A Deep Dive into the Recent Casino Cyber Attacks

casino cyber attacks

A Deep Dive into the Recent Casino Cyber Attacks and How to Be Proactive in Your Cybersecurity Strategy  

The recent cyber attacks on industry giants Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts International have raised pressing questions on the vulnerabilities existing in the sector and the way forward.  As leading cyber experts, we took the time to unravel the intricate details of these attacks, the exploited systemic vulnerabilities, and the strong cybersecurity measures that stand as the industry’s best bet in defending its assets. 

What Happened with the Casino Cyber Attacks? 

The casino industry recently witnessed unsettling waves of cyber-attacks orchestrated by an aggressive and sophisticated criminal coalition identified as “Scattered Spider.” Collaborating with the Russia-based operation ALPHV, this group launched a mission to breach the casino giants, leaving a trail of distrust and significant financial ramifications. 

Caesars Entertainment - a name synonymous with luxury and entertainment, came under the radar of these cybercriminals. The casino reported a breach on September 7, potentially compromising the personal information of a massive customer base involved in its loyalty rewards program. Despite the company’s efforts to contain the damage, uncertainties loom regarding the long-term security and integrity of the compromised data. The evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats means that new vulnerabilities may emerge, requiring ongoing vigilance and adaptive security measures. Additionally, the potential for unauthorized access or the use of compromised information by cybercriminals remains a concern, highlighting the need for a comprehensive and sustained response to safeguard both the company and its valued customers. 

At the same time,  MGM Resorts faced disruptions that spanned across its resorts and casinos in the US, attributed to a calculated cyber offensive that started with a social engineering breach targeting the company’s IT help desk. The incident spiraled into a more complex intrusion involving impersonations and network compromises that shook the foundations of the firm’s cybersecurity infrastructure. 

casino cyber attacks
Source: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg

How Did the Casino Cyber Attacks Happen? 

Social Engineering and IT Help Desks 

At the epicenter of these attacks lay sophisticated social engineering strategies meticulously deployed to infiltrate the IT infrastructures of the targeted companies. The attackers exhibited prowess in exploiting human vulnerabilities, coaxing individuals at the IT help desks to reset multifactor authentication (MFA) settings, thus paving the way for a deeper incursion into the networks. 

David Bradbury, Chief Security Officer at Okta, highlighted the method involving low-tech social engineering tactics to gain initial access, escalating into advanced impersonations within the network. “The human part was simple, but the subsequent part of the attack was complex,” he says. 

The warning bells had been sounded earlier, with advisories pointing to similar tactics deployed against high-privileged users, illustrating the evolving landscape of cyber threats where even seemingly simplistic strategies can yield profound results. 

Exploiting Weak Links 

A closer inspection of the attacks reveals an effort to exploit the perceived weak links within the organizations. The help desks emerged as significant points of vulnerability, with protocols allowing relatively easy access to password resets based on easily obtainable personal details.   

This glaring loophole points to the necessity of reinforcing even the basic layers of cybersecurity to counteract adept criminals who are constantly evolving their strategies. Regular security audits, robust encryption protocols, multifactor authentication, and ongoing employee training are critical in cultivating a culture of heightened cybersecurity awareness and resilience. 

 Furthermore, the offensive on Caesars highlighted another area of vulnerability – outsourced IT support vendors. The attackers managed to breach the network through a social engineering attack on an unnamed vendor, illustrating the pressing need for robust vendor risk management protocols.  

Many companies rely on a network of suppliers and vendors for essential functions and aren’t aware of the security risks it may entail. You should include vendor security training for any employees who work with or are in contact with vendors so they can learn how to identify risks such as vendor impersonation fraud. Download our free white paper here and share it with your team.  

When it comes to selecting your vendors, be sure to conduct thorough background checks, evaluate the vendor’s cybersecurity practices, and set clear expectations for compliance with industry-standard security protocols. Moreover, any contractual agreements should include specific clauses regarding data protection and incident response procedures to ensure that vendors are held accountable in the event of a breach. 

The Financial Repercussions: Ransoms and Data Security 

Post-intrusion, the criminal syndicate adopted an aggressive stance, threatening to release sensitive data and coercing the companies into a financial settlement to prevent data leaks. Reports suggest that tens of millions were paid to contain the situation, raising ethical and financial dilemmas on the efficacy of such measures. 

This financial aspect brings forth the concept of “pinky promises,” as described by Brett Callow, a threat analyst at Emsisoft. Organizations often find themselves in a predicament, negotiating with criminals for the security of their data, albeit with no guarantee of the data’s safety post-payment. The ramifications of such financial transactions echo far beyond the immediate financial loss, raising concerns over data security and ethical boundaries. 

Scattered Spider & ALPHV: The Collaborative Menace 

The collaborative effort between Scattered Spider and ALPHV represents a growing trend of cyber-criminal syndicates pooling resources and expertise to orchestrate large-scale cyber offensives. Scattered Spider, also known as UNC3944, showcases a blend of adept individuals based primarily in the US and UK, some as young as 19, bringing a dynamic and contemporary approach to cyber-criminal activities.  

Their collaboration with ALPHV, a group believed to be based in Russia, amplifies the threat potential, merging diverse skill sets and geographic locations to form a formidable force in the cyber underworld. This union raises alarm bells, calling for a concerted effort from cybersecurity firms globally to counteract such emerging threats. 

The Cyber Underworld: A Hub of Collaborations and Innovations 

In the dark recesses of the cyber underworld, groups such as Scattered Spider and ALPHV constantly evolve, innovating their tactics and expanding their networks. They operate in a space where knowledge sharing and collaborations are commonplace, fostering an environment that nurtures criminal ingenuity and agility. 

These groups exploit the anonymity offered by the dark web, leveraging it as a platform to coordinate attacks, share insights, and even claim responsibility for their actions, as witnessed in the recent attacks where ALPHV claimed credit and countered rumors regarding the involvement of teenagers from the US and UK. 

 As we navigate this complex landscape, it becomes crucial to understand the dynamics of these criminal networks and to develop strategies that can effectively counteract their evolving tactics.  

The Repercussions Beyond Financial Loss 

Impact on Brand Equity and Customer Trust 

Cyber-attacks often leave a lasting impact on the brand equity and trust that organizations have built over the years. Customers entrust companies with their personal data, expecting strict measures to safeguard their privacy. Incidents such as these shake the foundation of trust, potentially leading to customer attrition and tarnishing the brand image, as it did for T-Mobile.  

T-Mobile has been in the headlines numerous times in the last few years, and not for good reasons. Since 2018, T-Mobile has suffered nine breaches affecting millions of customers and resulting in an ongoing class action lawsuit and a loss of customer trust. Thankfully, the company has since reported substantial progress and backed its statement by pledging $150 million toward enhancing its cybersecurity. 

Regulatory Scrutiny and Legal Repercussions 

The casino industry operates within a legal framework that demands adherence to data protection regulations. Cyber incidents of such magnitude can attract regulatory scrutiny, with potential legal repercussions that can translate to hefty fines and sanctions. These incidents bring forth the pressing need for compliance with data protection regulations and the implementation of robust cybersecurity protocols to prevent such breaches. 

Here, the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST-CSF) stands as a valuable resource. It provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and best practices for organizations to manage and mitigate cybersecurity risks effectively. By adopting the NIST-CSF, casinos and other entities within the industry can systematically assess their cybersecurity posture, identify vulnerabilities, and implement measures in alignment with industry-recognized standards.  

This framework not only bolsters their security defenses but also demonstrates a proactive commitment to regulatory compliance, potentially mitigating legal consequences in the aftermath of a breach. It serves as a strategic roadmap for developing and maintaining a resilient cybersecurity posture, safeguarding both sensitive customer data and the reputation of the organization.  

Industry-Wide Ramifications 

The repercussions of such attacks echo across the industry, setting a precedent that can influence operational strategies and investments in cybersecurity across players in the sector. Companies are now urged to rethink cybersecurity strategies, acknowledge the evolving nature of threats, and adopt proactive measures to safeguard assets. 

Economic Implications 

From an economic perspective, such cyber incidents can have broader repercussions on the industry and the economy. The financial losses incurred, coupled with potential dips in stock prices and investor confidence, can translate to substantial economic ramifications, underscoring the importance of strong cybersecurity measures in sustaining economic stability.  

How to Avoid Incidents like the Casino Cyber Attacks

Strengthen Authentication Processes 

A foundational step in building an impactful cybersecurity infrastructure involves strengthening authentication processes. Implementing multifactor authentication with stringent verification checks can act as the first line of defense against social engineering attempts. This measure demands a cultural shift within organizations, nurturing a spirit of vigilance and awareness regarding the evolving nature of cyber threats.  

Robust Training and Awareness Programs 

A proactive approach to cybersecurity involves the cultivation of robust training and awareness programs that equip staff with the necessary skills to identify and counteract potential phishing attempts. These programs should encompass various facets of cyber threats, including SMS text phishing, a tactic frequently deployed by groups such as Scattered Spider. 

