Technology Advisor Blog

Watch Out for Holiday Gift Card eMail Scams

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/20/18 5:02 PM

Gift CardIt's the holiday season and people are busy, and it's also a season to beware of scams.  There are many different scams related to gift cards, and here's a new one we just saw locally. 

A user received an urgent message from their boss that he needed to get gift cards for important clients and there was a time crunch to get the task done.  The diligent employee replied and immediately started working on the task.  After a few email exchanges back and forth, the employee went to talk to the boss to clarify some final details, and the scam was revealed - the boss never asked for the gift cards.  They were very close to losing $2000 to a crook.

The original email from the "boss" was actually a "spoofed" message.  This is an email that's made to look like it's from a particular individual or organization (like a bank or the post office), but its actually from someone else.  It's illegal to use an SMTP server without authorization, but this doesn't stop a crook, and its actually very easy to fake an email.  The bosses email was never hacked, it was just a trick that used his email address.  The underlying technical details like the return path, etc, will give away the secret, but on the surface, the email looks like a legitimate return address.

  1. Watch out for emails with with a sense of urgency quickly worded to look like they're from a mobile device (iphone, iPad).  The typos are made to make the email appear more familiar and rushed.
  2. NEVER email financial information.  The email exchanged started getting weird when the crook started asking for the authorization codes via email.  This is a red flag.
  3. Don't get tricked if you see a familiar name in the "from" field.  Scammers are getting good at harvesting emails from websites and social media.  This is their full time job.  Make sure your employees are all aware of this trick.
  4.  When in doubt, have a face-to-face or phone conversation to clarify the details.

Sadly there are so many different variations of scams.  The bad actors are constantly working on different variations to get through all the technical and human defenses. 

User education is key!  Think before you click!

 

 

 

Tags: cybersecurity, Cybersecurity, email scams

A Creepy eMail in Your Inbox - Someone Knows Your Password

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/12/18 10:02 AM

Social-Media-Graphic-Comprimised-CredentialsThe Cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing, and there's a new threat to watch out for:  Extortion emails that contain either a past or current password.   We saw a big wave of these emails over the summer and shared a blog post with our community,: A Creepy Twist on Ransomware: Using your Hacked Passwords and we're seeing another wave now, with some more variations.

Here's the intro from the new email we're seeing:

"Hello

I'm a hacker who cracked your email as well as devices a few weeks back.  

You entered your password on one of the websites you visited, and I intercepted it. 

Here is the password from <your email address> on the moment of the hack:  <an email you will recognize>

Clearly one can change it, or perhaps you already changed it.  

Nonetheless, it isn't going to change anything, my own malicious software updated it each and every time.

Do not necessarily attempt to get in touch with me or find me, since I sent you email from your own account.  

Via your own email address, I uploaded harmful code to your Operating System.

I saved all your contacts along with friends, acquaintances, relatives, and an entire record of visits to Web resources..."

The email goes on to demand payment to a bitcoin wallet, and references images taken from the webcam.   It further says that law enforcement can't help you.

This email, and emails like it are very scary.  The email is made to look like someone hacked into your email account, but in fact it's just a "spoofed" email (the return path is not actually you, but it looks like it is).  

Bad actors can harvest passwords from the dark web and you may recognize the password identified.  One of the reasons this scam works so well is that you will likely recognize the password, as many people use the same password or similar passwords for multiple accounts.  Threats like this are launched using automated systems, and users who may not be aware of these threats work could be terrified of messages like these.

We track major breaches on a weekly basis, and also monitor the dark web for compromised credentials.  It may take a very long time for a breach to be acknowledged, but with dark web monitoring, you'll get advance notice.  

We strongly advise a layered approach to security.  Employee security awareness training, password managers, next-generation antivirus, and dark web monitoring are strongly advised to help keep your users secure.  The security landscape is constantly evolving and the layers of security you may have put in place years ago are no longer sufficient. 

Everyone has a different level of risk that you're okay with, there are probably some gaps that you're not comfortable with.   Our mission is to make sure you have the information you need to be aware of the current cybersecurity landscape and to make informed decisions about your acceptable risk level.

 

 

How the Dark Web Impacts Small Businesses

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/2/18 11:06 AM

DarkWebIdentity theft is an unfortunate occurrence that is all too familiar with most business owners, but do those individuals know where the compromised data will end up? Often, these business owners are unaware of the virtual marketplace where stolen data is purchased and sold by cybercriminals; a place known as the “Dark Web”.

An article on Lexology explores what the Dark Web is, what information is available for purchase there and how it impacts small businesses.

What is the Dark Web?

The Dark Web, which is not accessible through traditional search engines is often associated with a place used for illegal criminal activity. While cybercriminals tend to use the Dark Web as a place to buy and sell stolen information, there are also sites within it that do not engage in criminal activity. For many, the most appealing aspect of the Dark Web is its anonymity.

What's for sale on the Dark Web?

