Cyber-tales from the dark (and light) side: audacious crypto hack, K goes neuromorphic, and how to enter a data-center via a… toilet!

Hi folks!

For those still sweating it out in the office, not lucky enough to have left for some serious digital detox vacationing, herewith, to keep your mind off the heat, some juicy iNews, aka Dark (and Light) Tales from the Cyber Side – yet more extraordinary, hard-to-believe stories from the world of cybersecurity.

Crypto-decrepito

The gaming community will no doubt recall how, this spring, Axie Infinity, the online crypto-game (perhaps most notable for permitting virtual winnings to be exchanged into real money), suffered one of the largest robberies of all time. It appears highly likely that North Korean hackers broke into the Ronin blockchain that controls the game, and proceeded to steal around $625 million (the exact figure varies depending on the source) from users’ accounts! The incident went unannounced for a time, highlighting the vulnerability of the game’s security system, and putting the reputation of its developer behind – Sky Mavis – on the line too.

Oh my gigantic sum! But wait – that’s not all; there’s more!…

Earlier this month it was revealed precisely how the hackers managed to break into the blockchain. Are you sitting down?!…

Several months ago fake employees of a fake company on LinkedIn sent info about fake job vacancies to employees of Sky Mavis. A senior Axie Infinity developer decided to apply. He even got through several rounds of (fake) interviews, after which he was offered an extremely attractive (fake) salary and benefits package. Basically, he was made an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Said offer eventually arrived in the developer’s inbox in the form of a pdf document, which he had no qualms about downloading and opening on his work computer. And that was that – the bad guys were in. Henceforth it was all just a matter of technique: an espionage program infiltrated Ronin, via which they were able to seize four of the nine validators that protect the network. Access to the fifth validator (needed to complete the hack and then steal all the money) was gained by the hackers via the Axie Decentralized Autonomous Organization – a group set up to support the gaming ecosystem. Result – bingo; jackpot!

Read on…

Big-league cybersecurity’s 3 ingredients: analyzing the past, testing the present, and predicting the future. Any extra ingredients = filler.

When the past is studied carefully, a detailed and precise picture of the present can be formed; then, the expert’s analytical mind (better – lots of experts’ analytical minds) can warn about – even predict – the foreseeable future. This is precisely how we here at K can often guess predict accurately how the upcoming evolution of digital maliciousness will pan out. It’s also how we keep abreast of the latest cyberattack trends, which allows us to timely develop the corresponding technologies needed in the fight against the cyber-unpleasantnesses around the corner. There’ve been times when we were mistaken in this expertise-based cyber-prophecy of ours: some types of cyber-awfulness is pretty hard to predict at all – but those instances have always been the exception to the rule; more often than not we’ve been bang on the money.

So how do we manage it? Is it just bearded geeky super-brainy types who do all this analysis and cyber-prophesizing? Actually – no. A lot of it is automated. And that’s to be applauded: a human – no matter how brainy – can’t compete with today’s computing power and algorithms and robots and AI machine-learning. The brainy human is still needed, of course; but why do all the heavy-lifting alone?

It’s the heavy-lifting that I’ll be telling you about today in this post. Technological, science-based heavy-lifting that allows us to predict the future (no mystical fortune-telling à la Baba Vanga:).

Let me start off by telling you about the evolution of our Threat Intelligence Platform (TIP).

I’ll break it down just like in the title: how we analyze the past, test the present, and then we crystal ball predict the future…

Read on…

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Cyber-enlightenment: how to effectively catch out the wolves in sheep’s clothing; or – it’s never too late to learn.

Hi folks!

We all know perfectly well that the internet is awash with all kinds of malware – from the primitive amateur-grade to the sophisticated pro-grade. And over the last three months things have gotten a lot worse. The cyberswine are becoming all the more daring, and their methods – all the more advanced and refined. And though battling the cyber-baddies is both worthy and wholly necessary, prevention is always better than cure.

