Social Engineering Email Scams to Look Out For

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Social Engineering Email Scams to Look Out For

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

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

 

What is Social Engineering?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Baiting

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

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

 

Scareware

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

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

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

 

Pretexting

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

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

 

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

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

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

 

Bottom line

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

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

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

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

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

How Remote Patient Monitoring Creates Security Threats

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How Remote Patient Monitoring Creates Security Threats

Securing data flow is essential for new technologies in a world of cybercrime and security. The potential value of patient data to criminals is significant in today’s healthcare industries.

Even before the COVID-19 crisis, remote patient monitoring was widespread. As clinicians increasingly use technology to support patients’ health and wellness and changes to Medicare CPT codes in 2020, RPM has grown into one of the most lucrative Medicare care management programs.

Between 2015 and 2022, the remote patient monitoring market’s CAGR is anticipated to increase by 13%. However, the quick adoption of telehealth is not without security threats. Security issues must be carefully evaluated, even though they may not outweigh telehealth’s enormous advantages to patients and clinicians.

 

What Is Remote Patient Monitoring?

Patient monitoring is placing a device on an individual’s body to monitor their vital signs and diagnose or treat medical conditions.

Remote patient monitoring enables patients to be monitored in a remote location away from the hospital, clinic, or another healthcare facility. This can be done using various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Remote patient monitoring is becoming more popular as it provides the following:

  • Increased convenience for the patient
  • Reduced stress on the healthcare team by allowing them to focus on other aspects of treatment rather than dealing with monitoring equipment
  • Improved patient outcomes with fewer visits to the hospital emergency room

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Examples of Remote Patient Monitoring Technology

RPM technology can include everything from mobile medical equipment to websites that let users enter their data. Several instances include:

  • People living with Diabetes can use glucose meters.
  • Blood pressure or heart rate monitoring.
  • Remote monitoring and treatment for infertility
  • Drug abuse patients may benefit from at-home exams to help them stay accountable and on track with their objectives.
  • Programs for tracking diet or calorie intake.

Security Threats to Remote Patient Monitoring

Here are major security threats to remote patient monitoring:

Credential Escalation

Credential escalation is one of the most common threats to remote patient monitoring. This is because it allows attackers to access devices and systems they would not otherwise have access to, like networked printers and medical devices. It also allows attackers to steal data or turn off your monitoring system.

Insecure Ecosystem Interfaces

Many systems that support remote patient monitoring have an interface that allows patients and doctors to control them. These interfaces often use web technology to interact with their users. Still, they also have access to other systems connected via different protocols like UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) or RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol). These protocols are designed for local networks; they cannot be used on a public network without some proxy.

Phishing attacks

Phishing is a social engineering method involving sending an email or text message to an unsuspecting user, pretending to be from the bank or other company they frequent.

Many remote patient monitoring systems have a single point of failure. The system administrator is responsible for ensuring that the backup system is functioning correctly and that it’s up to date with any security patches.

If the system fails, an attacker can take over your RPM system. This can be done by sending out phony emails or fake phone calls, tricking you into clicking on malicious links in those emails or calls. Once inside the network, an attacker could access sensitive information about patients and their medical records.

Malicious Software

All the patient monitoring devices used in hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities have been susceptible to malicious software attacks. The most common cause for this is outdated software versions that do not provide adequate protection from hackers or cybercriminals.

These devices are still vulnerable because they do not have enough security measures to protect them from hackers and cybercriminals. Some hospitals have decided to upgrade their systems to prevent these attacks.

Ransomware

The ransomware attack on Remote Patient Monitoring is a new trend in the digital world. This attack will most likely occur in small and medium-sized businesses focusing primarily on their services and products.

The primary purpose of this attack is to steal vital information or resources from companies or individuals so they can use them later for their benefit.

Ransomware attacks usually target companies with confidential files on their computers and servers because they are easy to access. People who want to get these files will pay money for them, either directly or indirectly.

 

How to Protect Remote Patient Monitoring?

The remote patient monitoring industry is proliferating, and so are the attacks on it. Here are some steps to protect your business from potential threats.

Keeping Technology Updated

Remote patient monitoring systems contain many components, including cameras, sensors, and software. These systems must be kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates. This is especially important if you use a third-party vendor to provide your network security solution.

