TOTAL DIGITAL SECURITY

Cybersecurity: It's Getting a Little Better - All the Time

THE Beatles once sang that “I have to admit it’s getting better ... a little better., all the time.”

You might not read about it in the headlines, cybersecurity threat protection technology is getting better all the time.

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Topics: Apple Computer Security, Android Device Security, Ransomware, Cyber Crime, Device Security

U.S. Congress Bans YahooMail - What it Means to You, Personally and Professionally.

The House of Representatives has reported a sharp increase in ransomware attacks and is blaming staff's use of YahooMail. The House Information Security Office took immediate action with an organization-wide memo banning all staffers from any use of Yahoo's "free" email service. Gmail is noted as a probable culprit as well. In today's report, we look at what this means to the rest of us, and how you can protect yourself from the super-cycle of cyber-crime that is imminently at hand. A copy of the House of Representatives email is linked below.

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Topics: Protecting Home and Family from Cyber-Crime, Ransomware, Private Email Domains

Cyber Safe Travel - Hotels, Airports and Public WiFi.

August 18th 2017 - We're updating this report on "Cyber Safe Travel" as a result of the recent increase in reports of hotel WiFi based fraud and theft.  Powerful software tools developed at the NSA are now used by criminal cartels to target wealthy guests at luxury hotels around the world.  Practical solutions and defenses are reported below.

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Topics: Passwords, WiFi Security, VPNs and Encryption, Cyber-Safe Travel, Ransomware, Cyber Crime

Ransomware - Four Things You Must Know.

Ransomware is the evolution of extortion. It's one of the fastest growing crimes of 2015 and is trending higher with a capacity to become the #1 crime of the next 2-3 years. We predict ransomware will victimize ten's of millions of individuals before it's over and the easy money is exhausted. 

Here are the four things to know to protect yourself, and a few steps to drastically reduce the chances of being victimized by its uncompromising demands and certain consequences.

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Topics: Ransomware

CryptoLocker Virus is Back - Ransomware and the Evolution of Extortion.

Security centers around the country, including our own, have seen a spike in Cryptolocker activity recently, and it appears the virus is back with a vengeance after first being reported in 2013. We will explain this form of malware, what it does, why it's resurfacing now, and how to defend yourself from infection and the potential consequences.

CryptoLocker- The Evolution of Extortion The screen shot is an example of the CryptoLocker virus. It encrypts all of your documents, pictures, and everything else on your hard drive and holds it hostage. For a ransom, paid within an hour and averaging between say, $150 and $350, you get the key to decrypt your information and go back about your business, perhaps a little shorter of breath for it.

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Topics: Ransomware, Cyber Crime

The Democratization of Cyber-Risk; Why You, Your Family and Small Business are the TARGET for Hackers in 2014.

The Democratization of Cyber-Risk

Why You, Your Family and Small Business are the TARGET for Hackers in 2014.

The watershed event for 2013 in the world of cybercrime might just be the Black Friday Target breach. It certainly is if you put the NSA revelation by Edward Snowden aside. Regardless, they are both markers on the historical timeline of cyber-crime and the emergence of large-scale "horizontal" breaches in online security and privacy.

Why You Are Now The Bullseye 
In previous blogs, I've explained "vertical" breaches (the Pentagon, DropBox, LinkedIn, etc.) being those that find a single target to be of "high-value". The new wave is "horizontal" in that digital surveillance technology can now scan millions of individual targets, like you and me, and sift the information with Big Data software to create a large, horizontally assembled high-value target. Snowden's expose' revealed the extent of the US government's use of this method, but we also know that corporate and criminal hackers use the same approach and have probably been empowered by the NSA's enormous investment in furthering this technology. This is the environment that is quickly democratizing cyber-risk in the world today. What's at stake are the most meaningful people and the most irreplaceable things, in our respective lives.

 

110 Million Bullseyes in this TARGET 
The Target breach is an example of a vertical breach with over 100 million of it's customers losing sensitive information to the attack. In many cases, another hacker will purchase credit card and PIN information to fraudulently purchase and perhaps re-sell merchandise before the system catches up with them. In these cases, the consumer is protected. This link is an excellent report on how they undertake this fraud once credit card numbers are in hand; What Happens When Your Credit Card Number is Stolen?

 

What They Do With Your Stolen Information & Why You Are Not Protected 

Now, here's where the shoe starts to pinch. Stolen credit card numbers are nothing new, but, the ability for almost anyone to steal this many of them and then use them all as a mechanism for large-scale financial fraud, is new. The stolen information from the hundred million or so Target victims will be assembled and analyzed using Big Data software and then used for other, large-scale horizontal attacks that will affect many, potentially 100,000's or millions of individuals and families. And, in this case, the credit card victim has no protection. Nobody else will stand-in and shoulder the consequences of the breach. You are individually accountable and at risk. This mass-scale horizontal attack represents the new era in cybercrime and the individual, family, and small business has perhaps, at the outmost, 12 months to prepare for the decade-long cyber-storm which is gathering today.

