Category: Ransomware

If you notice these signs, our smartphone has been compromised.

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Your Smartphone Has Been Hacked If You Notice These Signs

Your smartphone is your constant companion. It’s your source of information, entertainment, and social interaction, all in one small device. Most people check their phones at least 20 times a day, which makes them an attractive target for hackers and cybercriminals.

However, security features on most smartphones have made it pretty tricky for hackers to break through and take control of the device without you knowing about it. That doesn’t mean you can let your guard down or give hackers any opportunity to breach your phone’s security measures.

It will help if you remain diligent in keeping from being hacked. If you see any signs indicating that you have been hacked, take action quickly before it has a chance to do further damage to your data and access more personal information.


What causes this to happen in the first place?

To hack into your phone, a person doesn’t necessarily need to be a hacker. While you’re sleeping, someone may bring your phone up to your face and unlock it. With only this one action, they can look through your smartphone secretly.

There is also software that accomplishes the task. Stalkerware is intended to follow you using your location, call logs, messages, photos, browsing history, and other methods. Behind another app that appears to be unimportant, this malware may be disguised.

Your phone may become infected by malicious links and files without your knowledge. Even seemingly innocent PDF files can contain dangerous information. Because of this, it’s crucial to click with caution.

How about apps? Unreliable downloads may mimic well-known applications or attempt to con you into downloading and using them. When you do this, malware is installed on your phone.

There is also a much more focused technique known as SIM swapping. The criminal disconnects your previous connection and transfers everything to the criminal’s device by calling your phone company, pretending to be you, and asking for a new SIM card.


Your-Smartphone-Has-Been-Hacked-If-you-Notice-These-Signs Middle

Signs to Look Out For

How can you tell if your phone has been compromised? Here are some warning signs:

  • Your phone is being slowed down by too many processes operating at once, or it can just be malware using up many resources as the sole offender. Your phone may become heated as a result of this.
  • Your battery is depleting significantly more quickly than usual.
  • Significant increases in data usage may be a symptom of malware like adware that operates covertly.
  • Spammy pop-ups clearly indicate that a malicious program has been installed on your phone.
  • Malware can cause your internet to slow down by diverting your traffic to risky servers or simply using up all of your capacity to steal more data from you or target other people.
  • Off your phone, there may be some indications, such as emails you don’t recall sending or odd social media posts.

Tap or click here for Top 5 Email Scams You Need to Look Out for This Month.


How to stop hackers from getting onto your Smartphone?

A little work can go a long way in preventing malware and hackers from accessing your phone.

  • To start, always maintain your phone’s security patches and updates. 
  • Turn on two-factor authentication for each account that supports it. Read our comprehensive 2FA guide.
  • Avoid clicking on shady or uninvited links. This includes emails, internet adverts, and messages from friends.
  • Keep in mind that your home or business network is neither secure. For advice on how to secure it to keep snoops and bad guys out, tap or click here.


Take action right away if you discover any of these indicators that you’ve been hacked so the hacker can’t access more of your data or cause more damage. Your first step should be to power off your device and change your passwords, especially for social media accounts. Next, report the breach to your phone carrier and contact customer support to see what they can do to help. Finally, clean up your phone and make sure to keep your device protected in the future to avoid being hacked in the future.

Protected Harbor provides mobile security, data security, and identity protection. These services protect your company’s data, sensitive information, and valuable assets from cyber threats. In addition, we provide you with email and web security that blocks malicious content and stops data leaks. Our advanced threat protection gives you real-time protection against malware, ransomware, and other cyber threats. We also provide an integrated security operations center to monitor your network and devices, giving you complete peace of mind.

You can also contact our support team with questions or issues, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. With Protected Harbor, you can be sure that your company’s data is safe. So what are you waiting for? Secure your devices and network today! Contact us now.

Real Estate Sector in Suffolk County Destroyed by Cyberattack

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Suffolk County Real Estate Industry Crushed by Cyberattack

Following a cyberattack on the Suffolk County government earlier this month, real estate transactions have come to a halt.


Since the cyberattack more than 20 days ago, verifying property titles and filing paperwork has been challenging, which has abruptly halted all deals in the county, according to The Real Deal. On September 8, The Suffolk Times reported that a breach by a group known as BlackCat knocked down county websites, servers, and databases.

It’s been stressful for real estate professionals in the New York area. While this may seem like just another insignificant cybersecurity issue, the implications are much deeper than we can see. In this post, we’ll dive into what happened, why it’s so concerning, and how to stay safe.


What Happened?

The Suffolk county cyber attack crippled the county clerk’s office, which is in charge of documenting paperwork and assisting with records searches for properties, and shut down the county’s internet systems last month.

Due to title companies’ inability to accurately scan county databases to confirm that the properties don’t have any liens, judgments, or other encumbrances to pass title, real estate closings have been postponed or canceled, especially on larger commercial acquisitions.

According to attorney David Rosenberg of Garden City-based Rosenberg Fortuna & Laitman, “After the Suffolk county hack, delay in restoring access to the county’s real estate records, which had been available online before the hack, is causing many title companies to withhold final clearance that would allow closings to occur.”

The ability to ascertain whether new liens, encumbrances, or property transfers have been recorded between the first title report and the closing depends on these documents. In more recent deals, it causes the title company to postpone the initial title report, which makes it impossible for lawyers, purchasers, borrowers, and lenders to close any sizeable transactions confidently.

According to The Suffolk Times, a hacker collective known as BlackCat took responsibility for the suffolk county data breach and demanded payment to allow users back into government servers. The hackers say they have taken four gigabytes of information, including information on specific citizens, from the clerk.county.suf domain.


What this Means?

Deals have slowed to a trickle since neither banks nor buyers can confirm that titles are clean — that is, the property is free of liens and that the seller is the legal owner and only owner — without checking the property out on county websites.

The process of filing claims is another problem. While some records supplied by hand are being accepted and preserved in chronological order, they won’t be officially on file until the systems are operational. Since New York is a “rush to record” state, the first party to file a title claim is the one whose claim is considered; hence incorrect document filing could result in significant issues.

According to Attorney Howard Stein, head of the Real Estate Practice Group at East Meadow-based Certilman Balin Adler & Hyman, the damage will increase exponentially. “New title reports cannot be created, and as a result, newly signed transactions are completely blocked.” The economic implications could be disastrous if a solution cannot be found.

Some title insurers have been forced to add an exception to their Schedule B list of things they cannot insure due to the closure of county systems. This exception now states that they will not cover “any defect, lien, encumbrance, adverse claim, or other matter created by or arising out of the inaccessibility of the Office of Suffolk County, including, but not limited to, an inability to search the public records, or any delay in recording of documents in the public records.”

According to Linda Haltman of Plainview-based Hallmark Abstract Services, “If they were in process before the hack and all of the title searches were done, they have been closing,”  “Underwriters are letting sellers sign affidavits if the searches have already been conducted, with the exclusion of unoccupied land, new development, and foreclosures.”

Haltman warns that delays in closing can become costly given the fast-increasing mortgage rates.

“Delays in being able to close could be costly without an extension of a rate lock-in term,” she warned. “It could cost an extra $5,000 upfront to pay down the rate on a mortgage for a $500,000 house.”


