Equifax Breach Advisory

by in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0

Given the recent announcement regarding the data exposure at Equifax we wanted to share some good “cyber hygiene” and some resources with you. With 143 million U.S. consumers affected it’s a good chance many of us are impacted.

Equifax has said there is no evidence of unauthorized activity in their credit reporting data bases but that there was potentially unauthorized access to information it stored from mid-May to July of this year. That information included social security number (SSN), dates of birth (DOB), addresses and in some cases Driver’s License numbers. Also reported is that approximately 209,000 consumers credit card numbers were exposed as well as other “dispute documents” for 182,000 consumers.

What can you do?
  1. One of the first things typically suggested after a breach is to access credit reporting agencies and request your records to be sure there are no unauthorized accounts or charges. In this case you may want to consider the other agencies, Experian and TransUnion. Also check your online and credit card accounts for suspicious activity. You can check free credit reports from annualcreditreport.com. Check for any accounts or charges you don't recognize.
  2. Be extra wary of scam emails and links. Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from suspicious emails. Equifax will send paper mail to consumersbut hackers are sure to use this to conduct Phishing campaigns.
  3. Change your passwords, especially if you have/had an account with Equifax and use similar or the same password elsewhere.
  4. You can check at Equifax here to get information and to check and see if your records are impacted. You can also access your Equifax credit report here which is probably a good idea so you can compare with the ones you get from Experian and/or TransUnion.

1 Million GMail Users Impacted by Google Docs Phishing Attack

by in , , , , , , , , , , , , 0

Reported from ThreatPost May 4, 2017

Google said that up to 1 million Gmail users were victimized by yesterday’s Google Docs phishing scam that spread quickly for a short period of time.

In a statement, Google said that fewer than 0.1 percent of Gmail users were affected; as of last February, Google said it had one billion active Gmail users.

Google took measures to protect its users by disabling offending accounts, and removing phony pages and malicious applications involved in the attacks. Other security measures were pushed out in updates to Gmail, Safe Browsing and other in-house systems.

Additional information by ThreatPost can be found here or on CI's Information Security web site.

Is the IRS really calling/emailing/texting me?

by in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , 0

Just like clockwork it happens every year around April. No, I’m not talking about April Fool’s Day or the annual appearance of the Easter Bunny. I’m talking about IRS tax scams.

Every year during the months of February through April tax scammers focus their sights on us whether, at work or at home, and attempt to solicit us to offer up personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers and/or birthdates, or attempt to convince us to send them money directly via credit card or wire transfer.

Some tax scams occur when fraudulent tax returns are filed in the target’s name while other variants occur when the malicious actors call the target and pretend to be Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents. In addition, there are malicious actors who use the tax season to spread malware and phishing emails.

Of these various types of tax scams, in one type, a return is filed in the victim’s name include identity theft, identity fraud, and tax fraud. This scenario occurs when the malicious actor uses information about the tax filer such as their name, address, date of birth, and Social Security Number to file a false tax return as the target claiming as many deductions as they can to gain the largest refund amount.

In a second type of tax scam, the malicious actor contacts the target by phone and tries to convince the target to do something, such as immediately paying a fine or providing their financial information so a refund can be issued. In these instances, the malicious actor uses what they know about the victim, often information gained from a previously occurred data breach or social networking website, to convince the victim that the caller has access to the victim’s tax information. Frequently during these calls the caller will pretend to be an IRS agent.

In the third type of tax scam, malicious actors use tax related spam, phishing emails, and fraudulent websites to trick victims into providing login names, passwords, or additional information, which can be used in further fraud. Other emails or websites may download malware onto the victim’s computer.

Some things you should look out for:

  • Look for “spoofed” (copied) websites that look like the official website but are not. 
  • Don’t be fooled by unsolicited calls. The IRS will never contact you by phone, email, text or social media, and the IRS will never demand an immediate payment or require you to use a specific payment method such as pre-loaded debit or credit cards, or wire transfers. They will never claim anything is “urgent” or due immediately, nor will they request payment over the phone.
  • The IRS will not be hostile, insulting, or threatening, nor will they threaten to involve law enforcement in order to have you arrested or deported. 
  • Sometimes malicious actors change their Caller ID to say they are the IRS. If you’re not sure, ask for the agent’s name, hang up, and call the IRS (or your state tax agency) back using a phone number from their official website. 

