The Inconveniences of Data Attacks, Mistakes and Solutions

by | Mar 25, 2019

Secure Your Data In The Cloud

Like an international terrorist, black hat data attacks on IT networks need to be successful just one time.  Then that nasty word comes up, Ransomware.

For IT businesses trying to lock down networks, that means it only takes one mistake, and the wall comes tumbling down.  If a network administrator leaves a port open, or an end user clicks on a phishing link, or an IT technician forgets or delays patching a vulnerability, then a locked door gets unbolted, and a hacker waltzes in and has the run of the place. 

A black hat hacker who is successful gets Personal Identifiable Information or, worse yet, Personal Health Information and holds it for ransom for any number of bitcoins from an organization or business.

Cyber Security is a worldwide challenge.  Statistics from the Center for Strategic and International Studies show the bad news with a list that is, unfortunately, updated often.  These are just a few of the examples on their website where they track the bad and the ugly since 2006. If you want the complete horror story, visitors can download the PDF here.

  • January 2019.  The U.S. Department of Justice announced an operation to disrupt a North Korean botnet that had been used to target companies in the media, aerospace, financial, and critical infrastructure sectors.
  • January 2019.  Security researchers reveal that Iranian hackers have been targeting the telecom and travel industries since at least 2014 in an attempt to surveil and collect the personal information of individuals in the Middle East, U.S., Europe, and Australia.
  • January 2019.  Security researchers reveal that Iranian hackers have been targeting the telecom and travel industries since at least 2014 in an attempt to surveil and collect the personal information of individuals in the Middle East, U.S., Europe, and Australia.

One Mistake Creates Havoc

These incidents cover bad actors who target companies and government agencies with sophisticated, high level technologically advanced attacks. Many more data breaches that occur because someone left a laptop in a car or at an airport.  Everyone has heard the phrase, “Information is power or Education is Power,” but in the hacker world, data means money and lots and lots of Bitcoin.  A Bitcoin is not cheap. As of this post, a Bitcoin is worth 3,927 US dollars.

Nick Ferry,  from CTRL Cloud,  recently did an interview on cybercrime that covers the threat.

To give you an example of how one mistake can create issues for companies and organizations, refer to the WannaCry vulnerability.  This attack leveraged a Server Message Block (SMB) weakness at the Port 445 network stack.  SMB is a network protocol that allows file and printer sharing services in Windows systems.  The SMB protocol should be used as an internally and security experts recommend blocking outside access to Port 445 on all network devices.   Printers have several port protocols open by default, and one of them is Port 445.

Before the WannaCry attack swept over the world, the Microsoft patch MS17-010 was available to everyone for more than 50 days. The black hat community counted on organizations and businesses either forgetting to patch or not testing and patching their systems soon enough.  Once they were inside the network, they could gain access to data for ransomware attacks or lock up workstations.  Some organizations paid to get their data back.  This attack disrupted businesses by causing data recovery operations, and workstation reimage operations by the IT department.

The inconveniences of data attacks are many:

  1. Loss of money.
  2. Loss of data if no backup plan or worse yet, data not retrieved after paying.
  3. Loss of operating time.
  4. Loss of employee work effort and a decrease in morale.
  5. Loss of reputation.
  6. Loss of IT workforce effort on other priorities.

Businesses and organizations usually recover from these potential risks when they occur but not without spending money and time.  With planning and best practices, these risks can be mitigated and almost eliminated.  One way to mitigate disruptions is through risk aversion and risk transference.  

Risk Transference

Risk Transference is a term used in the IT world that means handing the risk to a willing third party.  In some cases, this means purchasing insurance.  In this case, the risk transfer is shouldered on the cloud company in that is protects the data and updates and patches the applications access by the end user on a Hosted Virtual Desktop.  The act of transferring risk carries out the risk aversion concept and lowers the risk to end user.  Cybersecurity and assurance defend information systems by ensuring their availability, integrity, authentication, confidentiality, and non-repudiation, the assurance that someone cannot deny a signature or a message.

How can the cloud secure my business data?

A Cloud company coordinates security from the user level through the internal network and from the external sources sending data to the business computer.  The necessary firewall protections and configurations are brought forward to the edge of the network so that nothing gets through.  Firewall security by device or software, combined with access control lists, permissions, and device configurations, add up to protecting data.  The WannaCry attack could have been prevented by blocking access to Port 445 SMB protocol from the outside. Cloud companies must be vigilant against attacks.  A data breach can cost them their reputations, so they are researching and trying to predict the next threat vector.

Another service provided by the Cloud is data stored off-site so that data can be retrieved when needed.  Data is protected by properly configuring switches and routers so that ports are blocked to the outside.  Storing data off-site enables businesses to access their data while knowing several layers of protection ward off black hat hackers.

Running a small business can be overwhelming with profit margins and the next contract.  Data protection and IT Security should not be a worry that dominates your every waking minute.  Cloud services can take that one worry away.  CTRL Cloud is a company that handles data and IT services while marshaling security protections at every level.  Sign up for a demonstration so you can see how security can protect you from the next attack.

 

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Rick Bretz

Rick Bretz

Chief content and technical writer

Rick Bretz  possesses comprehensive experience in several subjects including video editing and production, radio/TV and journalism writing, videography, radio broadcasting, IT Management, Information Security and Assurance.  He also works as a Senior Cyber Security Engineer for Vulnerability Management, Service/Infrastructure Operations and Platforms Support for the government. Mr. Bretz also is a documentation and technical writer for the Veteran Administration’s Continuous Readiness in Information Security Program.  He also served in the US Army beginning in 1979, graduating from leadership schools and from Journalism, Broadcasting, Newspaper Editing and Public Affairs Supervisor courses.  He retired from the Army with many writing and broadcasting awards to accept video production and management positions.  He holds a BS degree in Information Technology with a Specialization in Security Assurance from Capella University and has a Security + Certification from CompTIA.  Mr. Bretz also writes his own blog on topics that interest him that can be reached at  pastparallelpaths.com.

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