In-depth training sessions should cover not only the technical aspects of recognizing suspicious emails or messages but also the psychological tactics used by cybercriminals to manipulate human behavior. Employees should be educated about the telltale signs of phishing, such as unfamiliar senders, requests for sensitive information, or urgent language designed to induce hasty actions. Simulated phishing exercises can be invaluable in providing practical, hands-on experience, allowing employees to practice their responses in a controlled environment. 

Vendor Risk Management 

The recent attacks brought to light the vulnerabilities associated with outsourced IT support vendors. This revelation underscores the need for rigorous vendor risk management protocols, scrutinizing the cybersecurity measures of third-party vendors, and ensuring compliance with stringent cybersecurity standards. 

Outsourcing services is common and allows organizations to tap into specialized expertise and resources. However, this practice also introduces an additional layer of risk. Companies must treat their vendors’ cybersecurity practices with the same level of scrutiny as they do their own. 

Conducting thorough due diligence when onboarding vendors is the first line of defense. This includes comprehensive assessments of their cybersecurity policies, procedures, and infrastructure. It’s imperative that vendors have robust security measures in place, including firewalls, encryption protocols, and intrusion detection systems. It’s crucial to evaluate their incident response plans and disaster recovery capabilities, as a vendor’s ability to respond to a breach quickly can directly impact the security of the organization they serve.  

 Advanced Analytical Tools 

In the arms race against cyber criminals, the deployment of advanced analytical tools stands as a critical component in building a resilient defense infrastructure. These tools, leveraging machine learning and real-time analytics, can detect and counteract threats dynamically, evolving concurrently to stay ahead of the adversaries. 

Real-time analytics can enhance an organization’s ability to respond effectively to cyber threats. By processing and analyzing data in real time, security teams gain immediate insights into potential breaches or suspicious activities. This allows for rapid decision-making and timely intervention, potentially mitigating the impact of an attack. 

Additionally, the integration of threat intelligence feeds into these analytical tools and enhances their effectiveness. By leveraging up-to-date information on known threats, attack vectors, and cybercriminal tactics, organizations can proactively adjust their defenses to counteract emerging threats. 

Incident Response Plan 

Developing a detailed incident response plan emerges as a vital element in the blueprint for strong cybersecurity. This plan, outlining the steps necessary for swift action during a breach, can potentially limit the damage and secure critical data, acting as a safety net in times of crises. 

The incident response plan serves as a structured guide, providing a clear roadmap for the organization to follow in the event of a security incident. It outlines the roles and responsibilities of key personnel, ensuring that everyone understands their specific tasks and how they contribute to the coordinated response. This level of clarity is invaluable in high-pressure situations, enabling a more efficient and effective response. 

Furthermore, the plan should incorporate a thorough risk assessment, considering potential vulnerabilities, likely attack vectors, and the potential impact of various types of breaches. This assessment allows for the prioritization of response efforts and the allocation of resources to the areas most in need. 

If you’re not sure where to begin, download our free incident response plan template

Prioritize Peace of Mind

Your peace of mind and your company’s future are worth every effort.  Contact us today if you’re searching for a holistic approach that ensures your cybersecurity strategy aligns with your organization’s unique needs and challenges.  

What is a Cybersecurity Assessment?

decorative illustrated laptop cybersecurity assessment

Building a Secure Digital Environment with Cybersecurity Assessments  

Imagine finding a piece of furniture that fits your home perfectly, but there’s a catch – you have to build it yourself. Sometimes we can get ahead of ourselves and dive into the assembly without even glancing at the instruction manual, resulting in an unstable, unreliable, and virtually unusable piece of furniture. It’s a familiar scenario for many, and the resulting frustration is all too real.   

Cybersecurity often mirrors this furniture-building scenario. Just as assembling furniture requires careful planning, guidance, and understanding, so does fortifying your business against ever-evolving cyber threats. An organization that neglects to conduct proper cybersecurity assessments may find its information at risk, vulnerable to cyber threats, and potentially unstable. 

 

 

What is a Cybersecurity Assessment? 

Cybersecurity assessments serve as your company’s guardians, diligently protecting its most valuable assets. But what exactly are these assessments, and why are they essential? Cybersecurity assessments evaluate your organization’s digital infrastructure, policies, and practices.  

 These evaluations identify vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and potential risks that might expose your company to cyber threats. These assessments aim to fortify your defences, ensuring your sensitive data remains safe and secure from malicious actors.  

Think of cybersecurity assessments as thorough health check-ups for your digital ecosystem. Just as you’d want to detect any hidden health issues early on to address them effectively, cybersecurity assessments allow you to uncover vulnerabilities and mitigate risks before they become major security breaches. 

 

Why are Cyber Assessments Important? 

Cybercriminals are constantly on the prowl, seeking loopholes to exploit and vulnerabilities to breach. Without proper assessment and guidance, your company’s security might resemble that unreliable furniture riddled with gaps and uncertainties. 

By conducting cybersecurity assessments, you create a comprehensive safety net—a systematic approach to identify gaps, update outdated processes, and fortify your defences. These assessments protect sensitive information and serve as a shared foundation of understanding for everyone within your company, irrespective of their position. 

One of the most significant advantages of conducting cybersecurity assessments is the potential to leverage them for acquiring cyber insurance or partnering with other organizations. Demonstrating a robust cybersecurity program mitigates risks and opens doors to new opportunities, fostering trust among potential partners and clients. 

 

Overview of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF):  

Just like the frustration of attempting to build furniture without the guidance of an instruction manual, navigating the world of cybersecurity assessments can leave us feeling frustrated and exposed to potential risks. Thankfully, we have a trusted resource that serves as the ultimate instruction manual in the realm of cybersecurity – the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST plays a crucial role in providing guidance and frameworks to help organizations improve their cybersecurity posture. 

One of its most notable contributions is the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (NIST CSF), a comprehensive set of guidelines, best practices, and risk management recommendations for organizations to better manage and reduce cybersecurity risks. NIST CSF was developed by cybersecurity experts and is a reliable and comprehensive reference when conducting a cybersecurity assessment. 

The framework is like a well-structured blueprint that guides you through strengthening your company’s security defenses. It allows you to assess your current cybersecurity practices, identify areas for improvement, and develop a robust and effective security strategy.  

What makes the NIST CSF a trusted standard in the cybersecurity world is its credibility. It’s the result of rigorous research, collaboration, and experience, making it a reliable and credible source for organizations seeking to enhance their cybersecurity measures. 

The framework also offers flexibility, allowing organizations to tailor their security approach to their unique needs and challenges. Its adaptability makes it ideal for organizations of all sizes and industries. 

 

The Five Functions of NIST CSF: Building A Strong Fortress 

Within the NIST CSF, five core functions form the backbone of a successful cybersecurity program and work together to create a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy.  

Identify 

The first step in any cybersecurity assessment is the “Identify” phase, which helps lay the foundation of a strong fortress. During this critical stage, your cybersecurity team comprehensively reviews all organization assets, policies, and systems. Think of it as taking inventory of everything within your digital landscape—knowing what you have is the key to building an effective protection plan. 

By identifying your company’s assets, potential risks, and vulnerabilities, your cybersecurity team gains invaluable insights into the areas that require heightened protection. It’s like understanding the weak points in your fortress walls and adding extra defenses. 

Protect 

With a clear understanding of your digital assets and risks, your cybersecurity team moves on to the “Protect” phase. Here, they determine the security measures to safeguard your company’s sensitive data and infrastructure from potential threats. 

This phase is similar to installing layers of protective walls, gates, and moats around your fortress. It includes building an incident response plan and implementing awareness training for all employees, emphasizing the importance of cybersecurity best practices. Data security measures, such as encryption and secure data storage, fortify your company’s defenses against unauthorized access.  

Another crucial protection aspect is access control, ensuring only authorized team members access critical data and systems. Just like assigning guards to protect the most sensitive areas of a fortress, access control limits entry to those who truly need it. 

Detect 

An impenetrable fortress must have vigilant guards, constantly monitoring for any signs of intrusion or danger. The “Detect” phase in the NIST CSF is comparable to setting up a network of vigilant monitoring systems. 

Implementing advanced tools like anti-malware and intrusion detection systems serves as your digital watchdogs. They keep an eye on your network, alerting your cybersecurity team to any suspicious activities or potential threats. Prompt detection is crucial in mitigating damage and minimizing the impact of cyber incidents, much like catching an enemy at the gates before they can breach the walls. 

Respond 

Despite the best defenses, there’s always a possibility that an intruder might breach the fortress walls. This is where the “Respond” phase of the NIST CSF comes into play—your company’s crisis management plan in action. 

Having a well-defined plan in place to handle security incidents is crucial. Your cybersecurity team ensures your company is prepared to respond promptly and efficiently. It includes technical responses and public relations strategies. Data breaches can have severe cost implications, damaging both finances and reputation, so a swift and effective response is essential. 

Recover 

Even with a strong defense and quick response, some damage might still occur. This is where the “Recover” phase is vital—post-incident actions to restore your company’s image and data security.  

Recovering from a cybersecurity event involves assessing the impact of the incident, learning from it, and adapting your defenses accordingly. It’s about ensuring your company’s resilience and restoring normalcy. Just as a fortress rebuilds its walls after a siege, your company bounces back, stronger and more prepared than ever. 

