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The LuxSci Cybersecurity Trends 2019 Report: Your Guide to Cyber Risks

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Worried about your organization’s cybersecurity?

Relax, because LuxSci’s Cybersecurity Trends 2019 report is here to give you the insight you need to understand the latest threats and help you manage your organization’s risks.

We surveyed executives, management and other employees to find out exactly what’s been happening on the ground, what to expect from the future, and the best ways to stay ahead of the latest online threats.

Some of the results were expected, with the continuation of many trends that have been bubbling away for the past few years. But there were a few surprises as well, since the threat landscape is always changing.

cybersecurity trends

Cybersecurity Incidents Are Incredibly Common

Cyber incidents have now become a regular occurrence in the workplace:

  • 46% of respondents said that their organization had suffered an incident with an online scammer or hacker.

This isn’t surprising when you consider the relatively low adoption rates of various security technologies that the survey found. Less than half of the respondents said that their organization was keeping audit logs, implementing network management tools or using multi-factor authentication. This is just the tip of underutilized technologies that were revealed in the survey.

If organizations want to reduce their security risks, they need a comprehensive cybersecurity policy in place. This should encompass the technical measures, skills, monitoring and other elements that are critical for defense.

Email Strikes Again

As expected, email was one of the biggest concerns, with:

  • 46% of respondents claiming that email was involved in their organization’s latest security incident.
  • 52% of respondents ranking email as their organization’s greatest vulnerability.

In ways, this is understandable, because email is so heavily used for business communications. We should expect a greater number of incidents from the most-commonly used communication methods. Just because there were very few smoke signal-related security incidents, doesn’t mean that the smoke signal is a safer means of communicating.

While the ubiquity of email is a strong contributor, it still needs to be acknowledged that most organizations aren’t doing enough to protect their email accounts, or to prevent regulatory violations.

Phishing is one of the biggest threats, and businesses need extensive employee-training and effective spam-filtering to help minimize the risks. Another key email-related issue involves accidentally sending unencrypted ePHI and ending up with HIPAA penalties. Organization’s need strict policies and technical mechanisms, such as opt-out encryption, to avoid these costly mistakes.

Ongoing & Future Concerns

Implementing and maintaining the appropriate defenses is a constant struggle for businesses, which many seem to be losing. Some of the biggest challenges found in the survey include:

  • Too many new and emerging threats” to keep up with. This was seen as a serious issue by 28% of respondents.
  • Lack of appropriate cybersecurity personnel, which was claimed by 26% of respondents.

The silver lining is that half of the respondents said that their organization had increased the amount of resources that they devote to cybersecurity. Hopefully, this is an indication that those in management are learning just how costly breaches can be, and how important an effective security plan is to the future viability of their business.

Despite these budget increases, it is becoming apparent that many businesses are still struggling to implement the security measures that they need. This is particularly apparent in small and medium-sized businesses, where lack of resources and the necessary skills significantly affect their ability to combat threats.

Since the current cyber landscape has gotten so complex and the necessary expertise so specialized, turning to third-party security providers is one of the few viable options for smaller businesses. 32% of respondents recognized this need, stating that the best way to improve their security is to outsource it to specialist vendors.

Want to find out even more about the current and future cyber-landscape? Then dive into the full report – Download Here

2018 Cybersecurity: Breaches, Online Trends & What Lies Ahead

Friday, January 18th, 2019

2018 has come a close and cybersecurity is more relevant than ever. As we continue to move more of our work and personal lives online, our defenses are becoming even more critical parts of holding our world together.

When these defenses are inadequate, we see a range of devastating results. From big data breaches to HIPAA violations, ransomware to cryptomining attacks, both organizations and individuals feel the destructive results of poor security and lack of compliance.

We’ll never be able to get things perfect, but if we take the time to review the biggest issues that have been plaguing our online world, as well as evaluate the way trends are heading in the future, then we put ourselves in a much better position for protecting our lives, businesses and data as we move forward.

That brings us to our roundup for 2018, covering the biggest data breaches of the year, the cybersecurity world at large, as well as the key developments at security’s intersections with healthcare and email.

cybersecurity breaches

2018’s Biggest Data Breaches

Data breaches are here to stay, and those companies that don’t take a proactive and cautious approach to their security are the easiest targets. There were hundreds of reported breaches this year, resulting in the compromise of anywhere between just a few records to millions.

Every time that PHI is exposed, it can have serious ramifications for the individuals that the data pertains to. This is especially true for medical records, because they contain so much data that can be used for a variety of criminal acts, such as identity theft.

Email continues to be a common attack vector, because it’s ubiquitous and makes it relatively easy for attackers to leverage techniques like social engineering to load malware onto their targets’ computers, or to steal their credentials.

Some of this year’s biggest email-related data breaches affected healthcare providers like UnityPoint Health, Augusta University Health and HealthEquity.