Protecting the Cloud Environment

The cloud environment can be vulnerable to cyberattacks, especially regarding HIPAA-compliant healthcare information, usually stored in the cloud. To protect your data from being stolen by hackers or other malicious actors, consider using a cloud storage provider specifically designed for healthcare applications – such as a cloud storage provider built for healthcare settings like yours.

Embracing a Zero-Trust Approach

A zero-trust approach means that all interactions between an organization’s devices and its users should be trusted automatically without requiring any permissions or confirmation from human users. This helps minimize the possible points of failure in organizations’ networks and reduces the risk for employees who unknowingly share sensitive information.

 

Conclusion

While monitoring a patient’s health remotely does seem like a great idea, especially for the chronically ill who may have trouble leaving their homes, remote monitoring also introduces new security threats into the healthcare industry. No system is perfect without precautions and security measures. Healthcare organizations must be aware of these new vulnerabilities, from patients’ privacy to the dangers of cyber hacking and compromising patient information.

With the right partner, you can feel confident that your data stays protected. Our team is dedicated to keeping your data safe and secure, so you can focus on providing the best care possible.

With the Protected Harbor team’s vast experience and proven track record, you can trust that your data is in good hands. With years of experience delivering secure IT, and Cloud solutions in line with industry standards and best practices, Protected Harbor professionals pay close attention to the vulnerability of remote monitoring solutions.

We work with all types of providers, from small to large, to protect your data, reduce risk, and keep your organization secure. Our team of experts will work with you to create a customized solution that meets your company’s requirements. Our cybersecurity solutions are reliable and scalable to fit your organization’s needs.

Feel free to contact our experts if you wish to begin developing a hack-proof medical device or if you wish to schedule an IT audit.

How Social Media Angler Phishing Attacks Target Businesses

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How Social Media Angler Phishing Attacks Target Businesses

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

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

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

 

What is Angler Phishing?

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

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

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

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

 

How do Angler Phishing Attacks work?

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

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

 

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

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

 

1.   Business Disruption

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

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

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

 

2.   Revenue Loss

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

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

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

 

3.   Intellectual Property Loss

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

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

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

 

4.   Reputation Effect

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

Top 10 Scariest Types of Malware

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Top 10 Scariest Types of Malware

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

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

 

What is Malware?

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

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

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

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

 

List of Top 10 Scariest Types

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of Malware

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

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The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

Today’s cyber threat landscape is more complex than ever before. New threats are discovered practically every day, and hackers are finding new ways to exploit those threats on an almost daily basis. This means businesses need to be more vigilant about the security of their networks, devices, and user accounts. Every organization should implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a strong and consistent security policy.

MFA strengthens your user account security by requiring users to verify their identity in addition to simply providing a username and password. There are many types of multi-factor authentication, but most involve something you know (like a username and password), something you have (such as an access code sent via text message), or something you are (such as a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint or facial recognition).

Download our infographic Security: The Power of Multi-factor Authentication to understand MFA in detail.

 

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is an access control method used to verify a person’s identity attempting to log on to a computer system or website by combining two or more authentication factors. For example, logging in with a username and password is a single-factor authentication because only one piece of information is verified to be accurate. In contrast, logging in with a username, password, and a code sent to a smartphone via an app is multi-factor authentication because multiple verification methods are used. Multi-factor authentication is a security method that requires users to provide two or more pieces of proof that they are whom they say they are before being granted access to a secured system or resource.

 

Types of Multi-factor AuthenticationThe-Power-of-Multi-factor-Authentication-middle-image

One of three additional forms of information serves as the foundation for most MFA authentication methods:

  1. Things you know (knowledge)- A passphrase, PIN, or password.
  2. Things you have (possession)- A timely, individual verification code. Typically, a mobile app or security token will produce these authentication tokens and send them to you through text message.
  3. Things you are (inherence)- These are biometrically a part of you, such as a speech pattern, iris scan, or fingerprint.

MFA Examples

Using a combination of these components to authenticate is an example of multi-factor authentication.