These five functions of the NIST CSF—Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover—work together to form a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy. By taking inventory, building protective layers, monitoring for threats, responding swiftly, and recovering effectively, your company can stand firm against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.  

 

decorative illustrated laptop cybersecurity assessment

Investing in Cybersecurity  

While NIST CSF provides an invaluable framework for conducting cybersecurity assessments, the process can be complex and dynamic. For this reason, partnering with a professional cybersecurity team is vital. A competent cybersecurity team can guide you through the entire process, ensuring no stone is left unturned in safeguarding your company’s digital assets.  

These experts possess the knowledge, experience, and up-to-date insights needed to help you navigate the intricacies of cybersecurity assessments. They can also assist in interpreting assessment results and creating a tailored action plan to address any vulnerabilities discovered. 

 

Ongoing Cybersecurity Assessments Keep You One Step Ahead 

Cybersecurity assessments should not be a one-time exercise but an ongoing process that helps you regularly identify vulnerabilities, strengthen defenses, and protect your most valuable assets through comprehensive evaluations. Regular assessments allow you to stay one step ahead of cyber threats.  

Your peace of mind and your company’s future are worth every effort. Contact us today if you’re searching for a holistic approach that ensures your cybersecurity strategy aligns with your organization’s unique needs and challenges. 

Cyber Insurance Checklist: What to Expect When Applying

cyber insurance checklist policy

Cyber Insurance Checklist: Questions to Expect When Applying 

The threat of cyber attacks looms over businesses and leaves them vulnerable to potential financial losses, reputational damage, and operational disruptions. A reminder of the devastating consequences of attacks like this comes with the infamous ransomware incident that targeted the Colonial Pipeline (an American oil pipeline system) on May 7th, 2021. This cyber attack caused a six-day shutdown of their gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel shipments, leading to fuel shortages in various cities, such as Charlotte, Virginia.  

However, despite the massive attack, Colonial Pipeline’s $15 million cyber insurance policy came in handy by helping cover the $4.4 million it paid to the hackers to stop the ransomware attack. This real-world example is a powerful testament to the importance of cyber insurance in protecting your business. 

 

Who Needs Cyber Insurance? 

The size of your business does not determine your vulnerability to cyber threats. Whether you’re a small coffee shop or a large international shipping company, the reality is that cybercriminals cast a wide net, targeting organizations of all sizes. Any organizations dealing with sensitive information like names, addresses, credit cards, vendors, etc., are at risk. 

The motive behind these attacks can range from financial gain through ransomware to data theft for illegal exploitation. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities in your systems, compromising sensitive information, disrupting operations, and potentially causing irreparable damage to your brand’s reputation. Recognizing that cyber threats can affect any business, regardless of its scale or industry, allows you to take the first step toward protecting your organization. 

The internet has become an integral part of our lives, leading to more accessible communication, transactions, and innovation on a global scale. However, this comes with a price. With the internet operating 24/7, 365 days a year, we can expect to encounter issues at some point. Cybercriminals exploit software, networks, and human behavior vulnerabilities, continuously evolving their tactics to stay one step ahead. The rapid advancement of technology brings convenience and efficiency, but it also exposes organizations to new risks. It’s not a question of “if” a cyber incident will occur; it’s a matter of “when.”  

Data breaches have become alarmingly frequent and costly in recent years, emphasizing the critical need for cybersecurity insurance. According to reports, compromised credentials, such as business email compromises (BEC), contributed to 19% of data breaches in 2022. The financial toll is also concerning as trends show the costs associated with third-party vendor breaches as the initial attack vector increased from $4.33 million in 2021 to $4.55 million in 2022.

These attacks extend beyond financial strain and can impact customer trust, brand reputation, and regulatory compliance. This is where cyber insurance comes in.  If you’re not sure where to start, keep reading to see an informative cyber insurance checklist with common survey questions you may be asked when applying for cyber insurance. 

Cyber Insurance Checklist: What Survey Questions to Expect  

Before you start shopping around for a provider, it’s important to be prepared for the insurance survey questions you’ll be asked. Below is a cyber insurance checklist with commonly-asked questions you can expect.

These questions help insurance companies assess your organization’s cybersecurity readiness and determine the appropriate coverage for your needs. By addressing the questions on this cyber insurance checklist, you can demonstrate your commitment to cybersecurity and enhance your chances of securing comprehensive coverage. 

 

Is your business continuity plan ready? ☑️

Insurance providers will want to know if your organization has a well-defined and documented business continuity plan. This plan outlines the steps your business will take to continue operations and minimize disruptions in the event of a cyber incident. A robust business continuity plan shows insurance providers that you’re proactive about mitigating risks and are prepared to navigate the aftermath of an attack. 

 

Are you implementing security awareness training? ☑️

Employees play a critical role in cybersecurity. You may be asked whether your organization provides security awareness training for employees. This training helps educate your team on cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts, using strong passwords, and being cautious with sharing sensitive information. Security awareness training demonstrates your commitment to building a security-conscious culture within your organization. 

 

Do you know where your data is being hosted? ☑️

Understanding the location of your data is crucial for assessing potential risks and complying with data protection regulations. Insurance providers may ask about your data hosting practices, including whether you use cloud services or on-site servers. Providing accurate and comprehensive information about your data hosting locations shows insurance providers that your organization is committed to data security and privacy. 

 

Do you have multifactor authentication? ☑️

Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification beyond a username and password. This security measure helps protect against unauthorized access, reducing the risk of successful cyber attacks. Implementing MFA can enhance your eligibility for comprehensive coverage. 

 

Have you been hacked before? ☑️

Insurance providers may inquire about any past incidents of cyber attacks or data breaches your organization has experienced. Transparency about previous incidents and the actions taken to address them proves your commitment to learning from past experiences and continuously improving your cybersecurity posture. 

 

Are your information systems compliant? ☑️

Insurance providers will likely inquire about your organization’s compliance with relevant regulations and industry standards. Compliance with frameworks such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS demonstrates your commitment to data protection and helps ensure that your cybersecurity practices align with industry best practices. 

 

Does your data contain Personal Identifiable Information (PII)? ☑️

PII includes sensitive information such as social security numbers, credit card information, or personal health records. The presence of PII in your data increases the potential risks and the impact of a breach. Being aware of the data you possess and taking appropriate measures to protect it highlights your dedication to safeguarding sensitive information. 

 

Does your company run penetration tests? ☑️

Insurance providers may ask if your organization conducts regular penetration tests. Penetration testing involves simulated cyber attacks to identify system and network vulnerabilities. Regular testing allows you to proactively identify and address weaknesses, reducing the risk of successful attacks and showing your commitment to ongoing risk assessment and mitigation. 

 

Do you know who has full admin access to your company’s digital security? ☑️

The management of administrative access privileges within your organization should be tightly supervised. Control over admin access ensures that only authorized individuals have elevated permissions. Implementing strict access controls reduces the risk of unauthorized access or misuse of privileges. 

 

You can use these questions as a cyber insurance checklist before diving into the process. Addressing these insurance survey questions before selecting a provider will save you time and help you be more prepared to choose a cyber insurance provider and coverage that suits your organization’s needs. 

 

cyber insurance checklist policy

The Consequences of Being Unprepared 

Applying for cyber insurance without preparing beforehand can lead to significant consequences for your organization, including potential rate inflation. Insurance providers assess the risk level associated with your organization based on various factors such as your cybersecurity measures, incident response capabilities, and risk management strategies. If your organization is considered to be inadequately prepared, insurance providers may increase your premiums to compensate for the higher level of risk they perceive. 

Another consequence of being underprepared is the risk of denial of insurance payout. In the event of a cyber incident, if your organization has not fulfilled the necessary requirements or failed to demonstrate adequate preparation, insurance providers may deny coverage for the damages. This can leave your organization responsible for paying the costs of the incident out-of-pocket, which can be financially devastating and leave you vulnerable in the aftermath of an attack.

If you’re overwhelmed by cyber insurance, and you’re not sure where to start, a simple cyber insurance checklist with commonly-asked survey questions can help you prepare.

 

A Cyber Insurance Checklist Can Save the Day

Your company’s financial health is tied to its cyber health. The costs associated with cyber incidents can quickly add up, including expenses for incident response, legal fees, data recovery, reputational damage repair, and regulatory fines. Without the safety net of cyber insurance, these costs can significantly burden your organization’s finances and potentially affect its operations. 

The importance of cyber insurance for businesses cannot be overstated. It is an essential component of comprehensive cybersecurity measures, providing financial protection, enhancing trust among stakeholders, and ensuring the long-term viability of your organization.  The cyber insurance checklist above is a great resource to help you if you’re not sure where to begin.

We understand the challenges businesses face in navigating the complex world of cybersecurity. If you’re ready to take the next step in safeguarding your business and navigating the complex world of cyber insurance, don’t wait. Contact us today so we can begin the journey of building a resilient future for your organization. 

 

5 Tips for Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

personally identifiable information pii

Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

One thing is clear: protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is critical. Just imagine the consequences if sensitive information, such as bank account details, credit card information, or investment portfolios were to fall into the wrong hands. The results would be devastating, ranging from severe financial loss and identity theft to irreparable damage to an organization’s reputation and trustworthiness.  

