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The Mind of the Misunderstood Cybercriminal

There are a number of misconceptions about cybercrime and those who engage in it. To a cybercriminal, there is no target that is special unless they have a grudge or beef with a particular entity, and as a rule, they will often cast their net wide and then move to attack the easiest prey they find.

11DSecurity specialists must never underestimate the actions of a cybercriminal. Records are easily shared and sold, and they are highly valued. This is especially the case when personal and medical information is the focus.

Any plan that the security professionals design must be focused on these types of crimes. They must also be aware of any upcoming threats and ensure that all proper backups of data are in place.

What are the Common Misconceptions Associated with Cybercrime and Cybercriminals

The most common misconception about cybercriminals that is often observed is that these people have diverse experience and skills, which allow them to initiate a huge range of cyberattacks. This would mean that they would earn a large amount of money as a result. However, the truth is, many of the cybercriminals out there use automated software, which means they don’t require much training at all. According to a recent survey, the vast majority only make from $1,000 to $2,000 a month. But as many as 20 percent of cybercriminals are making more than $20,000 a month.

Who are the Criminals Behind Cyber Crimes?

For the most part, those who commit cybercrimes have a clean criminal record and do not have any ties to any organized groups. These criminals usually also have a stable job during the day and participate in these cybercrimes in their free time. Often, these people are introduced to cybercrimes during college, and many remain active in the industry for several years after they begin.

The other cybercriminals have a bit of a different background. These people belong to cybercriminal syndicates that work within a hierarchy. There are highly skilled members of these groups, and each have certain responsibilities to ensure the success of their organization.

Generally, these groups are controlled by a “boss,” who is the mastermind. They are typically highly educated, intelligent, and some are often connected with the banking industry, as they must arrange for things like money laundering. Additionally, these groups often include people who are professional forgers, as they often require fake documents to serve as paperwork to “prove” their schemes, and then the group needs those skilled in hacking, software engineering, and other technical operations. Some of the groups also include those familiar with law enforcement, as they are skilled with things such as gathering information and counter-intelligence.

What is often so surprising is that members of these groups are often highly respected members of their communities, and many are seen as successful people in business. These people are also often connected to hospitality, real estate, or the automotive industry.

These people do not think of themselves as regular criminals, and they rarely cross paths with others whom the general public might deem as “criminal.” They usually hide in the shadows and avoid any actions that might bring attention to them.

To avoid all of this, it is best to use the assistance of a professional. They are familiar with how these communities run and how they react to certain actions. There are a number of way to research the dark web in a secure and safe manner without risking the integrity of your organization, but the professionals are best for this job. It is also important for businesses to utilize security teams. This ensures that they are capable of obtaining the data and stimulating the environment.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

How to Make $5 Million a Day in Cybercrime

This post isn’t exactly a “how to” but if your current employment isn’t bringing in the bacon, I’m sure your criminal mind can figure it out. In the biggest digital advertising fraud in the history of the U.S., it was recently found that a group of hackers is bringing in from $3 million to $5 million a day from media companies and brands. That’s some scratch!

11DWhite Ops, an online fraud-prevention firm, uncovered this campaign, which they have called “Methbot,” and the firm found that the campaign is generating more than 300 million video ad impressions each day.

AFT13, which is a cyber criminal gang, has worked to develop the Methbot browser, which spoofs all of the interactions that are necessary to initiate and carry out these ad transactions.

The hackers, which are allegedly Russia-based, have registered more than 250,000 distinct URLs and 6,000 domains, all of which impersonate US brand and companies, including Vogue, ESPN, Fox News, Huffington Post, and CBS Sports. They then take these sites and sell fake ad slots.

The cybercriminals that are behind Methbot are using their servers, which are hosted in Amsterdam and Texas, to give power to almost 600,000 bots. These have fake IP addresses, most of which belong to the US, and this makes it look like the ads are being viewed by visitors in the US. The criminals then get video-ad inventory, which they display on the fake media website that they have created. They get top dollar for this, and they trick the marketplace into believing that this content is being seen by legitimate visitors. In reality, however, these ads are being “viewed” by fake viewers thanks to an automated program that mimics a user watching an ad.

