Archive for the ‘Work Security’ Category

The Most Important Things to Know About Internet Safety While Traveling

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

My cousin is on his way to Germany for a week and asked for some advice on being “cyber safe” while there. In other words, how can he stay connected with people and email but not become a victim of malicious software? Here are a few tips:

– Assume that every public computer everywhere – whether at an airport, cybercafé or the hotel business center – is infected with malware and will record your every keystroke. For this reason it’s best to avoid using public computers if you can. That said, googling “the word for hospital in Arabic“ or “toxicity of tarantulas” is pretty harmless. Bouncing over to check gmail, on the other hand, can be a huge mistake. Particularly if you use your gmail password anywhere else (because once a password/user name combination is discovered by criminals, it can be easily and automatically plugged into thousands of other websites to see if it works).  Or, if you use gmail to receive account statements, internet orders or banking validation codes. Once cybercriminals hack your account, they will sift through emails seeking these things.
 – If your kids like to play computer games, and they use the PCs at the hotel do to it, remind them as well: it’s best not to check or send personal email from those machines. If they insist on doing so, at least remind them to be sure to log out when they are finished.
– Before you leave the US, consider setting new passwords for sites you will be using and then change them again when you return. (more…)

Internet Safety While Traveling – Deeper Dive

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

A “man in the middle” or MIM attack is not particularly difficult to pull off, and it represents one of the biggest cyber security threats we face when we are traveling – or in fact, any time we consider using an unknown wireless network.

Here’s how it works: it’s rather easy to find software which will monitor or “sniff” network traffic.  It’s even easier to set up a wireless network – by example, like many business travelers these days, I carry a portable wireless hub in my purse. If the intent is to trick other people into using it, all that’s left is giving it a name which sounds legit like, “Marriott SecureWifi”. These can even be set up as far as 15 miles away from the wifi area.

As people try to connect to the criminally controlled network, the cybercriminal allows them to do so (using the same password as the real network, or no password at all). Then the cybercriminal becomes the “man in the middle” (MIM). Sample scenario (there’s a more detailed example of a MIM in my book):
1. You ask for the gmail page in your browser and type in your gmail password.
2. The MIM intercepts your request and provides you a fake gmail login page (which looks pixel by pixel exactly like the legitimate one, including “https/gmail” in the browser, which indicates that it is securely linked to the gmail server).
3. The MIM sends your password to Google.
4. Google assumes it’s talking to you, and opens your gmail.
5. The MIM passes the gmail back to you and continues passing requests and information back and forth until your session is done.

(more…)

Mobile Malware Update (and Juniper’s report)

Monday, September 9th, 2013

As a small part of my day job, I put together a monthly “Cybersecurity Digest”.  Most of my subscribers are IT Managers in large organizations.  I created the digest especially because I like efficiencies: If I’m going to fall asleep at night reading 45 page reports on cybercrime anyway, why not save IT Managers or small business owners some time by summarizing what I learned?  Often times, like when I was recently preparing to present details of the mobile virus Obad , I read five such reports.  Some of them are virtually useless – overly-generalized repetitions of data elsewhere – whereas others have fresh data and new perspectives.  In the excerpt below from my September  Digest, I review Juniper’s Mobile Malware report.    

Mobile Malware Update

The amount of mobile malware we’ve seen in the last year is approximately at the same point (200K – 300K samples) as Windows malware was back in 2006 which was the first year of cybercrime going completely crazy.  Is mobile malware poised to explode as well?    

The Mobile Malware Profit Model

The most successful profit model so far is sending or receiving premium SMS messaging without the user’s knowledge.  Currently this activity is heavily concentrated in China and Russia, two countries where premium SMS messaging is extremely popular.  This is also where we see the majority of mobile malware botnets.  One security company estimated the profitability of such a botnet.  The net of it is (more…)

The Holy Grail of Internet Security – finally, all our problems solved!

Monday, August 27th, 2012

Last week I was scouring the web and I came across a white paper on “security threats of 2011” which I hadn’t read yet.  It was a 56 page document written by a top security organization (we all publish these reports but each company has a different spin).

There on page 41 was the fix for all our security woes!    Sure it took me a while to get there, but well worth it don’t you think?  The answer was (drum roll, please): “Secure the network perimeter.”

This made me laugh!  Really?  I have to say that anyone who thinks there is a network perimeter anymore – meaning, a definable, non-permeable network perimeter – is either smoking crack or lost in a delusional Dilbert dream where IT guys rule. That would be the fantasy where IT actually gives us mobile/portable devices of their choosing along with a set of rules we actually follow.   Useful rules like, “don’t get infected.”  Ha-ha!

And the more I contemplate this idea, the more I think it was always a fantasy.  Back when I was working for NEC’s Corporate Capital group – ten years ago – my laptop went home with me every day.  I used it for everything – my (more…)