Tag Archive for: Coronavirus

Five-point checkup to secure your systems! 

The advent of the COVID-19 “coronavirus” has spooked worldwide markets and pushed an inconceivable number of professionals into their homes to work remotely. This introduces a nightmare for network security and the threat of disruption to business continuity. If you do not have a contingency plan in place or have been struggling to deploy a secure remote workforce effectively, please contact us. We are working extra hours through the pandemic to make sure businesses like yours remain safe and secure in this fast-moving situation.  

Until we connect, here is a five-point checkup for the things that you should be doing immediately in this crisis!  

1: Make staff aware of the huge uptick in phishing attacks. We wrote about this previously, but the cases continue to rise. Nobody from the CDC or “official” medical organizations are going to send around email attachments. With the fear of the unknown, and the lack familiarity with working from home, remote staff are being actively targeted by malicious actors. These remote workers urgently need to be made aware of the risks of these sorts of attacks. 

2: Are your endpoints secure? Remote work has gone up exponentially in a very short period of time. That means there are certainly insecure laptops and other assets connecting to internal networking infrastructure in a way that could be leaking critical data to malicious actors. This needs to be resolved as quickly as possible, as it is a primary target for attackers.

3. What tripwires do you have in place? Are your systems up to date? Does every end point have updated malware protection? Have those things been tested recently? Sometimes the most important thing to do is make sure all events are monitored and logged! We can deploy best-in-class monitoring software quickly, and we would love to consult on setting up monitoring rules for your network. 

4. Who gets alerted in the event of an attack or system failure? Malicious actors prey on the fact that most companies do not have a clear chain of command in place when a security breach occurs. If a breach occurs, it is crucial to identify and contain the threat to mitigate the impact of the breach. The same confusion occurs with the chain of command when critical IT systems fail. A good question to ask yourself is

“In the event of a critical IT system failure, do I have sufficient IT redundancy measures in place? 

5. What happens if your head of IT gets sick? Do you have an IT managed service provider? One of the most crucial aspects of ensuring continuity of business is to have overlap in your IT, security and compliance staff. If the reports are true, the likelihood of your employees contracting COVID-19 is a very real concern that must have a plan in place. According to sources, companies in Paris with 250 employees have a 95% chance of having at least one employee infected with the coronavirus. The US has yet to see the same kind of outbreak, but the number of cases is accelerating quickly!

At GoVanguard, we are working extra hard during this global emergency created by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to combat threat actors taking advantage of the situation. Please get in touch with us today to help build a robust business continuity plan and protect your organization.  

Reach out to us today and see how easy it is to take control of your security and keep your data secure. 

Coronavirus spreads to Infosec

Cybercriminals utilize anxiety, fear and a lack of understanding in order to engineer the environments in which people start making predictably bad security decisions. Spear phishing attacks target unsuspecting members of organizations into thinking they need to urgently click something in an email that unleashes a payload or grabs login credentials. Victims are engineered to trust the alleged sender, or sometimes they fear the consequences of ignoring a big opportunity! This is a fundamental attack vector that infosec professionals combat every day, but the COVID-19 Coronavirus introduces a valuable new angle to the attack: fear of the unknown.  

With companies like Google telling their employees to work from home, there will almost definitely be a cascade of big businesses pushing for as much remote work as possible – driving up the stock value of Zoom video conferencing software amid an otherwise nasty, global sell-off. This is a great step toward establishing a more nimble, decentralized workforce, but it also sets up the dominos for lots of insecure systems to be connecting improperly to company servers, and that opens up a wealth of new exploits! 

 

But the virus itself is also a juicy social engineering attack vector.  

This week, threat actors have begun to exploit the fear of the virus to spread the seeds of cybercrime with threats ranging from coronavirus-themed malware attacks, booby-trapped URLs and credential stuffing scams. Two malware campaigns connected to the coronavirus have been discovered in the wild, just this week.  

