Real Estate Sector in Suffolk County Destroyed by Cyberattack

Suffolk County Real Estate Industry Crushed by Cyberattack Banner

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 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, “The 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 attack 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.

Lawyers Getting Hacked:

lawers getting hacked


Lawyers Getting Hacked:

Most Popular Cyberattacks on Law Firms

From the time of their first email to the last signed document, law firms are under constant surveillance from cyber criminals. From phishing scams to ransomware and malicious websites, hackers know exactly where to strike to cause the most chaos. Rather than a once-in-a-blue-moon event, lawyers getting hacked is a commonplace occurrence for many firms. It’s almost as if there’s some hidden, “Get Hacked” switch that nearly all law firms have within them.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “that won’t be me,” you’re wrong. It just hasn’t been you, yet.

We are excited to announce our e-book on Top Law Firm Hacks Throughout History, available to download for free. This e-book will cover some of the most popular law firm hacks throughout history including some you may not have heard of prior.  We will also be providing some advice for avoiding common law firm pitfalls.

Below is a short glimpse into topics you can expect from our e-book.


Why are Law Firms an Attractive Target?

Due to the nature of their industry, law firms are becoming a more attractive target. Law firms and in-house legal teams gather a ton of sensitive information, an example such as tax returns can arise during their corporate legal and M&A (mergers & acquisitions) work, litigation, and other legal services. Businesses may suffer reputational and financial damages if they were to ever suffer a breach, especially if their data is compromised. According to a recent analysis from the security company CrowdStrike, average ransomware payouts are above $1 million.

Unfortunately, legal companies are usually more vulnerable compared to other business types. In a report published in May 2020 by the security company BlueVoyant, it was discovered that all law companies were the prime target of focused threat activity, and 15% of a global sample that included thousands of law firms had networks that were already infiltrated.

According to research released in October by the American Bar Association, it was discovered that 36% of legal firms had previously experienced malware infections within their systems and that 29% of law firms had reported a security breach, with more than 1 in 5 admitting they weren’t sure if one had ever occurred.

Robust security measures not being used could be a part of the problem.

Only 43% of respondents utilize file encryption, less than 40% use email encryption, two-factor authentication, and intrusion prevention, and less than 30% use full disk encryption and intrusion detection, according to the 2020 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report.


Lawyers Getting Hacked middleLaw Firms as Critical Infrastructure

According to BlueVoyant’s report, the legal sector needs to be included on the list of 16 critical infrastructure sectors maintained by the U.S. government since it relies on networks and data that, if compromised, would jeopardize economic security or public safety. An analysis of cyber threats and vulnerabilities and information sharing with the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies would benefit law firms that handle and store government secrets.

However, legal firms may be hesitant to provide information about attacks out of concern that they would lose control of their sensitive data. Government agencies may begin to view law firms as an attack vector that requires protection as these attacks on the sector become more frequent, and information of relevance to other countries is compromised.

Considering ransomware attacks, there are a lot of factors that every firm should take into account. Along with employee training on appropriate security practices, cybersecurity steps like enabling two-factor authentication, backing up data, keeping software patched, and maintaining software updates are essential. In the case of a ransomware attack, businesses should have a plan in place that specifies what they will do, who will negotiate the ransom, and if they would pay it. Additionally, it’s beneficial for businesses to hold their data in secure cloud repositories, and it’s essential to thoroughly assess providers who keep the data.


The Most Notable Law Firm Cyber Attacks

We’ve produced a list of the most significant cyber-attacks and cyber-threats targeting law firms to highlight the escalating danger and consequences.

  • Mossack Fonsesca & The Panama Papers
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Oleras Phishing Campaign Against Law Firms
  • UPMC Patients
  • Moses Afonso Ryan Ltd.

Download our free e-book to read in detail about the top cyber-attacks on law firms.



Cybercriminals want access to a company’s data and intellectual property. Many of the most severe attacks directly involve the theft of private information to assist insider trading schemes or to commit theft and extortion of client information from legal firms.

Law firms are tempting targets for hackers. More often than not, law firms don’t take the necessary precautions to protect their data making them an easy target for malicious attacks. Law firms must do everything they can to protect their data starting with reviewing and updating their cybersecurity strategy. This includes everything from the hardware to the software they use within their network. Once they’ve identified the areas that are in need of improvement, they can implement new cybersecurity solutions to keep their data secure.

Download our free e-book today and learn about the risks as well as the most notable hacks in history! This e-book was created by a dedicated team of security experts with extensive experience working within the legal sector to provide some insight and tips to keep your company safe from cyber criminals.

Don’t forget to keep in touch with our blogs for more information and tips on law firms and cybersecurity.

A Privilege Escalation assault is what? How can you stop them?

what is a privilege escalation attack how to prevent them


What is a Privilege Escalation attack? How to prevent them?

What is a Privilege Escalation attackPrivilege escalation is a vulnerability used to access applications, networks, and mission-critical systems. And privilege escalation attacks exploit security vulnerabilities and progressively increase criminal access to computer systems. These attacks are classified into vertical and horizontal privilege escalation based on the attack’s objective and strategy. There are several types of privilege escalation attacks, and each of them exploits a unique set of vulnerabilities having its own set of technical requirements.

Where there are privileges, there are ways to subvert them. Privilege escalation attacks are methods of gaining access to restricted privileges in system services or programs. This article covers the various types of privilege escalation attacks, the types and impact of these attacks, and how to prevent them and prevent yourself from being exploited.

