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Info Advantage Blog

Info Advantage has been serving the Upstate New York area since 1993 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Even During a Pandemic, Technology Never Sleeps

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As we see ourselves rolling comfortably through what is often referred to as the “Dog Days of Summer”, we are able take a quick moment and reflect before the fall and winter inevitably arrive.

The year 2020 has been incredibly rough for all of humanity all across the planet Earth. Uncertainties within the health care industry, finances and throughout the workforce, most people have just not been able to catch a break.

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KRACK Attacks: New Wi-Fi Vulnerability Found in WPA2 Protocol

KRACK Attacks: New Wi-Fi Vulnerability Found in WPA2 Protocol

Experts are warning Wi-Fi users of a newly discovered vulnerability with the Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) protocol that can be used against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. This includes information such as credit card numbers, passwords, emails, photos, chat messages, and more. In addition, a hacker may be able to use the vulnerability to inject ransomware, malware, or other attack methods by injecting and manipulating the data. These are known as key reinstallation attacks, or KRACKs.

The weakness can expose any product that uses the Wi-Fi standard protocols, meaning that the vulnerability isn’t only found in a specific product or implementation. During a study by KU Leuven, researchers found that the vulnerability has already affected products from Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and more.

According to ArsTechnica, "it works by exploiting a four-way handshake that's used to establish a key for encrypting traffic. During the third step, the key can be resent multiple times. When it's resent in certain ways, a cryptographic nonce can be reused in a way that completely undermines the encryption."

For more information on KRACK attacks, visit https://www.krackattacks.com/ or you can read the in-depth academic paper here: https://papers.mathyvanhoef.com/ccs2017.pdf. You can also contact us at Info Advantage at (585) 257-8710 to learn more about the vulnerabilities that can be threatening your data, and how to protect your business from cybercriminals.

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WannaCry: The Worst Digital Disaster the World Has Seen in Years

WannaCry: The Worst Digital Disaster the World Has Seen in Years

 

On Friday, May 12, a cyber-attack was launched that affected over 300,000 computers in roughly 150 countries. The attack, a ransomware worm known as WannaCry, affected nearly every major industry; including healthcare, government, and privately-owned businesses.

The attack began in Europe and continued to spread across the globe, reaching targets in China, Japan, and even reaching across seas to the Americas. Once hit with WannaCry, the worm encrypts all the files on an infected device, prompting the user to pay $300 in order to regain access to their files.

Since the attack spread, the hackers are thought to have gained about $80,000 in bitcoins from WannaCry victims. However, that number is not expected to rise much higher, as many technology companies have already implemented measures to block the attack. In fact, Microsoft had already had a vulnerability patch in place in March, months before WannaCry was released.

So how was WannaCry able to affect hundreds of thousands of devices while there were already measures available to block the attack? The answer lies within an affected company’s technology infrastructure. While the patch by Microsoft was originally released in March for Windows XP systems, many businesses completely overlooked the upgrade. This left them wide open for an attack, making them easy targets with well-known vulnerabilities.

However, we cannot be so quick to blame the IT departments of the affected businesses, particularly those with complex technology infrastructures. For example, many health care service providers in the UK were affected due to a reliance on older versions of operating systems. This is due in part to the variety of third-party medical equipment that health care providers rely on to do their jobs. This equipment can often be difficult to upgrade or patch, and can only be replaced if the budget allows for it. In many cases, companies will choose to spend their dollars on other IT necessities.

What can businesses do to protect themselves from WannaCry and other similar cyber-attacks? Security experts state that the best way to combat these attacks is to keep your technology updated and your employees aware of potential threats.

A good way to gauge your company’s vulnerability is to perform a threat and vulnerability tests. These tests will give a company insight into how many employees would fall for an attack by sending out a fake phishing scam. Once the data is collected, a company will have a better idea of what kind of vulnerabilities they have, and how they can train their employees to avoid them.

Experts also suggest that companies keep as up-to-date on their software as possible, and urge them to consistently check for updates or patches. While an update might not seem imperative, hackers are constantly on the lookout for newly discovered vulnerabilities to exploit. By creating a consistent update schedule, companies can be sure that they are protected from future attacks.

