Work from home safely. Get cybersecurity cement.

Since March we have seen an increase in cyber incidents relating to the current pandemic. During this period reports suggest not necessarily an increase in cybercrime but instead s a visible increase in the use of Covid19 for tricking unsuspecting victims. In other words, no new crimes, but old crimes using new tricks.

Phishing, malicious domains and ransomware using Covid19 as bait are the most prevalent tactics but there is also an increase in attacks on vulnerable remote access technologies. Out of date software or indeed software developed without adequate privacy and security considerations are higher risk when combined with home networks and inexperienced users.  Work from home has become a reality to most in a very short space of time. Many organisations have had to grapple together solutions to meet demand for example: relying on VPN solutions that had not been patched or insecure configurations exposed to unprotected internet connections.

Whilst security (like patching and pen testing) are obviously essential to protecting organisations, the increase in cyber incidents demonstrate the importance of data protection by design by default. A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) will allow for adequate risk identification and work towards achieving appropriate controls. It is also a robust way of documenting project development to ensure that privacy takes a structured place in design work-streams. Data protection by design by default can supplement and support infosec colleagues in ensuring that the incidents are dealt with in an appropriate manner.

Finally, an essential part of any DPIA assessment is to identify immediate necessary mitigations, and subsequent actions to prevent reoccurrence, i.e. remediate. I have never done a DPIA that hasn’t made reference to training. Indeed, training is the cement that ties cybersecurity and privacy together and creates the strong wall of defence for an organisation. For many organisations, they should be looking at retraining the workforce after the pandemic. This is not to “teach” them how to work from home, but how to do it “safely”!

Watch out! Ransomeware actors have turned to blackmail

Ransomware has evolved into blackmail. We are all familiar with the concept of ransomware, whereby critical operational data, which includes personal data is encrypted by hackers, and hence inaccessible to the business. In order to get access, i.e. the decrypted data (the key is owned by the hacker), they need to pay a fee. The fees are significant, this article gives an insight, e.g. a recent case resulted in a fee to be paid of $350 000.

So the business gets back their operational files, and this is where the blackmail kicks in. The hackers will request a second ransomware fee of between $100 000 and $2 000 000 for the data to be deleted or they will make it public!

What is surprising, or maybe not, is that the victims are actually paying. Especially those in private healthcare, who can’t afford the damage to their reputation should it get out that they have been hacked, and sensitive data has been stolen…. and they don’t report the breach as is required by law (in the U.S.) and Europe, and other countries globally.

If you are worried about this trend, and we all should be, then protect your data as it should be (GDPR Art 32 requires this is done). Get the experts in, they cost much less than what a ransomware demand will, if they get to you first. And it could be that it is not so difficult to fix, you maybe surprised!

Edited: PrivSec have a free ‘fireside chat’ session on ransomware, and what to do if it happens to you, you can book here.