What is a Privilege Escalation attack?

Privilege escalation is a common method attackers use to gain unauthorized access to systems and networks within a security perimeter. Many organizations face an attack vector due to a loss of focus on permissions. As a result, existing security controls within organizations are often insufficient to prevent attacks. Attackers initiate privilege escalation attacks by detecting the weak points in an organization’s IT infrastructure.

Privilege escalation attacks occur when a malicious actor gains access to a user account, bypasses the authorization channel, and successfully accesses sensitive data. The attacker can use obtained privileges to execute administrative commands, steal confidential data, and cause severe damage to server applications, operation systems, and the company’s reputation. While deploying these attacks, attackers are generally attempting to disrupt business functions by exfiltrating data and creating backdoors.

How Do Privilege Escalation attacks Work?

Privilege escalation attacks represent the layer of a cyberattack chain where criminals take advantage of a vulnerable system to access data from an unauthorized source. However, there are various weak points within a system, but some common entry points include Application Programming Interfaces and Web Application Servers. Attackers authenticate themselves to the system by obtaining credentials or bypassing user accounts to initiate the attack. Apart from it, attackers find different loopholes in account authorization access to sensitive data.

Regrading how a privilege escalation attack works, attackers usually use one of these five methods: credential, system vulnerabilities, and exploits, social engineering, malware, or system misconfigurations. By implementing one of these techniques, malicious actors can gain an entry point into a system. Depending on their goals, they can continue to uplift their privileges by taking control of a root or administrative account.

Common Privilege Escalation Attacks Examples

Here are some common examples of real-world privilege escalation attacks.

  • Windows Sticky Keys_ It’s one of the most common examples of privilege escalation attacks for Windows operating systems. This attack requires physical access to the targeted system and the ability to boot from a repair disk.
  • Windows system internals_ commands provide a source of privilege escalation attacks in Windows. This method assumes that the attacker has a backdoor from a previous attack, such as Windows sticky keys method. The attacker must have access to local administrative rights and then logs into backdoor accounts to escalate permissions to the system level.
  • Android and Metasploit_ Metasploit is a well-known tool, including a library of known exploits. This library contains the privilege escalation attack against rooted android devices. It creates an executable file called superuser binary, allowing attackers to run commands with administrative or root access.

Privilege Escalation attack techniques

What is a Privilege Escalation attack? How to prevent themThe goal of the privilege escalation attack is to get high-level privileges and find entry points to critical systems. There are various techniques attackers use for privilege escalation. Here are three of the most common ones.

  • Bypass user account control_ The user account control is a bridge between users and administrators. It restricts application software to standard permissions until an admin authorizes privilege increase.
  • Manipulating access tokens_ In this case, the attacker’s main task is to trap the system into believing that the running processes belong to another user other than the authorized user that started the process.
  • Using valid accounts_ Criminals can leverage credential access techniques to get credentials of certain user accounts or streal them using social engineering. Once attackers access the organization’s network, they can use these credentials to bypass access control on IT systems and various resources.

What Are The Types Of Privilege Escalation Attacks?

There are two types of privilege escalation attacks. These include

1. Horizontal privilege escalation

It’s a type of attack in which attackers expand their privileges by taking control of another account and misusing the authorized rights granted to the legitimate user. Phishing campaigns are used to gain access to user accounts. For elevating the permissions, attackers either exploit vulnerabilities in the OS to gain root-level access or leverage hacking tools, such as Metasploit.

2. Vertical privilege escalation

This type of attack occurs when a criminal gains direct access to an account with the intent to perform similar actions as the legit user. A vertical privilege attack is easier to achieve as there is no desire to elevate permissions. In this scenario, the attack focuses on account identification with necessary privileges and gaining access to that account.

Impact of Privilege Escalation Attack

Privilege escalation attacks can impact in the following ways.

  • It can enter the organization’s IT infrastructure
  • Modify permissions to steal sensitive information
  • Add, delete, or modify users
  • Create a backdoor for future attacks
  • Gain access to systems and files and disrupt the operations
  • Crash the website

How to prevent Privilege Escalation attacks?

Here are some best practices to prevent privilege escalation attacks.

  1. Protect and scan your systems, network, and application. You can use effective vulnerability scanning tools to detect insecure and unpatched operating systems, applications, weak passwords, misconfigurations, etc.
  2. It’s essential to manage privileged accounts and ensure their security. The security team needs an inventory of all accounts where they exist and their purpose.
  3. Establish and enforce robust policies to ensure that users and strong and unique passwords. Use multi-factor authentication to add an extra security layer while overcoming vulnerabilities arising due to weak passwords.
  4. Users are the weakest link in the security chain, putting the entire organization at risk. Businesses should implement robust security awareness programs with effective training.
  5. Secure databases and sanitize user inputs. Databases are attractive targets of criminals as web applications store all their data in databases, such as login credentials, configuration settings, and user data. With one successful attack, such as SQL injection, criminals can access all sensitive information and leverage it for further attacks.


Privilege escalation attacks are a significant problem. They can easily create havoc, with the attack escalating from one user to the entire system. The most important thing you can do is be aware of the different privilege escalation types and be sure not to give access to anything on your computer or network that you don’t need. For better protection from attacks, seek help from a cybersecurity partner such as Protected Harbor.