To make the bots look even more real, the group also uses methods such as fake clicks, mouse movements, and even social network login info. White Ops has also found that this fake army of viewers has amassed about 300 million ad views each day, and it has an average payout of about $13 per every 1000 views. If you multiply this by the compromised IP addresses out there, the money is rolling in.

White Ops believes that the Methbot empire has created from 200 to 300 million fake video ad impressions each day, which targets about 6,000 publishers. In a 24-hour period, this is generating somewhere between $3 and $5 million in each 24-hour period.

While the operation has its headquarters in Russia, White Ops can’t say for sure that Methbot has Russian origins. The good guys have been in contact with the FBI, and together, they have been working towards stopping this scam for several weeks.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Why Are Cyber Hucksters so successful?

Often, hucksters prey on the consumer’s desperation, which is why it’s no surprise that the No. 1 rip-off (at least between 2011 and 2012)) was bogus products promising weight loss.

6DVICE (vice.com) interviewed psychologist Maria Konnikova about how cyber cons are so successful—even with the most ridiculous sounding bait (Nigerian prince, anyone?).

The bait becomes more attractive when the target is receiving an influx of cyber attention. Sad to say, this trips up a person’s rationale, making them susceptible to the huckster’s plan.

Konnikova is quoted as stating, “Few things throw us off our game as much as so-called cognitive load: how taxed our mental capacities are at any given moment.” She explains that people are vulnerable when the con artist hits them up with their scheme while the victim is distracted with Twitter, texting, etc. In short, it’s cognitive overload.

Konnikova is the author of the book, “The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It, Every Time.” In the book, she mentions that victims such as the U.S. Navy were too humiliated to prosecute the crooks who conned them. She tells vice.com: “Because admitting it [getting rooked] would mean admitting you’re a sap.”

And in this day of rapidly evolving cyber technology, the huckster’s job is becoming easier, what with all sorts of pathways he can snag a victim, such as dating sites and pop-up ads warning your computer has been infected. But something else is on the crook’s side: the false sense of security that all this techy mumbo jumbo gives the common user—who hence lets down their guard.

And despite all the parodies and mockeries surrounding the so-called Nigerian prince scam (aka 419 scam), it’s still out there in full force and effect. Look how technology has made it swell. And it will continue evolving as long as people want something for nothing. Why else would the Powerball swell to over 1.3 billon. “The basic contours of the story won’t change,” Konnikova tells vice.com.

Another factor is that some people equate online with credibility: “It’s online so it must be legitimate,” is the mindset. According to this mindset, the Loch Ness Monster must really exist, since there are many stories about it online. Despite how irrational this mindset is, scammers know that many people think this way and will design their ploys to look even more legitimate (with creative layouts, slogans, links, etc.).

Though it takes skill to be a successful huckster, they can’t get the job done without the victim being “vulnerablized” by cognitive overload.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Sales Staff Targeted by Cyber Criminals

Companies that cut corners by giving cybersecurity training only to their technical staff and the “big wigs” are throwing out the welcome mat to hackers. Cyber criminals know that the ripe fruit to pick is a company’s sales staff. Often, the sales personnel are clueless about the No. 1 way that hackers “get in”: the phishing e-mail. Salespeople are also vulnerable to falling for other lures generated by master hackers.

11DIn a recent study, Intel Security urges businesses to train non-technical (including sales) employees. Sales personnel are at highest risk of making that wrong click because they have such frequent contact in cyberspace with non-employees of their company.

Next in line for the riskiest positions are call center and customer service personnel. People tend to think that the company’s executives are at greatest risk, but look no further than sales, call center and customer service departments as the employees who are most prone to social engineering.

It’s not unheard of for businesses to overlook the training of sales employees and other non-technical staff in cybersecurity. Saving costs explains this in some cases, but so does the myth that non-technical employees don’t need much cybersecurity training.

Intel Security’s report says that the most common methods of hackers is the browser attack, stealth attack, SSL attack, network abuse and evasive technologies.