Any organization that handles personally identifiable information (PII) plays a key role in ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of it. A study by Experian found that two-thirds (64%) of consumers said they would be discouraged from using a company’s services following a data breach. By implementing strong security protocols, leveraging advanced encryption technologies, meeting all necessary regulations, and creating a culture of cybersecurity, organizations that handle PII can improve their cyber resilience. It can also help build more trust among customers, partners, and stakeholders. 

 

Common Attack Techniques on Personally Identifiable Information

Cyber threats are increasingly targeting financial data and continue to evolve at an alarming rate. Attackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, employing advanced tactics such as social engineering, malware, ransomware, and phishing schemes to exploit unsuspecting victims. No organization is safe; these threats aren’t limited to a specific industry or type of financial transaction, so it’s essential to be vigilant and proactive in your approach to data security.  

To effectively protect PII, it’s critical to know and be able to identify the common attack techniques used by cybercriminals. Here are a few of the most common methods used to target financial information: 

  • Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals often use deceptive emails, messages, or websites to trick individuals into divulging their login credentials, credit card details, or other sensitive information. These phishing attempts are designed to appear legitimate, making it imperative to exercise caution when sharing personal data online. They are also becoming increasingly difficult to spot with the integration of ai. 
  • Malware: Malicious software, such as keyloggers or banking Trojans, can be unknowingly installed on a user’s device, allowing cybercriminals to intercept sensitive financial information. Malware can be distributed through infected attachments, compromised websites, or deceptive downloads, highlighting the importance of robust antivirus and anti-malware solutions. 
  • Insider Threats: While external threats often dominate discussions on cybersecurity, internal risks cannot be overlooked. Insider threats occur when employees with authorized access to financial data misuse or leak it intentionally or unintentionally. Implementing strict access controls and fostering a culture of security awareness can help mitigate such risks. 

 personally identifiable information 

Consequences of Data Breaches on Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

The consequences of data breaches in the financial industry can be far-reaching and devastating. Here are some potential ramifications that individuals and organizations may face: 

  • Financial Loss: Data breaches can result in immediate financial losses for individuals whose accounts are compromised. Unauthorized transactions, fraudulent charges, or identity theft can significantly impact personal finances. For businesses, the costs associated with data breaches include legal fees, regulatory penalties, remediation expenses, and reputational damage.
  • Reputation Damage: Trust is the foundation of the financial industry, and a data breach can erode that trust. Customers may lose confidence in financial institutions or fintech companies that fail to protect their sensitive PII, leading to reputational damage and potential loss of business. 
  • Regulatory Non-Compliance: The financial industry is subject to strict regulatory requirements for protecting PII. A data breach can expose organizations to non-compliance with regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), resulting in legal consequences and significant financial penalties. 

Understanding the evolving threat landscape, staying educated, and recognizing the potential consequences of data breaches are crucial for protecting sensitive PII. 

 

5 Tips for Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

1. Implementing Strong Access Controls

To safeguard PII, implementing strong access controls is critical. A strong password is the first line of defense against unauthorized access. It should include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.  We recommend using a password manager, which securely stores and generates complex passwords. Password managers simplify managing multiple passwords, making it easier to maintain strong and unique credentials for each account. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can add an extra layer of security to your account. MFA requires users to provide additional verification, such as a unique code sent to their mobile device and their password.  

2. Encryption and Data Protection

Data encryption is a vital component of protecting sensitive financial information. Encryption is the process of converting data into a coded form that can only be accessed with an encryption key. It ensures that even if data is intercepted, it remains unreadable and unusable. Whether stored on local devices, cloud servers or being transmitted between systems, encryption provides additional protection against unauthorized access.

3. Employee Training and Awareness

Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats. Educate and empower them to recognize phishing attempts, avoid suspicious links or attachments, and practice safe online browsing. Conduct regular security awareness programs and tabletop exercises and promote a culture at your organization that values data security by integrating it into company policies, procedures, and day-to-day operations. To minimize the impact on sensitive financial data, encourage your employees to report incidents promptly.  

4. Regular Software Updates and Patching

Keeping software and systems up to date is crucial for maintaining a secure environment. Outdated software often contains vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. Regularly updating operating systems, applications, and firmware is essential to address security flaws and protect against known exploits. Remember to always enable automatic updates whenever possible and apply patches promptly. 

5. Network Security Measures

Protecting PII requires robust network security measures, such as firewalls, which are a barrier between internal networks and external threats, and intrusion detection systems, which monitor network tragic for suspicious activity. 

Implementing these security measures is critical in helping detect and prevent unauthorized access to financial data. We also recommend using virtual private networks (VPNs) when accessing sensitive data remotely to ensure secure communication.  

By integrating these best practices for protecting sensitive financial data, individuals and organizations can significantly enhance their security posture.  

 

Compliance and Regulatory Considerations

The financial industry operates within a framework of regulatory requirements aimed at protecting sensitive data. Some key compliance regulations include: 

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): The GDPR sets data protection and privacy standards for individuals within the European Union (EU). It applies to organizations that process the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of their geographical location. 
  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): PCI DSS is a set of security standards developed to ensure the secure handling of credit card information. It applies to organizations that process, store, or transmit credit card data. 

Regulatory standards often require organizations to implement robust security measures and best practices. By adhering to these standards, organizations improve their data security posture, reducing the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks. Adhering to these standards for data protection is necessary to establish customer trust, mitigate legal and reputational risks, and enhance your organization’s overall data security practices. 

 

personally identifiable information PII

Consequences of Non-Compliance with Industry Regulations  

It is crucial for organizations in the financial industry to prioritize compliance with regulatory requirements to mitigate these potential consequences. By aligning their practices with regulatory standards, organizations can protect sensitive financial data, enhance their overall security posture, and maintain the trust of their customers. 

Non-compliance with industry regulations can have significant repercussions for organizations: 

  • Financial Penalties: Regulatory bodies can impose substantial non-compliance fines, which can amount to millions of dollars, depending on the severity of the violation and the regulatory framework in place. 
  • Legal Consequences: Non-compliance may result in legal action, including civil lawsuits and prosecution. Organizations that fail to meet regulatory obligations may face legal proceedings, which can be costly and time-consuming. 
  • Reputational Damage: An organization’s reputation can be easily tarnished and lose customer trust and loyalty. Negative publicity surrounding data breaches or privacy violations can have long-lasting effects on the perception of the organization and its brand. 
  • Business Disruption: Business disruptions are common with non-compliance, such as temporary suspension of operations or limitations on the organization’s ability to conduct certain activities. This can result in financial losses and hinder the organization’s growth and competitiveness. 

 

The Fundamental Responsibility of Protecting Personally Identifiable Information (PII) 

Protecting personally identifiable information (PII) is not just a legal obligation but a responsibility that organizations and individuals have. The financial industry relies on the trust and confidence of customers, and the security of their financial information is critical.   

It requires a proactive and comprehensive approach, though. Organizations can significantly enhance their data security posture by implementing strong access controls, utilizing encryption and data protection measures, prioritizing employee training and awareness, keeping software and systems up to date, and deploying network security measures. If this all seems overwhelming for you, contact us, and we can guide you on your journey to strong cybersecurity.   

Public WiFi Security Tips: Always Use a VPN and Anti-Malware

The Ups and Downs of Public WiFi

Picture this: You’re at your go-to café, sipping on your favorite latte while scrolling through business emails on your laptop. The atmosphere is bustling, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee fills the air. But suddenly, your heart sinks as you find yourself locked out of your account. You try every trick in the book, even the standard “turn it off and on again” tactic, but nothing seems to work. Public WiFi has undoubtedly made remote working more accessible than ever before, but it also brings risks that can disrupt our digital lives.

A recent survey found that 56% of people don’t use a VPN while connected to public Wi-Fi, and 41% don’t use a VPN at all. The risks of using public wifi unprotected are real, from getting locked out of accounts to having our data scrubbed and sold or even falling victim to bank account information theft. In this blog post, we’ll dive into essential cybersecurity practices that can help protect you and your company’s digital footprint when using public wifi networks. We aim to provide helpful solutions, ensuring you can work confidently and securely from anywhere, coffee in hand. So, let’s tackle this challenge together and equip you with the knowledge to safeguard your digital presence.

 

 

What Security Risk Does Public WiFi Pose?

Public WiFi networks have become an enormous part of our lives in our increasingly interconnected world. They offer convenience, allowing us to work, connect, and stay productive while on the go. However, it’s crucial to recognize that these networks, despite their benefits, can pose significant risks to our digital security.

Malicious actors often lurk on public WiFi networks, taking advantage of the unsecured nature of these connections to employ a range of techniques to gather sensitive data from unsuspecting users. These cybercriminals may utilize packet sniffing, a method where they intercept and analyze data packets transmitted between devices, to capture usernames, passwords, and other confidential information. Another technique they employ is setting up fake WiFi networks, known as “evil twins,” which mimic legitimate networks to trick users into connecting to them. Once connected, these attackers can gain unauthorized access to your device and exploit any vulnerabilities they find.