That is, being able to recognize cyber-evil for what it is and in good time is a task of vital strategic importance; all the more so when we’re talking not simply about protecting businesses, but about protecting critical infrastructure – the kit that provides us with the safe, comfortable and stable conditions in which to live.

Accordingly, educating employees how to spot cyberattacks on corporate networks is real important. And yes, we’re the world’s biggest fans of such cyber-enlightenment: we regularly conduct trainings of all different kinds – and also formats: both online (including in real time) and offline, and all under the caring and attentive gaze of our experts.

Not so long ago I wrote on this here blog of mine about our training programs on identifying cyberattacks based on sets of malware characteristics (you can read more about YARA rules here). But here at K, we never stand still, so we’ve gone and upgraded, and today I want to tell you about our new course, which has just been added to our educational portfolio of online training for experts.

So here it is folks – introducing… training on how to respond to (Windows OS) incidents (including ransomware) – the Kaspersky Windows Incident Response course. Btw, earlier this course existed only in offline format and was the most popular among our customers; however, it’s intended for internal teams just as much as for independent cybersecurity specialists who want to further improve their knowledge and raise their qualifications.

Now, according to recent research, top managers of (non-IT) companies, and also owners of businesses seem to overestimate their ability to deal with ransomware – especially if they’ve never come across the problem. And ~73% of companies aren’t able to cope with a ransomware attack even with the help of their IT service contractors. Yes – that’s plenty!

Read on..

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The Teddy Bears’ Picnic – ver. Internet-2022.

It’s been a while since my last post on new/updated products, so here’s making up for that…

Our Kompany mission is to protect any and all citizens of the digital world – anywhere and any-when – against all cyber-evil in all its many flavors, stripes and categories. And that protection of course includes protection of the world’s most vulnerable internet users – children.

We firmly believe in advising kids on how to recognize potential threats on the internet, as well as how to conduct oneself properly on the internet in general. Then, hopefully, there’s nothing embarrassing or even painful accompanying a child online for the rest of his/her life; after all, whatever’s put on the internet stays there – forever. We do our bit in this in various ways; for example: with webinars, public speaking appearances, joint educational projects, books, cartoons, videos and research.

And we also provide protection for kids with our parental-controls app – Kaspersky Safe Kids.

Up and running several years already, the app is constantly improved and fine-tuned so as to better suit the particular needs of children and their parents when it comes to using digital devices safely.

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for us: a couple years ago we had to… – get this: “fight for the right to protect children” with our app. Eh?! Indeed, we had to resort to legal action in connection with a certain famous apple-emblazoned company to prevent its using unfair competitive advantages for its own parental-controls function included in its mobile operating system. Still, as is our wont with legal battles, we won the antitrust case, and the functionality that wasn’t permitted before was enabled; fairness, common sense and justice prevailed! Interested in how the Federal Antimonopoly Service case went? Then check out this, this and this.

Ok – back to our fully-functional Safe Kids app. I think I’ve already mentioned that we constantly improve it. Well let me tell you about the latest improvements…

In the very latest version of the app for iOS we’ve expanded the functionality for parents – adding more features for supervising their offsprings’ online activity. Thus, parents (or guardians) can now more thoroughly filter undesirable online content as per specific categories, learn more about the preferences and interests of their children (in particular, by monitoring what YouTube videos are watched), and set screen-time limits.

Here are a few screenshots of the interface for parents:

Read on…

For cyber-insurance – a watershed moment (involving a $1.4bn payout!)

Hi boys and girls!

It’s been a while since my last installment of iNews, aka – uh-oh cyber-news, aka – cyber-tales from the dark side, so here’s reviving the series to get back on track in giving you highlights of jaw-dropping cyber-astonishments you might not hear about from your usual sources of news…

In this installment – just one iNews item for you, but it’s plenty: an added item might have watered down the significance of this one (hardly appropriate when there’s ‘watershed’ in the title:)…

Briefly about the iNews: after lengthy legal proceedings in the U.S., a court has ruled in favor of big-pharma company Merck against its insurer for a payout of US$1.4 billion (!!) to cover the damages Merck suffered at the grubby hands of NotPetya (aka ExPetr or simply Petya) in 2017.

