From the Blogosphere
Email Hackers: Are You Next? | @CloudExpo #Cloud #Encryption #Cybersecurity
Believe it or not, passwords still matter. Authentication also matters
By: Shelly Palmer
Aug. 12, 2016 02:00 PM
Russian Email Hackers: Are You Next?
Experts are debating whether the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) email system was hacked by the Russian military intelligence service (G.R.U.) or Guccifer 2.0, a lone wolf Romanian hacker. While this is a very important question, the answer will not change the results: over 20,000 DNC emails ended up on WikiLeaks. How did this happen? How likely is it to happen to you or your company? What can you do to protect your email system from a similar fate?
Are the Russians Going to Hack Your Email System?
If you are targeted and attacked by a motivated, organized team of criminals, you will need a better-motivated, better-organized team of anti-criminals to enable you to emerge from the battle unscathed.
It’s not like the movies where you see a stereotypical geek with a laptop tapping a few keys and accomplishing the task in a few minutes. An organized team of criminals will do a thorough job of reconnaissance. They will find out which operating systems you are running and what ports are open, and they will examine your subsystems and how they interconnect.
Next, the bad guys will check their favorite sources for known vulnerabilities. A quick Google search will result in dozens of sites that contain vulnerability disclosures along with the proof of concept code used to discover the vulnerability. For professionals, this is a fruitful path to travel, as it leads to strategies to exploit computer systems where servers are not properly patched or are sloppily configured. Well-maintained, up-to-date systems are safe from the usual tactics associated with exploiting known vulnerabilities. After all, they’re “known.” But sadly, not everyone is as diligent with system updates and security patches as they should be.
Then they will take a hard look at your online presence. You publish your life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat, LinkedIn, blogs, etc. You probably don’t realize how much information you make available for anyone to gather and analyze. In truth, you (the employee) are the biggest security risk to your company, and you are by far the easiest to exploit. We’ll get to this in a minute.
Next, the hackers will use some tools from outside of your system, or get you to install some tools that put them inside your system to get to your information. At that point, it’s over. You’ve been hacked. So here are a few things you need to know.
Passwords Still Matter
Authentication also matters. You’ve heard of two-step authentication. You should use it? Does your login system lock after five attempts to login? How secure is your password recovery or password reset protocol? Does your computer lock after sitting idle for 60 seconds and require a password to regain access? Do you lock your computer every time you step away from your desk? This kind of stuff is inconvenient in the extreme, but all of it should be part of any cybersecurity initiative.
It’s Easier to Hack You than to Hack Your Computer
Known as Phishing (pronounced “fishing”), an email technique that tricks email recipients into performing specific behaviors, or Spear Phishing, a highly targeted version of Phishing that is customized for a small group, this type of social engineering exploits the weakest link in your cybersecurity chain – you! You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again. Unless you have asked for it or know the person who sent it (although this is no guarantee of safety), never, ever, under any circumstances click on a link in an unsolicited email. Just don’t do it. Phishing is now high art. The best templates are almost indistinguishable from the emails they are pretending to be. When in doubt, don’t click, because that one click would be all it takes to enable a hacker to put you into a world of hurt.
There are many places to learn about best practices email encryption. Google, Microsoft and almost every tech company that sells enterprise-grade solutions can help you. If you’re just a normal person or a small business, there are excellent solutions like Virtru and ProtonMail that offer best practices solutions. A quick Internet search will yield products and reviews galore.
Time to Rethink Email Communication
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