Suffolk-County-Real-Estate-Industry-Crushed-by-Cyberattack MiddleProtected Harbor’s Take on the Matter

On September 8, websites and web-based apps for Suffolk Government were shut down after officials discovered malware in county systems. Images of county documents were posted as ransomware on the website The hackers claimed to have taken court records, sheriff’s office records, contracts with the state, and citizen personal data from the county clerk’s website.

“An immediate resolution to this issue is critical, as there will be an increasing number of damages as a result of the shutdown,” Protected Harbor CEO Richard Luna said.

Earlier, most small and mid-sized enterprises were unaware of the importance of cybersecurity. However, with the increasing number of cyber-attacks, it has become imperative for all enterprises to invest in cybersecurity. As a company that provides enterprise-grade software, we have always ensured that all our products are secure.


Tips to Fight Against Ransomware

  1. Desktop/Network & Backup Isolation

    The first step in a new network design is to limit through segmentation of the network. Desktops, Servers, and the backup should all be on separated and isolated networks. Using this approach, an infected desktop will not be able to access the backups and will not infect the backups.

  2. Virtualization

    We can accomplish desktop and network isolation using virtualization. Virtualization allows you to back up the entire desktop, not just shared folders, databases, or scanned folders, but all folders. This means we can recover the whole office, and not pieces of the office.

  3. Email & Web Filtering

    Filtering email and web content is an integral part of the Ransomware defense. Good email filtering should include pattern recognition. The initial Ransomware attacks follow a template, and when properly configured, email filtering systems block or quarantine the attack.

  4. Enable network monitoring

    Network monitors can alert and warn on unusual traffic or traffic that is typical of an attack; for example, if specific information is transmitted out of the network, that would trigger an alert.

  5. Geo-Blocking

    Maintain enhanced network protection that includes active parameter checking and Geo-Blocking. For example, check the address of inbound requests, and if the IP is from a blocked country, then the traffic is blocked even before it reaches the client’s network.

Continue to read in detail how to protect yourself against ransomware attacks.


Final Thoughts

Cyber threats are increasing daily, and it is essential to stay protected against them. It is impossible to avoid cyber threats altogether, but we can stay protected by following specific steps and implementing the best cybersecurity practices.

Protected Harbor offers a range of cybersecurity products and services that protect your business against all types of malware, ransomware, and other cyber threats. It also ensures data integrity, regulatory compliance, and system availability.

The Ransomware solution is highly scalable and can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud. It is easy to set up and maintain, with no technical skills required. The solution comes with a 24/7 support team that will resolve any issues quickly and efficiently. We are committed to protecting all types of businesses and organizations, offering products and services that are both affordable and easy to use.

We believe there is no better time than now to invest in cybersecurity, as it is the only way to stay ahead in this highly competitive and ever-changing digital world. October is our Annual Cybersecurity Month; we’ll be posting security blogs and videos to keep you protected. Get in touch with our expert and get a free IT Audit today.

Welcome to Cybersecurity Month

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Cybercrimes & Everything You Need to Protect Your Business

October marks the start of Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It started with President George W. Bush in 2004, to help individuals protect themselves online as threats to technology and confidential data become more commonplace. Now it is an annual event held globally every October.


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA), working with several partner organizations have put together an extensive program of events for citizens, businesses, and public sector organizations.


The cybercrime business has become one of the most lucrative illegal ventures out there, showing no signs of slowing down. Over the past ten years, hackers have developed new and sophisticated ways of getting their hands on your most important data.


The unfortunate odds are that these cybercriminals will not be caught; meanwhile, consumers continue to face far more significant risks than ever before.

Why Is Cybercrime So Dangerous and Can You Be Safer? 

If you are a small business using an off-the-shelf software, I’m sorry to inform you that you are at a higher risk of becoming a victim of cybercrime. We have all, at some point, received phishing emails or have been asked for personal information via our work email from people asking for something out of the ordinary. Most employees have work and personal information on either their company websites or social media. It’s one thing for your business to get scammed, but these bad actors will also go after your clients putting your reputation and business at risk. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to keep yourself safer.

Social Media Risks

A criminal hacker can target any employee who uses social media. It’s fairly dangerous, but we at Protected Harbor have some tips. We harden our clients’ networks and run employee training all the time. The best thing to tell your employees is to not post anything online that you would not say to your competitors or your manager.

Several social networking sites, such as LinkedIn, allow users to post their resumes. Information concerning one’s work can reveal too much about one’s personal life, giving criminals such as hackers information that may enable them to hack into one’s account. Identity theft can also be committed using resume information.

The privacy settings on most social networking sites are either pre-set or default. Suggest your staff make an effort to alter their privacy settings to block strangers and people who are not friends with them from viewing their private information.


Protecting Yourself from Spyware and Viruses 

Think about utilizing safe search online browsing software, frequently included in antivirus software complete editions. This software often uses a red, yellow, or green dot next to the links on the search engine. This aids in warning employees of potentially harmful websites.

Never download a torrent file or a software crack, and never download any file that doesn’t come from a reliable website. These frequently include malware. Also, do not click on any pop-up windows that you are not expecting. Instead, either close the window or get out of your browser completely.

Most importantly, make sure that you are updating your OS’s security patches and always have the latest version of your web browser installed. It sounds simple, but companies like Windows Defender push patches and updates daily to fix vulnerabilities. If you are not fast enough in updating the software, a hacker will use it as an entry point into your system.


Understanding Social Engineering

Generally, social engineering involves some type of deception to gather information to commit fraud or gain access to a computer. For instance, our google account uses Meta for Business to run our Facebook Page. Often, we will get a general email to our work email claiming our ads were blocked or taken down due to a violation. It would be tempting to open the email and click on such a link if we actually ran ads there.

Do you know what typosquatting is? Pay attention to the spelling of website addresses. They may resemble a real website, but instead, they are misspelled, for example, vs.

Any email including an offer of any kind should raise suspicions, especially if it seems too good to be true. The same applies to receiving offers from social media or reputable internet businesses, like Facebook and Google.


Caller ID Spoofing; What You Need to Know

“ID spoofing,” is another cybercrime you must be aware of. These days, a random phone call is more likely than ever to be a scammer. Criminals can fool people by hiding their information using “spoofing.” Spoofing disguises, the telephone number from which a text is sent by creating a new one. Phony numbers with the same area code are often used to persuade recipients to answer. The scary thing for businesses is that they can make it look like your number, and call clients.

All of your business numbers and extensions represent assets that you need to protect. Software like IntelePeer and Hiya Connect Secure Call can stop scammers from mimicking your phone numbers, regardless of how many lines and extensions you have in your internal network.


Is Public Wi-Fi Safe?

Unfortunately, public Wi-Fi is not secure. Several security risks are associated with using a public Wi-Fi. These networks broadcast signals through radio frequencies, which means that anyone who has the right tools, and these tools are fairly easy to find, can intercept the data that is sent through it.

To protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi, you should use either a remote desktop or virtual desktop. DO NOT USE A VPN!

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) helps you establish a private network while using any public networks. While beneficial to provide access to employees and third parties, this access is open-ended and unsecure. All security capabilities are lost when granting third parties’ remote access via VPN. VPNs lack access controls and session monitoring, both effective means of security for network access. VPNs don’t manage, vault, or verify credentials, so password protection depends on your third parties keeping them safe.

Remote desktop solutions are becoming increasingly familiar with the increased prevalence of distributed workforces and more employees regularly working from home. It’s perfect for people who are either frequently on the go, work out of a home office, or are often out in the field and need access to their local desktop computer. RDP is encrypted by default with a higher level of encryption than VPN and requires no additional connection time.

