CyberWatch: Australia

Insight on how cyber risk is being mitigated and managed in Australia and across the globe.

 

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2018 Trends in Cyber-crimes so far…
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Cyber-attack on Bristol Airport – Ransomware leaving travellers in the dark about their flights!
3
Cyber-criminals outspend organisations more than 10 times in bid to find cybersecurity weaknesses – who says cyber-crime doesn’t pay?
4
Privacy Standardization in the United States: We Need Consensus
5
Open Government? – political misstep leads to privacy breach
6
IoT devices, they’re smart, stylish but not secure! Now they can melt down the power grid.
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I Spy With My Little Phone – New Laws giving access to your phone data
8
FAKE APPS FIND A WAY TO GOOGLE PLAY!
9
242 data breaches reported in second quarter of notifiable data breach regime
10
My Health Records – To opt-in, or to opt-out? That is the question

2018 Trends in Cyber-crimes so far…

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

The first half of 2018 has been busy for cyber-criminals and cyber-security alike. According to Trend Micro, cryptocurrency mining detections have jumped 96% in this six month period compared to the total number detected in 2017.

In that same time, over 20 billion threats were blocked by Trend Micro’s Infrastructure, a few billion threats less than in the first half of 2017. Of these threats, less were “spray and pay” ransomware attacks and breaches, as cyber-criminals are flying under the radar with crypto-jacking, along with fileless, macro and small file malware techniques.

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Cyber-attack on Bristol Airport – Ransomware leaving travellers in the dark about their flights!

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

In response to a cyber-attack on the administrative systems of Bristol airport, believed to be ransomware, the airport took a number of applications down as a precautionary measure, including the application that provides flight data for flight information screens.

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Cyber-criminals outspend organisations more than 10 times in bid to find cybersecurity weaknesses – who says cyber-crime doesn’t pay?

By Cameron AbbottRob Pulham and Colette Légeret

Cyber attackers are able to search for that one weak link in corporations defences whereas corporates have to create a completely strong chain of defence against every possible scenario.  This asymmetrical fight would you think mean organisations would have to outspend attackers by many multiples.

However, according to software company, Carbon Black, the situation is worse than that because it appears that cyber criminals are outspending corporation!  Cyber-crime is big business, and as such, cyber-criminals are spending an estimated $1 trillion each year on finding weaknesses in the cyber defences of organisations and developing new ways of attacking them, in comparison to the $96 billion spent by organisations in an attempt to secure themselves from these cyber-attacks.

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Privacy Standardization in the United States: We Need Consensus

By Susan P. Altman

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced this month that it has launched a collaborative project to develop a voluntary privacy framework to help organizations manage risk relating to protecting privacy in complex networking environments. The goal of the project is to develop a privacy framework that can deliver practical tools for developers of innovative technologies (such as IoT and AI) that will ultimately yield stronger privacy protections for individuals. NIST, which promotes innovation and industrial competitiveness, has had great success with broad adoption of its Cybersecurity Framework Version 1.1 released earlier this year, according to Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Walter G. Copan. It is now sponsoring outreach efforts throughout the U.S. to gather the best ideas for a useful and effective privacy framework.
NIST correctly notes that cybersecurity is central to managing privacy risk, but not sufficient in itself. Privacy professionals both inside and outside the U.S. are responding to (and perhaps leading) consumer privacy expectations with positions that NIST politely understates as reflecting “multiplying visions.” A framework of balanced standards for building privacy protections into technology design will benefit society broadly.
NIST, which focuses on standards for technology developers, is only one of several U.S. agencies addressing privacy concerns. For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is currently engaged in gathering input in order to formulate core, high-level principles on data privacy with a stated goal of avoiding contributing to a fractured and stifling regulatory landscape. And of course, the Federal Trade Commission, the big dog in consumer protection enforcement, continues its efforts to protect consumer privacy while critically analyzing the economic impact of such protection on competition and innovation.