The Protected Harbor approach is designed to mitigate the risk of privilege escalation attacks by monitoring and controlling system privileges. Protected Harbor is a leading provider of IT security consulting with over 20 years of experience helping clients protect their critical data from cyberattacks. We specialize in Privilege Escalation Assessment, Vulnerability Assessment, and Penetration Testing services for modern enterprises. By identifying potential risks in your organization before hackers target them, we provide proactive protection against cyber-attacks. Our experts will work with you to identify your needs and develop a customized assessment plan that meets your unique requirements. We’ll also work side-by-side during the assessment to answer any questions you may have and provide guidance on how to make changes or updates in response to our findings.

Protected Harbor is giving a free IT Audit for a limited time. Contact us today to get one.

Test Your Vulnerabilities: The Complete Guide to Identifying and Mitigating Risk

test your vulnerabilities the complete guide to identifying and mitigating risk


Test Your Vulnerabilities: The Complete Guide to Identifying and Mitigating Risk


Test Your VulnerabilitiyVulnerability Assessment helps you identify, assess, and analyze security flaws in applications and IT infrastructure. We provide vulnerability assessment services through reliable tools to scan vulnerabilities and give in-depth and accurate final reports.

With the rapid pace of technological development in today’s digital world, companies have become exposed to new risks that are often difficult to identify and manage. However, failure to monitor these risks could result in significant damage. There are several ways that businesses can be affected by cyber threats. You must assess your own risk and other people’s risks, and potential external threats to your business. Failure to do so will leave you open to vulnerabilities; here is what you need to know about testing your vulnerabilities, mitigating risk, and how we help in vulnerability assessment.

Components Of The IT Environment We Access

We provide high-quality vulnerability assessment services at reasonable costs. Our information security team finds vulnerabilities and detects weak points in the following elements of the IT environment.

IT Infrastructure

  • Network_ We evaluate the efficiency of the network access restriction, network segmentation, firewall implementation, and the ability to connect to remote networks.
  • Email services_ We assess the susceptibility to spamming and phishing attacks.


  • Mobile applications_ We assess the mobile application security level using the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP Top) 10 mobile security risks.
  • Web applications_ We evaluate the vulnerability of web applications to several attacks using OWASP Top 10 application risks.
  • Desktop applications_ We check how data is stored in an application, how the application transfers data, and whether the authentication is provided.

Assessment Methods We Apply

Our security testing team merges the manual and automated ways to take full advantage of the vulnerability assessment process.

Manual Assessment

We tune the scanning tools manually and perform subsequent manual validation of the scanning results to remove false positives. Upon completing the manual assessment conducted by our security testing team specialists, you get reliable results with actual events.

Automated Scanning

We use automated scanning tools based on customer needs and financial capabilities to start the vulnerability assessment process. These scanning tools have databases containing the known technical vulnerabilities and enable you to determine your organization’s susceptibility to them. The key benefit of the automated approach is that it ensures comprehensive coverage of security flaws in multiple devices and hosts on the network. Moreover, it is not time-consuming.

Cooperation Models We Offer

Regardless of the cooperation model you choose, we provide you with a high-quality vulnerability assessment.

1. One-time services

One-time services let you get an impartial security level assessment and avoid vendor lock-in. Selecting this model may help you make an opinion on the vendor and decide if you want to cooperate with them afterward. We are ready to offer on-time services to evaluate the security level of your applications, network, or other elements of the IT environment. When getting familiar with the assessment target, our team thoroughly reads the details, such as understanding basic device configurations, gathering information on the installed software on the devices in the network, and collecting available data on known vulnerabilities of the vendor, device version, etc. Evaluation activities are carried out afterward.

2. Managed services

Selecting managed services means establishing a long-term relationship with a vendor. After gathering the information on your IT infrastructure during the first project, the vendor can eventually carry out an assessment reducing the cost for you and spending less time on the project. If you want to stay aware of your company’s security level, we suggest you put a vulnerability assessment regularly and provide appropriate services. We have sufficient resources to perform vulnerability assessment on a quarter, half-year, or annual basis, depending on your regulatory requirements and frequency to apply changes in your applications, network, etc.

Upon completion, we offer a final vulnerability assessment report, regardless of the selected cooperation model. The report splits into two parts_ an executive summary and a technical report. The executive summary contains the information on the overall security state of your company and the revealed weaknesses, and the technical report includes comprehensive details on assessment activities performed by security engineers. Apart from it, we provide valuable recommendations regarding corrective measures to mitigate the revealed vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability classification techniques we apply

Test Your Vulnerabilitiy medium

We have divided the detected security flaws into groups based on their types and security level while conducting the vulnerability assessment, following the classification below

  • Open Web Application Security Project testing guide
  • Web Application Security Consortium Threat Classification
  • OWASP Top 10 Application Security Risks
  • OWASP Top 10 Mobile Risks
  • Common Vulnerability Scoring System

This vulnerability classification lets our security engineers prioritize the results based on the impact they may have during the exploitation. It will take your attention to the most critical vulnerabilities to avoid security and financial risks.

Challenges We Solve

The vulnerability assessment scope is defined without foreseeing the customer’s needs.

Information security vendors may follow a familiar pattern while performing vulnerability assessments for their customers having specific requirements. Our security engineers mainly focus on getting all information regarding the customer’s request and the vulnerability assessment target at the negotiation stage. Our security specialists confirm whether a customer needs to comply with HIPAA, GLBA, PCI DSS, GDPR, and other standards and regulations, whether the firewall protection is applied in the network, and what elements are included. This information lets us estimate an approximate scope of work, efforts, and resources required to complete the project.