If you believe you are the victim of identity theft or identity fraud, there are a couple of steps you should take:
  1. File a report with your local law enforcement agency. 
  2. File a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at www.identitytheft.gov
  3. File a report with the three major credit bureaus and request a “fraud alert” for your account (Equifax – www.equifax.com, Experian – www.experian.com, TransUnion – www.transunion.com).
If you receive any spam or a phishing email about your taxes, do not click on the links or open any attachments, instead forward the email to phishing@irs.gov. Other tax scams or frauds can be reported according to the directions on these pages referenced below:


Cloudbleed Bug: What you should know.

by in , , , , , , , , , , 0

Cloudbleed, the latest internet bug that put leaked users private information, was made public late last Thursday, 2/23.  There's still quite a bit of confusion regarding the full impact on people's information, but here are few links to help you unfold what occurred.

Blog article from Cloudflare, the affected source.
CNET's Article
Additional CNET information
Fortune Magazine
Is this web service affected?

The bottom line of all this is you should change all of your passwords for all of the web services you subscribe to.  It's better to be safe in a situation such as this than sorry.

Today's Tip: Is That App Giving Away Your Privacy?

by in , , , , , , , , , 0

Be careful when you install apps on your mobile device. Many apps want more permissions than actually needed for their function. For example, some flashlight apps want access to your contacts. Why? Usually for marketing purposes to build a better profile on you and your friends. Don't install apps that require excessive permissions.

Also, always install apps from a trusted source. This helps ensure the app isn't fake or malicious.

August 2016 - secureCI Monthly Newsletter

by in , , , , , , , , 1

secureCI presents Ouch!

The SANS Monthly Information Security Bulletin at CI

  • What Is Encryption?
  • What Can You Encrypt?
  • Getting It Right


Guest Editor
Francesca Bosco (@francibosco) is a researcher and a project officer, managing projects related to cybercrime, cybersecurity, and the misuse of technology. She is working at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute and she co-founded the Tech and Law Center.

What Is Encryption?
You may hear people use the term “encryption” and how you should use it to protect yourself and your information. However, encryption can be confusing and you should understand its limitations. In this newsletter, we explain in simple terms what encryption is, how it protects you, and how to implement it properly.

You have a tremendous amount of sensitive information on your devices, such as personal documents, pictures, and emails. If you were to have one of your devices lost or stolen, all of your sensitive information could be accessed by whoever possesses it. In addition, you may conduct sensitive transactions online, such as banking or shopping. If anyone were to monitor these activities, they could steal your information, such as your financial account or credit card numbers. Encryption protects you in these situations by helping ensure unauthorized people cannot access or modify your information.

Encryption has been around for thousands of years. Today, encryption is far more sophisticated, but it serves the same purpose -- to pass a secret message from one place to another by ensuring only those authorized to read the message can access it. When information is not encrypted, it is called plain-text. This means anyone can easily read or access it. Encryption converts this information into a non-readable format called cipher-text. Today’s encryption works by using complex mathematical operations and a unique key to convert your information into cipher-text. The key is what locks or unlocks your information. In most cases, your key is a password or passcode.

What Can You Encrypt?
In general, there are two types of data to encrypt: data at rest (such as the data stored on your mobile device) and data in motion (such as retrieving email or messaging a friend).

Encrypting data at rest is vital to protect information in case your computer or mobile device is lost or stolen. Today’s devices are extremely powerful and hold a tremendous amount of information, but are also very easy to lose. In addition, other types of mobile media can hold sensitive information, such as USB flash drives or external hard drives. Full Disk Encryption (FDE) is a widely used encryption technique that encrypts the entire drive in your system. This means that everything on the system is automatically encrypted for you; you do not have to decide what or what not to encrypt. Today, most computers come with FDE, but you may have to manually turn it on or enable it. It is called FileVault on Mac computers, while on Windows computers, depending on the version you have, you can use Bitlocker or Device Encryption. Most mobile devices also support FDE. iOS on iPhones and iPads automatically enable FDE once a passcode has been set. Starting with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), Google is requiring FDE be enabled by default, provided the hardware meets certain minimum standards.

Information is also vulnerable when it is in transit. If the data is not encrypted, it can be monitored, modified, and captured online. This is why you want to ensure that any sensitive online transactions and communications are encrypted.  A common type of online encryption is HTTPS. This means all traffic between your browser and a website is encrypted. Look for https:// in the URL, a lock icon on your browser, or your URL bar turning green. Another example is when you send or receive email. Most email clients provide encrypted capabilities, which you may have to enable. A third example of encrypting data in transit is between two users chatting with each other, such as with iMessage, Wickr, Signal, WhatsApp, or Telegram. Apps like these use end-to-end encryption, which prevents third parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another. This means only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent.