In particular, the stealth attack is a beast. Intel Security has uncovered 387 new such threats per minute. IT teams have their work cut out for them, struggling to keep pace with these minute-by-minute evolving threats. This doesn’t make it any easier to train non-technical staff in cybersecurity, but it makes it all the more crucial.

Training non-technical staff, particularly those who have frequent online correspondence and have the gift of cyber gab, is the meat and potatoes of company security.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

UL to launch Cybersecurity Cert

UL in this case stands for Underwriters Laboratories. An article on darkreading.com notes that a UL official, Maarten Bron, says that they are taking part in the U.S. government’s plan to promote security certification standards.

1WThe U.S. government is interested in developing a UL-type program directed at computers and smartphones. This initiative will encourage the private sector and the government to create the standards.

So that’s what we have thus far; this initiative is in its early childhood stage, so there isn’t much more information about it that’s available to the media. UL is looking forward to sharing involvement with the White House’s initiative to unite the private and public sectors to combat cybercrime.

In the meantime, UL is fine-tuning its own test and certification program for Internet of Things products.

The darkreading.com article quotes Bron as follows: “We are prepared to release a test and certification program for this,” that will be fueled by users’ concerns and needs.

Historically, UL has been involved with the testing and certifying of appliances for their electrical safety. About four years ago, UL developed a cybersecurity division. In the darkreading.com article, Bron points out that the security of electronic payments is of particular concern, “namely certification of chip and PIN technologies.”

The transition from magnetic stripe credit cards (which are so easy to fraudulently use) to chip and PIN technology for the cards is underway.

UL has come up with some testing tools that cross-validate the settings from bank card chips against Visa best practices, says Bron. But that’s all just one slice of the cybersecurity pie.

Another big slice is health, and yet another big chunk relates to industrial control systems. UL wants to be on top of holes or vulnerabilities.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention

A look into Cyber Weapons of the Future

Remember the good ‘ol days when you thought of a finger pushing a button that launched a Russian missile that then sped at seven miles per second towards the U.S. to blow it up?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-online-risks-sign-road-banner-image34668294Little did we know back then what would one day be a way for the Superpowers to war on each other: cyber technology!

A new book is out called Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, written by Peter W. Singer and August Cole. WWIII certainly won’t be wrought with speeding missiles and hand-to-hand combat in the trenches—at least not the bulk of it.

An article on vice.com notes that the Third World War will take place in cyberspace (in addition to land, sea and air).

Vice.com contacted Singer about his novel. One of the villains is China, even though much of the attention has been on the Middle East and so-called terrorist attacks by radical Muslims.

To write the novel, the authors met with a wide assortment of people who, if WWIII were to come about, would likely be involved. This includes Chinese generals, anonymous hackers and fighter pilots. This gives the story authenticity, realism…a foreshadowing.

Singer explains that his novel is so realistic that it’s already influencing Pentagon officials in their tactics.

The Third World War will probably not require so much the ability to do pull-ups, slither under barbed wire and rappel down buildings, but the mastering of cyberspace and outer space: It’s likely that the winner of this war will be king beyond land, sea and air: lord over the digital world and the blackness beyond our planet’s atmosphere.

Projected Weapons of WWIII

  • A kite-shaped Chinese drone, massive enough to take out stealth planes and ships
  • Drones that, from high altitude, could get an instant genetic readout of an individual
  • Smart rings that replace computer mouses
  • Brain-machine interfaces. This already exists in the form of paralyzed people using their thoughts (hooked up to a computer) to move a limb (their own or robotic). This technology has applications in torturing the enemy.

That old saying, “What the mind can conceive and believe, can be achieved,” seems to be becoming more truer by the second. Imagine being able to wipe out the enemy by plugging your thoughts into a computer and imagining them having heart attacks.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to TheBestCompanys.com discussing  identity theft prevention.

The Beginners Guide to using TOR

Want to be invisible online? Get to know Tor.

TORTor will make you cyber-anonymous, concealing your cyber footprints, ID, browsing history and physical location. It even makes the sites you visit anonymous. Now, all that being said, there seems to be a concerted effort by certain US government agencies and others to crack Tor, but that hasn’t been completely accomplished…yet.