Advanced and more sophisticated vulnerabilities occur every day.

Cybercriminals always try to find new attack vectors to get inside the corporate network and steal sensitive data. Our security testing team stays updated with the latest changes in the information security environment by regularly monitoring the new flaws and checking updates of scanning tools databases.

Changing the elements of the IT environment can cause new security weaknesses.

There is always a chance that new flaws can occur after modification in customers’ applications and networks. Our security engineers provide vulnerability assessments after each release or significant update. It will ensure that changes implemented do not open new doors for cybercriminals to attack your IT infrastructure.

Advanced hyper-connected solutions are highly prone to evolving cyber threats.

A wide range of advanced integrated solutions exists in affiliation with each other. Thus, a vulnerability in one system can compromise the security of other systems connected to it. For example, a modern solution merging a wide variety of elements in the e-commerce environment generally includes a website, an e-commerce platform, a payment gateway, marketing tools, CRM, and a marketplace. Our security testing team looks at the vulnerability assessment process from different perspectives that helps them to evaluate the security of all possible vectors that hackers may choose to get into the complex solutions.


A Vulnerability Test is a great way to understand your level of risk and identify any potential gaps or issues in your security. It is essential to conduct regular tests to ensure that any weaknesses are identified and addressed as soon as possible. Once you have completed your tests, including Network Penetration Testing, it is necessary to change your passwords and passcodes and update any software or systems that need to be updated. Finally, installing and using security software is important to monitor and identify threats in your systems and networks.

Increase the security level of your organization by leveraging Protected Harbor Vulnerability Assessment services. Our security testing team will help you identify the flaws in the security of your application, network, etc. Equipped with expertise, our specialists will help you detect the loopholes in your company’s IT infrastructure and find ways to mitigate the risks associated with security vulnerabilities. We rely on a quality management system to ensure that cooperation with us doesn’t risk your data’s security.

If you want to know more about our services while opting for vulnerability assessment services, feel free to contact us. Our security experts are here to answer any query to help you make a final decision.

What Iran’s Cyber Attack On Boston Children’s Hospital Means For Your Healthcare Organization

what irans cyber attacks on boston childrens hospital means for your healthcare organization


What Iran’s Cyber Attack On Boston Children’s Hospital Means For Your Healthcare Organization

Cyber-Attack On Boston Children HospitalWednesday, June 1st, At a Boston College cybersecurity conference hosted by Mintz, FBI Director Christopher Wray stated that investigators prevented a planned attack on Boston Children’s Hospital by Iranian government-sponsored hackers. The FBI director told the story as part of a bigger speech about cyber threats from Russia, China, and Iran, as well as the importance of government-private partnerships.

What Happened

In the summer of 2021, the FBI received a tip from an intelligence partner that hackers sponsored by the Iranian government were targeting the Boston Children’s Hospital. The cyber squad in the FBI Boston Field Office raced to notify the hospital. Over a 10-day period, worked with the hospital in response to the threat

Wray didn’t say why the hospital attack was planned, but he did say that Iran and other governments have been hiring cyber mercenaries to carry out attacks on their behalf. Furthermore, the US government has identified the healthcare and public-health sectors as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors. Healthcare providers such as hospitals are considered easy targets for hackers.

It wasn’t clear if the hackers planned to target the hospital with ransomware, shut down the hospital operations with a virus, or sell the data on the black market.  That’s because the FBI caught the attack early enough to prevent any damage to the network or the hospital’s data. The FBI declined to discuss the specific nature of the attack in detail, citing security reasons.

Nevertheless, the FBI issued a warning in November saying Iranian government hackers had breached the “environmental control network” at an unidentified children’s hospital in the United States last June. Leading many to assume the same was targeted in Boston. The environmental control network refers to the hospital’s HVAC system.

What it Means

In the case of ransomware, hospitals can face devastating system shutdowns. Patient data can be made inaccessible to hospital staff, it can be damaged, or it can be stolen and sold. A ransomware attack compromised a Vermont hospital’s patient record system in October 2020, and patients have turned away as a result.

Nation-states and hacker groups are probing healthcare organizations and looking for areas to exploit. This past November, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert for an Iran-sponsored hacker group targeting healthcare. As the Russia-Ukraine war drags on, federal agencies say U.S. healthcare organizations need to be “shielded up” to mitigate against potential foreign threats.

The FBI is “racing” to warn possible healthcare targets of data breaches when it comes to Russia and other state-sponsored attacks. According to Wray, China’s hackers have stolen more business and personal data from Americans than all other countries combined as part of an enormous geopolitical ambition to “lie, cheat, and steal their way into global denominations of global industries.”

All hospitals and healthcare organizations must sit up and take notice. It is not only hacktivist groups and employees they need to worry about, today. But nation-states as well.

Cyber Attack On HospitalProtected Harbor’s Take On The Issue

Protected Harbor has been monitoring the situation for a long time and continues to emphasize cybersecurity. Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor, said this is a severe issue, and we advise all our clients to take precautionary measures and make sure their systems are secure and protected.

He suggested 3 simple tips to harden your servers, which every company should implement immediately.