Information sold on the Dark Web varies, and includes items such as stolen account information from financial institutions, stolen credit cards, forged real-estate documents, stolen credentials, and compromised medical records. Even more alarming, the Dark Web contains subcategories allowing a criminal to search for a specific brand of credit card as well a specific location associated with that card. Not only can these criminals find individual stolen items on the Dark Web, but in some cases, entire “wallets” of compromised information are available for purchase, containing items such as a driver’s license, social security number, birth certificate and credit card information.

What is stolen personal information used for?

When stolen information is obtained by criminals, it can be used for countless activities like securing credit, mortgages, loans and tax refunds. It is also possible that a criminal could create a “synthetic identity” using stolen information and combining it with fictitious information, thus creating a new, difficult to discover identity.

Why are stolen credentials so valuable? 

Stolen user names and passwords are becoming increasing popular among cybercriminals.  Identity thieves will often hire “account checkers” who take stolen credentials and attempt to break into various accounts across the web using those user names and passwords. The idea here is that many individuals have poor password practices and are using the same user name and password across various accounts, including business account such as banking and eCommerce. If the “account checker” is successful, the identity thief suddenly has access to multiple accounts, in some cases allowing them the opportunity to open additional accounts across financial and business-horizons. 

Why should small businesses be concerned about the Dark Web?

Since the Dark Web is a marketplace for stolen data, most personal information stolen from small businesses will end up there, creating major cause for concern. With the media so often publicizing large-scale corporate data breaches, small businesses often think they're "under the radar" and not a target for cybercriminals, however that is not the case. Cybercriminals are far less concerned about the size of a business than they are with how vulnerable their target is. Small businesses often lack resources to effectively mitigate the risks of a cyberattack, making them a prime target for identity theft as well as other cybercrime.

At a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) conference, privacy specialists noted that information available for purchase on the Dark Web was up to twenty times more likely to come from a company who suffered a data breach that was not reported to the media. The FTC also announced at the conference that the majority of breaches investigated by the U.S. Secret Service involved small businesses rather than large corporations.

How can you reduce the risk for your small business?

To reduce the risks of a cybercriminal gaining access to your company’s information/network, you must ensure you have proper security measures in place. The FTC has a webpage that can assist with security options for businesses of any size.  In addition, it is crucial that your employees are properly trained on security, including appropriate password practices. There is also talk of a government-led cyber threat sharing program which would help enhance security across all industries by sharing cyber threat data. 

Enhanced security technology is part of the solution here, but user security awareness is increasingly becoming the weakest link.  It just takes one user in your organization to click on the wrong link and do a lot of harm.  

Tags: cybersecurity, Dark Web

A New Twist on the Microsoft Support Scam

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 11/1/18 10:42 AM

The "tech support" scam is a common threat on the Internet.  While working on your computer, a pop up will appear that says your computer has a problem and help is just a phone call or click away.  Many of these scams pretend to be from Microsoft.  The graphics may look very professional, and the tech jargon sounds convincing enough that may people fall for these scams.  After the "repair" is done, then you'll be asked for a credit card to pay.  Most people assume they won't fall for a scam, but if you're very busy, and the support price is low enough, it could seem like the fastest and most efficient way to get support and get back to work.  

A new twist on this scam is that some bad actors make the scam more convincing by directing users to go to the Microsoft Support page, and then give them a code to get support via LogMeIn.  Since you've been directed to a legitimate website, you may think you're safe, but the code you enter will simply direct you to whichever user is connected on the other end - NOT Microsoft, because the code is independent of the site. 

LogMeIn Rescue is a remote support tool used by thousands of legitimate businesses, including Microsoft (and Ekaru), but legitimate products are not immune to bad actors with nefarious intent.  Some are using trial accounts and appear and disappear on line, so they're hard to catch.

Always be alert on line.  Many scams rely on busy users who need to get their support problem resolved as quickly as possible and get back to work.  THINK BEFORE YOU CLICK!

If you have any suspicions that something may not be right, DO NOT CONNECT.  If you have already connected, then hit the "kill switch" to end the session immediately.

LogMeIn Disconnect

LogMeIn has set up a site to report abuse.  If you're approached by a suspicious technician, capture and report – but do NOT enter – the six-digit PIN code they provide. Immediately send this and any other related information: https://secure.logmeinrescue.com/ReportAbuse/Send.

They request that you provide the following details:

  • In what way you were approached (email, phone call, etc.)
  • Exact date and time of the scam
  • The PIN code or link you were instructed to use (if you have it).

In general, always be suspicious if someone offers to help you and you didn't ask for help.  Another red flag is if you're asked to either upload or download files, and don't provide any credit card or personal information over the phone.

We recommend on-going security awareness for ALL employees.  The security landscape is constantly changing, and there are probably some gaps that you're not aware of if you're not keeping up.  Scammers are always improving and updating their techniques, so you and your team need to be aware of the latest threats.   Call us for help setting up a security awareness training plan, or sign up for training on-line.

Remember:  If a pop up appears on your computer saying you have a problem and help is available, DON'T call or click.  Call your own trusted computer support specialist instead!

Reference Link from the LogMeIn Support Site:  Avoiding scammer who abuse LogMeIn Rescue accounts.

Tags: data security, cybersecurity

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