More on Tor

Realize, that Tor can’t provide 100 percent security. On paper, the Tor network is secure. But the typical Joe or Jane may unintentionally exit Tor using an “exit node,” and end up getting on a website or server that’s in the “open web.” If the visited site is not encrypted, Joe or Jane’s communications can be hijacked.

Tor is actually easy to set up. You can download packages for your operating system: Mac, Windows or GNU/Linux, and this includes the Tor Browser. The Covert Browser supports Tor for iOS and Android.

You may find, however, that your device may fight against installing Tor; the device thinks it’s malevolent and won’t accept the download. Keep trying. Have faith in the Tor code and download it.

The Tor experience is quite leisurely, slowing down what you can do in a given amount of time. It’s not going to get faster, either, as more and more people decide to use Tor. It’s slow because it directs traffic through multiple, random relay nodes prior to arriving at the destination node. So realize that you’ll be dealing with more of a turtle than a hare.

Tor blocks applications, too. If you want total anonymity, you should use the Tor software with the Tor Browser. But plugins will be blocked by the Tor Browser—because plugins can be used to see your IP address. This is why the Tor Project suggests not installing plugins. This means giving up YouTube and other sites while using Tor.

Be warned, Tor can get you undesired attention because the government is more suspicious of Tor users. This doesn’t mean the government will knock down your doors if you’re using Tor. It just means that Tor users may get the attention of the government more than typical Internet users.

As previously stated there’s evidence that government agencies, including the NSA, are trying to dismantle the Tor network, even though it delivers strong privacy protection to average Internet users.

If you want this level of anonymity, you’re going to have to get used to the fact that using Tor will change your online experiences (can you get by without YouTube?). The Tor Project says: “You need to change some of your habits, as some things won’t work exactly as you are used to.”

No matter whether on Tor or the open web, make sure if you are on free public WiFi that you are using Hotspot Shield to encrypt any wireless data.

Give Tor a try if privacy and anonymity are important enough for you to give up some of the features that make your online activities enjoyable, convenient and/or productive timewise.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield. He is the author of99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures.

Majority of Executives believe Attackers will overcome Corporate Defenses

Many technology executives don’t have a favorable outlook on their ability to sideswipe cybercriminals, according to research conducted by McKinsey and World Economic Forum.

2DThe research also shows that both big and small businesses lack the ability to make sturdy decisions, and struggle to quantify the effect of risk and resolution plans. As the report authors state, “Much of the damage results from an inadequate response to a breach rather than the breach itself”.

These results come from interviews with more than 200 business leaders such as chief information officers, policy makers, regulators, law enforcement officials and technology vendors spanning the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Cybercrimes are extremely costly and the cost can hit the trillions of dollars mark.

Several concerning trends regarding how decision makers in the business world perceive cyber risks, attacks and their fallouts were apparent in the research findings:

  • Over 50 percent of all respondents, and 70 percent of financial institution executives, think that cybersecurity is a big risk. Some executives believe that threats from employees equal those from external sources.
  • A majority of executives envision that cyber criminals will continue being a step ahead of corporate defenses. 60 percent believe that the gap between cyber crooks and corporate defense will increase, with, of course, the crooks in the lead.
  • The leaking of proprietary knowledge is a big concern for companies selling products to consumers and businesses.
  • Service companies, though, are more worried about the leaking of their customers’ private information and of disruptions in service.
  • Large organizations, says ongoing McKinsey research, reported cross-sector gaps in risk-management competency.
  • Some companies spend a lot but don’t have much sophistication in risk-management capabilities, while other companies spend little but are relatively good at making risk-management decisions. Even large companies can stand to improve their risk management capabilities substantially.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Cybersecurity Insurance still Requires Cybersecurity

OpenSSL vulnerabilities are sticking around for a while. In fact, recently two new ones were announced: One allows criminals to run an arbitrary code on a vulnerable computer/device, and the other allows man-in-the-middle attacks. A more famous openSSL vulnerability that made headlines earlier this year is the Heartbleed bug.