1. Knowledge

  • Personal security questions and answers
  • Password
  • OTPs (Can be both Knowledge and Possession – You know the OTP, and you have to have something in your Possession to get it, like your phone)

2. Possession

  • OTPs created by mobile apps
  • OTPs transmitted by text or email
  • Smart Cards, USB devices, key fobs, and access badges
  • Software certificates and tokens

3. Inherence

  • Voice, voice recognition, eye or retina scanning, or other biometrics such as fingerprints
  • Behavior analysis

 

Conclusion

MFA is an essential part of any security strategy. While protecting online accounts, your computer, or other devices, utilizing MFA is a great way to protect against hackers and malicious threats. With MFA in place, hackers will have a more challenging time accessing your accounts and will have to employ more sophisticated methods to crack your passwords. Implementing MFA isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Protected Harbor experts say MFA is a must. The company has been in the business for over a decade and is among the top cybersecurity providers in the US. It has been keeping pace with the latest technological advancements to provide top-notch cybersecurity solutions to its clients. With our cybersecurity month discussing safety measures against

It is easy to implement and can be activated for an account. You can keep your data safer and much more secure with just a few clicks. Download our infographic to learn how to implement MFA and secure your data. Contact us today for a free cybersecurity audit.

Microsoft Data Breach Exposed Sensitive Data of 65,000+ Entities in 111 Countries

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Microsoft Data Breach Exposed Sensitive Data

According to the security research company SOCRadar, a breach of Microsoft servers may have affected over 65,000 organizations in 111 countries.

 

In response to a security failure that left an endpoint publicly accessible via the internet without any authentication, Microsoft admitted that it unintentionally exposed the information of thousands of customers.

According to an alert from Microsoft, “this misconfiguration resulted in the possibility for unauthenticated access to some business transaction data corresponding to interactions between Microsoft and potential customers, such as the planning or potential implementation and provisioning of Microsoft services.”

Microsoft highlighted that there was no security flaw to blame for the B2Bleak, which was “triggered by an unintended misconfiguration on an endpoint that is not in use across the Microsoft ecosystem.”

 

Microsoft Data Breach Exposed Sensitive Data middleWhat Happened?

2.4 TB of confidential data, including names, phone numbers, email addresses, company names, and attached files containing confidential company information, such as proof-of-concept documents, sales data, and product orders, may have been exposed due to a compromised Azure Blob Storage, according to SOCRadar.

SOCRadar termed the leak a Bluebleed. According to them, “The exposed data includes files dated from 2017 to August 2022.”

On September 24, 2022, Microsoft received notifications of the breach. On September 25, 2022, they issued a statement confirming that they had secured the compromised endpoint, which is “now only accessible with required authentication,” and that an investigation had “found no indication that customer accounts or systems were compromised.”

 

Why This Matters?

According to the threat intelligence firm’s analysis, the stolen information “includes Proof-of-Execution (PoE) and Statement of Work (SoW) documents, user information, product orders/offers, project details, PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data, and documents that may reveal intellectual property,” they added.

Microsoft stated that it believes “the figures” and “the magnitude of this issue” were grossly exaggerated by SOCRadar.

Redmond added “that it was not in the best interest of safeguarding customer privacy or security and perhaps exposing them to undue risk” for SOCRadar to gather and make the data searchable through a dedicated search engine.

Customers who contacted Microsoft’s support staff were reportedly informed that the company would not be notifying data regulators since “no other notifications are required under GDPR” in addition to those given to the affected customers.


In addition, Kevin Beaumont, a security researcher, said, “the Microsoft bucket “has been publicly indexed for months,” and “it’s even in search engines.”

Although there is no proof that threat actors inappropriately accessed the data before its disclosure, such breaches could still be used for bad intentions like extortion, social engineering attacks, or a quick buck.

Erich Kron, a security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, wrote to The Hacker News in an email, “While some of the data that may have been accessed seem trivial if SOCRadar is correct in what was exposed, it could include some sensitive information about the infrastructure and network configuration of potential customers.”

“Potential attackers could use this information to find vulnerabilities in the networks of these organizations.”

 

Protected Harbor’s Take on the Matter

It’s a sad fact of life that every major software company will eventually experience security breaches at some point in time. Unfortunately, it has become far more common in this ever-changing digital world. However, when it comes to these big, well-known companies that are responsible for keeping your business data safe, there needs to be an intense form of trust which comes with them taking proper action and solutions.