UnityPoint Health

In a phishing attack against UnityPoint Health, up to 1.4 million patient and employee records may have been compromised. The data breach affected people in Iowa, southern Wisconsin and Western Illinois.

In the attack, hackers posed as high-ranking executives. They emailed lower-level employees and pressured them into handing over login credentials for company email accounts. These details were then used to enter the systems and access a large volume of patient records.

UnityPoint Health has offered one year of credit monitoring services to anyone whose driver’s license or Social Security number was exposed during the breach.

This data breach comes on top of another one that UnityPoint Health announced earlier in the year. On April 16, it began notifying the 16,429 patients whose PHI had been exposed in attacks that ran from November 1,, 2017 until February 7 of this year. The company stated that they did not discover the attack until the following week.

Following the first breach, a class action lawsuit was launched against UnityPoint Health, claiming that the company violated the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, because it only notified the authorities and patients after the allotted 60 day period.

The lawsuit also claims that UnityPoint misrepresented the extent of the breach by claiming that Social Security numbers were not part of the breach. The lawsuit has since been amended to cover the second breach as well.

Augusta University Health

In the second biggest email-related breach, the data from more than 417,000 patients, staff members and students were exposed. Augusta University Health was actually struck by two attacks, the first and largest occurred over September 10 and 11, 2017, while the second hit on July 11, 2018.

The breach mainly involved the data of patients who visited the Children’s Hospital of Georgia or Augusta University Medical Center, but 80 other Georgia-based outpatient clinics were also affected.

The data was stolen when hackers used phishing to trick employees into disclosing their login credentials. All up, 24 of the University’s email accounts were compromised, exposing the patient data that was contained in the bodies of emails and their attachments.

The attacks yielded an extensive range of information, from names and addresses to lab test results, treatment information and health insurance details.

Augusta University Health did not report the breach until July 31, 2018, claiming that they were waiting for the completion of an external investigation. The organization is offering one year of free credit monitoring to those whose Social Security number was compromised.

A second attack also occurred on July 11, 2018, but at this stage it appears to have affected fewer people. This attack compromised a smaller number of employee accounts than the previous year’s attack and was also investigated by third-party experts.

disaster recovery checklist

HealthEquity

Around 165,800 patient records may have been exposed in an attack that took place in September and October. The actual numbers aren’t one hundred percent clear, as many reports say that only 21,000 patients were affected. This figure seems to only account for the California-based victims, and not those from the rest of the country.

In a statement to DataBreaches.net, HealthEquity indicated that up to 190,000 people may have been affected. When the figures were later released to the Department of Health and Human Services, the number was 165,800.

In the attack, two employee email accounts were compromised when attackers exploited a configuration error. This allowed them to get around the normal authentication methods. HealthEquity is offering five years of credit monitoring alongside an identity-theft insurance policy to those who were affected.

This attack comes on top of another breach that HealthEquity revealed in June. Around 23,000 records were compromised when an employee’s email account was accessed in an unauthorized manner. Those whose data was exposed have also been offered five years of free credit monitoring as well as an identity-theft insurance policy.

How Can You Protect Your Organization from Data Breaches?

You might have noticed something about these attacks. Not only were they the largest cases where email was used to attack organizations within the health industry, but each of these businesses was the victim of multiple breaches.

Sure, it’s possible for hackers to make their way into even the most well-protected organizations, but when you begin to see multiple, large-scale breaches within such a small time period, you have to question whether there are serious systematic issues at play.

For the most part, breaches in the industry come from hackers who are looking for an easy way to make money. Organizations that take their cybersecurity seriously are much more difficult to successfully attack, so hackers tend to move on to easier prey,

Comprehensive Security Policy

It all starts with a plan. If businesses want to prevent attacks, they need to take stock of their situation, their assets and their weaknesses. By evaluating their current positions, they can come up with comprehensive security policies that make the chance of successful breaches far less likely.

Not only can a solid plan help to prevent attacks, but if a company ever is breached, it can help to minimize the impact and make recovery much quicker.

Regular Training & Awareness

Two of the above attacks were initiated through phishing. Although phishing continues to evolve, it’s not a new form of attack, so businesses can prepare themselves against it. With regular training and awareness campaigns, employees can learn to identify suspicious emails and not get fooled by them.

If you want to prevent these kinds of attacks, it’s also important to promote a cautious company culture. It’s much better to encourage employees to ask the IT department if they ever come across something that looks suspicious, rather than for employees to assume it’s fine and risk letting an attacker access company resources.

Spam Filters

How else can you prevent phishing? Stop the emails from ending up in your employees’ inboxes.

Using a spam filter such as LuxSci’s HIPAA-compliant offering helps to reduce the chance of your employees clicking on dodgy links or corresponding with attackers. That’s because effective filtering can dramatically cut down on the number of phishing emails that they are exposed to.

Cyber Attacks in 2019 & Beyond

As we wrap up the year, it’s time to take a look at some of the broader trends that are occurring in cybersecurity. By staying aware of evolving technologies and the ever-changing threat landscape, we place ourselves in a much better position to deal with the new challenges that the future brings us.