Even if you have a virtual desktop, don’t store any type of critical data on a device, and then use it outside of a network that is not secure. That means downloading documents to your cellphone, then connecting to Starbucks’ free Wi-Fi to watch TikTok. Turn off the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on your cell phone or laptop when you aren’t using them, a device that can still send wireless signals appeals to a hacker.


What Is a Credit Freeze?

If you don’t have a credit freeze on your business bank account, you are putting your business at further risk. A credit freeze, sometimes called a security freeze, locks down a credit file so that a lender cannot check your credit. This is a good thing, as criminals cannot open any new accounts using your name or your EIN…and if a lender can’t check your credit, they are unlikely to extend a line of credit.

Remember that you must request a credit freeze from each credit bureau, including Equifax, Experian, Innovis, and TransUnion. Remember you can always un-freeze your accounts whenever needed.


Welcome-to-Cybersecurity-Month MiddleKeeping Your Passwords Safe and Protected

The most important thing you need to know about passwords is that there is no secure password. Some passwords are more secure than others, of course, but they can always be found. Passwords are extremely convenient for people who want to access your accounts.

Is a Password Manager a Good Idea?

It’s hard to keep track of all your passwords, so it’s tempting to reuse the same one across the board. However, if a hacker gets possession of your password, they’ll have free access to everything you have. Password managers, on the other hand, can simplify your life.

It’s unsurprising for us to be asked, “are password managers safe to use?” The answer is, the use of password managers is considered to be one of the most secure ways to protect your passwords. Password managers offer strong protection against cybercrime because of their encryptions. AES, the industry-standard protection used by the U.S. government to safeguard its sensitive data, is just one example.


Set Up Two Factor Authentication on All Accounts

Password authentication is when a user enters a unique ID and key compared to previously stored credentials. It is one of the quickest forms of security; you can set up your device to require some identification before letting someone access your phone. It can be in a passcode, PIN, password, fingerprint, or two-factor authentication (2FA) can be adopted as well.

An additional layer of protection is provided by 2FA, which ensures that the user is whom they say they are. Before gaining access to the account, the user must first provide their username and password. The second piece of information is then requested. Almost every major company and organization website utilizes some kind of two-step, or two-factor, identification.


Protecting Your Credit Cards

Many of us, especially in today’s world, use credit cards for not only our jobs but even our daily lives, and there are several things you can do to protect yourself from credit card fraud.

First, make sure to examine your business credit card statements often to see whether they include any unfamiliar or strange expenses. Check your credit card accounts weekly if you can. Check for both large and small charges. If the hackers want to make a large purchase, they might make a small purchase to ensure it goes through.

You can also set up “push” alerts on your company accounts to receive notifications via email or text when purchases are made. For example, you may receive a text any time purchase over $100 is made, or an email anytime there is an online credit card transaction.

Also, store your credit card numbers online at your peril. It’s safer to manually enter the digits every time you want to purchase than to auto-input via Google or Apple.


Final Words

Many businesses have already installed firewalls, spam filters, and anti-virus software in order to prevent any cybercriminals from breaking in, yet they are still concerned – and we don’t blame them. These preventions are worthless without a dedicated IT team to respond to malicious attacks and fix compromised devices. If you are worried about ransomware or cyber-attacks, bringing in an experienced team to help with the rise in threats can provide a level of service beyond what firms currently have and at a lower cost.

Outside teams like Protected Harbor bring years of actionable experience to strengthen an organization.

We will ensure that your organization is protected from outside threats with well-tested, proven, and integrated technology. Protected Harbor concentrates on six elements throughout the stack, uplink, firewall, switches, hosts, VMs configuration, and storage to safeguard our customers’ operations.


We are offering free cybersecurity assessments and IT audits to all companies that may be interested. You can sign up here:  Free Cybersecurity Assessment


How do You Prevent Another Uber-Style Breach

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How do You Prevent Another Uber-Style Breach

Uber blames contractors for the hack and links breach to Lapsus$ organization.


In the News

According to Uber, the hacker responsible for the breach last week is a member of the Lapsus$ extortion group, which has previously attacked Microsoft, Cisco, NVIDIA, Samsung, and Okta, among other well-known IT firms.

According to the company, the attacker conducted an MFA fatigue attack by flooding the contractor with two-factor authentication (2FA) login requests until one of them was approved using the stolen credentials of an Uber EXT contractor.

The usage of this social engineering technique has increased dramatically in recent attacks on well-known businesses worldwide, including Twitter, Robinhood, MailChimp, and Okta. Continue to read how do you prevent another uber-style breach?


What happened

The attacker gained privileged access to several tools, including G-Suite and Slack, by breaking into numerous other employee accounts, according to Uber’s updated statement.

“The attacker then modified Uber’s OpenDNS to display a graphic image to employees on some internal sites,” which was posted to a company-wide Slack channel many of you saw.

The business stated that it had not discovered proof that the threat actor could access production systems that hold sensitive user data, including financial and personal information (e.g., credit card numbers, user bank account info, personal health data, or trip history).

The FBI and the US Department of Justice assist the company’s investigation into the event.


Uber claims to have taken the following steps to stop similar approaches from being used in future breaches:

  • Any employee accounts that were affected or might have been compromised were found, and we either disabled their access to the Uber systems or ordered a password reset.
  • Many internal tools that were impacted or might have been impacted were disabled.
  • We changed the keys on many of our internal systems, effectively resetting access.
  • We restricted access to our source to stop further code additions.
  • We asked users to re-authenticate to regain access to internal tools. Additionally, we are enhancing our multi-factor authentication (MFA) guidelines.

We could keep all of our public-facing Uber, Uber Eats, and Uber Freight services operational and running smoothly. Because we took down some internal tools, customer support operations were minimally impacted and are now back to normal. — Uber



Is there a solution?

MFA is not an antidote on its own, but security experts believe that any level of MFA is better than none. Uber is not the only business whose network has been penetrated despite using multi-factor authentication.

By luring an employee into submitting their credentials to a phishing page, they had set up, which the hackers then used to generate a push notification delivered to the employee’s smartphones, hackers hacked into Twitter’s network in 2020.

According to an inquiry by the state of New York, the employee acknowledged a prompt, allowing the hackers to enter. More recently, a social engineering attempt that conned a worker into giving up their log in information led to another hack of Mailchimp.


Instead of focusing on the highly inspected systems for security issues, all of these attacks use the limitations of multi-factor authentication, frequently by directly attacking the individuals using it.

Cloudflare is the only company targeted in a recent wave of cyberattacks that successfully prevented a network compromise because it employs hardware security keys, which cannot be phished.

Even though some employees “did fall for the phishing messages,” Cloudflare acknowledged in a blog post that its use of hardware security keys—which require employees to physically plug a USB device into their computers after entering their credentials—had prevented the attackers from accessing its network.

According to Cloudflare, the attack “targeted personnel and systems in a manner that we believe would make it probable that most firms would be compromised.


Experts Advice MFA

The gold standard of MFA security, security keys, are not without their limitations, not the least of which are the expense and maintenance of the keys. We spend much time debating the necessity of physical security keys for everyone.

However, Tobac noted that some firms still push for mandated SMS two-factor authentication or MFA prompts for internal access.

As Uber’s breach shows, MFA by randomly generated code or push notification is far from ideal. Still, according to Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor, ” Putting the good before the perfect is not a good idea.” Minor adjustments over time have a significant impact.