Using public wifi without any security measures is like leaving your front door open for anyone to walk in and help themselves with your personal information. Imagine the consequences of being locked out of your accounts, losing valuable data, or worse, having your bank account information fall into the wrong hands. It’s a chilling thought that reminds us of the importance of protecting our digital footprints. This goes to show that implementing robust cybersecurity measures is no longer an option; it’s a necessity. Whether you’re working on personal devices or managing a fleet of company equipment, safeguarding sensitive information should be a top priority. It’s not just about protecting your own data; it’s about safeguarding your company’s intellectual property, client information, and reputation.

By taking proactive steps to fortify your digital defenses, such as using anti-malware software and a reliable VPN, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to cyber threats while using public WiFi networks. Knowledge is power, and by equipping yourself with the right information and solutions, you can work confidently, knowing you’re actively mitigating potential risks. So, let’s dive in and discover how you can protect your digital footprint in the world of public WiFi networks.

a person using their laptop at a cafe on public wifi

Recommended Measures for Public WiFi Security

Anti-Malware Software:

One of the fundamental pillars of protecting your digital footprint is having robust anti-malware software in place. Malware, a term derived from “malicious software,” is a broad category encompassing various harmful programs designed to wreak havoc on your devices and compromise your data. It can take the form of viruses, ransomware, spyware, or adware, each with its detrimental effects.

When selecting anti-malware software for your personal or company devices, there are several factors to consider.

  • Compatibility: Ensure that the software you choose works seamlessly with the other programs and systems your organization relies upon. After all, installing the best anti-malware program won’t matter if it conflicts with essential software and renders them ineffective.
  • Silence: Another important consideration is how the anti-malware software operates in the background. An ideal solution should be silent and invisible, working diligently without disrupting your workflow or bombarding you with intrusive pop-ups. Nobody wants to be constantly bothered by notifications, and a sluggish computer can slow productivity. Look for software that efficiently catches and neutralizes threats before they become significant problems.
  • Quality of Protection: Opting for a solution that defends against known malicious actors and offers protection against emerging threats like zero-day attacks is essential. These attacks exploit vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered or patched, making them particularly dangerous.

Our go-to at Edge Networks is CrowdStrike, a reliable anti-malware software that prevents harmful actors and proactively detects zero-day attacks. By deploying a trusted solution like CrowdStrike, you can significantly reduce the risks of falling victim to malware and other cyber threats.

 

Virtual Private Network (VPN):

While anti-malware software protects against malicious software, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers additional protection for your online activities. A VPN creates a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the internet, making it extremely difficult for hackers and other malicious actors to intercept and exploit your data.

When you connect to the internet through a VPN, your IP address is hidden and replaced by the IP address of the VPN server. This ensures that your online activity remains anonymous and your data remains secure. Whether you’re browsing the web, accessing company resources, or sending sensitive information, a VPN protects your digital footprint from malicious actors.

When choosing a VPN, several key considerations come into play.

  • Speed: Using a VPN can sometimes result in a slight reduction in internet speed. Look for VPN providers that offer optimized servers and protocols, allowing you to enjoy seamless browsing and efficient data transfer without sacrificing performance.
  • Security: Prioritize security features such as AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN functionality, as they provide strong protection for your data. You may also want to look into VPNs that have an open-source feature and accept anonymous payments.
  • Compatibility: Ensure that the VPN you choose is compatible with the programs, websites, and systems you use frequently. This compatibility will ensure a smooth and uninterrupted user experience.

For companies without a physical router for their VPN, we recommend NordLayer as an excellent option. With NordLayer, you won’t experience any noticeable change in internet speed, and its compatibility with various programs and sites allows for seamless integration into your workflow. Additionally, NordLayer offers advanced security features and accepts anonymous payments, providing peace of mind while protecting your digital activities.

Implementing anti-malware software and a VPN establishes a powerful defense against cyber threats when using public wifi networks. These security measures work together to protect your devices, data, and digital identity, ensuring that you can work remotely with confidence and peace of mind.

Remember, the world of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, and it’s crucial to stay updated and informed about the latest threats and best practices. Implementing these recommended security measures is a significant step in safeguarding your digital footprint, but it’s also essential to remain vigilant and proactive in adapting to new challenges. Protecting your data is a collective effort, and by utilizing reliable solutions like CrowdStrike and NordLayer, you take a significant stride toward a more secure digital future.

vpn on public wifi

Browse Confidently and Securely on Public WiFi

Implementing effective cybersecurity practices and protecting your digital footprint may sound daunting, but we assure you that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. At Edge, we understand the challenges individuals and organizations face in navigating the complex world of cybersecurity. We believe that everyone should have access to reliable cybersecurity solutions and the knowledge to utilize them effectively.

Our mission is to help you reach your security goals while providing clarity and support every step of the way. With our guidance, you can confidently navigate the intricacies of anti-malware software, VPNs, and other essential security measures to safeguard your digital presence. By implementing these recommended practices, you can enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi without compromising your privacy and security. Please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us assist you in achieving peace of mind.

A Guide to Vendor Impersonation Fraud

Protecting Yourself in the Digital World

In today’s interconnected digital landscape, where online transactions and collaborations are the norm, it’s important to be aware of the various threats lurking in the shadows. Vendor Fraud is one of the latest financial scams and can occur from one or multiple sources in a very sophisticated manner. If not detected, it can cost businesses severely.

 

What is Vendor Impersonation Fraud?

Vendor Impersonation Fraud is a form of Business Email Compromise fraud that occurs when a malicious actor or employee scams a company into making payments to fraudulent accounts. This can happen in multiple ways, such as providing fake vendor or account information, hijacking a vendor or employee’s email account, or pretending to be a reliable vendor with the intention of carrying out fraudulent activities, such as invoice scams or other forms of financial fraud.

Third-party impersonations made up 52% of all Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks in May 2022, but keep in mind unaffiliated malicious actors aren’t the only ones committing fraud; they can be employees as well. In fact, more than 55% of frauds were committed by individuals in one of six departments:

  • Accounting
  • Operations
  • Sales
  • Executive/Upper Management
  • Customer Service
  • Purchasing

vendor impersonation fraud common targeted departments

Types of Vendor Impersonation Fraud

There are many types of vendor impersonation fraud, but these are the most common:

  • Cyber Fraud cases involving unauthorized individuals who have no affiliation with the company or the vendor are among the most challenging to identify. These malicious actors manipulate the account of a trusted vendor, redirecting payments to their own accounts electronically. Every quarter, 2/3 of all organizations are targeted by email attacks that use a compromised or impersonated third-party account.
  • Check Manipulation involves an individual forging or modifying information on a vendor’s check to route payments to a personal bank account. 
  • Ghost Vendor occurs when a fictitious vendor is created in the company’s records. Payments are then made to this non-existent vendor, and an employee or an external fraudster usually siphons off the funds.
  • Duplicate Payments occur when an employee uses a legitimate vendor’s account, manipulates the payment records, and initiates multiple payments for a single vendor invoice in order to direct the second payment to their personal account. 

 

Who’s at Risk of Vendor Impersonation Fraud?

While anyone can potentially fall victim to vendor impersonation fraud, certain individuals and organizations are more susceptible to these scams, such as those that handle finances. These are the primary targets for vendors seeking to exploit payment processes.

  • Small businesses or organizations with limited resources and cybersecurity measures in place are often targeted due to their perceived vulnerability.
  • Organizations with a high volume of vendor interactions or those engaged in frequent international transactions may be more exposed to vendor impersonation fraud attempts. 
  • Employees in accounts payable departments
  • Individuals responsible for making financial transactions 

 

How to Identify Vendor Impersonation Fraud?

In 2020, the average fraud scheme lasted a median of 18 months before being detected, which is why it’s critical to know what to look for.

  1. Discrepancies in Vendor Information: Review vendor details such as contact information, addresses, or tax identification numbers. Be wary of inconsistencies or if the information provided cannot be verified.
  2. Unusual Payment Requests: Beware payment requests that deviate from standard procedures, including sudden changes in bank account details, requests for expedited payments, or requests for payment to unfamiliar or unrelated third-party accounts.
  3. Inconsistencies in Invoices or Documentation: Scrutinize invoices for irregularities, such as misspellings, incorrect formatting, or missing information. Fake or altered invoices are common signs of fraudulent activity.
  4. Suspicious Communication Patterns: Pay attention to any sudden changes in how your vendor communicates with you, like using different email addresses, unusual phone calls, or requests to communicate outside of normal channels.
  5. Unexpected Price Increases: Be cautious if there are significant and unexplained price increases from a vendor. Fraudsters may attempt to overcharge for products or services, hoping to slip unnoticed.
  6. Poor Quality or Undelivered Goods/Services: If you receive substandard goods or services or if your orders consistently go unfulfilled, it could be a red flag for vendor fraud.
  7. Unusual Vendor Behavior: Be alert to vendor behavior that deviates from their usual practices, including evasive answers, sudden unresponsiveness, or reluctance to provide documentation or clarification.
  8. Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with fraud trends and news within your industry. Awareness of new tactics and scams can help you be more proactive in identifying vendor fraud. Be sure to educate your employees on vendor impersonation fraud and encourage them to report suspicious activity. They may notice irregular vendor interactions or uncover information that could help identify fraud.  