Don’t have the time to constantly check for software updates? Not sure if your company is up-to-date with the best possible cyber security plan? Contact our security experts at Info Advantage by calling (585) 254-8710 today to talk about how you can protect your business’ assets.

 

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IoT Connected Stuffed Animals Leak Millions of Accounts Private Information

IoT Connected Stuffed Animals Leak Millions of Accounts Private Information

With the rise of the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), more and more everyday devices are becoming connected to the web as a means to make a more personalized product experiment. Today, we have IoT connected watches, televisions, and even kitchen appliances like refrigerators or coffee makers. As convenient as these devices can be, they can pose a serious threat to a user’s personal information if the security behind the device is lackluster. Such is the case with CloudPet, a IoT connected stuffed animal that lets children and their loved ones communicate with each other through an app, which exposed the personal data of thousands of accounts.

CloudPets are made by Spiral Toys, a company based in California that specializes in toys that connect to the internet. The concept behind the toy is that a child can communicate with their parents or loved ones who are far away. The toy is connected to an app, which allows the connected party to record voice messages to send to the child’s CloudPet. The CloudPet then allows the child to send a voice recording back, which can be played through the app.

On February 28, 2017, security researcher Troy Hunt posted a blog about how the data from CloudPets stuffed animals had been leaked and ransomed, potentially exposing these recordings. Hunt found that several parties had reached out to CloudPets and their parent company Spiral Toys about the breach, yet had received no response. With some help of members on his site, Have I Been Pwned?, Hunt was successfully able to access the user photos and voice recordings. While there were no recordings or photos on the exposed database, the leakage did contain sensitive data that could easily compromise an account.

According to the CloudPet’s site, the breach was caused when CloudPet’s user data was temporarily moved to a new database software. In December of 2016, third party developers moved CloudPets data to a temporary database in order to make upgrades to the CloudPet’s app. During the time, the database software that was used had an exploit that hackers would use to hold data for ransom. While CloudPets claims that no voice recordings were accessed, they do admit to the leakage of email addresses, usernames, and encrypted passwords. However, there were no password strength rules before the breach, so a hacker could still easily access thousands of those compromised accounts.

Since the breach was made public on February 22, the CloudPets app required all users to reset their passwords, and created new password security requirements to ensure the new passwords are more secure. They also recommend that users create a unique password for every application or site, and advise them not to use “easily guessable” passwords.

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Fruitfly: The First Apple Malware of 2017

Fruitfly: The First Apple Malware of 2017

One of the major arguments for die-hard Apple fans is that their devices are nearly invulnerable to the attacks that work their way into other operating systems, such as malware or viruses. While it is true that Apple has a much lower rate of malware infections, this does not make it impenetrable, and hackers are constantly looking for new ways to extort data. One newly discovered malware, known as Fruitfly, takes advantage of an antiquated code that allows it to run undetected on macOS systems.

What is Fruitfly?

Fruitfly is a newly discovered type of malware recently found by the team at Malwarebytes. While relatively harmless, this malware is able to hide inside of OS X without alerting the user of its presence. The malware communicates with two command-and-control servers, which allows it to perform actions such as typing, webcam and screen capture, and even moving and clicking the mouse. It can also map other devices and try to connect with them.

Where did Fruitfly come from?

There is a bit of mystery surrounding the origins of Fruitfly. According to Malwarebytes, Fruitfly may have been hiding in a OS X for several years, as much of its code indicates that it was adapted from OS X to Yosemite, making it at least three years old. However, there are also lines of code that rely on pre-OS X systems, and some open-source ‘libjpeg’ code, which hasn’t been updated since 1998. So far, most of the discovered instances of Fruitfly have been found on machines at biomedical research institutions.

What can I do to protect my device?

Luckily, it seems that most of the Fruitfly attacks are targeted, making them a minor threat to an everyday user. However, Apple has yet to release a patch against Fruitfly, so users should take caution and keep an eye out for any updates they release in the near future. One of the best ways to ensure that your device stays infection-free is through constant monitoring of your network. Keep an eye out for any irregularities, and don’t let anything go unreported.

Worried that your network is in danger of malware infection? Not sure what to look for when monitoring your network? Contact Info Advantage today at (585) 254-8710 to talk to an IT professional about how to keep your devices safe from harmful attacks.