One notable advance is MFA number matching, which makes social engineering attempts much more challenging by presenting a code on the user’s screen and requiring them to enter it into an app on their verified device. The notion is that, similar to a security key, the attacker would need both the target’s credentials and their confirmed device.

Microsoft, Okta, and Duo offer MFA number matching. However, as security expert Kevin Beaumont pointed out, Okta’s number matching service is wrapped in an expensive licensing tier, while Microsoft’s solution is still in preview. Uber uses Duo for MFA, but it is said that at the time of the incident, number matching was not being used.

According to Tobac, network defenders can also set alerts and restrictions on the number of push messages a user can receive. They can also begin by distributing security keys to a test group of users before expanding it every three months.

In reaction to the hack, Uber stated on Monday that it is strengthening its MFA standards. Uber may still have many questions to answer regarding how the hacker gained access to high-privilege credentials for the remaining vital systems of the company using just a contractor’s stolen password.


Bottom Line

Stay up to date with patches, upgrade your software, and apply the latest security fixes. Install an antivirus program and keep it up to date. Use a VPN to protect your traffic from being monitored and encrypted communication to protect your data from prying eyes.

Stay vigilant and aware of any trends or changes in the threat landscape, and react accordingly. Stay informed by reading best practices and security blogs and keeping up with the news to stay on top of all the latest threats.

Protected Harbor security experts recommend enabling multi-factor authentication, using encryption, and activating Identity and Access Management. These tools will help to maintain data integrity, protect private and confidential information, and keep your customers safe from identity theft and data breaches.

Identity and Access Management solutions allow you to delegate the right level of access to the right people, thereby limiting the risk of data breaches. Encryption is essential to protect data in transit and at rest. It is recommended to use TLS protocol for secure data transfer and a FIPS-certified cryptographic module for data at rest.

Get a free security IT Audit and Penetration Testing today from Protected Harbor. Contact us now!

What is the Dark Web?

The darknet explained

What is the Dark Web?

The “Darknet” Explained!

The internet is a vast network of interconnected websites created with specific purposes. There are many portions of the worldwide web that are commonly used, the most popular one being the surface web which only makes up about 5% of the entire online world.

The remaining 95% of the internet is typically known as the Darknet or the Dark Web, and it’s home to several websites that aren’t indexed by search engines like Google. As a result, if you try searching for one of these websites from your regular browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.), you won’t find it. However, that doesn’t mean these sites don’t exist.

In this article, we will discuss what exactly the Dark Web is and how exactly it works.


What is the Dark Web?

The term “Dark Web,” refers to certain online content. The Dark Web is an umbrella term that’s been used by cyber researchers over the last few years to describe websites that are not indexed by search engines, not trackable by traditional security methods, and not accessible through standard URLs. The dark web is often confused with the deep web, but there is a vast difference between the two.

A perfect example of this is a Bitcoin transaction. You can see money leaving your account; it’s just not attached to your name. The dark web is also referred to as the Darknet, invisible web, or hidden web.


Surface Web

The Surface Web is the portion of the internet accessible through standard search engines like Google and Bing. More popular websites the general population peruse are Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, and many others. Most of the internet is found on the surface web, accounting for approximately 95% of all online activity. Although the surface web makes up most of the internet, it is important to note that search engines index not all websites.

Those websites are a part of the deep web – as opposed to the dark web, which is a different category. If a search engine does not index a website, it will not appear on the first page of search results. Instead, it will only be accessible if you have the specific URL of that website written down or bookmarked.


Deep Web

The Deep Web refers to all online activity that is not tracked by search engines. Typically, this will include online databases and password-protected areas of websites. The deep web differs from the dark web in that the latter is designed to be untraceable and unsearchable. Another significant difference between the Deep Web and the Dark Web is that the deep web can be accessed using a standard web browser, while the Dark Web requires special software to be accessed.

Accessing the Dark Web

The dark web can be accessed using a specially designed browser called a Tor Browser. Tor Browsers allow users to surf the internet anonymously by routing all internet traffic through a series of different computers commonly known as nodes. These nodes are run by volunteers worldwide and serve as a sort of middleman for your internet activity.

When you visit a website through a Tor browser, your computer will first connect to a node. That node will then attempt to connect to the website that you requested. Once that node has connected to the website, it will send the website’s data back through a separate node. The final node will then send the data back to you with the IP address of the original node. This makes it extremely difficult to trace your computer’s IP address and discover your real identity.

What is the Dark Web?

How Does the Dark Web Work?

While Surface Web is more easily accessible and hosts many online activities, the Dark Web has a different purpose. Most of the content on the Dark Web is either both illegal or unethical in nature, such as drug trafficking, weapons trading, and child pornography. Because of the illicit activities found on the dark web, numerous cyber security experts have attempted to shut down and control the usage. However, it is tough to regulate the dark web due to its decentralized nature.

The dark web has become a global hub for users who want to remain anonymous. It was first utilized by the US Department of Defense to interact anonymously. Overtime, however, the usage of this dark-side of the web has employed a technique known as “onion routing,” which shields all users from monitoring and tracking by taking them along a random route of encrypted servers. Users who access Tor websites have their information routed through thousands of relay points, hiding their browsing activity and making it nearly impossible to monitor them.


Dark Web Uses

The majority of the content on the dark web is used for illegal purposes. However, there have been a few legitimate uses for the dark web.

Let’s compare the two:

Legal Uses: Although utilizing the Dark Web may initially seem or feel illegal, there are many legitimate reasons to use Tor and anonymous browsing. The dark web, for instance, is usually a site for communication that escapes official control and inspection in nations where government surveillance may be used to spy on and oppress political dissidents. Users should exercise caution when visiting the dark web and take appropriate security precautions, such as regularly updating their security software, utilizing a solid VPN, and avoiding the usage of a conventional email address.

Illegal Uses: Due to its anonymity, the dark web is utilized for dubious and even illegal reasons. These include dealing in illegally obtained drugs, firearms, identities, and passwords, as well as illiciting pornography and other potentially hazardous goods. Government authorities have recently shut down several websites that hosted illegal content, such as Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Hansa. Over the past two decades, the anonymity of the dark web has also added to a rise in cybersecurity risks and several data breaches.


Dark Net: Address Today’s Biggest Cybersecurity Challenges

Cybercriminals are constantly evolving their attack vectors to find new ways in accessing your data to steal from you. The rise of malicious ransomware attacks in recent years, has been on the rise, with one group earning $50 million in one year alone! Fortunately, the government, law enforcement, and hundreds of information technology specialists are constantly thwarting the cybersecurity and global risks posed by the anonymity of the Dark Web.

Consider working with a knowledgeable cybersecurity partner like Protected Harbor if you’re serious about being at the forefront of defense against cyberattacks and internet threats to national security. We specialize in information technology, cyber protection, and cybersecurity management, plus, we can educate your staff on online safety.

Contact us now to learn more about our cybersecurity strategy and receive a free Cyber IT Audit!

Many techniques to spot malicious activity in a network

Various ways to detect malicious activities in a network


Various ways to detect malicious activities in a network

malicious-activities-Businesses are not reacting promptly to malicious activities. Technology is constantly and rapidly evolving and expanding the attack surface in multiple ways. At the same time, cybercriminals are adapting advanced courses and escalating the threat landscape. They are adopting sophisticated ways to attack, and the struggle to deal with the changes is real. Malicious or unauthorized activities occurring inside your network are causing damage without even you knowing that. How can you detect those malicious network activities inside your network as quickly as possible and respond efficiently to avoid or reduce the potential damage?