Quick rewind back to 2017…

In June of that year, all of a sudden a viciously nasty and technologically advanced encryptor worm – NotPetya – appeared and spread like wildfire. It initially targeted Ukraine, where it attacked victims via popular accounting software – affecting banks, government sites, Kharkov Airport, the monitoring systems of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (!!!), and so on and so on. Next, the epidemic spread to Russia, and after that – all around the world. Many authoritative sources reckon NotPetya was the most destructive cyberattack ever. Which looks about right when you count the number of attacked companies (dozens of which each lost hundreds of millions of dollars), while overall damage to the world economy was estimated at a minimum 10 billion dollars!

One of the most notable victims of the global cyberattack was the U.S. pharmaceuticals giant Merck. It was reported 15,000 of its computers were zapped within 90 seconds (!) of the start of the infection, while its backup data-center (which was connected to the main network), was lost almost instantly too. By the end of the attack Merck had lost some 30,000 workstations and 7,500 servers. Months went into clearing up after the attack – at a cost of ~1.4 billion dollars, as mentioned. Merck even had to borrow vaccines from outside sources for a sum of $250 million due to the interruptions caused to its manufacturing operations.

Ok, background out the way. Now for the juiciest bit…

Read on…

Last year’s new products – a review; and expect more – in 2022!

The new working year is up and away, cruising steadily and assuredly like… a long-range airliner flying east. Out the window it’s getting brighter: in Moscow daylight has increased by nearly an hour daily since a month ago; in New York – by 40 minutes; and in Reykjavik – by more than two hours. Even in Singapore there’s… one more minute of sunlight in a day compared to a month ago.

However, the year 2021 simply won’t let go! First there was my review of the year (all positive); then there was the 2021 K-patents review (all positive). There’ll be a corporate/financial-results review a bit later (all positive:). And now, here, today – I’ve another review for you!…

Several reviews of a single year? If some of you have had enough of 2021 and want to leave it behind, forget it, and get on with this year, this one’s for you! ->

Actually, you can download the calendar the above pic’s taken from – here (and, jic, what the above pic’s about is here:).

Right, back to that fourth 2021-review…

And it just so happens to be – a professional review, as in: of the product and technological breakthroughs we made throughout our very busy 2021 – and all in the name of protecting you from cyber-evil. But first – some product/tech history…

Read on…

How to block phishing sites in a few clicks.

Our Threat Intelligence service (further – TI) is a set of important services that help orientate businesses in the anything-but-straightforward cyberthreat landscape and take the right decisions for enhancing their cybersecurity. In a nutshell, it’s all about the collection and analysis of data about the epidemiological situation within and outside a corporate network, professional tools for investigating incidents, analytical reports about new targeted cyberattacks, and much more besides. And it’s what every developer of corporate systems of cybersecurity has – or should have – in their product-ecosystem; it’s like a trump card or panic button, without which the ecosystem is like… a chair with weak, creaking legs. At any moment you can be in for a fall – a very painful one.

With TI, a cybersecurity expert can keep an all-seeing eye on the surroundings around their cyber-fortress (and even see over the horizon). He or she is able to keep track of what the enemy is up to – where they’re coming and going, how well they’re armed, what’s in their minds, and what strategies, tactics and intelligence they use. Without TI, even with the best defensive weaponry and bomb-proof walls, the fortress is still vulnerable: the enemy won’t necessarily come through the main gate; it could tunnel its way in or go for an aerial attack. Not good Disaster.

// Commercial-break button – ON:

We at K started to develop our own TI portal back in 2016. Since then it’s come on leaps and bounds – so much so that last year the analytical agency Forrester recognized us as a world leader in the market. And many big names around the world agree with Forrester, having become users of our TI services long ago: for example Telefonica, Munich Airport, Chronicle Security, and CyberGuard Technologies.

// Commercial-break button – OFF.