No single indicator guarantees the presence of vendor fraud. However, being vigilant and combining multiple factors for assessment can significantly improve your ability to identify potential fraudulent activities and protect your organization from falling victim to vendor fraud. 

 

Measures to Detect and Prevent Vendor Impersonation Fraud

Vendor Tips:

  • Due Diligence: During the onboarding process, focus on verifying vendor details such as mailing addresses, contact numbers, vendor tax identification numbers, contact persons, and bank accounts. Also, check the vendor’s financial stability.
  • Conduct Reputation and Reference Checks: Research the vendor’s reputation within the industry. Seek references from other clients or business partners who have worked with the vendor before. This allows you to gather insights into their reliability, integrity, and history of delivering quality services.
  • Evaluate Internal Controls: Assess the vendor’s internal controls and anti-fraud measures. Review their policies and procedures related to fraud prevention, cybersecurity, and data protection. Strong internal controls demonstrate the vendor’s commitment to mitigating the risk of fraud.

Employee Tips:

  • Split Responsibilities & Regular Rotation: Separating the tasks of inputting purchase information and approving transactions can help limit employee misconduct. You can also rotate duties of employees in vendor management and purchasing or rope in managers to monitor important tasks.
  • Run Thorough Background Checks: Conduct thorough background checks on all employees involved in vendor management or financial transactions. Verify their credentials, employment history, and conduct reference checks to ensure they have a trustworthy track record.
  • Anti-Fraud Training & Anonymous Tip Line: Provide comprehensive training to employees on fraud prevention, including specific information about vendor impersonation fraud. Additionally, encouraging your employees to report suspicious activity of their colleagues can strengthen internal controls.

 


 

 

Click here to download a FREE Vendor Impersonation Fraud E-Book!

 

 

 

 


 

 

System Tips:

  • Invest in Vendor Management Software: Consider streamlining and automating the process of managing vendors and their relationships. A centralized platform can efficiently handle vendor onboarding, contract management, performance tracking, compliance monitoring, and more. 
  • Educate Your Team: Educating your team about vendor fraud risks and consequences can enhance their awareness & vigilance. Conducting regular risk assessments helps identify loopholes & vulnerabilities that should be closed to mitigate vendor fraud effectively.
  • Monitor and Audit: Actively monitor vendor-related transactions and activities for any signs of suspicious behavior. Regular audits can help assess the effectiveness of existing control measures and identify any vulnerabilities that malicious actors may exploit.

 

How to Respond to Vendor Fraud

  1. Notify Authorities & Affected Parties: Report the fraud to local law enforcement agencies and provide all relevant details and evidence. Additionally, notify financial institutions and anyone directly affected.
  2. Document and Preserve Evidence: Gather and securely store all evidence related to the fraud, including emails, invoices, payment records, and any communication with the fraudulent party. This is crucial for investigations, insurance claims, and potential legal proceedings.
  3. Seek Legal and Professional Advice: Consult with legal advisors specializing in fraud and cybersecurity. They can guide you through the legal implications, advise on recovery options, and assist with any necessary legal actions against the fraudsters.

 

Real-World Cases of Vendor Fraud

Sometimes reading real-world examples is the best way to understand something. Below are some real-world cases of vendor impersonation fraud at large organizations, small businesses, non-profits, and even government organizations. 

  • GoogleIn 2013, a man and co-conspirators scammed Google into paying him more than $23 million using forged invoices, contracts, letters, and corporate stamps.
  • FacebookIn 2015, the same man scammed Facebook out of $98 million. The payments were wired to bank accounts throughout Latvia, Cyprus, Slovakia, Lithuania, Hungary, & Hong Kong.
  • Ubiquiti: In 2015, employee impersonation & fraudulent requests from an outside entity targeted Ubiquiti’s finance department resulting in a transfer of over $46.7 million.
  • Toyota Boshoku CorporationIn 2019, attackers managed to convince an employee with financial authority at a major Toyota auto parts supplier to change account information on an electronic funds transfer, resulting in a loss of $37 million.
  • Government of Puerto RicoIn early 2020, the finance director of Puerto Rico’s Industrial Development Company received an email explaining a change to the bank account tied to remittance payments. $2.6 million was mistakenly transferred.
  • Save the Children CharityIn 2018, a well-researched attacker gained access to an employee’s email account and sent fake invoices requesting payment close to $1 million for solar panels in Pakistan, where a Save the Children Health Center was located.

Education Empowers Us

In conclusion, staying educated on vendor impersonation fraud is of utmost importance in today’s digital age. The ever-evolving tactics used by fraudsters necessitate constant vigilance and awareness. By staying informed about the latest techniques employed by scammers, individuals and businesses can better protect themselves from falling victim to fraudulent activities.

Education empowers us to recognize warning signs, question suspicious requests, and implement robust security measures. It enables us to safeguard our financial resources, personal information, and reputations. Moreover, by sharing knowledge and promoting awareness, we collectively contribute to a safer online environment for everyone. Therefore, let us remain committed to staying educated on vendor impersonation fraud and strive to outsmart the fraudsters at their own game. If you are looking for a cybersecurity professional to help you improve your organization’s cybersecurity posture, or if you have been the victim of vendor impersonation fraud and are looking for recovery options, contact us today.

 

3 Steps to Secure Your Company with a Password Manager

Why is a Password Manager so Critical?

The average person has 70 to 80 passwords connected to business and personal accounts. If you’re chronically online like the rest of us, that could easily look like 300+ passwords. Passwords are one of the first layers of account protection and act as a vital defense mechanism, protecting our sensitive information, personal data, and online accounts from unauthorized access and potential breaches.   

When it comes to cybersecurity, managing the password jungle is one of the biggest challenges for individual users and companies. If your company still needs a password management system, your employees and clients are at a higher risk of being compromised.   

 

So how can you patch this potential hole? By setting up a password manager company-wide. 

 What is a Password Manager, and Why is it Useful? 

A password manager is a software tool or application designed to securely generate, store, and manage a user’s logins and passwords.  

It’s challenging to create unique and complex passwords for each account, let alone keep track of them all. Microsoft found that 73% of users duplicate their passwords in both their personal and work accounts. Investing in a password manager for your team can alleviate the burden of generating, securely storing, and remembering multiple complex passwords for different accounts, which adds another layer of security to your organization.   

Most password managers have the following features:  

  • Master Password. A master password is what safeguards access to the rest of your account. This master password should be unique, long, complex, and memorized by you.  
  • Password generation. When creating a new account, auto-filled strong password suggestions help make the process easier.  
  • Secure storage for your passwords. The software ensures they are encrypted and protected from unauthorized access. 
  • Manage your passwords. Some password managers have alerts for when you’ve reused a password, a password was discovered in a breach, 2FA is available (and not currently set up) for a particular site, and more.  
  • Secure sharing. If you need to share login credentials, many password managers allow you to create shared vaults for people that share login details.  
  • Additional storage for sensitive information. Credit card details, secure notes, documents, bank accounts, IDs, and more are all securely stored in one place.

Three Steps to Secure Your Company’s Passwords 

Step One: Choose a Password Manager 

First, you need to pick a password manager for your company. But there are some important things to consider like: 

  • User Management Tools: Evaluate the user management capabilities of the password manager. Will it let you easily manage user access and password sharing? Can it handle multiple users or teams within your organization?  
  • Compliance Requirements: Depending on your industry, you may have specific compliance requirements, such as password health monitoring or the ability to generate compliance reports. Ensure that the password manager you choose provides the necessary security measures to safeguard sensitive information. 
  • Usability and User Experience: Consider the ease of use for your team members. A password manager that is intuitive and user-friendly will help encourage use and minimize the learning curve. To enhance usability, look for features like browser extensions, autofill capabilities, and synchronization across devices. 

 

Popular Password Manager Options (+ What We Recommend!)

So, what are some of the most popular password managers that are worth investing in?  

  • 1Password: A popular choice offering a comprehensive suite of features, including secure password storage, document storage, and sharing capabilities. It integrates well with various platforms and provides advanced security options like two-factor authentication.  
    • At Edge Networks, our personal choice and recommendation is 1Password. Its user-friendly interface, comprehensive features, and reputation as one of the most secure password vaults make password management as easy as possible. 
  • LastPass: A widely recognized password manager known for its robust security features, intuitive interface, and multi-platform support. It offers both personal and business plans, allowing you to scale as your company grows. 
  • Dashlane: It offers an intuitive and user-friendly interface, making it easy for teams to adopt. It provides features like password autofill, password generation, and secure note storage. Dashlane also offers business plans tailored to meet the needs of organizations. 
  • Keeper: Known for its security features, including strong encryption and zero-knowledge architecture. It offers a range of features like password sharing, role-based access control, and compliance with various industry regulations. 
 