There are a variety of network protection tools available for this purpose. Some are enhancements or evolutions of others, and some are mainly focused on certain types of malicious activities. However, all network intrusion detection systems are intended to detect malicious or suspicious activities on your network and enable you to act promptly against them. This article will discuss these tools to see malicious activities on your network. But before that, let’s discuss the malicious activities.

What is a malicious activity?

Malicious activity is an unauthorized breach of network traffic or processes on any connected device or system. Malicious threat actors perform these suspicious activities using various attack vectors and looking for financial gain. These actors differ widely in attack techniques, sophistication, and whether they are linked to a cybercriminal group or not. There are multiple types of malicious software, and cybercriminals use many of them.  Therefore, it is essential to find out how to detect malicious activities on various platforms for different uses. Evidence of what an antagonistic activity on a network can do is everywhere.

For all organizations connected to the Internet, using it to store a company’s data or communicate with the employees, it is necessary to understand what a malicious activity can do. As digital transformation is in full rage, cybercriminals know how to use this digital shift to mold and escalate the threat landscape they create.

Malicious activities can come in various forms, particularly from an organizational point of view. It includes

  • Network anomalies
  • Strange network behavior
  • Problem with the network traffic flow
  • System downtime
  • Vulnerabilities exploitation in the system
  • Data breach and compromised system
  • DDoS (Denial of service) attacks

There are several tools and best practices to avoid malicious activities. Let’s discuss some of them.

Network Security Tools

Here is a list of tools you can use to detect malicious activities in a network.

1. Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

An Intrusion Detection System analyzes activities on a network and vulnerabilities in a system to search for patterns and reasons for known threats. Here are two main types of IDS, Host Intrusion Detection System (HIDS) protects an individual host system, and Network Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) monitors an entire subnet at a network level. IDS raises flags for malicious or suspicious activities or any intrusion detected and sends notifications to the IT team. It does not take action to prevent or avoid that activity.

2. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

An Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) is an evolution of IDS. The capabilities and functions of an IPS are similar to an IDS. However, there is a difference that an IPS can take action to prevent or avoid malicious or suspicious activities. IP can also be referred to as an Intrusion Detection Prevention System (IDPS).

3. Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM)

A Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) tool are designed to help companies manage the massive volume of data and signals and tie up threat information for a centralized view of IT infrastructure. SIEM comes in various sizes and shapes, but it is promising to monitor, analyze, and record network activities to detect potential security events or incidents in real-time and send alerts to IT teams. So they can take appropriate actions.

4. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data protection is the most important thing for most organizations. It is the primary target of most cyberattacks, whether sensitive data of employees or customers, bank or credit card information, corporate data, or confidential intellectual property. Data loss prevention, also referred to as Data Leak Prevention or Data Loss Protection protects data and ensures that personal or sensitive data is secured and not exposed or compromised. DLP often enforces data handling policies based on how information is classified. In most cases, it can automatically detect things like Social Security numbers or credit card numbers depending on the data format to alert the IT team and avoid unauthorized disclosure.

5. Network Behavior Anomaly Detection (NBAD)

A simple way to identify suspicious or malicious activities is to detect a move out of the ordinary. NBAD, also termed as network detective establishes a baseline of normal activities on a network and gives real-time monitoring of activities and traffic to see unusual events, trends, or activities. Anomaly detection can identify emerging threats, such as zero-day attacks, because it looks for unusual activity instead of relying on indicators of compromise of specific threats.


-the-lookout-for-malicious-activitiesBest practices to prevent malicious activities in a network

Apart from these tools, you can follow these best practices to avoid malicious network activity.

  • Identify malicious emails_ Malicious actors use phishing emails to access sensitive data. It’s a growing trend in cyberspace, and employees should practice safe email protocol and must be careful while clicking on the links from unknown resources. It’s also important to have network security protection in place.
  • Report a slower-than-normal network_ A malware outbreak or hacking attempt often results in a slower network. Employees should quickly inform the IT security department when they face slower than typical network speed.
  • Identify suspicious pop-ups_ Increased security in a business environment means safe web browsing. Employees should not click on the pop-up windows appearing on the websites. Unknown pop-ups can be infected with spyware or malware that compromise a network.
  • Note abnormal password activity_ If an employee is locked out of their system and gets an email saying that a password has been changed, it can signify that the password is compromised. The best practice is to ensure that all employees use strong and unique passwords for all accounts and update the network every six months.

Educate Yourself On Different Threats

In the realm of cybersecurity, understanding and identifying various threats is paramount. Here’s a brief primer on key threats and how to spot them:

  • DDoS Attacks: These attacks flood networks with an overwhelming volume of traffic, rendering them inaccessible. Signs include sudden traffic surges, sluggish performance, and unresponsive servers. Mitigate by employing DDoS mitigation strategies and traffic analysis tools.
  • Data Protection and Secure Email: Protect sensitive information with secure email protocols, encryption, and robust authentication mechanisms. Educate users on email security best practices to mitigate the risk of phishing attacks.
  • Cyber Threats and Phishing: Cyber threats encompass phishing, malware, and Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) attacks. Phishing attempts to deceive users into revealing sensitive information. Types include spear phishing, whaling, and vishing. Implement robust email filtering solutions and educate users to identify phishing attempts.
  • MITM Attacks (Man-in-the-Middle): In these attacks, an interceptor eavesdrops on communication between two parties, potentially manipulating data. Signs include unusual network behavior and unexpected SSL certificate warnings. Mitigate by employing strong encryption protocols, digital certificates, and intrusion detection systems.

By understanding these threats and implementing proactive security measures, you can fortify your network defenses and mitigate risks effectively. Stay informed, stay vigilant, and empower yourself with the knowledge needed to safeguard your digital assets against evolving cyber threats.


Learn To Identify Phishing Emails

Master the art of spotting phishing emails to safeguard against cyber threats and protect your data with secure email practices. Learn the red flags, from suspicious URLs to unexpected attachments, guarding against potential DDoS attacks and MITM threats. Prioritize email security to fortify your defenses, ensuring robust data protection. Stay vigilant, empower your team with awareness training, and implement encryption measures to thwart phishing attempts. By staying informed and proactive, you can mitigate risks, bolster security, and keep your organization safe from the perils of cybercrime.


Keep Your Software And Hardware Up-To-Date

Ensure Data and Privacy Protection by Keeping Your Software and Hardware Up-to-Date. Maintaining up-to-date software and hardware is paramount for safeguarding your organization’s cyber infrastructure against potential threats. Using outdated technology exposes vulnerabilities to cyber attacks exploiting known security issues. Upgraded devices offer advanced security tools, bolstering your defense against digital threats.

In addition to hardware updates, regularly patching software is equally essential. Promptly installing the latest patches ensures your team’s devices remain protected. These updates often contain critical security enhancements, thwarting hackers’ attempts to exploit software vulnerabilities.

For added data and privacy protection, consider utilizing Encrypted Email Services to safeguard sensitive information against unauthorized access.