In the past, we’ve seen issues with Google, Facebook, and even the U.S. government’s websites. It’s important to note that these are all vast organizations with dedicated teams of engineers and experts working around the clock to ensure their customers’ security. Microsoft is no different, having some of the best security engineers in the world.

Protected Harbor has always emphasized the importance of network configuration on endpoint protection. An exemplary network configuration can reduce the risk of your network being exploited by malware and other threats.

Protected Harbor provides complete endpoint protection, configuration, and monitoring that protects your computers from malware, ransomware, data breaches, viruses, and other cyber threats. Our engineers also monitor and audit your network to ensure all your systems have the latest firmware, are set up correctly, and are protected against evolving threats.

“It’s happened before, and it will happen again. It’s just the cyclical nature of things. Microsoft will recover, and a new company will go through the process of becoming the next big thing. What’s important to understand here is that the cycle will keep turning as long as people keep investing in technology.”- Richard Luna, CEO of Protected Harbor.
Don’t be the next victim of a data breach. It’s time to invest in a good cybersecurity plan. Contact us today for a cybersecurity audit.

I Had My Info Stolen; Should I Pay the Ransom?

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Hackers Stole My Data: Should I Pay the Ransom?

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

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

 

Do We Need to Pay for Ransomware Attacks?

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

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

 

Reasons in Favor of Paying the Ransom

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

  • To Reduce the Recovery Time

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

  • To Save Their Reputation

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

  • To Avoid Huge Recovery Costs

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

  • To Protect the Information of the Clients and the Employees

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

 

Reasons Against Paying the Ransom Hackers-stole-my-data-should-i-pay-the-ransom middle

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

  • No Guarantee of Data Recovery

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

  • Risk of Future Attacks

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

  • Blackmailing Without Any Bounds

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

  • Legal Troubles

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

 

Consider all the Possible Options before Paying

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

  • Paying Ransom Must Not be Prioritized

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

  • Bring Law Enforcement Agencies into Play.

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

  • Look for a Decryption Key

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

  • Pay Ransom as a Last Resort

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do I Remove Malware

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How do I Remove Malware?

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

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

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

 

What is Malware?

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

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

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

 

Finding and Removing Malware from Your Devices

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

 

Malware from Mobile Devices

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

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

 

Signs of malware on Android

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

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

How to Remove Malware on Android?

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

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

 

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Removing Malware from MAC or PC

 

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

 

Signs of Malware on PC or MAC

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

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

Get Rid of Malware on Your PC

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

  • Disconnect from the Internet

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

  • Check your activity monitor for malicious applications

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

  • Use Antivirus Software

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

  • Run a Malware Scanner

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

  • Clear your cache.

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

 

Final Words

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

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

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

How Do I Know I Have Ransomware

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How Do I Know I Have Ransomware?

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

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

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

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

 

What is Ransomware?

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

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

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

 

Ways to Identify Ransomware

So, how do you know whether or not a ransomware attack has invaded your company’s system? Well, the answer is both simple and complicated. Most cybercriminals are quite stealthy when it comes to breaking into your system, and once they’re in, the rest of the attack is done with ease. So, where does it all start? Click here to read types of ransomware 2023.

1. All Starts with Phishing

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

2. The Emergence of Unexpected Network Scanners

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

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

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

4. A Splash Screen Might Say It All

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

5. Denial of Access to Your Data Files

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

6. File Extensions Become Fishy

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

7. Your Files are Renamed

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

8. Ransom Note Eliminates All Doubts

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

9. A Dry Run of Small-Scale Test Attacks

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

 

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

The Recent Medical Data Leaks

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The Recent Medical Data Leaks and What You Can Do About It

Did you know that medical data is the new gold? Unencrypted patient records are worth $300 billion, and that number will keep growing. This blog will explore the recent medical data leaks and their potential consequences. You’ll also learn how to protect your sensitive information — so you can avoid being one of the many victims of medical data breaches.

A recent study by Comparitech covered breaches. Their team of researchers analyzed data from 2009 to June 2022 to find out which US states suffer the most medical breaches and how many records have been affected each year. They also looked at breaches from January 2021 to June 2022 to find the most significant cause of these breaches and the most-affected healthcare organizations.