Why We Don’t Recommend Google Password Manager

There are many password manager options out there, and it can be hard to decide which one to invest in. Many people go for what’s most convenient and free, such as Google Password Manager. If that sounds like you, we have some news for you: While Google Password Manager may seem convenient for managing passwords, there are several reasons why it may be advisable to avoid relying solely on it and opt for dedicated password managers instead:  

  • Dependency on Google Account: Google Password Manager is directly tied to your Google account. Someone who gains unauthorized access to your Google account can access all your stored passwords. This concentration of sensitive information within a single account poses a higher risk than dedicated password managers, which often employ additional security measures to protect user data. 
  • Less Focus on Security: While Google takes security seriously, dedicated password managers typically prioritize security as their primary focus. They employ robust encryption algorithms, zero-knowledge architectures, and other security measures to protect stored passwords. Dedicated password managers are often independently audited for security and undergo regular security updates, enhancing their ability to protect passwords. 
  • Limited Features: Google Password Manager offers basic password storage and autofill capabilities but lacks many advanced features in dedicated password managers. Features like password sharing, secure note storage, and password auditing are often absent in Google Password Manager, limiting the control and functionality available to users. 
 

Step Two: Setting Up the Password Manager 

Once you’ve chosen your password manager, it’s time to set it up. The size of your organization and how many passwords each user has will determine how long this step takes. 

  • Create a Master Account: Establish a central master account within the password manager. This account will serve as the mothership for your cybersecurity team, allowing them to manage user accounts, access permissions, and other administrative tasks. Setting up the master account typically involves a strong and unique password, as it holds the key to your organization’s password management system. 
  • Configure Settings: Customize the password manager’s settings to align with your organization’s security policies and requirements. This includes defining password requirements like complexity rules, minimum length, use of special characters, restrictions on password reuse, and other relevant criteria. Enable features like two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of protection to your password manager. Be sure to fine-tune the settings based on your organization’s specific needs. 
  • Import Existing Passwords: Most password managers can import passwords from various sources, simplifying the transition process. You can import passwords from web browsers, CSV files, or other password managers. This enables smooth migration of existing passwords into the new password manager, minimizing the burden on users to manually re-enter their credentials. However, if passwords are stored in handwritten or non-digital formats, adding them to the password manager may require manual input, which can be time-consuming. 

Team training on how to use a password manager

Step Three: Train Your Team 

Now that you have successfully set up your password manager, you must provide comprehensive training to your team members on how to use this valuable tool. It is important to consider different learning styles and ensure the training materials are accessible to everyone.   

We suggest creating a detailed, text-based Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that outlines the step-by-step process of using the password manager. This text-based guide should include clear instructions accompanied by screenshots or visual aids to help users understand each stage of the process. This also allows your team to refer to the SOP whenever needed and follow the instructions at their own pace. 

You can complement the text-based SOP by creating a video guide visually demonstrating the same procedures. This video can be recorded using screen capture software, displaying the password manager’s features and functionalities in action. A video guide is especially beneficial for individuals who prefer visual and auditory learning, as they can watch and listen to the instructions in real time. 

Training is an ongoing process, especially as new team members join or the password manager evolves. Regularly communicate with your team, gather feedback, and promptly address any issues or concerns. Investing time and effort into training and learning resources enables your team to confidently utilize the password manager’s features, ensuring consistent and secure password management practices across your organization. 

Setting Up Your Password Manager Doesn’t Have to Be a Burden

If the idea of overhauling your company’s password management system seems overwhelming, rest assured – you’re not alone. We recognize that cybersecurity can be time-consuming and are here to alleviate that burden for you. At Edge, we’re all about helping you reach your security goals while providing clarity for you every step of the way.  

Contact us today if you are looking to improve your organization’s cybersecurity without sacrificing your precious time and resources.  We would love to help you. 

 

Passkeys: The Future of Password Security

Passkeys: The Future of Passwords

When it comes to digital security, passwords have long served as the primary line of defense for users to protect their personal information. From online banking to food delivery apps to social media, we rely heavily on passwords to secure our data. However, the limitations of traditional passwords have become evident over the years. Between human error and cybercriminals becoming increasingly sophisticated, sometimes the only thing standing between cyber criminals and our sensitive information is eight characters. 

In previous blog posts, we provided insight into passwords and password managers, but as the digital landscape and cybersecurity trends change, we should be keeping up. This article will cover the limitations and risks of traditional passwords and password managers and why passkeys are seen as the future of passwords. 

The Rise and Fall of Passwords 

From humble beginnings in the early days of computing to now, passwords have played a crucial role in ensuring the security and privacy of our online accounts. In the past, passwords were often simple and easy to guess, reflecting a time when cyber threats were less prevalent. However, the need for stronger passwords grew as technology advanced and hackers became more sophisticated, using methods like brute-force attacks, keylogging, phishing, malware, and more. 

These advancements led to stronger password recommendations, including using more characters and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Though recommendations can improve your password strength, when it comes to things like length and composition, your password doesn’t actually matter. Without an extra layer of security, like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or advanced threat detection, your password is still vulnerable to countless password-based attacks every day. 

Password security has seen significant developments since the popularization of MFA, an electronic authentication method that requires 2+ pieces of evidence to access an account. MFA has proven to be one of the most effective ways to protect accounts against unauthorized access. In a report released by Microsoft in 2018, they found that MFA can block over 99.9 percent of account compromise attacks. 

Despite these improvements, password users are human, and humans are subject to forgetfulness and complacency. Creating and remembering unique and complex passwords for every account is difficult, leading to repeated passwords and weak protection.

 

password manager

Password Managers

Password Managers have been around for decades, with RoboForm being the first released in 2000. A password manager is a digital encrypted vault where users can store passwords securely, and it is one of the safest ways to juggle and store your accounts and passwords. Most password managers will suggest unique and complex passwords when making a new account, which streamlines the process of creating a strong password and reduces the frustration of creating and remembering a new one. Some more features that password managers have are password strength analysis, warnings when you’re reusing passwords, secure sharing, and auto-filling user credentials. Some password managers, like 1Password, have stated their plans in the near future to integrate passkey support into their platforms. 

Though password managers are a great way to secure sensitive information, some drawbacks come with it. Having one password to access your password manager means there is a single point of failure if your master password is compromised or there is a breach in the password manager’s security, meaning all your passwords and accounts could be at risk. 

It could also be a risk to depend on a password manager entirely. If you rely on it heavily and it suddenly becomes inaccessible due to server issues, software bugs, or other incidents, you could encounter difficulties trying to access your accounts. Additionally, you would have the challenge of remembering your master password, which should be strong and complex. 

What is a Passkey?

On May 3rd, 2023, Google announced its launch of the passkey, a passwordless login for their account users to offer advanced protection. A passkey is a digital credential tied to a user account and a website that allows users to access certain accounts with pins or biometric sensors (fingerprints or facial recognition) to free them from remembering and managing passwords. Google states this technology aims to “replace legacy authentication mechanisms such as passwords.” Many companies already use passkeys in their systems, including Google, DocuSign, Robinhood, Shopify, Paypal, Kayak, and more, and it’s not unlikely that many more will follow the trend. 

 

Passkey

Why should I use passkeys?

  1. Passkeys are easier. Being able to authenticate your identity using your device’s fingerprint sensor, facial recognition, or PIN removes the roadblocks that come with a password manager and individually memorizing passwords. It also leaves less room for human error and vulnerabilities for cybercriminals to uncover, allowing for a simplified sign-up and login process. 
  2. Passkeys are more secure. Because passkeys are tied to individual devices, they provide a higher security level than traditional passwords. They’re generated using cryptographic algorithms, making them more complex and resistant to brute-force attacks. Passkeys are also less susceptible to phishing attacks since passkeys are system-generated, not user-entered, and only work on their registered websites and apps, meaning users don’t need to worry about entering their passkeys on fraudulent websites or providing them to malicious actors.
  3. Passkeys integrate easily with MFA. Passkeys can be used as part of a multi-factor authentication (MFA) setup, where multiple authentication factors are combined for stronger security. Using a passkey can fulfill the criteria for multifactor authentication in a single step, combining the strengths of both a password and a one-time password (OTP), such as a 6-digit SMS code, which provides heightened security and offers enhanced protection. 

 

Passkeys: A Promising Future for Password Security 

With enhanced strength and resistance to common vulnerabilities, passkeys provide a powerful means of authentication and a promising future for password security. Passkeys enhance the overall security landscape by eliminating the reliance on user-generated passwords and integrating with multi-factor authentication. Their ability to meet multifactor authentication requirements in a single step and their effectiveness against phishing attacks make them an exciting advancement in password protection. 

As more companies move toward passkeys and embrace innovative authentication methods, we can look forward to a future where our online accounts and sensitive data are better protected, enabling us to navigate the digital world with greater peace of mind. If you are looking to improve your cybersecurity posture, contact us today. We would love to get in touch with you.

Ask an Expert: History Repeated with Another T-Mobile Data Breach

Ask an Expert: History Repeated with Another T-Mobile Data Breach

T-Mobile has been in the headlines often for all the wrong reasons – multiple data breaches that have affected millions of customers. The telecom giant has a history of struggling to keep its users’ information safe. Understandably, these events caused an uproar among customers, and they were quick to demand answers and improved security measures. Keep reading for a look into the history of T-Mobile data breaches, the most recent 2023 T-Mobile Data Breach and how it affected current and prospective customers, and statements from our Director of Cybersecurity.