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3 Social Engineering Scams You’ll Want to Keep an Eye Out For

3 Social Engineering Scams You’ll Want to Keep an Eye Out For

These days there are thousands of different cyber scams looking to steal money or information from unsuspecting internet users. While many of these attacks can be stopped with a strengthened and secure connection, there is another type of attack that relies more on tricking the users, rather than their network or personal device. These are known as social engineers, and they rely on exploiting the human psychology in order to obtain what they want. Here are three types of social engineering scams that you’ll want to be able to recognize.

Phishing

One of the most common types of hacking scams used today, phishing scams try to trick internet users to give up their personal information by posing as a reputable source. These often come up in the form of an email from a site that is easily recognizable, such as Facebook or Amazon. Typically, these emails state that there is a problem with a person’s account, and prompt them to fill out their personal information in order to resolve it. That’s why you should always double check the URL to make sure it is a verified site. Remember, a site will NEVER ask for your log in credentials through an email.

Pretexting

Pretexting is similar to phishing in that the hacker attempts to coerce information from a user by pretending to be someone they’re not. The main difference between the two types of scams is that where a phishing attack is meant to induce fear, a pretexting attack will instead attempt to create a false trust with the user. Hackers achieve this by posing as someone the user would trust, such as a government official or the police. They then ask for their personal information, often citing that they need to verify the user’s identity.

Quid Pro Quo

Hackers will often use what is known as a ‘quid pro quo’ attack where they promise a user some kind of good or service in exchange for their information. This is often presented as some sort of prize for a contest, and promises that you will receive the reward for free, as long as you provide them with a bit of personal information. For example, a hacker could promise free IT assistance to individual users and ask for them to give them their credentials in order to claim the service. They would then be able to steal valuable data or even download harmful malware directly onto their computers.

Even if you’re careful with your network, a professional hacker will stop at nothing to try and find a vulnerability they can exploit. Call Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710 today to learn more ways you can keep hackers at bay.

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The Threat of Your Car Being Hacked is Becoming Increasingly Relevant

The Threat of Your Car Being Hacked is Becoming Increasingly Relevant

In response to the increasing danger of cyber attacks against computerized cars that are currently in production, Volkswagen has partnered up with three Israeli experts in cybersecurity to form a brand new cybersecurity company dedicated to designing solutions intended to protect such advanced cars and their passengers.


While ownership and investments made by each party have not been made public, the mission of Cymotive--as the new entity is called--is perfectly clear.

As Yuval Duskin, who formerly sat at the helm of the Israeli Security Services and now serves as Cymotive chairman, said: "Together with Volkswagen we are building a top-notch team of cyber security experts. We are aware of the significant technological challenges that will face us in the next years in dealing with the cyber security threats facing the connected car and the development of the autonomous car."

These cyber security threats are far too real. Features like Bluetooth connectivity and computerized dashboards have made modern automobiles tempting targets for tech-savvy criminals. Quite recently researchers discovered that an attacker armed with an inexpensive radio kit could clone their way into any wireless-entry-equipped Volkswagen, potentially opening any of the automobiles equipped with this feature sold since 2000--the number of potential cars at risk reaching into the millions.

Volkswagen, of course, is not the only car maker whose systems are under threat of attack. A few seasoned car hackers recently proved that--by attaching a laptop to the controller area network (or CAN bus) of a Jeep Cherokee--they could take full control of the vehicle’s brakes. Posting proof of their method in a YouTube video, the duo used a local attack but stated that with some more effort, a similar attack could be executed remotely.

However, after submitting their findings to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (producer of the Jeep brand) the automotive manufacturer waved away the findings, questioning their validity and how appropriate it was for the hacking duo to share “how-to information” that could potentially put public safety in jeopardy. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles also declared that such an attack takes “extensive technical knowledge” and that any security flaws present in the demonstration had since been patched.

However, hackers of a more malicious nature are always seeking out new vulnerabilities that the manufacturers and programmers of whatever system (automotive, computing, or otherwise) may have overlooked. As a result, there is an ongoing (and most likely never ending) race between hackers and developers to come out on top… At least until the next revolutionary technology emerges and starts the race over.

Does the ability of computer hackers to infiltrate your car make you consider downgrading during your next automotive purchase? Let us know in the comments.

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