Ransomware

Ransomware continues to plague the healthcare industry, causing huge disruptions to any organization that it hits. Some companies choose to pay up in the hope that they receive their critical data back, but it’s not uncommon for them to never receive the key even after the bitcoin payment has been made.

If businesses want to protect themselves from ransomware, they need to have an effective backup strategy in place. If regular backups are made, your company won’t face the same devastation if its data is ever locked up in a ransomware attack. It can simply use the backup data, rather than relying on the whims of some hacker to return its critical information.

Cryptomining

Cryptomining attacks involve hackers infecting an organization’s systems with malware. The malware can sit there quietly for months or years, mining cryptocurrency for its owners. While these attacks might not seem as insidious as others, they can put excessive strain on an organization’s systems, causing them to slow down, cut productivity and interrupt business processes.

Phishing

Phishing is one of the main tools in the hacker’s handbook and it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future. To minimize the chances of it affecting your employees, make sure you implement a comprehensive security policy, regular training and effective spam filters like we covered in the previous section.

Evolving Technologies

Nothing is static in the online world, so we have to stay abreast of the latest developments and changes if we want to be able to defend ourselves adequately. In the coming years, we will continue to see expansion in medical devices, wearables, telehealth, cloud technologies and AI, among other developments.

With each of these emerging technologies, we will need to come up with adequate defenses to go alongside them. While exciting trends such as AI have a lot of potential to help us with security, we also have to be aware that hackers are embracing the same developments to make their attacks more sophisticated and effective.

The world of information security is constantly shifting, so staying safe requires a strategic and vigilant approach. Unfortunately, the landscape is too complicated for businesses to manage the threats alone. The good news is that there are trusted and experienced companies like LuxSci that can help you.

With a cutting-edge approach to secure email and other technologies, we offer the knowledge and services you need to keep your organization safe. From small business support to enterprise-scale offerings, LuxSci has the robust and flexible solutions you need to stay secure in 2019 and beyond.

The Cyber Security Struggle: Are SMEs Safe?

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018

Smaller organizations have a lot on their plates. They face many of the same pressures and threats as enterprises, but their scale often means that they lack both the skills and resources to properly address these problems.

When it comes to cyber security, SME (Small-to-Medium Enterprise) attitudes can be all over the place. Some don’t put much thought into it, thinking that they’re too small to be a target. Cyber threats may not even be on their radar, especially if they’ve been lucky enough to avoid being attacked so far.

Other companies take the threats more seriously but don’t know how to defend themselves appropriately. This can be a significant challenge, particularly if they don’t have any security experts on their staff.

cybersecurity

SMEs also tend to lack a Chief Information Officer (CIO) and a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) which means that their IT teams often report to business management. Unfortunately, many management teams don’t have the relevant IT knowledge and they may not understand the cyber security issues that their company faces. This makes it a challenge to form adequate policy and to allocate the necessary funds for defenses.

If your company’s approach to security is similar to any of these situations, it faces significant risks. The chances of cyber attacks are much higher than many small businesses like to believe. According to a Ponemon Institute survey conducted on IT personnel from SMEs, 61% of the respondents reported a cyber attack against the business they worked for.

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The FIN7 Attacks: What They Tell Us About the Latest Hacking Techniques

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

At the start of the month, the Justice Department laid charges against three key members of FIN7, one of the most sophisticated cyber-criminal rings that has ever been seen. The arrests came as a result of cooperation between government agencies such as the FBI, credit card companies Visa and Mastercard, and threat analysts from FireEye. While the charges probably won’t put a stop to such a well-resourced group, the investigation has given us insight into some of the latest techniques that are being used by hackers.

Who Are FIN7?

According to Wired, FIN7 are responsible for attacks on more than 3,600 business locations, stealing over 15 million credit card numbers–and that’s just from their US activities. Some of the affected businesses include Arby’s, Chipotle and Chili’s, although FireEye reports that they have targeted a range of sectors in both the US and Europe, ranging from government and finance to gaming and travel. The hacking group’s attacks are so lucrative that the CTO of Gemini Advisori, Dmitry Chorine, estimated them to be making $50 million each month, with a total of over $1 billion in the years that they have been active.

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Russian Cyber Warfare: What’s At Stake?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

While Russia always seems to be in the news, the stories are so tangled that it’s difficult to figure out what is happening. There are meetings in Helsinki, intelligence agencies saying one thing, the President saying another and confusion on both sides of the political spectrum.

The most important thing that people need to know is that this issue is bigger than Republican vs. Democrat. The security and independence of the country is under threat, which is something that both sides need to unite against.

Beneath all the headlines and hearsay, what we know for sure is that Russia has been trying to influence the US. In itself, this isn’t surprising, because all major powers do this in order to manipulate global events in their favor. What is surprising are the lengths that the Russians are going to, especially when it comes to their cutting-edge cyber attacks and online propaganda.

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