NoMoreRansom – One year on!

One year on.  It is fair to say that the No More Ransom project not only exceeded our expectations, but simply blew these initial expectations out of the water.  A collaboration between six partners (McAfee, EC3, Dutch Police, Kaspersky Lab, AWS and Barracuda) has now grown to include more than 100 partners across the public and private sector.  We often hear people talk about Public-Private Partnerships, but here is a true example of that commitment in action.

Because of this commitment from all the partners, this initiative has resulted in the successful decryption of more than 28,000 computers.  Let us put that into context, for zero cost, victims of ransomware who do not have to be customers of any security provider can get their data back for nothing.  They don’t have to fill in a survey, enter their email address, provide their credit card details, in fact they don’t even have to worry about obfuscating their IP address.  For the first time, there is another option.  No longer are victims faced with the option of a) lose my data or b) pay criminals.

So thank you to all of our partners, thank you to those of you that tweeted, blogged about it.  This site has been successful, in fact so successful that we even have ransomware named after us.

Of course, the Queen of England gets a boat named after her, we get ransomware!  Well that’s okay, because it shows that as the tens of millions of dollars we have prevented going into the hands of criminals, they have taken notice.

We will not stop, in fact, we need more partners, more decryption tools, and more successes.   The message of #DontPay seems to be working (as we witnessed with WannaCry and nPetya), and we will continue in our efforts to hurt the bottom line of criminals.

 

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How Valuable is Your Healthcare Data?

Health care is a hot topic in security right now. A quick search for “hospital ransomware” returns a laundry list of news reports on hospitals as targets of cyberattacks. However, it is not just ransomware that people need to worry about. In the report Health Warning: Cyberattacks Are Targeting the Health Care Industry, our McAfee Labs team digs into the dark underbelly of cybercrime and data loss involving health care records. In this case, the dark refers to the dark web.

Following up on the Hidden Data Economy report, we looked further to see if medical data was showing up for sale. We found dark web vendors offering up medical data records by the tens of thousands. One database for sale offered information on 397,000 patients!

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These databases contained not only names, addresses, and phone numbers of patients, but also data about their health care insurance providers and payment card information.

What’s it worth?

Of course, for this to be worth a cybercriminal’s time, they must be able to profit from it. We are finding that health care records to be a bit less valuable than records such as payment card records that contain financial information. The going price for a single record of information on a user that includes name, Social Security number, birth date, account information such as payment card number (referred to as fullz in dark web lingo) can range from $14 to $25 per record. Medical records sell for a much lower price, anywhere from a fraction of a cent to around $2.50 per record.

Does this mean medical records are not as valuable? Although not as lucrative as fullz, medical record information has  higher value than just a username/password record when sold on the dark web. We think that sellers are trying to maximize their gain from the data theft. In one underground market forum, a seller listed 40,000 medical records for $500, but specifically removed the financial data and sold that separately.

Why is the health care industry a target?

Although there are regulations and guidelines for the health care industry to protect patient information, the industry itself faces many challenges. Foremost, the focus of the majority of health care workers is the treatment of patients. Because they are dealing with life and death situations, the equipment used to treat patients must be working and available at a moment’s notice. This means there is often little time to install a patch or an update on a piece of medical equipment. The equipment may also be running an outdated operating system that simply cannot be patched to protect against the latest threats. It is not uncommon to see medical equipment running on Windows 95. The medical industry is also subject to FDA regulations and approvals. There may be equipment that is approved by the FDA only on an older operating system and would need to be recertified if updated.

How do I stay safe?

Unfortunately, these data breaches are outside the control of the average person. Health care providers typically use the information they collect from you for your treatment, so you cannot withhold your home address or phone number. As a consumer, you need to be alert for health care data breaches that potentially impact you.

  • Pay attention to the news: Once discovered, medical data breaches tend to make the evening news. Even if you went to a health care provider only once to get an x-ray because you thought you broke your thumb and that provider experiences a data breach, odds are your information was compromised.
  • Monitor your credit score: A common use for resold information is the opening of credit cards or bank accounts. Subscribing to a credit-monitoring service will help you know if a new account has been opened without your knowledge.
  • Watch out for phishing: If your contact information has been stolen, you are almost certain to be the target of numerous phishing attempts. Keep an eye out for suspicious emails and text messages. You can read one of my previous blogs for tips on how to spot a phishing attempt.

The nature of today’s digital world can unfortunately cause our personal and private data to be leaked. If you stay vigilant, you can reduce the impact these breaches will have on your life.

Stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @IntelSec_Home on Twitter, and “Like” us on Facebook.

Stay Safe!

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Wild West of Cybercrime: New Sheriff in town

Your data is held hostage by criminals.  Do you a) Pay them, or b) lose your data forever?

Until recently these were the only options for the many victims of ransomware. That was until July 2016 when law enforcement and private sector got together to launch the NoMoreRansom portal.  Not only did it provide advice on how to best prevent such infections, it also provided a set of tools that allowed victims to decrypt their data.  This provided a third option to victims; don’t pay the bad guys and get your data back.