 

Key Findings

  • In 2017 alone, there were over 2,800 data breaches, affecting over 178 million patients in the US alone.
  • More than half of data breach victims don’t even know they’ve been affected.
  • Only 13% of healthcare providers offer free identity protection services.
  • Over 50% of data breach victims do not change their passwords after a breach.
  • 4,746 medical breaches were reported between 2009 and June 2022.
  • These breaches affected 342,017,215 user records.
  • 803 documented medical breaches made 2020 the year with the most (the second-highest was 2021 with 711).
  • With almost 112 million records affected overall, 2015 saw the most records affected.
  • Hospital networks are responsible for the most records that have been compromised in 2021 and 2022 (so far), accounting for 8.8 million records (16 percent of all records affected). Specialist clinics—clinics that specialize in a particular area of medicine—account for the most data breaches (15 percent), with 130 breached entities overall.
  • Hacking was the most frequent breach in 2021 and 2022 (so far), making up 40% of breaches (353 out of 862).

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Anthem  Inc. – The second-largest health insurance company in the US, was hit with a massive data breach in 2015 – one of the largest on record (78.8 Million records).

Optum360 LLC- From August 2018 to March 2019, hackers gained access to the sensitive financial and personal data of 11.5 million lab patients at the American Medical Collection Agency.

Excellus Health – This breach affected 10 million people and was discovered two months after the Anthem breach was announced.

Premera Blue Cross – This breach impacted 11 million people and was caused by malware that was used for two months. Premera Blue Cross was compelled to pay the OCR $6.85 million.

Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings- In 2019, A hacker gained access to the American Medical Collection Agency, a third party it employed for payments. Over 10.2 million people’s personal, financial, and medical information was compromised.

 

Biggest Years for Medical Data Breaches

The year with the most medical data breaches, with an overall total of 803, was 2020. A significant number of breaches were also reported in 2021 (711), closely followed by 2019 (520). This demonstrates the exponential growth in medical data breaches over the past three years.

The median number of records affected by each breach between 2009 and 2018 remained roughly 2,000 when we looked at the median number of records affected for each year. In 2019, there was a significant increase from 2018. (rising by 70 percent from 2,284 to 3,893). This persisted through 2020 (with a rise of 26% from 3,893 to 4,916) and from 2021 to 2022. (rising by 4 percent up to 5,122).

Why the increase in data breaches? There are many reasons, including the fact that the healthcare industry is growing, more people are using the Internet, and more sensitive data is being exchanged online. The healthcare industry is still struggling to adapt to the cyber threat landscape.

 

Most Common Data Breach Type

Data breaches are rising, and data loss is becoming more common. But what type of data breaches are most prevalent in the healthcare sector? Healthcare providers losing control of their data is a common occurrence nowadays.

With 288 out of 711 breaches (41 percent) in 2021 involving medical companies, hacking emerged as the most prevalent method. With 161 attacks (23% of all attacks, excluding unknowns), ransomware was the next most prevalent category. Theft of data is the third most prevalent type of data breach.

 

2022 for Medical Data Breaches

151 documented medical data breaches impacted 7,997,739 records during the first half of 2022. Even if these numbers seem low, they may increase over the next few months.  Perhaps more focused attacks are the cause of this. This is evident from the MCG Health data leak. The software provider revealed that its systems were breached through unauthorized access on June 10 this year. Nearly 800,000 records have been affected by the breach on MCG Health, and at least eight organizations have reported it thus far.

 

Conclusion

The healthcare sector is under attack, and the threat is likely to grow as time goes on. The best way to protect sensitive information is to prepare in advance. Encrypt the data before sending it over the Internet or storing it on a device. This protective measure can be applied to nearly any data type, preventing unauthorized individuals from accessing the information.

Protected Harbor helps companies prevent cyber breaches, data loss, and regulatory non-compliance by offering security solutions such as data monitoring, cloud security, and DLP. Our clients include small businesses, enterprises, healthcare, and government agencies.

Protected Harbor is one of the top cybersecurity providers trusted by thousands of businesses across the country for offering robust cybersecurity solutions. With our expert team of engineers and technicians, you can be assured complete security for your business.

Get a free cybersecurity and ransomware audit today and get cyber-secured.