 

The Summarized History of T-Mobile’s Data Breaches

Since 2018, nine hacks have been disclosed by T-Mobile, with half being in the last three years. These previous breaches ranged from the following:

2018-2020

  • August 2018: About 3% of customers (2.3 million) were affected by unauthorized access to personal customer data, including the name, billing zip code, phone number, email address, account number, and account type of users.
  • November 2019: Less than 1.5% of customers (over a million) were affected by unauthorized access to name, billing address, phone number, account number, rate, plan, and calling features (such as paying for international calls).
  • March 2020: Unknown amount of customers affected by unauthorized access to names and addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, rate plans, and billing information.

 

2021-2023

  • January 2021: Less than 0.2% of customers were affected by unauthorized access to name, phone number, account number, and billing address.
  • February 2021: Unknown amount of customers were affected with unauthorized access to names, addresses, email addresses, account numbers, social security numbers (SSNs), account personal identification numbers (PIN), account security questions and answers, date of birth, plan information, and the number of lines subscribed to their accounts.
  • August 2021: 40 million former or prospective customers affected with unauthorized access to names, date of birth, SSN, and driver’s license/ID information, were compromised. 7.8 million customers were affected by unauthorized access to name, date of birth, SSN, and driver’s license/ID information, as well as 5 million customers affected with unauthorized access to phone numbers, as well as IMEI and IMSI information.
  • December 2021: “A very small amount of customers” experienced SIM Swap Attacks – meaning a SIM card assigned to a mobile number on their account may have been illegally reassigned or limited account information was viewed.
  • April 2022: Stolen source code after T-Mobile employees’ credentials were stolen online. No government or customer data were compromised.
  • January 2023: In November 2022, 37 million customers were affected by unauthorized access to name, billing address, email, and phone number. This breach wasn’t discovered until months later, in January 2023.

 

Although this list may seem extensive, it doesn’t include other bugs and vulnerabilities discovered at T-Mobile over the years.

 

2023 T-Mobile Data Breach: T-Mobile’s Response

After the most recent breach earlier this year, T-Mobile wrote in its SEC disclosure that since 2021, they have made a “substantial multi-year investment working with leading external cybersecurity experts to enhance our cybersecurity capabilities and transform our approach to cybersecurity.” They state that they’ve made substantial progress since and backed their statement by pledging $150 million toward enhancing their cybersecurity.

All things considered, we can only hope to see the results and benefits of their cybersecurity improvements, as T-Mobile claims that protecting customer data is their top priority.

 

Potential Impacts On Current and Prospective T-Mobile Customers

​​The latest data breach by T-Mobile will likely negatively impact current and prospective customers. As news of the recent breach spreads and more awareness is made about T-Mobile’s long history of breaches, people may have become wary of trusting their personal information with T-Mobile and may take their business elsewhere. It may also cause some customers to question the overall security of T-Mobile’s systems, and as a result, they may choose not to use their services.

It can be challenging to trust a company that has had multiple data breaches in its history. Still, it’s important to remember that T-Mobile has taken immediate action following its numerous breaches. They invested heavily in improved security measures and are now working to enhance their cybersecurity.

 

Class Action Lawsuit for January 2023 T-Mobile Data Breach

T-Mobile isn’t the first organization to suffer multiple breaches over the years, and it certainly won’t be the last. Though T-Mobile has acted quickly over the years to shut down breaches, address customers’ concerns, and offer settlements. A recent Class-Action Lawsuit was filed against them for the most recent breach announced in January 2023 breach. The lawsuit states, “T-Mobile failed to exercise “reasonable care” in safeguarding the private information of millions of consumers from a data breach announced around January 20, 2023.” Learn more about the class action lawsuit here.

 

 

The Future of T-Mobile After Its Numerous Data Breaches

The 2023 T-Mobile data breach and the prior breaches have been unfortunate events that left many of its customers feeling violated over the years. Though events like these are unprecedented, it becomes a bit concerning when they repeatedly occur to a company of this size. Since its most significant breach in 2021, T-Mobile has announced its efforts to enhance cybersecurity by pledging $150 million toward the cause and working with leading cybersecurity experts to transform its approach to cybersecurity. We have seen quick responses after past breaches and hope to see improvement in the future.

 

Ask An Expert: FAQ with Edge Networks’ Director of Cybersecurity

What are the most common causes of data breaches?

This is a great question; I believe that the most common causes of data breaches are misconfigurations and human error. Specifically, ensuring that MFA is enabled, and if not, that is considered misconfiguration. An example of human error would be to accept a request asking for approval to allow login if it is not actually you requesting the access.

 

T-Mobile has disclosed nine hacks since 2018. Why does it keep happening?

Very tough to say. T-Mobile is a national carrier with a lot of information, which makes its organization a desirable target. Cybersecurity is not one-size-fits-all. The best an organization can do is ensure they’re following a well-established security framework and aligning themselves with it.

 

Should I switch providers if my current one has suffered a data breach?

Honestly, one would probably run out of options if you tried that. A lot of organizations have been breached. I personally do not believe you have to switch providers. However, I also do not believe an organization is more secure after a breach than before.

 

How can I determine if a company is trustworthy and will handle my data safely?

This is a most excellent question! Ask the company if they have a SOC2 type 2 report that they can share. If they don’t, and the data you plan on having them work with is critical, you might consider walking away. If more consumers asked businesses for this information, they would work towards achieving a higher cybersecurity posture.

 

How can organizations protect themselves from data breaches?

Treating cybersecurity investments as if they were the paper your organization needed to operate. Cybersecurity should never be an afterthought, and organizations need to prepare and budget.

  1. Establish a security framework, and work towards “checking” all the boxes.
  2. Ensure that you have security awareness training for all
  3. Setup Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
  4. Work with partners that can help secure and align your business

 

How should organizations respond after a data breach?

All organizations should be 100% TRANSPARENT. Many laws are coming down the pipeline for organizations. In fact, a few states that already have stronger notification laws in place, such as California. It’s not unrealistic to believe several others will be following their lead. Work on the plan that was hopefully implemented before the breach occurred.

 

Conclusion

For many people, the latest T-Mobile data breach has left them concerned and vulnerable. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact us. We’d love to chat with you!

3 Skills You Need to Get Hired in Cybersecurity

In light of the recent wave of layoffs, we want to provide as much information as possible to help folks interested in tech/cybersecurity land their next cybersecurity job. (By the way, we’re hiring!)

 

 

1. For Cybersecurity Jobs, You Must Understand Ports and Protocols

Ports and Protocols are important concepts that relate to how networked devices communicate with each other. Understanding how these concepts work will help you to avoid sounding like Chicken Little running around yelling, “The sky is falling!” any time you see some activity. 


Ports:
 A port is a virtual endpoint through which data is sent and received. Think of a port like a door or a gate that data passes through as it moves between devices on a network. Each port is assigned a unique number, which is used to identify the type of traffic allowed through that port. For example, port 80 is commonly used for HTTP traffic (i.e. web browsing), while port 22 is used for SSH traffic (i.e. secure shell connections).


Protocols:
 A protocol is a set of rules that dictate how data is exchanged between devices on a network. In cybersecurity, they determine how data is transmitted and secured. For example, the HTTPS protocol is used to send data securely over the web, while the SSH protocol is used to create secure connections between devices. 


Understanding different ports and protocols and how they relate to each other will enable you to determine what network activity is usual and what activity is unusual. From there, you can dive in and check for possible attacks or compromises.

 

#2: Read Cybersecurity News

One of the most common interview questions is, “What sources do you use to stay current with current cybersecurity news?” There are a lot of sites out there, but here are a few we recommend:

  1. Bleeping Computer – A casual source. But it can be a great way to stay engaged and interested in the content because it’s not jargon-heavy. They’re great at keeping their ear to the ground, so we recommend checking them out to keep updated with recent breaches, attacks, and exploits.
  2. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – CISA is excellent at providing specific technical details to handle new exploits and vulnerabilities as they arise.
  3. Forbes Cybersecurity – Forbes is a popular source of information, especially for less technical readers. Keeping up to date with cybersecurity news in Forbes is a great way to keep tabs on what information is being circulated that non-technical clients/staff may ask you for more information about.

 

#3: Be Familiar with Common Tools Used in Cybersecurity Jobs

Interviewers will likely ask you if you’re familiar with the tools they use at their company. Being able to confidently say, “Yes, I do know a bit about that tool.” will go a long way. When looking at a company’s job description, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the tools listed if you aren’t already familiar with them.


Sometimes, an interviewer may ask you what tools you’d recommend they implement at their company. To be prepared for this question, having suggestions for the following will set you up to crush this question:

  1. Antivirus
  2. Logging
  3. SIM Solution
  4. Phishing Simulations
  5. Vulnerability Scanning

 

You Have What it Takes When Searching for Cybersecurity Jobs

We hope these tips will help you explore cybersecurity jobs and find the one you’re looking for! If you have any questions about what to expect in the cybersecurity world, feel free to reach out to us with your questions.

Check out our Careers page to learn more about working at Edge Networks and the roles we’re currently searching to fill.