messages on your screen more often than usual (even though no apps are running in the background).

How to Remove Malware on Android?

You can get rid of viruses and malware on Android by doing the following:

  • Reboot in safe mode. If your phone is infected with a virus, you may be able to use it usually if you reboot your phone into safe mode. This mode allows you to use your phone without any third-party apps running.
  • Uninstall all suspicious apps. If your phone has been infected with a virus, there’s a good chance that some apps on your phone are also infected. To find out which ones, tap Settings > Apps > Show All Apps > Scroll down and tap on each app one by one, looking for anything unusual (such as an app that uses too much battery or data). When you find an app that looks suspicious, uninstall it.
  • Get rid of pop-up ads. If you’re being bombarded by pop-ups while surfing the web, they could be coming from malware on your phone.
  • Clear your downloads. Make sure you check every app before you install it, and never install anything from sources other than Google Play Store (or trusted third-party stores). Also, delete any apps installed without permission — especially those with strange names or icons.
  • Install a mobile anti-malware app. Several solutions offer protection against malware for Android devices, including Avast Mobile Security and AVG AntiVirus Free. These apps scan every file stored on your device for viruses and other security threats, alerting you if anything suspicious is detected.

 

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Removing Malware from MAC or PC

 

Both Macs and PCs can be infected with malware. Although PCs are usually associated with this vulnerability, Macs can also be affected. It is critical to be aware of the threat of malware regardless of the sort of equipment you have.

 

Signs of Malware on PC or MAC

Many people will be surprised when they find out they are infected with malware. You may not realize it until you notice some strange activity on your computer or mobile device. Here are some signs that could indicate an infection:

  • Your computer takes longer than usual to start up or shut down
  • Your computer runs slowly for no apparent reason
  • Strange pop-up ads appear on your screen when you’re browsing the web
  • Your computer reboots itself more frequently than usual (this happens when there are too many applications running at once)

Get Rid of Malware on Your PC

Several options are available if you’re having problems with a PC or Mac and want to remove malware. Here’s how to do this:

  • Disconnect from the Internet

If you’re using an infected computer, disconnect it from the Internet immediately. This may stop malicious programs from spreading to other devices on your network or accessing files stored in cloud services like Dropbox or iCloud.

  • Check your activity monitor for malicious applications

Your activity monitor will show all currently running applications and processes on your system. If you see any suspicious-looking methods or applications, immediately shut down those programs and restart your computer so no more files are added to those processes.

  • Use Antivirus Software

Install an antivirus program on your computer before downloading anything from the Internet. Then keep it updated regularly with automatic updates. Many antivirus programs include anti-malware features that scan files as they’re downloaded to catch threats before infecting your system. You should also check newly downloaded files with an antivirus program before opening them to know if they contain malware or run them on your computer.

  • Run a Malware Scanner

Run a malware scanner. They are designed to search for and remove malicious software from your system. These tools are often free and can be downloaded from the Internet. You can also use a paid version of antivirus software if you already have some installed.

  • Clear your cache.

Most browsers store information about websites you visit in a temporary file called the cache. This allows them to load pages faster when you return to the site because they don’t have to download all the information again. But sometimes, this data can contain malicious code that has infected your computer and should be deleted before it causes more damage.

 

Final Words

Malware seriously threatens the information stored on personal computers and Macs. New varieties of malware are found all the time, and the lucrative nature of some viruses makes them particularly appealing to cybercriminals worldwide. Practicing good internet habits and recognizing the warning signals of malware infection is critical.

If you suspect your computer is infected, act quickly to prevent malware from spreading and protect your personal information. You can take help from the experts because malware can cause serious harm to you and your business. Protected Harbor has inbuilt malware detection in the cybersecurity strategy. We regularly update our database with new malware and other virus detection so that you stay ahead of the curve. You handle the business while we handle the security. Proactive remote monitoring is not just a term we implement. It’s an approach to detecting and removing any cyber threats before they may cause chaos.

To quickly identify and neutralize any dangers or if you want a more straightforward approach, contact us today for a free IT audit.

How Do I Know I Have Ransomware

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How Do I Know I Have Ransomware?

Due to an influx of reports regarding malware viruses, most of us are aware of the impact these attacks can have on businesses. Nevertheless, most of us have experienced a malware attack of some kind at some point in our careers. Hopefully, the infection was only a minor inconvenience, but malware truly has the ability to jeopardize any critical data that organizations may be in charge of protecting.

-The key is to keep both you and your system safe.