The first is a phishing email targeted to spread Remcos RAT and malware payloads. The message has an attached PDF offering coronavirus safety measures, according to research from ZLab-Yoroi Cybaze. Instead of safety measures, the PDF, named “CoronaVirusSafetyMeasures_pdf,” includes executables for a Remcos RAT dropper that runs with a VBS file executing the malware.  

The email attack showed a high level of sophistication in its ability to avoid detection by common firewalls, ZLab-Yoroi Cybaze researchers observed in a post on the threat, stating: “It established a TLS protected connection to a file sharing platform named ‘share.]dmca.]gripe,’ possibly to avoid reputation warnings raised by next-gen firewalls.”  

Victims are prompted to download the file, which then installs two executable files in the system directory on the victim’s computer. A VBScript then becomes the springboard to run the executables across the system. 

Another new email campaign reported by the MalwareHunterTeam includes a coronavirus-themed Microsoft Office document allegedly sent from the “Center for Public Health of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.” Along with offering legitimate information, the document contains malicious macros that install a backdoor to allow keylogging, clipboard stealing and the ability to take screenshots from a victim’s computer. 

 

Sneaky, sneaky!  

According to some researchers’ estimates, there have been over 4,000 coronavirus-related domains registered globally in the last three months with 3-8% assumed to be malicious or suspicious, and they are being used to add a sense of legitimacy to multifaceted phishing attempts.  

Researchers at Cofense, said they observed a new phishing attack based on fake messages from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) stating that the coronavirus has “officially become airborne” and there “have been confirmed cases of the disease in your location.” 

The email contains a phishing kit that asks recipients to click a link that appears to navigate to the CDC’s website to learn more about the local coronavirus threat.

COVID email

Phishing Email

 Behind the link is a series of malicious redirects used by attackers that take victims to one of several SSL-certified, top-level domains where users will be presented with a Microsoft login page. The recipient email address is appended within the URL, to automatically populate the login box with their account name. The user is prompted to provide their password, which will be sent to the malicious actor before redirecting the user to the legitimate CDC website. 

With these sorts of opportunities to launch sophisticated attacks against unsuspecting employees that are working from home in a manner which is uncommon for their routine while being under the threat of a poorly misunderstood pandemic is a recipe for a large uptick in malicious attacks, and companies need to prepare their organizations for the new vectors.  

Kaspersky has also issued their own findings about COVID-19 related email phishing attacks, stating: “The discovered malicious files were masked under the guise of .PDF, .MP4, .DOC files about the coronavirus,” researchers said in a statement released to Threatpost. “The names of files imply that they contain video instructions on how to protect yourself from the virus, updates on the threat and even virus-detection procedures, which is not actually the case.” 

The files contain a litany of security threats, including trojans and worms that are “capable of destroying, blocking, modifying or copying data, and interfering with the operation of computers or networks,” according to the firm. So far, ten different documents have been observed circulating. 

“As people continue to be worried for their health, we may see more and more malware hidden inside fake documents about the coronavirus being spread,” wrote Anton Ivanov, Kaspersky malware analyst. 

 

Staying protected 

So how can you avoid falling victim to these scam attempts? GoVanguard recommends that all companies.  

  1. Be extra cautious with emails and files received from unknown, but official sounding senders, especially if they prompt for actions and credentials. 
  1. Do NOT to click on ads or promotional links in emails. Instead, Google your desired retailer and click the link from the Google results page. 
  1. Beware of “special” offers. “An exclusive cure for Coronavirus” is not ever going to be emailed to you.  
  1. Beware of lookalike domains, spelling errors in emails or websites, and unfamiliar email senders. 

At GoVanguard, we recommend a systematic approach to information security. Carefully and simply implemented security protocols can minimize the risk of exposure to data breaches and the penalties the proceed them. In order to successfully navigate data security protocols during thi period of global pandemic, compliance protocols must be in place. That is why we have a rigorous cybersecurity risk assessment and program implementation regimen in place! 

Reach out to us today and see how easy it is take control of your security and keep your data secure