Progress has been impressive, because since July the number of tools have doubled to over eight ransomware families.  These tools have successfully decrypted over 2,500 infections in such a short time.  Now to put this into context, this means that there were over 2,000 instances in which people did not have to pay criminals in order to get their data back. Subsequently the portal was responsible for preventing in excess of 1m Euros going into the pockets of criminals.

All of which brings us to today.  We have launched the portal with the European Cybercrime Centre, Dutch Police, Kaspersky Lab, and ourselves Intel Security.  Now we are delighted to announce the inclusion of 13 new partners from law enforcement: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Colombia, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

We often hear talk of public-private partnerships, and whilst this rhetoric is often lauded this initiative demonstrates a true practical example of this approach, and what can be achieved when we work together.  Not only in terms of making tools available to make data held hostage available, but raising awareness of ransomware by providing proactive measures to prevent infections.

Ransomware is a growth industry.  In fact one can argue it is the poster child of modern cybercrime with huge revenues being made by criminals.   It is impacting consumers, and now specifically targeting sectors such as education, healthcare, and government.  It is having a detrimental effect on modern businesses across the globe.  Without taking a stand it will continue to fund criminal activities and motivate them to simply invest more in further nefarious initiatives.  We must all take a stand, whether this is industry providing technical support to law enforcement in their efforts to disrupt criminal infrastructure, or an infected victim simply not paying and using the tools provided by NoMoreRansom.

All of us have a role in this fight.  NoMoreRansom may appear to be a website against ransomware, but in truth it represents so much more.

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Everyone Loves Selfies, Including Malware!

I was talking with some of my coworkers the other day about why I wanted to jump to the larger iPhone 7 Plus.  For me it came down to the camera.  I travel a lot for work and even though photography is something of a hobby of mine, I don’t always have my “good camera” with me, so I end up relying on my phone’s camera to take pictures of things that catch my eye.  The camera has become an integral part of a smartphone that it’s often (as in my case) a key factor in deciding which phone to use.  More companies are starting to take advantage of the ubiquitous nature of the camera phone to let you do things like simulate a fax for a signed document or making deposits through your banking app by taking a picture of the front and back of the check.  Thanks to my phone’s camera I can’t remember the last time I stepped inside a bank.  Unfortunately, cybercriminals are also learning to take advantage of your phone’s camera.

The McAfee Mobile Research Team within McAfee Labs recently discovered a piece of Android malware that uses a bit of social engineering and some sneaky code to collect all sorts of personal information, ending with a picture of your ID card. That’s right, malware is now asking for you to take a selfie.  While this particular piece of malware has only been impacting users in Singapore and Hong Kong so far, it’s always best to be aware of the current threats and prepare accordingly. Let’s take a quick look at what this piece of malware does.malware-codec

Like a lot of malware, it tricks the user into installing it by pretending to be a video codec or plugin.  By doing this, it’s actually getting the user to grant it all the permissions it needs to execute the malicious code.  On a side note, this is why we would call this a Trojan instead of a virus since it is pretending to be a legitimate application with hidden functionality.  Remember the story of the Trojan Horse?  Same concept.  Just much smaller.selfie

This malware now runs in the background, waiting for you to open specific apps where it would make sense to ask for a credit card number.  It then displays its own window over the legitimate app, asking for your credit card details.  After validating the card number, it goes on to ask for additional information such as the 4-digit number on the back.  Once fed that information, it will then proceed to ask all sorts of additional information claiming a need to validate your identity.    Age, birthday, mailing address, etc. are all collected.   After all of this info is gathered, it then asks for a picture of the front and back of your ID.  Now, not content to just get that info, the malware asks you to take a selfie with your ID in hand.  You thought taking a selfie with your boarding pass was bad!  If you entered in everything you were asked for, the cybercriminals controlling this malware would now have all the information they needed to gain access to your online accounts.  While it’s not the first time we’ve seen malware that asks for a picture, this is the first time we’ve seen this in mobile malware.  Cybercriminals have definitely turned their sights on the mobile platform.

How to Stay Safe

Don’t install shady plugins – The majority of the internet has settled on one of a handful of different formats to use for videos.  If you go to a site that is asking you to install a “codec” or “video plugin,” don’t do it.  Either that site is using an older out of date video format (that could be vulnerable to more malware) or it is trying to get you to install malware.  Either way, go to another site.  If you think you are missing a legitimate plugin, go directly to the site that makes the plugin and install it from there.  But really, most mobile operating systems have all the codecs you will need built in, so when in doubt, get out.

Don’t take a picture of your ID – You should always be skeptical when apps start asking for too much information.  Entering in payment information is one thing, but asking for a picture of your ID is a completely different ballpark.  In general, storing that sort of information on a server (picture of your ID, passport, etc.) is not a good security practice, so even if an app you are using is legitimately asking for a copy of your ID, you may want to reconsider ditching that app for another one with better security practices.

Install security software – Typically I tell people to keep their devices up to date.  However, since this piece of malware is a Trojan and installs with the user’s permissions, having your system up to date would not stop this malware.  This is one reason you need to run security software, so it can keep an eye out for malicious apps like this that find tricky ways to get onto your device.

Cybercriminals are certainly not slowing down their efforts to steal your data, but with good security practices and the right protections in place, you have a fighting chance.

Stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @IntelSec_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

Stay Safe

 

 

 

 

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