1. Update the operating systems on your servers regularly.

The most crucial action you can take to secure your servers is to keep their operating systems up to date. On a nearly daily basis, new vulnerabilities are discovered and publicized, with the potential for remote code execution or local privilege escalation.

2. Enforce The Use Of Strong Passwords

Enforcing the usage of strong passwords across your infrastructure is an important security measure. Attackers will have a harder time guessing passwords or cracking hashes to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive systems. A smart place to start is with 10-character passwords that include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

Password guessing attacks can be stopped by combining a strong password policy with a powerful account robust policy that locks accounts after a few erroneous tries.

3. Use local protection mechanisms such as firewalls and anti-virus software.

Local protection measures and estate-wide controls like patching, domain configuration, and border fire-walling are critical for offering a defense-in-depth approach.

The chance of unneeded default services being exposed to the broader network is reduced when a host’s local firewall is configured correctly. Even if your patching schedule has fallen behind, it will still prevent an attacker from accessing critical network services. While not fool proof, this all-or-nothing strategy can distinguish between compromise and attacker frustration.

With so much at stake, it’s essential to ensure your business has a robust IT audit plan. With the help of a trusted IT auditing company like Protected Harbor, you can be sure that your systems are secure and functioning at peak efficiency. Because The FBI won’t always be there, but Protected Harbor will.

Sign up to get a risk-free IT Audit and see how you can improve your security. We will analyse your business from top to bottom and give recommendations on making your company safer. What are you waiting for? Get Protected!

Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)

Privacy impact assessment PIA


Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)


PrivacyImpact Assessment-featuredIntroduction
A Privacy Impact Assessment, or PIA, determines whether or not a user’s privacy or personal information is protected. Privacy for IT systems should be addressed in addition to financial loss. Some federal agencies have IT systems and databases that store sensitive citizen data. The Privacy Act requires these agencies to adopt adequate technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to defend against cyber intrusions. The E-Government Act requires the Privacy Impact Assessment for stored information of 2002. It’s a way of evaluating the privacy of information systems and databases that are easy to use. Let’s look at the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA).

What is Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA)

Privacy is a fit, basic human right essential for protecting human dignity. It helps people make boundaries to restrict who can access data, information, places, things, and communications. Privacy is also referred to as the right to be left alone and not disclose or publicize one’s personal information.  In Constitutional law, privacy is referred to as the right of people to make decisions concerning intimate matters. However, under the Common Law, it is about people’s right to lead their lives in a way secluded reasonably from the public scrutiny that either comes from a scrutineer eavesdropping ears or a neighbor’s prying eyes. [1][2]

Privacy Risk Assessment provides an early warning to detect privacy issues, avoid costly mistakes in privacy compliance, and increase the information available to make informed decisions. Moreover, Federal agencies are responsible for performing privacy impact assessments for government systems and programs collecting personal data under the E-Government Act of 2002. Federal agency’s CIOs ensure that the PIAs are completed and reviewed for pertinent IT systems.

The US passed a legal reform in 1970, known as the Privacy Act of 1974. It helps to make new expectations of how the federal government collects and manages information. The Privacy Act strengthened over time, and other laws with privacy concerns were added. Several best practices are established for comprehensive federal privacy programs. Leadership is essential for the success of an organization’s privacy. The selection of senior officers with privacy expertise and direct support from the organization’s head is necessary.

Privacy-Impact-Assessment-featured 2The responsibilities of SAOP/CPO include evaluating advanced technologies, online activities, programs, contracts, legislation, and regulations for potential privacy impacts. The formation of Privacy risk management and compliance documentation is one of the best practices recommended for ensuring the privacy of information stored by federal organizations’ IT systems. The SAOP/CPO must make and implement tools and techniques for evaluating the privacy impacts of all systems and programs. Moreover, robust security and privacy programs are vital for protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) used, collected, retained, shared, or disclosed by the organization. Federal organizations must implement privacy and security risk mitigation in the initial phases of the project. [3]

E-Government Act Section 208 helps government agencies to put in place enough protection for the privacy of PII. It requires organizations to perform a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for IT systems to collect, maintain, or disseminate information. Moreover, the PIA procedure requires federal agencies to review the collected data, how they can use it, and develop new IT systems for handling PII collection. Implementing a PIA is necessary because it lets you ask individuals different questions and discuss best practices to implement security and privacy. A Privacy Impact Assessment is a recommended action by several authoritative sources. It satisfies legal requirements and helps agencies identify and manage risks and avoid unnecessary costs and loss of trust and reputation. [4][5]

Cities can develop a consistent method to identify, evaluate, and address privacy risks by implementing the Privacy Impact Assessment process. It helps to balance collecting data to provide services and protect citizens’ privacy, particularly while developing innovative smart city technologies. Conducting a Privacy Impact Assessment before leveraging technologies in a smart city will enhance accountability and transparency, mitigate potential harms regarding privacy, reduce legal risks, and improve compliance. Additionally, it lets people make more confident and consistent decisions about technology and data. [6]

Final Words

The elements discussed here provide a roadmap for the agencies to implement a robust privacy program. Privacy issues regarding the protection of personally identifiable information continue to be a factor for these agencies as advanced technologies and programs require usage, collection, storage, and destruction of PII keep on increasing. Therefore, the organizations must conduct PIA to identify and implement robust privacy measures effectively and quickly.