Control Privileges and Permissions on Your Systems

One of the most effective techniques for spotting cyber threats is to control privileges and permissions on your systems. By carefully managing who has access to what resources, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized activities. This approach is crucial for detecting insider threats, as it limits the ability of potentially malicious insiders to access sensitive data or systems. Implementing role-based access control (RBAC) ensures that users only have the minimum level of access necessary for their roles, thereby minimizing the risk of privilege abuse. Additionally, regular audits of permissions can help identify any unusual access patterns or unauthorized changes, aiding in the early identification of malicious activity in networks. Organizations can create a more secure environment by continuously monitoring and adjusting privileges and permissions, making it easier to spot and respond to potential threats before they escalate.



The threat of a cyberattack on your organization is real. Protecting your business network comes down to ensuring that security controls exist across the organization. The security tools and best practices mentioned in the article are simple and allow organizations to focus on their core business activities. It lets them take advantage of a modern world of digital business opportunities. Adequately configured network security tools are helpful for monitoring and analyzing overwhelming network traffic in a rapidly changing, dynamic environment and detecting potentially malicious activities.

Malicious activities can often go undetected in a network because they are disguised as regular traffic. By properly configuring your security tools, you can monitor and analyze network traffic to detect any activities that may be malicious. Protected Harbor provides 360-degree security protection from most threats and malicious activities. Our expert tech team is a step ahead of phishing and malware attacks with a proactive approach. Partner with us today and be secured from malicious activities.

How Can Law Firms Protect Themselves From Cyber Threats

how can law firms protect themselves from cyber threats


How Can Law Firms Protect Themselves From Cyber Threats


Attractive-nuisance-stop-hackers-from-attacking-your-law-firmAfter the coronavirus outbreak, everyone is doing their business online. Cybercriminals are getting more chances to attack, and it is evolving day by day. Not even a single organization is safe from cyber-attacks. Law firms are at greater risk and becoming the next top target of hackers.

Criminals use ransomware for data breaches and block access to systems until they pay the ransom. They threaten these firms to publish confidential data if they don’t fulfill their requirements. Law firms are responsible for the client’s data to keep it private. They carry sensitive information, and it is their responsibility not to let their data into the wrong hands.

This article will discuss the security measures law firms can take to protect themselves from cyber attacks:

How to protect a Law Firm from Cyber-attacks?

There was a rapid business shift to remote work during the pandemic outbreak. The responsibilities of IT professionals and security experts increase. They are under more pressure to keep their organization safe from potential attacks.

Migration to remote work creates more vulnerabilities as employees are working from home. Law firms should be more cautious and take steps to protect themselves from hacker attacks.

Here are some steps you can follow to make your firm more secure.


Tell your employees to monitor their devices.

When employees work from home and use their devices and the internet, it can increase vulnerability if the employee’s network is not secure. Hackers always try to attack vulnerable systems as they are the weakest and easily get attacked. The consequences of such attacks include data loss and data breaches. Law firms hold confidential data, and they can’t afford to lose it. The responsibility of law firms is to educate their employees to use a VPN to protect their systems.


Encrypt Data

Law firms use emails and document sharing systems to send and receive data. And they use the internet to communicate with clients and employees. Try to send data in encrypted form over the internet so you can protect it from cyber-criminals. It is harder for a hacker to intercept such data. The virtual private network helps to encrypt data reliably and cost-effectively. Through VPN, they can securely send data from a computer to the internet.


attacking your-law-firmTell Employees to use Two-Factor Authentication.

Most people use the same passwords for all the accounts they have. Either it is a personal account or a work account. But keep in mind, using a weak and same password is not a secure way. Reused passwords increase the risk of cyber-attacks. Implement a two-factor authentication process within your organization. This process uses a code for login. Every time a user wants to log in to a system, it requires a code sent to the employee’s mobile or device. This code expires after some time. It is a way to protect the company’s systems and accounts from vulnerable users.



Educate Employees about Ransomware

Ransomware is a kind of malware that prevents users from accessing their data and files on their system. They cannot access their data until they pay the ransom that cyber-criminals demand. There is no guarantee of accessing the data even after paying the ransom. So, it is better to take precautionary measures before facing such attacks. Law firms should educate their employees about it and tell them ways to protect their data. These steps include

  • Use a secure way of file sharing
  •  Do not open malicious emails.
  • Use strong passwords
  • Keep your systems up to date
  • Use Virtual Private Network


Use VPNs

A law firm can protect a client’s personal information using a VPN. Lawyers keep sensitive data, and they need to keep it confidential. They can have better security if they use a VPN. All of the data is transferred in an encrypted form. VPNs are beneficial for these law firms because they meet the essential requirements. Privacy and security are the biggest concerns of a law firm that can be fulfilled using a VPN.

As mentioned above, all VPNs are not the same, so they should get one according to the firm’s needs and expectations. Prices and quality vary, so it is recommended to get a free VPN trial first, find the best one for your firm, and then buy it.



The current legal industry comprises around 1.5 million organizations, and large law firms are strongly advised to adopt cyber security measures to protect the IP they have developed over time.

When dealing with the digital world daily, security is a top priority. You must take every precaution to protect yourself from cyber threats and hackers, mainly if you deal with sensitive client information and data. Protected Harbor provides Comprehensive Legal Services Threat and Vulnerability Assessment for law firms. By partnering with Protected Harbor, you will have full access to all the safeguards and tools needed to stay protected from cyber threats, but you’ll also be partnering with one of the most respected names in the industry. Contact us today for a free network vulnerability test for your law firm.

FBI: Russian hackers spy on, scour energy sector of the US; 5 companies targeted

FBI Russian hackers spy on, scour energy sector of the US 5 companies targeted

FBI: Russian hackers spy on, scour energy sector of the US; 5 companies targeted

According to a March 18 FBI advice to US businesses received by CNN, hackers affiliated with Russian internet addresses have been examining the networks of five US energy corporations as a possible preliminary to hacking operations.
As the Russian military suffers significant casualties in Ukraine and Western sanctions on the Kremlin begin to bite, the FBI alert only days before President Joe Biden openly warned that Russian-linked hackers could target US companies.

Key Highlights:

  • According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at least five U.S. energy businesses and 18 others in critical infrastructure sectors have seen “abnormal scanning” from Russian-linked IP addresses, according to a Friday bulletin first published by CBS News on March 22.
  • The behavior “certainly suggests early phases of reconnaissance, searching networks for vulnerabilities for use in potential future attacks.”
  • In a statement, Dennis Hackney, senior director of industrial cybersecurity services development at ABS Group, stated, “It is not surprising that Russia would activate its most effective war-fighting tools online.” “State-sponsored cyberattacks are difficult to attribute definitively,” he added.
  • On Monday, Biden warned business executives, “The enormity of Russia’s cyber capability is fairly consequential, and it’s coming.” Read more here.
  • Although no breaches have been established due to the scanning, the FBI advises the latest in a series of warnings from US officials to critical infrastructure operators about the possibility of Russian hacking. Biden’s public notice was broad and aimed to raise awareness of the problem, whereas the FBI advice was intended for a private, technical audience to help firms defend their networks.

An overview of the situation

In an address to the Detroit Economic Club, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Tuesday that federal law enforcement is “working closely” with cyber personnel in the private sector and abroad to assess potential threats.

“With the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, we’re focusing especially on the catastrophic cyber threat posed by Russian intelligence services and the cybercriminal groups they defend and promote,” Wray added. “We have cyber personnel collaborating closely with Ukrainians and other allies overseas, corporate sector, and local partners.”

Wray’s remarks come four days after the FBI warned that vital infrastructure providers were under attack, particularly the energy sector.

