Your New Friend Alexa May Have an Issue with Boundaries
Make sure to check your Amazon Echo to find out whether your helpful virtual assistant Alexa is not spying on you. There is no doubt that the dulcet tones of Alexa on the Amazon Echo can be a massive help around the home or office. Popular with millions of people around the world, Alexa is always ready to respond when you call, but recently researchers from a cybersecurity company have created a ‘hack’ that may allow Alexa to be a little too proactive.
Always Listening – That’s the Problem
Alexa is designed to stay in sleep mode, until voice-activated with the command, “Alexa!”. Cybersecurity experts, however, have designed a simple program that forces Alexa to remain always-activated, record conversations and then send those recordings to a third party. The malicious program was camouflaged as an app calculator that is activated when a user opens the app, or tells Alexa to open the calculator app. Once activated, Alexa is always listening, even when you think your Echo is off.
Hacking into Alexa
The device’s inbuilt security protocols should force the program to terminate the session once complete, or to request permission to continue the session. But the hack was able to bypass the protocols and force Alexa to continuously listen and record voices.
How to Protect Your Systems
This specific program was created purely to test the system’s security and was immediately reported to Amazon, which has since fixed the vulnerability. However, it is a sobering reminder of the potential dangers of such a system. What can you do to protect yourself from your Alexa? Just like any other online systems, computers and mobile phones, it’s important to check regularly for malware, unknown applications and small files that you know you did not install. Also, take a look at the little blue light every now and again. It indicates the Amazon Echo is activated. When you’re not using it, it should be off. If it isn’t there might be a problem.
While most people do take the time to evaluate videos and links posted on Facebook timelines by their friends, it can be confusing when one receives a link via Facebook Messenger. There is a new crypto-currency virus that is spreading via Facebook Messenger that is specifically targeted at users of cryptocurrency trading platforms with the intent of stealing their access details.
Facexworm – Spread Through Facebook Messenger
The malicious virus which is a Chrome extension first started making the rounds in August of 2017, but it is only in the last six months, with the massive increase in people signing up for cryptocurrency sites that it has become a big problem. The latest iteration of the Facexworm virus has been in circulation for a few weeks and has the potential to cause real damage.
Just one click on the ‘link’ or ‘video’ sent by a trusted Facebook friend will allow the extension to open and start working in the background of Chrome where it is able to unleash the capability to steal account credentials from cryptocurrency trading sites and further misdirect users to fake cryptocurrency sites. It is also able to inject miners into a host webpage to be used for mining cryptocurrencies without the owner’s knowledge. The virus is similar to ‘Digmine’ which was able to redirect users to fake video site with the potential to steal user account information. Once the fake site has the access via OAuth token from Facebook, it has access to all your details and those of your friends list.
Vigilance and Protection
Though Facebook and Chrome have been able to isolate and remove the viruses and put security protection in place, but the most important security measures start with the user. One must always check the authenticity of seemingly random links and videos sent via friends, not matter how enticing and interesting they look. When in doubt – delete the link without opening it!
Cyber-security company HolistiCyber have formed an exciting new cyber-security partnership with the highly respected risk management and data security company Parker Fitzgerald. Using the key skills and experience of both entities, this innovative partnership aims to equip banks and other financial organizations with every resource they will need to protect their essential data against a growing number and range of attacks from cybercriminals. The new project was initiated by Shimon Sheves, joint founder and chairman of HolistiCyber, who sees it as a major step forward in the vital task of defending banks against these attacks.
The Changing Threat Landscape
It’s hardly surprising that cybercriminals tend to see banks as tempting targets, both because of the sums involved and because of the specific weaknesses that can often be found in their IT and data systems. Banks are naturally doing their best to protect the sensitive information they hold regarding customers, employees and others. Because their core skills are focused elsewhere, though, they need the best available outside expertise to keep up to date and properly address a threat environment that is continuously changing. This is confirmed by high-profile recent attacks, which collectively confirm that current protection standards are lagging behind the capabilities of the criminals who are intent on breaching security systems. The unfortunate fact is that these threats are highly complex, well planned and very much on a level that would previously have been associated more with attacks on nation states. Another worrying factor is the potential of the “dark net” to provide growing numbers of would-be attackers with the information and technology that will enable them to carry out their harmful plans.