Privacy Impact Assessments are essential for protecting your data. By understanding the risks and impacts associated with data collection and use, you can mitigate potential harm to individuals and organizations. Protected Harbor is a company that specializes in privacy and cybersecurity. We can help you conduct a risk and impact assessment, and customize your infrastructure to fill any gaps. Contact us today for more information.

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.


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.

What is a denial of service attack? How to prevent denial of service attacks?

what is a denial of service attack how to prevent denial of service attacks


What is a denial of service attack? How to prevent denial of service attacks?

What are Denial of Service attacksDenial of service (DoS) attacks can disrupt organizations’ networks and websites, resulting in the loss of businesses. These attacks can be catastrophic for any organization, business, or institution. DoS attacks can force a company into downtime for almost 12 hours, resulting in immense loss of revenue. The Information Technology (IT) industry has seen a rapid increase in denial of service attacks. Years ago, these attacks were perceived as minor attacks by novice hackers who did it for fun, and it was not so difficult to mitigate them. But now, the DoS attack is a sophisticated activity cybercriminals use to target businesses.

This article will discuss the denial of service attacks in detail, how it works, the types and impacts of DoS attacks, and how to prevent them. Let’s get started.

What is a denial of service (DoS) attack?

A denial of service (DoS) attack is designed to slow down networks or systems, making them inaccessible to users. Devices, information systems, or other resources on a machine or network, such as online accounts, email, e-commerce websites, and more, become unusable during a denial of service attack. Data loss or direct theft may not be the primary goal of a DoS attack. However, it can potentially damage the targeted organization financially because it spends a lot of time and money to get back to its position. Loss of business, reputational harm, and frustrated customers are additional costs to a targeted organization.

Victims of denial of service attacks often include web servers of high-profile enterprises, such as media companies, banks, government, or trade organizations. During a DoS attack, the targeted organization experiences an interruption in one or more services because the attack has flooded their resources through HTTP traffic and requests, denying access to authorized users. It’s among the top four security threats of recent times, including ransomware, social engineering, and supply chain attacks.

How does a denial of service attack work?

Unlike a malware or a virus attack, a denial of service attack does not need a social program to execute. However, it takes advantage of an inherent vulnerability in the system and how a computer network communicates. In denial of service attacks, a system is triggered to send malicious code to hundreds and thousands of servers. This action is usually performed using tools, such as a botnet.

A botnet can be a network of private systems infected with the malicious code controlled as a group, without the individuals knowing it. The server that can’t tell that the requests are fake sends back its response and waits up to a minute to get a reply in each case. And after not getting any response, the server shuts down the connection, and the system executing the attack again sends a new batch of fake requests. A DoS attack mainly affects enterprises and how they run in an interconnected world. The attack hinders access to information and services on their systems for customers.

Types of denial of service attacks

Here are some common types of denial of service (DoS) attacks.

1. Volumetric attacks

It is a type of DoS attack where the entire network bandwidth is consumed so the authorized users can’t get the resources. It is achieved by flooding the network devices, such as switches or hubs, with various ICMP echo requests or reply packets, so the complete bandwidth is utilized, and no other user can connect with the target network.

2. SYN Flooding

It’s an attack where the hacker compromises multiple zombies and floods the target through various SYN packets simultaneously. The target will be inundated with the SYN requests, causing the server to go down or the performance to be reduced drastically.

3. DNS amplification

In this type of DoS attack, an attacker generates DNS requests appearing to originate from an IP address in the targeted network and sends requests to misconfigured DNS servers managed by a third party. The amplification occurs due to intermediate servers responding to the fake submissions. The responses generated from the intermediate DNS servers may contain more data, requiring more resources to process. It can result in authorized users facing denied access issues.

4. Application layer

This DoS attack generates fake traffic to internet application servers, particularly Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or domain name system (DNS). Some application layer attacks flood the target server with the network data, and others target the victim’s application protocol or server, searching for vulnerabilities.

Impact of denial of service attacks

Denial-of-Service-attacksIt can be difficult to distinguish an attack from heavy bandwidth consumption or other network connectivity. However, some common effects of denial of service attacks are as follows.

  1. Inability to load a particular website due to heavy flow of traffic
  2. A typically slow network performance, such as a long loading time for websites or files
  3. A sudden connectivity loss across multiple devices on the same network.
  4. Legitimate users can’t access resources and cannot find the information required to act.
  5. Repairing a website targeted by a denial of service attack takes time and money.

How to prevent denial of service attacks?

Here are some practical ways to prevent a DoS attack.

  • Limit broadcasting_ A DoS attack often sends requests to all devices on the network that amplify the attack. Limiting the broadcast forwarding can disrupt attacks. Moreover, users can also disable echo services where possible.
  • Prevent spoofing_ Check that the traffic has a consistent source address with the set of lessons and use filters to stop the dial-up connection from copying.
  • Protect endpoints_ Make sure that all endpoints are updated and patched to eliminate the known vulnerabilities.
  • Streamline incident response_ Honing the incident response can help the security team respond to the denial of service attacks quickly and efficiently.
  • Configure firewall and routers_ Routers and firewalls must be configured to reject the bogus traffic. Keep your firewalls and routers updated with the latest security patches.
  • Enroll in a DoS protection service_ detecting the abnormal traffic flows and redirecting them away from the network. Thus the DoS traffic is filtered out, and the clean traffic is passed on to the network.
  • Create a disaster recovery plan_ to ensure efficient and successful communication, mitigation, and recovery if an attack occurs, having a disaster recovery plan is important.