According to CBS News, the FBI warning instructed: “US Energy Sector companies to analyze current network traffic for these IP addresses and initiate follow-up investigations if discovered.”

However, the FBI advisory does not specify if the “scanning” is a new threat.
“I’m not sure what this announcement is supposed to mean,” independent security consultant Tom Alrich said in an email. “Probably every large utility in the country is scanned thousands of times an hour, 24 hours a day, by bad actors, so I’m not sure what this announcement means.”

An attack on crucial infrastructure, according to experts, might be interpreted as a war crime, giving a nation-state actor pause. The most adept attackers, on the other hand, maybe able to conceal their origins, according to Hackney.

“He explained that the higher the sum of money, the better the cybercriminals’ capacity to hide who they are and how they are funded. “Because state-sponsored threat actors might have large funds, they are usually adept at concealing their true ties. As a result, assigning blame is impossible.”

President Joe Biden has warned Russia that “we are prepared to retaliate” if it “pursues cyberattacks against our industries, our key infrastructure.” For months, the federal government has been striving to improve the protection of 16 critical industries, including energy, communications, finance, and agriculture. On Monday, President Trump released a statement reinforcing previous warnings that Russia could use harmful cyber activity to retaliate for economic penalties imposed by the US and other countries.

Utilities in the United States have stated that they are “closely monitoring” the situation in Ukraine and that they are collaborating with their peers and the federal government.

“Russia has the capability to launch cyberattacks in the United States that have localized, temporary disruptive effects on critical infrastructures, such as temporarily shutting down an electrical distribution network.,” according to the assessment by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Safety Tips from Protected Harbor

Protected Harbor’s security team has been following the matter for a long time and continues to emphasize cybersecurity. Some tips from our experts on how you can protect your business from cyberattacks:

  • Install firewalls and other advanced protections at workstations and network equipment such as routers and switches to detect unauthorized activity by hackers who might try compromising your system remotely through internet connections.
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery Plan- Always back up data before it is lost in case of an attack. Ensure that all devices are constantly updated with the latest antivirus software available. Password protection should be enabled not just on computers but also on any mobile device or tablet someone may have access to.
  • Know your organization’s pain points and consider how to protect them. Understand that cybersecurity is not just about protecting data but also ensuring resiliency so services can continue when attacked or compromised
  • Consider security from end-to-end; it’s essential to have a sound strategy for both physical and digital assets on-site and remote access via mobile devices.
  • Be aware of what you share online: make sure all social media posts are set appropriately (e.g., don’t post sensitive information like passwords); be cautious with attachments in emails; choose strong passwords that are different than those used elsewhere because they may get stolen by cybercriminals.
  • Logging tools such as Palo Alto Network’s next-generation firewalls should be used to monitor for odd activities (NGFW) continuously. The records should subsequently be examined daily to detect any irregularities.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for all websites, accounts, systems, and network logins, particularly emails. A user’s mobile device is loaded with an application that generates a series of random codes during the login procedure. The code, as well as the password, must be entered by the user.
  • Patch any vulnerabilities and software, including older versions. If you merely patch against known attacks, you risk being caught due to an unknown exposure. Patch your computers, networks, webpages, mobile apps, and anything else connected to the Internet.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency recently issued a notice listing 13 known vulnerabilities that Russian state-sponsored hackers have used to attack networks. Criminals use gaps to penetrate systems. Therefore network cybersecurity and network protection are critical for a company’s safety.

Recent cyber-attacks on government websites were carried out with simple tools. The website crashed due to multiple users accessing it at the same time. As shown in this piece, cyberwar threatens Western governments and agencies. To increase their security, businesses must take proactive actions.

Protected Harbor assists businesses in defending themselves and their IT operations against known and unknown threats, such as malware, ransomware, viruses, and phishing. We help organizations back up their data and prevent data loss due to ransomware attacks or other security issues. Learn more about Protected Harbor and request a free IT audit to learn how we can assist you in defending against the Russian Cyber Invasion.

What causes healthcare data breaches the most frequently?

What is the most common cause of healthcare data breaches?

Patient’s medical records are a goldmine for malicious hackers—if they can get their hands on them. According to Cisco Internet Security Threat Report, healthcare is currently the most targeted industry by cybercriminals.

Health data breaches have been on the headlines for a while now. From the crippling breach of Anthem to the compromising of 10 million patient records at UCLA Health — nothing is sacred when it comes to cyberattacks these days. While the impact of security incidents might differ depending on their magnitude, it seems that poorly protected IT systems and hacking/IT incidents are often the biggest culprits in causing privacy and financial setbacks.

Healthcare data breaches are on the rise. Although many are concerned with hacking, several factors could potentially cause a significant healthcare data breach.

Common causes of healthcare data breaches!

Data breaches are becoming more and more common. With the rise of hacking, phishing, malware attacks, and new security regulations, all healthcare organizations need to stay proactive in protecting their data.

The most common cause of data breaches for healthcare organizations is malicious or cyber-criminal attacks. Data breaches can come from various sources, including hackers stealing protected health information (PHI) from an organization’s database, unencrypted devices, or a weak, stolen password. One of the biggest causes of healthcare data breaches is misconfigured medical devices and office equipment. Medical device security remains a major concern for organizations. Click here to know how do breaches happen and how to prevent them?

Hacking/ IT Incidents accounts for 47% of healthcare data breaches making it the #1 cause of healthcare data breaches.
(Source: Electronic Health Reporter)

hacking bar ratioPatient Data Theft: High risk
Health care industry members are all too familiar with data theft and new methods of exfiltrating information from connected medical devices such as electronic medical records (EMRs) and protected health information (PHIs). IP-enabled medical devices can be easily exploited by experienced hackers because of minimal access controls and known vulnerabilities. A hacker may then take data directly from the medical device, but since medical devices typically contain limited data, he is more likely to go to servers, data centers, or other devices on the network, like the XP workstation that is connected to the electronic medical record. Data breaches in healthcare are defined as theft and loss 32% of the time, compared to only 15% in different industries, 2nd to Hacking and IT incidents, as per Healthcare drive. With the number of high-profile breaches in healthcare over the past three years, healthcare organizations need tighter controls to mitigate this risk.


What is the cost to your company?

According to IBM’s Cost of Data Breach Report 2021:

  • Healthcare organizations spent an average of $161 per breached record in 2021, which is expected to increase in the future.
  • On average, it takes 329 days to identify a breach.

The reports show that the cost of data breaches has risen once again, reaching a record high since IBM first published the report 17 years ago. The average cost of a data breach increased by 10% year over year, to $4.24 million per incident and that of healthcare data breaches increased by $2 million to $9.42 million per incident in 2021. The average cost of ransomware attacks was $4.62 million per incident.

How can you avoid a data breach?

  • Back up data– Having a proper backup schedule and implementing a secure process to access the off-site data is a preliminary requirement. Confirm that your backup/recovery partner is also HIPAA compliant. Cloud hosting solutions can also be considered for better security.
  • Two factor authentication- Multi-factor authentication, also known as 2FA, is a simple concept that can be implemented by companies easily. A key benefit of two-factor verification lies in its very name: it requires two variables to access an account, just as you need two keys to enter a house. The security is therefore twice as strong.
  • Safeguard data and devices- Ensure that the tools and policies for security are implemented, securing all the devices accessing your network. Remote monitoring for unauthorized access and unusual activity can opt. Limit and set proper data control and access for the devices.
  • Train and educate staff– create a policy for regular security training and practice sessions. Identifying phishing emails, ensuring password complexity, and adhering to anti-malware protocols should be a part of this training. More details

To wrap things up!