Combining Proven Resources Leads to Greater Security
This is why Shimon Sheves, whose stellar CV includes overseeing the Israeli Prime Minister’s office for the late Yizhak Rabin, is so enthusiastic about the new project his company is undertaking jointly with Parker Fitzgerald. With the latter company’s proven success in the field of strategic risk management (particularly with reference to the banking sector) combined with HolistiCyber’s position as a trusted provider of cybersecurity solutions, the new undertaking will not only provide much-needed data security but will do so with particular attention to the specific needs of financial organisations. Sheves highlights the extensive expertise that the new venture will draw on since many of the analysts and operatives involved received their training from the Israeli armed forces. The expertise of both firms in the new project means that this unparalleled expertise will be blended with deep knowledge of the particular risks that confront the banking sector. This combination underpins Sheves’s firm belief that the partnership has game-changing potential and will help to map out a secure future for banks and their data systems.
The vital point is that the partnership between HolistiCyber and Parker Fitzgerald will enable client organizations to be fully aware of and protected against the particular threats that such institutions face in a rapidly changing cyber-crime landscape. This is surely the best possible news for banks and their customers. The only people who will have to worry, it seems, are the cybercriminals whose threats will be identified and counteracted.
HolistiCyber is a global leader in Cyber Defence and delivers advanced cybersecurity defense strategies to leading financial institutions around the world.Our certified experts are cybersecurity veterans of the intelligence branch of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). They are world-class experts who have served at the front-line of critical nation-state cybersecurity offensive and defensive operations
Your Technology Needs to be More Radical than Your Cyber-Attacker’s
There is no doubt that the world has become completely digitized. Virtually every facet of our lives is impacted by internet technology, from social media, digitized data, artificial intelligence, smart homes—you name it, the internet dominates the world.
Digital is great but the Risks of Data Breaches Have Multiplied
Digital data has revolutionized the way business is conducted today. The benefits are enormous. And so are the risks. While digital platform developers are working diligently to improve the world for consumers, hackers are working diligently to steal crucial business data for personal gain. A mere glance at the news reveals that every business sector has been impacted by cyber crime. Not only are the economic disruptions staggering, but the risk of personal financial harm is significant. Recently, for instance, it was reported that FedEx became victim to a cyber attack, resulting in a significant impact on its worldwide operations. Protecting the cyber borders of data is more important than ever.
Cyber Criminals are Patient
Cyber criminals are primarily interested in extracting data from company servers, with the aim of disrupting operations. This requires companies to rethink their cyber security strategies, to focus instead on the “cyber supply chain.” Hackers have become very adept at sneaking into the system and slowly stealing data for months before they are detected. Cyber security professionals, therefore, need to focus their attention on both inbound and outbound traffic.
Organizations are not Paying Enough Attention to the Risks
In spite of the vulnerabilities and increased incidents of breaches, response and recovery of data continue to be the weak link in corporations today. Organizations should conduct cyber security emergency drills, similar to the national emergency drills conducted by the government in order to remain alert and abreast of the newest cyber terrorist strategies. Artificial intelligence is assuredly the next frontier, but the success of any cyber security strategy relies on vigilant and skilled people. A strong cyber defense system requires a team effort, constant attention, and a continuous assessment of and response to threats coming from all sources.
A little while ago, I wrote on this Blog about the threat that the form of malware known as Ransomware poses to our online security. Now I want to focus on the particular threat that Ransomware poses to universities.
I’m thinking of a recent case in which one prominent university fell victim to this menace, with worrying results. When the Ransomware infection hit the university in question, it locked down exam results shortly before they were due to be announced. No decrypter could be found for the specific infection, but the university had, fortunately, digitally backed up all of its exam results by recording them on excel spreadsheets. This allowed the administration to painstakingly reconstruct the locked-down results, but the announcement of those results was delayed for almost one month.
Backing up or Backing Down?
Depending on I.T. and administrative procedures, the consequences of Ransomware attacks can vary widely from one university to another. A recent attack on the University of Calgary in Alberta, for example, compelled that institution’s authorities to pay a ransom of $20,000 to have their computer systems files decrypted. The ransom had to be paid, simply because the university had failed to properly back up its data. This must be one of the most expensive lessons ever learned at any university.
Securing the University in a Risky Environment
Unfortunately, the bigger picture is worrying. Ransomware threats are constantly increasing in number and becoming ever-more sophisticated. What should our universities do to avoid getting “system infected” warnings due to Ransomware activity? One highly recommended precaution is to use automated and isolated backup mechanisms, together with an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) both at network level and for critical assets. An IDS is a powerful resource in the battle against Ransomware, because it provides specific insights into any potential threat. The AlienVault Unified Security Management (USM) platform may be especially desirable, because it has inbuilt IDS with SIEM (security information and event management) and real-time threat intelligence. Both of these features can help in the rapid detection of Ransomware and other threats.