This article has looked at the denial of service attacks and how to prevent them. A DoS attack is designed to make networks or systems inaccessible to users. The most effective way to be safe from these attacks is to be proactive. Protected Harbor’s complete security control offers 99.99% uptime, remote monitoring, 24×7 available tech-team, remote backup, and recovery, ensuring no DoS attack on your organization. Protected Harbor is providing a free IT and cybersecurity audit for a limited time. Contact us today and get secured.

Benefits and Challenges of the Zero Trust Security Model

benefits and challenges of the zero trust security model


Benefits and Challenges of the Zero Trust Security Model

benefits of security ModelThe Cybersecurity threat landscape has evolved so rapidly that it has become difficult to trust anyone in your network infrastructure. Whom can you trust inside your IT infrastructure? In a Zero Trust paradigm, the answer is no one. This trust model is based on network access control. It means that access to a network or device should only be granted after users’ verification and to the extent required to perform a task.

This article will explore the benefits and risks of the zero-trust security model. Let’s get started.

What is Zero Trust Model?

Zero Trust is a security model granting access to only verified and authenticated users. It provides an ultra-safe defense against potential threats by the user, devices, and network access control. Unlike traditional security models, it does not assume that people within an organization are safe. Instead, it requires every user to be authorized before granting any access.

The zero-trust security model is generally based on a three-step process.

  • Verify a user’s identity via authentication
  • Implement device and network access control
  • Limit privileged access.

This model promotes that organizations must not trust individuals/entities outside their network perimeters.

Zero Trust Use Cases

The Zero Trust model has increasingly been formalized as a response to secure digital transformation and a variety of complex, devastating threats seen in past years. Organizations can benefit from the Zero Trust security model.

You are required to secure an infrastructure deployment model, including

  • Hybrid, multi-cloud multi-identity
  • Legacy systems
  • Unmanaged devices
  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications

It is required to address critical threats use cases, including:

  • Supply chain attacks_ generally involve privileged users working remotely and on unmanaged devices.
  • Ransomware_ a two-part problem, including identity compromise and code execution.
  • Insider Threats_ extremely challenging while users are working remotely.

Here are some considerations an organization have

  • User experience impact considerations, especially while using multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • SOC/analyst expertise challenges.
  • Industry or compliance requirements

Each organization has unique challenges because of its business, current security strategy, and digital transformation maturity. If appropriately implemented, zero trust can adjust to meet specific requirements and ensure a return on investment (ROI) on your security strategy.

Benefits of Zero Trust Security Model

disaster recovery

Let’s outline the main benefits of the Zero Trust security model.

  • This approach requires you to regulate and classify all network resources. It lets organizations visualize who accesses resources for which reasons and understand what measures need to be implemented to secure help.
  • Implementing a Zero Trust security model is associated with deploying solutions for continuous monitoring and logging off user activity and asset states. It allows organizations to detect potential threats efficiently and respond to them promptly.
  • This model helps expand security protection across multiple containerized and computing environments, independent of the underlying infrastructure.
  • It prevents data breaches and has lateral movements using application micro-segmentation.
  • A zero trust model ensures organizational security while providing a consistent user experience.

Common Technical Challenges

Here are the most common technical challenges faced by users/organizations while implementing a Zero Trust security model.

1. Network Trust and Malware

Organizations need to ensure that each device and user can safely connect to the internet regardless of the location, without the complexity associated with the legacy techniques. Moreover, they need to proactively detect, block, and reduce the targeted threats, such as phishing, malware, ransomware, advanced zero-day attacks, and DNS data exfiltration. The Zero Trust security model can improve your organization’s security posture while reducing the risk of cyberattacks.

2. IT Resources and Complexity

Security and enterprise access are complex and change continuously. Traditional enterprise technologies are complex, and making changes often take time to use valuable resources. A Zero Trust security model can reduce the time and architectural complexity.

3. Secure data and application access

Conventional access tools and technologies like VPN rely on trust principles resulting in compromised user credentials that lead to data breaches. Organizations need to reconsider their access model and technologies to ensure their business is secure while enabling fast and straightforward access for all users. The zero-trust security model reduces the complexity and risk while providing a consistent and efficient user experience.

Final words

In this article, we have discussed some of the benefits and challenges of the Zero Trust model. The benefits of implementing this framework go far beyond security. But there are still some risks and challenges associated with this approach. Changes in the threat landscape might encourage organizations to invest in a Zero Trust security model for network access control and identity management. These organizations should be aware of all the challenges and risks of this security model.

Zero trust can be provided as a service, as Protected Harbor proposes in its zero-trust network access technique. Before introducing zero trust, you can take a phased approach, starting with your most critical assets or a test case of non-critical assets. Whatever your starting point, a best-in-class zero-trust solution will help you reduce risk and manage security right away. Protected Harbor uses various features, like remote monitoring 24 hours a day, 99.99 percent uptime, malware protection, and more, to provide an unrivaled experience and satisfaction. To learn more about how we do it, go here.

What is Supply Chain Attack? How to Prevent Them?

what is supply chain attack how to prevent them


What is Supply Chain Attack? How to Prevent Them?


supply chain attackIn this rapidly evolving threat landscape, cybersecurity has become essential. It has been described in simple terms of the trust, do not hand over credentials to fraudulent websites, and beware of email attachments or links from unknown sources. But sophisticated hackers undermine this basic sense of trust and find more robust ways to attack the supply chain. What if legitimate software or hardware making up your network has been compromised at the source?