Getting It Right
To be sure you are protected when using encryption, it is paramount that you use it correctly:

  • Your encryption is only as strong as your key. If someone guesses or gets access to your key, they will have access to your data. Protect your key. If you are using a passcode or password for your key, make sure it is a strong, unique password. The longer your password, the harder it is for an attacker to guess or brute force it. Do not forget your password; without your key, you can no longer decrypt your information. If you can’t remember all of your passwords, we recommend a password manager.
  • Your encryption is only as strong as the security of your devices. If your device has been compromised or is infected by malware, cyber attackers can bypass your encryption.  This is why it is so important you take other steps to secure your device, including using anti-virus, strong passwords, and keeping it updated.
  • Many mobile apps and computer applications now offer strong encryption to protect your data and communications. If the app or application you are considering does not support encryption, consider an alternative.

Security Awareness Posters
Learn how to protect your family, friends, and coworkers with this series of friendly and free security awareness posters. Download the posters from https://securingthehuman.sans.org/u/i58

Encryption Explained      
Password Managers            
What Is Malware                
Securing Your New Tablet  

OUCH! is published by SANS Securing The Human and is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.
You are free to share or distribute this newsletter as long as you do not sell or modify it. For past editions or translated versions, visit securingthehuman.sans.org/ouch/archives. Editorial Board: Bill Wyman, Walt Scrivens, Phil Hoffman, Bob Rudis, Cheryl Conley

SANS Blog - securingthehuman.sans.org/blog

Facebook - /securethehuman

Twitter - @securethehuman

GooglePlus - securingthehuman.sans.org/gplus

Cyber Essentials - I'm Hacked, Now What?

by in , , , , , , , , , , , 0

Continuing our blog series targeted at protecting yourself against cyber threats, today's blog topic covers Cyber Bullying.

Today's guest blog contributor is Eric Varela. Eric is a student here at CSU Channel Islands majoring in Information Technology with a minor in Security Systems Engineering.

Define Hacked: No matter how securely you use technology in your day-to-day life, you may eventually be hacked or more commonly called “compromised.” In this blog, you will learn how to determine if your mobile device or computer has been hacked and, if so, what you can do in response. Bottom line, the quicker you detect something is wrong and the faster you respond, the more likely you can reduce the harm a cyber-attacker can cause.

Clues You Have Been Compromised: It can be difficult to determine if you have been compromised, as there is often no single way you can figure it out. On the other hand, hackers usually leave behind several clues, often called ‘indicators’. The closer your system matches any of these indicators, the more likely it has been compromised:

  • Your anti-virus program has flagged an alert that your system is infected, specifically if it says that it was unable to remove or quarantine the affected files.
  • Your web browser’s homepage has unexpectedly changed or your browser is taking you to websites that you did not want to go to.
  • There are new accounts on your computer or mobile device that you did not create, or new programs running that you did not download and install.
  • Your computer or applications are constantly crashing, there are icons for unknown apps on your mobile device, or strange windows keep popping up.
  • A program requests your authorization to make changes to your system, though you’re not installing or updating any of your applications.
  • Your password no longer works when you try to log into your system or an online account, even though you know your password is correct.
  • Your friends ask you why you are spamming them with emails that you know you never sent. 

How to Respond: If you believe your computer or mobile device has been compromised, the sooner you respond the better. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Anti-Virus: If your anti-virus software informs you of an infected file, you can follow the actions it recommends (delete, quarantine, etc.). (Note: Most anti-virus software will have links you can follow to learn more about the specific infection.)
  • Change your passwords: This includes not only changing the passwords on your computers and mobile devices, but for all of your online accounts. Be sure you do not use the compromised computer to change the passwords. Alternatively, use a different computer or device that you know is secure to change the passwords.
  • Rebuilding: If you are unable to fix the infection or you want to be absolutely sure your system is fixed, a more secure option is to rebuild (reformat) it. Follow your system manufacturer’s instructions. In most cases, this will mean using the built-in utilities to reinstall the operating system. (Tip: If these utilities are missing, corrupted, or infected, then contact your manufacturer for guidance or visit their website.)
  • Backups: The most important step you can take to protecting yourself is to prepare ahead of time with regular backups. (Tip: The more often you back up, the better. Often times, recovering your data from a backup is the only way you can recover from being hacked.)

Derived from sans.org