3DMight cybersecurity insurance be a viable solution?

As reported in SC Magazine, Yes, says Hunton & Williams LLP. Cybersecurity insurance fixes the problems that these vulnerabilities cause—that technology alone can’t always mitigate.

Hunton & Williams LLP reports that GameOver Zeus malware infiltrated half a million to a million computers, resulting in gargantuan losses to businesses and consumers. The firm says that antivirus software just isn’t enough to prevent mass infection. The fact is, advances in malicious code have rendered antivirus software frightfully weak, continues the firm..While not everyone agrees on this point, Hunton & Williams recommends a proactive approach which includes assessment of risk transfer methods, e.g., insurance.

Laurie Mercer, from the security consulting company Contest Information Security, also believes in cybersecurity insurance. Mercer uses cars as an analogy. A car must stick to safety standards. The car gets serviced every so often. But the car also has various buttons and whatnots inside that can alert the driver of a problem.

Likewise, with cybersecurity, products can be certified with commercial product assurance accreditation. A website can get a regular security audit every so often. And like the interior buttons of a car, a website can have a response strategy to a cyber incident or some kind of detection for an attack. However, the car should still be insured.

At a recent SC Congress London, Sarah Stephens from Aon EMEA pointed out that cyber insurance is rising in popularity. But Andrew Rose, a security analyst with Forrester, noted that many threats can be resolved with adequate plans in place.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.

Bankers on the Front lines of Cyber Defense

There was once a time when the only threat to a bank’s security was when that innocent-looking man hands a note to the bank teller that makes her face go ashen. And the only security, save for video surveillance, was the armed guards and the silent alarm that the teller triggers.

2DNowadays, terms like firewalls, encryption, anti-virus and cloud providers are just as important to a bank’s security as are the armed guards, huge windows, security cameras and steel vaults. No longer is the masked robber who says “Hand over the money” a bank’s biggest threat. ATM skimming, where nobody is ever shot at, is at the top of the list.

The Three Directions of Banking Security

  • Analyzing big data and assessing potential threats
  • Banks joining forces by sharing information relevant to protection against cybercrime
  • Focusing more on fast recovery and less on prevention of crime

That last point is because breaches are always going to occur no matter how thick the security is, and there’s a lot of room to improve in terms of recovery speed. So it makes sense that this shift in attention is developing at an increasing rate.

A New Breed of Locks

Banks require many layers of protection, and this includes keycards, which allow select employees through specific doors at specific times. Just stick the card in a slot and the door opens (a common device also used in hotels).

Keycards are also used by extraneous service people. A lost card can be immediately turned off, and cheaply replaced, whereas traditional locks would cost a bundle.

Customized badges are another way that financial institutions have improved security measures, replacing keys and keycards. Employees can be “add onto” a badge, and a lost and found badge can be deactivated and activated, respectively.

Anti-Skimming Devices

Anti-skimming devices can significantly reduce this crime, when a thief puts a phony reader over an ATM device to capture a customer’s card data. The volume of skimming crimes is enormous, yet many ATMs still have no anti-skimming protection.

Cloud Storage for Data

More and more financial organizations are relying upon cloud computing, though this technology also brings with it some concerns, since the cloud involves a third-party provider—which can turn bank data over to the government without the bank’s permission.

A way around this is for the bank to encrypt data prior to placing it in a cloud, and to keep encrypting it even when at rest, and retain the encryption keys.

Biometrics

Fingerprint swiping to withdraw money is one of the latest security tactics: multispectral imaging (MSI). Who can possibly “skim” that? This is biometric technology and is already in thousands of ATMs. This “inner fingerprint” is immune to breakdown from grime, wear or moisture, making it very tamper resistant.

Look for even more progress in the multilayered security of financial institutions in the years to come—technologies that right now we can’t even comprehend.

For more information about this shifting industry, visit:

securitymagazine.com/articles/print/85356-banking-battlegrounds-cyber-and-physical-security-risks-today

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to AllClearID. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video. Disclosures.