This subtle and increasingly common form of hacking is called a supply chain attack. In recent years, most of the high-profile and damaging cybersecurity incidents have been supplying chain attacks. This article will dive deep into the supply chain attack, how it works, and what you can do to prevent it.

1. What is Supply Chain Attack?

A supply chain attack, commonly referred to as a value-chain of a third-party attack, occurs when an attacker accesses an organization’s networking by infiltrating a supplier or business partner that comes in contact with its data. Hackers generally tamper with the manufacturing process by installing hardware-based spying components or a rootkit. This attack aims to damage an organization’s reputation by targeting less secure elements in the supply chain network.

Supply chain attacks are designed to manipulate relationships between a company and external parties. These relationships may include vendor relationships, partnerships, or third-party software. Cybercriminals compromise an organization and then move up the supply chain to take advantage of trusted relationships and gain access to other organizations’ environments.

2. How does a supply chain attack work?

A Supply chain attack works by delivering malicious code or software through a supplier or vendor. These attacks use legitimate processes to get uninhibited access into an organization’s ecosystem. It starts with infiltrating a vendor’s security measures. This technique is much more straightforward than attacking a target directly due to many vendors’ unfortunate shortsighted security measures.

Penetration could occur through attack vectors. The malicious code requires embedding itself into a digitally signed process of its host once it is injected into a vendor’s ecosystem. A digital signature validates that a piece of software is authentic to the manufacturer permitting the transmission of software to all networked parties.

Compromised networks unknowingly distribute malicious code to the entire client network. The software patches facilitating the malicious payload contain a backdoor interacting with all third-party servers. It is the distribution point of the malicious software or code. A service provider could infect thousands of organizations with a single update that helps attackers achieve a higher magnitude of impact with less effort.

2.1. Example

Supply chain attacks allow attackers to infect multiple targets without deploying malicious code on each target’s machine. This increased efficiency boosts the prevalence of this attack technique. Here are some most common examples of supply chain attacks.

U.S government supply chain attack

This event is a pervasive example of supply chain attacks. In March 2020, nation-state criminals penetrated internal U.S government communication via a compromised update from a third-party vendor, SolarWinds. This attack infected up to 18,000 customers, including six U.S government departments.

Equifax supply chain attack

Equifax, one of the biggest credit card reporting agencies, faced a data breach through an application vulnerability on their website. This attack impacted over 147 million customers. The stolen data included driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, date of birth, and addresses of users.

Target supply chain attack

Target USA faced a significant data breach after hackers accessed the retailer’s critical data using a third-party HVAC vendor. Cybercriminals accessed financial information and Personal Identifiable Information (PII) that impacts 40 million debit and credit cards and 70 million customers. Hackers breached the HVAC third-party vendor using an email phishing attack.

Panama papers supply chain attack

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca exposed over 2.6 terabytes of clients’ sensitive data in a breach. The attack leaked the devious tax evasion tactics of over 214,000 organizations and high-risk politicians. Law firms should be the most desirable target due to the treasure of sensitive and valuable customer data they store in their servers.

1. Impact of supply chain attacks

Any breach can be devastating, but a supply chain attack can be exponentially worse because the attacker usually has a high level of access to the network, which is hard to detect. This combination of factors highly increases the risk of a supply chain attack. The longer an attacker stays inside the target’s network, the more damage they can cause through ransomware, data theft, or other malware disruptions.

Supply chain attacks provide a criminal with another method of attacking an organization’s defenses. These attacks are commonly used to perform data breaches. Cybercriminals often manipulate supply chain vulnerabilities to deliver malicious code to a target organization.

2. How to Prevent Supply Chain Attacks?

Here are the tips to reduce the impact and risks of supply chain attacks.

  • Determine who has access to critical data_ To manage complex footprints, organizations should map their third parties to data they handle for prioritizing risk management activities.
  • Identify the assets at more significant risk_ Understanding assets more likely to be targeted, such as customers’ sensitive information or intellectual property, is crucial to preventing supply chain attacks. Security teams should monitor these assets using third-party risk management platforms, providing constant and fast visibility into threats within complex supply chains.
  • Apply vendor access controls_ Cybercriminals look to access data using a path of least resistance to infiltrate an organization’s network through one of its suppliers. Apart from understanding the rights to access digital assets, organizations need to apply string perimeter controls for vendor access, such as network segmentation and multi-factor authentication. Service providers should only have access to the necessary information they require to provide services.
  • Identify insider threats_ Whether due to lack of training, carelessness, or malicious intent, employees represent a considerable insider threat to information security. Targeting business partners or employees with phishing or social engineering campaigns is one of the standards and most accessible ways for cybercriminals to infiltrate a network. However, it is difficult to know when and how an attacker has compromised privileged access; a monitoring technology that can automatically alert security teams when a system gets compromised can help prevent supply chain attacks.


Protected Harbor enables businesses to take full control of their third-party security by constantly monitoring for vulnerabilities and data leakage that could be exported as part of a supply chain attack. Protected Harbor also helps organizations comply with a variety of security regulations, including the new supply chain criteria outlined in Vice President Biden’s Cybersecurity Executive Order.
Partner with Protected Harbor today to have access to more cutting-edge business and cyber security insights.