Threat Report

CTC’s September 2019 Threat Report

Vulnerabilities come from all sides — even from the inside. That’s the case with two notable items from recent worldwide cybersecurity activity. 

Of even greater significance, however, are the ongoing attacks faced by public institutions seen in generations past as practically untouchable: presidential elections and government operations.

U.S. Institutions Dealing with Ongoing Attacks

A widespread ransomware attack targeted 22 government agencies across Texas recently. 

Because the federal investigation continues, some details of the attack are still not known widely. Reports indicate that more than 25% of the impacted agencies are now in the remediation and recovery phase. (That’s an upgrade from the initial response and assessment phase.) Texas officials say normal operations have resumed at a number of the affected entities.

State officials recommend some best practices that it’s always a good idea to reiterate to associates:

  1. Ensure software is as current as possible, including security patches and antivirus tools.
  2. Create strong passwords and change them regularly.
  3. Enable multi-factor authentication, especially for remote logins.
  4. Limit administrative access.
  5. Perform regular/automated backups; keep the backups segregated.

READ MORE: 6 Social Engineering Scams To Guard Against

Judge Halts Georgia Election Plan over Security Risk

A federal judge acknowledged the rising threat to U.S. elections when a ruling she handed down prohibited Georgia officials from using outdated touchscreen voting machines beyond the end of this year. 

From Ars Technica

“Georgia is still using Diebold Accuvote TSX touchscreen machines whose hardware and software date back to around 2005. In 2006 and 2007, security researchers discovered numerous security vulnerabilities in these machines — problems serious enough to cause California to decertify them from use in state elections.”

Georgia officials planned to move to a new voting system. Experts sounded concerns, however, that any delay in their process could keep the vulnerable machines in play for the 2020 presidential election. This ruling halts that threat by requiring officials to end the machines’ use by the end of this year. 

Presidential Candidate Hires CISO

Speaking of the 2020 presidential election: Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s campaign now includes a chief information security officer (CISO).

The campaign staff of fellow candidates Joe Biden and Andrew Yang include similar roles. Politics-focused outlet Politico sought related information from other candidates. They either failed to respond or cited policies prohibiting the discussion of cybersecurity efforts.

If there are any presidential campaigns still looking for a CISO, here’s an expert worth considering

Cybersecurity Threats from Inside Actors

Limiting or carefully monitoring network administrative access as suggested in tip #4, above, can also help prevent situations such as the one that arose in Ukraine. 

There, investigators suspect several employees of participating in a cryptocurrency mining scheme. As part of their efforts, the group connected the plant’s computer network to the internet.

Doing so may have made information about the plant’s defenses available to hackers using the cryptocurrency mining configuration to infiltrate the network. Ukraine officials continue to investigate the matter.

Closer to home, the Department of Justice extradited a citizen from Pakistan from Hong Kong on charges that he bribed multiple AT&T employees over several years to install malware on computer networks. 

The AT&T insiders used their computer credentials and access to disable company software that prevented the removal of ineligible phones from AT&T’s network. This resulted in the company missing out on millions of dollars in customer payments. The insiders received tens of thousands of dollars in bribes; one received more than $425,000 over five years. 

Rely on CTC Technologies for Cybersecurity Support

Today’s enterprises have no other option but to bolster their cybersecurity defenses in the face of threats from perpetrators both outside and inside the organization. Where options exist is in selecting which cybersecurity firm to trust.

READ MORE: Top 5 Qualities to Look For When Hiring An IT Consultant

CTC Technologies offers decades of experience helping everyone from solopreneurs to global IT department leaders keep pace with cyber threats lurking on the horizon.

Contact us today to get started protecting your network as robustly as possible.