The hackers will use the details gained from the Target breach, such as credit-card numbers, PIN's, passwords, sign-on's, etc., and overlay other metadata they have collected from scanning Gmail, Yahoo, AOL and other large providers of "free" email (just as the NSA does), sort and sift through it all with Big data software and aggregate those where they have discovered enough variables about you to crack the code of your online security. This may end up in socially-engineered emails and in ransomware attacks where your life's worth of data is held hostage. This social-engineered approach is a highly successful technique that is making some cyber-criminals very, very rich. Here is an outstanding piece on Social Engineering from Kaspersky Labs;

Hacking the Human OS
http://blog.kaspersky.com/social-engineering-hacking-the-human-os/

 

Ransomware And Why This is The Last Computer Screen You Ever Want to See 

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is the evolution of extortion. Only the nature of the loot and means to the crime have changed.

Wikipedia on Ransomware; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ransomware

 

 

What Happens in a Ransomware Attack?
Ransomware is the hijacking of your digital life. All of your data is encrypted and held for ransom. Typically the amount is not insurmountable, but you only have a brief period to fulfill the demand. The hackers are counting on you and millions of other victims in the attack to just acquiesce and be done with it. In many cases, unfortunately, this is the least damaging of all outcomes. The snag comes when trying to pay-up, in Bit Coins as demanded by the perpetrators. 

 

What Does One do to Protect Their Homes and Families from These Risks?
Hackers have excelled at leveraging the exponential gains in technology to their personal advantage. Furthering their innovation has been the institutional targets which have spent decades and billions in order to protect themselves. This tension between the two has created an arena of very robust tools for attack, and defenses to protect. Until now these tools of attack have been oriented to the server environment of an institution, and not necessarily toward the individual end-users that reside at the capillaries of the internet. The good news is that we can now use the same technology the institutions have developed for their defense, for the sake of our own. Without enterprise-grade defenses, individual users of the internet have little, if any chance of surviving in light of the new era of cyber-crime.

To be smart and make the right strategic assumptions in the new environment, it's helpful to understand a very core concept which holds the key to grasping the level of change that is ahead. Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, and many other scientists have said that the understanding of this concept is crucial to a general understanding of the way things simply work, anywhere in the universe.

"If you understand exponentials, the key to many of the secrets of the Universe is in your hand." (Sagan,1997)


This is a must see, in terms of privacy and information security. Sagan nails it here in his last interview with Charlie Rose;

Carl Sagan's last interview, Charlie Rose.


And of course the "law" that has been driving the exponential change in our experience with personal computing, as we know it today;

Moore's Law, Wikipedia.

 

The point ultimately is that it's impossible for a population of biological beings to keep pace with a rate of exponential change, for any period of time. Defenses from today's and future attacks will require individuals and families to leverage advances in technology at least as well as the hackers do. It will always be a whack-a-mole game, but going upstream, to the enterprise level of solutions, and then re-orienting these solutions to a non-server environment, just like the hackers and the NSA are doing right now, will provide very effective defenses for anyone to defend their online security and privacy.

Total Digital Security was built to provide these enterprise-quality solutions to the individual, the home, and family, and other small groups and businesses. These are the defenses necessary for internet security and privacy today. 

 

Privacy - Word of the Year 2013. Dictionary.com 2013 Word of the Year.

 

The Potent Brew from the Collision of Metadata Collection and Big-Data Software
The amount of metadata that has been collected by governments, companies, criminals, hackers and creeps, combined with the power of Big Data software, presents a new age of crime that is at our footsteps right now, today. Unfortunately, we must expect there will be massive attacks across broad geographies, with consequences affecting millions. Cyber-risk has truly been democratized, and you, your family, and small business are now the richest target that is at the bullseye for the planet's entire hacker and criminal community.

 

Metadata = Surveillance
CNN on "The Stalker Economy" here to stay.

Cyber-security guru Bruce Schneier on metadata;
https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/09/metadata_equals.html

 

Do You Have Anything to Worry About?

Awareness and action are crucial. This is the mantra. If you are thinking about not worrying too much about your online security and privacy, then I highly encourage reading Jaron Lanier in the New York Times about Digital Passivity. This is not one to defer or ignore.

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Brad

 

Learn more about Total Digital Security's full suite of internet security services.

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Topics: Privacy and Online Safety for Individuals, Protecting Home and Family from Cyber-Crime, Ransomware

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