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The Era of Cyber-crime – Don’t Fall Victim

There has been an increase in cyber-attacks on high profile companies recently – JP Morgan Chase, Target and Home Depot as well as breaches in online services such as iCloud, Dropbox and Snapchat.

A cyber-attack is defined as – any type of offensive action employed by individuals or whole organizations, that targets computer information systems.

With each new attack it’s increasingly clear, no company is immune to cyber-attacks and preparation is key to mitigating risk.  This preparation must start with a commitment at the very top of the company. With a top-down approach and directors who are actively engaged, companies stand a greater chance of protecting their shareholders’ interests in cyberspace.

The companies that are most often targeted are financial institutions, healthcare organisations, major retailers and online/cloud storage services.

The most recent attacks, used methods that are:

  • Sophisticated – exploiting weak points, using backdoor controls and advanced malware.
  • Social – targeting specific people with social engineering and stealing and using valid credentials.
  • Stealthy – implemented in a series of low profile moves that are undetectable to standard security or hidden among thousands of logs collected daily.


Confidential business information – prime target for cybercriminals

Cybercriminals target confidential business information

How cybercriminals secure confidential business information

The latest quarterly report by PandaLabs, Panda Security’s antimalware laboratory, demonstrates how cybercriminals set about securing confidential business information from their targets. Be warned!

Microsoft security update fails to patch the vulnerability it was meant to fix

Panda Security, the global IT security vendor, has warned users that one of Microsoft’s latest security updates does not fix the vulnerability it was meant to patch. Update MS09-008, released yesterday by Microsoft, was designed to fix four vulnerabilities in Windows DNS server and WINS server. However, an unpatched flaw has been detected in the DNS server, more specifically in WPAD (Web Proxy Autodiscovery Protocol ) registration.

WPAD is a service that allows automatic detection of proxy settings without user intervention.
Clients have to download WPAD entries from the DNS server, and those entries that could be affected by the “man-in-the-middle” attack. An attacker that exploited this vulnerability successfully could redirect users’ traffic through a malicious proxy.

A proxy is a programme or device widely used in companies to connect all computers in a network to the Internet through a single computer.

“If an attacker manages to redirect targeted users to a malicious proxy they could obtain private information and redirect them to malicious pages in order to infect them with malware or monitor their Internet movements,” explains Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda’s sub-Saharan operations.

Panda Security advises users who use these systems to be extra cautious and keep an eye on new Microsoft updates to patch this vulnerability as soon as possible.

Consumers prioritising convenience over security, says Gartner

Gartner has just released a report looking at the online password management habits of PC users and have concluded that when it comes to online passwords, convenience overwhelmingly trumps security.

From the release of the report:

“Two-thirds of U.S. consumers surveyed use the same one or two passwords for all Web sites they access that require authentication,” said Gregg Kreizman, research director at Gartner. “Most U.S consumers want to continue managing their passwords the same ways they do now. They don’t favor using software or hardware to help manage passwords, and user-centric identity frameworks such as OpenID and information card architectures face scarce consumer demand.”

Read the rest of Gartner’s release here.

Security summit: what the experts had to say

Panda evangelist Sean-Paul Correll looks at the highlights of the Panda-hosted Security Blogger Summit

Last week, Panda Security hosted the first Security Blogger Summit at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Over 200 people involved in IT security attended this inaugural event that included 11 security thought leaders debating in an engaging roundtable from the United States and Spain.

It was inspiring and energizing to hear the world’s foremost security experts put their minds together to tackle the tough issues that we face in IT security today.

Some of the attendees already posted their reactions to the event – Andy Willingham particularly enjoyed the lively debate about Security Awareness Training. Steve Ragan gave a great synopsis of the event overall, stressing how he believes events like these are extremely important to facilitate an ongoing dialogue. Steve suggested in his post that Panda include consumers as well as security experts in the next roundtable to hear what consumers’ perspective is – good idea, Steve!

We recorded the event and will post video highlights soon. In the meantime, here is a brief recap:

Education and Proactive Protection
The session started with a 15 minute talk from Bruce Schneier. He emphasized the major advance that the Internet represents, calling it “one of the most important revolutions after Rock and Roll” and highlighting the economic factors that underlie security problems: “We could have better technology, but we are not prepared to pay for it. The market rewards the cool and the fast, but not the good.”

He also raised the issue of passing the responsibility of security onto our governments, stressing how users and companies must play an active role in protecting themselves. Byron Acohido countered with, “90% of the problem is not down to the user. If a system with errors is launched on the market, this is not a problem of the user.”

Francisco Lago jumped in stating, “The main problem is user behavior. Awareness campaigns about best practices were the most effective vehicle for avoiding security risks.” Andy Willingham and Steve Ragan, coincided in the need for experts to lead this education, but with simple, comprehensible language. “There are blogs and security media, but users do not understand them; and as long as they don’t, we will continue to see the same errors time and time again,” emphasized Ragan.

Current situation and responses to cyber-crime
All speakers agreed that one of the main trends of the last few years has been the professionalization of cyber-criminals. Cesar Lorenzana explained, “It’s not that there is more malware, it’s that malware is now profitable for criminals. It’s a way of earning a living.” Francisco Lago stressed the false sense of security among users, “80% of users believe that their computers are protected, yet three quarters of them are infected.”

Antonio Ortiz, illustrated the lengths that cyber-crooks go to in order to keep a low profile and avoid public institutions from pursuing them: “Owners of botnets do not offer services for DoS attacks on major websites or government pages because then politicians would focus on the problem. They don’t want that kind of attention.”

Roundtable participants:

  • Bruce Schneier, one of the most influential security theorists in the world
  • Byron Acohido, technology journalist for USA Today and author of “Zero Day Threat”
  • Steve Ragan, security editor for The Tech Herald
  • Andy Willingham, author, blogger, and IT professional with expertise in financial services
  • Ero Carrera, Chief Research Officer of Collaborative Security, VirusTota – Hispasec
  • Antonio Ortiz, co-founder of Weblogs SL and editor of ERROR500
  • Javier Villacañas, editor, network chief COP and founder of “A Todo Chip” blog

Check out or photos of the event on Flickr here:

UPDATE: Video content from the summit

Cybercrime and Security 1
Cybercrime and Security 2
Bruce Schneier’s introduction