The ransomware family is rapidly expanding, with 327 new families joining in 2017 and 127 in 2020.  68.5% of firms were hit by ransomware in 2021. Making this the highest figure reported in the last three years. The frequency of these cyberattacks is appalling; 2244 cases of cybercrime emerge daily, which translates into a crime approximately every thirty seconds. This activity is a highly organized operation that considers the use and importance of technology and data for companies and organizations worldwide.

Cybercriminals operate through intrusive software, and their work can be best understood by considering the methods they use to commit crimes. This requires a brief understanding of ransomware. This article will highlight the points that can help you understand ransomware and how to recognize it.

 

What is Ransomware?

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Ransomware is a type of malware that denies access to computer files by encrypting them with the intent to extract a ransom. Ransomware is malware that blocks access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. It’s most commonly used for financial gain but can also extort people or organizations.

Ransomware attacks have become more common over the past few years. These have evolved from malicious software to more sophisticated attacks aimed at specific targets like healthcare and government organizations.

Data is virtually wealth today, and whoever controls it has leverage over other entities in today’s ultra-competitive world. Therefore, getting hands on a company’s data or their online service provider systems is equivalent to bringing it to its knees. No amount is large enough for the company to bail itself out of the situation. Therefore, it’s necessary to take the right preventive measures before an actual disaster happens.

 

Ways to Identify Ransomware

So, how do you know whether or not a ransomware attack has invaded your company’s system? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. Most cybercriminals are quite stealthy when it comes to breaking into your system, and once they’re in, the rest of the attack is done with ease. So, where does it all start?

1. All Starts with Phishing

You might receive a seemingly normal email in which the sender poses as either a legitimate third-party company or co-worker and may attach a link that will require you to enter some private details. Once you enter your information, you have allowed illegal entry into your computer system.

2. The Emergence of Unexpected Network Scanners

The popping up of network scanning tools is another sign of a potential ransomware attack. This is how hackers hold as much information about your computer network as they can.

3. Illegitimate Intrusion Into Active Directory and Presence of Suspicious Software

Software’s are a clear-cut indication that your system has been invaded through Ransomware, as hackers predominantly use this mal-software to get hold of the Active Directories within your networks and gather information about various users.

4. A Splash Screen Might Say It All

Occasionally a splash screen may appear that blocks access to your system. This screen may also contain instructions provided by the hacker, which will tell you how to pay the ransom and get access to your data again.

5. Denial of Access to Your Data Files

In other cases, you may be unable to open your data files, indicating your data encryption. The computer might keep telling you that you do not have the required program to unlock your files, and this occurrence would be an anomaly as it was not there when you opened the same file either the other day or moments prior.

6. File Extensions Become Fishy

Your files may lack their usual file extensions like .jpeg, .exe, .pdf, etc. After the dot, it might display that it is “encrypted.” Alternatively, an extension might not be there, strengthening the possibility of a ransomware attack.

7. Your Files are Renamed

Similarly, your files may be renamed as ransomware encrypts them, throwing a major red flag on the field. Remember to check your files to see if they have been to direct your doubts about a malware attack.

8. Ransom Note Eliminates All Doubts

Eventually, you will receive a ransom note requiring you to pay the amount desired by the hacker. A most common method for you to receive this ransom note is usually through email.

9. A Dry Run of Small-Scale Test Attacks

Ransomware attacks often start with a test run that does not cause any damage to the organization yet. The attackers may want to “test” their code by installing it on a few machines without causing any damage. This allows them to see any network security that may be in place and whether or not they can bypass it. If the hackery succeeds at getting past the network security, they will launch a large-scale attack that will be far more damaging.

 

Conclusion

You are never entirely safe from ransomware when using a computer. Ransomware can cause devastating consequences to an infected system and damage your company from the inside out.

Maintaining a safe system is not straightforward, but with the proper care, it is possible. Ransomware attacks are difficult to avoid, but you can easily control them with robust security measures.

Protected Harbor has built-in detections based on industry best practices and is continuously updated to provide you with the most up-to-date protection available. With various notification options, you can be sure that the people who need to know about these events will be notified. To get the most out of these features, you might also choose to invest in monitoring services as a precaution for your company to keep track of every device on your network and collect data about its activities.

You are more likely to catch a virus within its early stages before it can infect the rest of your system and cause continuous damage. If you have a dedicated IT team on the job to help detect any potential system anomalies, you are in the right direction. Contact Protected Harbor today for a free pen-testing and IT Audit.