Security and compliance are among the top factors healthcare organizations consider when adopting new technologies. Many organizations didn’t or were not able to take the time to strategically align new cloud-based tools and platforms with existing security standards as they transitioned to remote work after the pandemic.
Security and privacy should be a priority when working with technology partners in healthcare. It is a trusted partner’s responsibility to ensure users’ privacy and security, having incorporated a variety of safeguards into their processes, designs, and code, as well as constructing the infrastructure to ensure careful protection of user information. Cisco, Greenway, GE Healthcare, and Protected Harbor are some of the most trusted and reliable healthcare IT solution providers who take pride in their experience of delivering solutions to healthcare and other organizations.

What is a data breach? How to prevent one?

What is a data breach How to prevent one

What is a data breach? How to prevent one?

Data breach has become more common every year. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) data breach 2021 report there were over 1291 data breaches that exposed more than 7 billion records last year. Data breaches can harm your company’s reputation, bringing production to a halt, and even cause enough financial harm to send your company under. In this article, we will review what is data breach and how to stop one?

What is a data breach?

A data breach is a cyber-attack where unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive personal or confidential information. When a security breach occurs, the hacker can steal and misuse personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers, credit card details, bank account numbers, and even your protected health information (PHI) that could be used for fraudulent activity. A data breach on an organization leads to the release of client information or internal content, moreover, it can be intentional (theft, sabotage) or unintentional (internal error).

Among the data breaches, this year, the manufacturing and utilities sectors were deeply affected, accounting for 48 breaches and 48,294,629 victims. The healthcare sector was second, with 78 compromises and more than 7 million victims. In addition, financial services, government, and professional services each sustained more than 1.5 million victims.

Security magazine’s top data breaches list for 2021:data breach

  • Brazilian Database — 223 million, January
  • Bykea — 400 million, January
  • Facebook — 553 million, August
  • LinkedIn — 700 million, June
  • Cognyte — 5 billion, June
  • Other notable breaches: Ubiquiti, Clubhouse, USCellular, Twitch, T-Mobile, Panasonic, GoDaddy

How do breaches happen?

Data breaches come in many forms. In the case of Asian delivery and rental company Bykea, it was a lack of server encryption. A flaw in Facebook’s address book contacts import feature was their undoing. Cognyte let an unsecured database get indexed, Twitch got hit due to a bad server configuration, and for T-Mobile, it was weak access control points.

Missing Security Patches –  Security tools can become outdated quickly and updates are needed to stop new threats. It’s not just antivirus software that needs patching, many network-level vulnerabilities are caused by unpatched Cisco, Microsoft, and Apache applications.

Unencrypted Data – It is simply plaintext or unaltered data that can be accessed by anyone. This can be sensitive information stored online on cloud servers with no layers of protection. By using encryption, you can prevent brute force attacks and cyberattacks, such as malware and ransomware. Using encryption, data is protected while being transmitted in the cloud or on a computer system.

Phishing – This is the most common hacking technique, that can trick an employee into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Phishing attacks are used by hackers to gain direct access to a target’s email, social media, or other accounts or to change or compromise connected systems, such as point-of-sale machines and order processing systems.

Spyware – This is a type of malware that tracks your activity until a hacker has what they need to strike. Employee’s don’t even have to download an infected file to get tagged with spyware,

Worms – This is a type of malware hackers install onto a system’s memory. Once installed, worms infect your entire system, stealing data directly, changing system files, or opening a backdoor for hackers to control later on.

Virus – This relies on an employee activating the infected file themselves. The majority of viruses are downloaded from shady websites, usually by people who have no idea what they’re doing. This is another example in support of employee cybersecurity education.

Trojan horses – Attacks of this type pretend to be another program. If you attempt to pirate software or download it from an untrustworthy source, it will often come packaged with a trojan horse. After you’ve installed your program, it often works as it should, but at the same time, a trojan horse is collecting your data or controlling your PC in the background.

Ransomware– The most obvious and dangerous type of malware is ransomware. Viruses, worms, and trojan horses make it onto the computer, and it then annihilates it. To unlock the victim’s system, hackers force them to pay a ransom, often in bitcoin. Victims of cyber-attacks have in some cases paid millions of dollars to get back access to their networks.

How to prevent a data breach?

A data breach is a threat to every organization. It can happen to anyone, from the smallest e-commerce company to the largest bank. Although it’s on the rise, It can be avoided if you know how.

The first step is to stop thinking about your data as “yours” and start thinking of it as “theirs.” The security of your data is no longer just about what you can do to protect it; now, it’s also about what others can do to steal it. It’s not enough to secure your own network. You must also take steps to secure the networks and computer systems of those who connect to yours. Below are the best practices to follow to prevent data breaches:

  1. Educate and train your employees- Employees might be a weak link in the data security chain, and of-course human being human, open suspicious emails every day. A proper training and awareness plan would minimize the chances. As part of this effort, you can teach them how to create strong passwords, how often passwords should be changed, and how to identify, avoid, and report phishing scams.
  2. Create procedures and update software regularly- It’s wise to create data security procedures and update them consistently. Install patches, application software, and operating systems whenever available. Performing regular security audits reveals data integrity and serves as a data protection checklist. Also, perform regular vulnerability checks. Businesses must include in their vulnerability assessments all aspects, from data storage to remote access for employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy as well as policies and procedures.
  3. Data backup, recovery, and remote monitoring- It’s utterly important to have your data backed up because sometimes data breaches can delete your data. Your IT team should have a 24×7 remote monitoring of your network and an automated remote backup system in place. You can work with an MSP if you don’t have a dedicated IT team.
  4. Encrypt data- To maintain the confidentiality of your data while using email or other services, make sure that they are encrypted before they are being sent. Ensure your team has a dedicated Wi-Fi network that the public cannot access. The most sensitive data may need to be restricted from Wi-Fi use since it may allow cybercriminals to intercept it.
  5. Data protection regulations compliance- Organizations must adhere to the regulations and compliances to manage data privacy and people’s data. Companies that store, process, or transmit credit card information must abide by the PCI DSS to safeguard sensitive PII such as credit card numbers. The HIPAA regulations govern who can view and use protected health information, such as the name and Social Security number of patients.
  6. Developing data breach response plan- Even though many companies haven’t developed response plans for breaches yet, such a framework has an important role to play in dealing with cybersecurity incidents, limiting damages, and rebuilding trust among employees and the public. To do this, you need to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of those tasked with handling breaches. A summary of the investigation process should also be included. Additionally, consider multi-factor authentication and encryption as methods of protecting your data.

To wrap things up

A data breach can happen to anyone and when it does, it’s not just your business that is affected. It’s your customers, employees, and brand. To mitigate the risks of a data breach by implementing a strategy that fits your organization’s needs it is important to invest in full-proof security and follow the best practices. Data breach response plans and the security infrastructure vary from organization to organization.

But you don’t have to go it alone. Partnering with a data security and managed IT services provider who understands your business and application needs can help set you up for success. Cisco, Symantec, Transunion, Protenus, and Protected Harbor are some of the top data breach solution providers. With the growing number of data breaches, it’s imperative to have an effective solution in place, so don’t waste any more time, get protected today.