Perhaps the jewel in our TI-crown is the Digital Footprint Intelligence service (further – DFI)…

Read on…

A paradigm shift for industrial security: immunizing factories.

Ten years is a long time in cybersecurity. If we could have seen a decade into the future in 2011 just how far cybersecurity technologies have come on by 2022 – I’m sure no one would have believed it. Including me! Paradigms, theories, practices, products (anti-virus – what’s that?:) – everything’s been transformed and progressed beyond recognition.

At the same time, no matter how far we’ve progressed – and despite the hollow promises of artificial intelligence miracles and assorted other quasi-cybersecurity hype – today we’re still faced with the same, classic problems we had 10 years ago in industrial cybersecurity:

How to protect data from non-friendly eyes and having unsanctioned changes made to it, all the while preserving the continuity of business processes?

Indeed, protecting confidentiality, integrity and accessibility still make up the daily toil of most all cybersecurity professionals.

No matter where it goes, ‘digital’ always takes with it the same few fundamental problems. ANd ‘go’ digital will – always – because the advantages of digitalization are so obvious. Even such seemingly conservative fields like industrial machine building, oil refining, transportation or energy have been heavily digitalized for years already. All well and good, but is it all secure?

With digital, the effectiveness of business grows in leaps and bounds. On the other hand, all that is digital can be – and is – hacked, and there are a great many examples of this in the industrial field. There’s a great temptation to fully embrace all things digital – to reap all its benefits; however, it needs to be done in a way that isn’t agonizingly painful (read – with business processes getting interrupted). And this is where our new(ish) special painkiller can help – our KISG 100 (Kaspersky IoT Secure Gateway).

This tiny box (RRP – a little over €1000) is installed between industrial equipment (further – ‘machinery’) and the server that receives various signals from this equipment. The data in these signals varies – on productivity, system failures, resource usage, levels of vibration, measurements of CO2/NOx emissions, and a whole load of others – and it’s all needed to get the overall picture of the production process and to be able to then take well-informed, reasoned business decisions.

As you can see, the box is small, but it sure is powerful too. One crucial functionality is that it only allows ‘permitted’ data to be transferred. It also allows data transmission strictly in just one direction. Thus, KISG 100 can intercept a whole hodge-podge of attacks: man-in-the-middle, man-in-the-cloud, DDoS attacks, and many more of the internet-based threats that just keep on coming at us in these ‘roaring’ digital times.

Read on…

When in Dublin – a spot of business, then get the Guinness in!…

Straight after London and our Thames Pathing and Mitre-staying, we headed over the Irish Sea to Dublin, where the IRISS-CERT conference was taking place. For those for whom that abbreviation is a new one, coming up is brief info. For those who came only for the Guinness – you’ll need to scroll down this post a bit!…

CERT = computer emergency response team: a group of highly-qualified experts who collect information about incidents of a certain kind in the IT field, and also their classification and neutralization. // We have a CERT in the company, btw, which deals with cybersecurity problems of industrial systems.

IRISS-CERT = Ireland’s national CERT. Therefore -> we’re friends with them and help them out – because only together can we fight cyber-villainy effectively!

The event was a modest one, but oh-such an interesting one. I took to the stage and did my customary ‘cyber-standup’ act, where I tell of serious things about serious cyber-problems, yet still the audience laughs – a lot ). Well, why not? Serious – yes; but who – ever – wants a PowerPoint sleepathon?

Read on…

A walk down memory lane in London.

I was in London only a month ago – but, since if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life‘, I was back in the UK capital just the other day!…

And – just as I prefer it – we arrived with plenty of time to spare before our business program was set to start, so, naturally – first things first – walkies time!…

Handily, our hotel was in the center of the city – a stone’s throw from the River Thames and not far from Buckingham Palace – so off we set for some London side-street strolling. But before we’d hardly gotten started, suddenly…

…Hold on… I think I recognize that building. Yes, it’s the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, where – precisely (!) 10 years ago (November 2011) – I took part in the London Cyberspace Conference, after having been personally invited by the then-foreign secretary, William Hague!

Read on…