Open Government? – political misstep leads to privacy breach

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

Navigating the political terrain and party politics can be a treacherous journey for any politician.

Recently, we have been captivated by a political misstep that involved the tabling of approximately 80,000 confidential and unredacted Cabinet documents of a former Government in the Victoria Parliament. In usual circumstances, these documents would have remained confidential for 30 years, unless the former Government consented to the release of the documents.  However, in an attempt to seek an advantage in the political arena, the Victorian Government of the day decided to release these documents in Parliament and online.

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IoT devices, they’re smart, stylish but not secure! Now they can melt down the power grid.

By Cameron Abbott and Jessica McIntosh

Internet-of–things (IoT) devices are considered part and parcel of modern day living, however it can no longer be overlooked, this so called ‘smart technology’ continues to spark serious security concerns. Until recently concerns centred on individual security and privacy, now Princeton University has widen the scope and found (if compromised) IoT devices have the potential to disrupt the power grid. It’s worth repeating, researchers at Princeton University last week presented at the 27th USENIX Security Symposium in Baltimore (US) and stated high – wattage IoT devices, dubbed BlackIoT, pose a significant risk to power grids. As a result, local power outages and large-scale blackouts could be a likely consequence of compromised IoT devices.

This new type of attack, labelled the ‘manipulation of demand via IoT’ (MadIoT) involves attackers leveraging a botnet, powered by Wi-Fi enabled high- wattage devices such as air conditioners and heaters to manipulate the power demand in the grid. This allows an attacker to hijack the devices in totality and simultaneously switch them on or off.

The scenario played out was ‘if the sudden increase in demand is greater than the threshold, it can cause the system’s frequency to drop considerably before primary controllers can react’. This instability can result in the activation of the generators’ protective relays, loss of generators and finally a blackout. Whilst it is estimated an attacker would need a botnet of approximately 90,000 air conditioners and 18,000 heaters within a specified geographical area, experts say this is by no means an impossible task.

The newly discovered vulnerability reinforces how important it is that consumers and companies alike perform their own due diligence with respect to integrating IoT devices, time and time again we are seeing these devices being stylish and trendy but not well secure. Therefore, assumptions can no longer be made regarding the adequacy of in built security – instead manufactures must recognise the importance of secure coding practices so this new type of abuse can be easily detected and dealt with. Government sponsored attacks would find these forms of vulnerability very attractive.

I Spy With My Little Phone – New Laws giving access to your phone data

By Cameron Abbott and Colette Légeret

Yesterday, the Australian Government unveiled the draft Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 which aims to compel telecommunication and multi-national tech companies (Providers) to give law enforcement and security agencies (Agencies) access to personal encrypted data of suspected criminals, including terrorists, child sex offenders and criminal organisations.

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FAKE APPS FIND A WAY TO GOOGLE PLAY!

By Cameron Abbott and Jessica McIntosh

Over the last two months a string of fake banking apps have hit the Google Play store, leaving many customers wondering whether they have been affected by the scam. A report by security firm ESET found users of three Indian banks were targeted by the apps which all claimed to increase credit card limits, only to convince customers to divulge their personal data, including credit card and internet banking details. The impact of this scam was heightened as the data stolen from unsuspecting customers was then leaked online by way of an exposed server.

The report claims these apps all utilise the same process:

  1. Once the app is downloaded and launched a form appears which asks the user to fill in credit card details (including credit card number, expiry date, CVV and login credentials)
  2. Once the form is completed and submitted a pop up customer service box is displayed
  3. The pop up box thanks users for their interest in the bank and indicates a ‘Customer Service Executive’ will be in contact shortly
  4. In the meantime, no representative makes contact with the customer and the data entered into the form is sent back to the attacker’s server – IN PLAIN TEXT.

The ESET report alarming revealed that the listing of stolen data on the attacker’s server is accessible to anyone with the link to the data, this means sensitive stolen personal data was available to absolutely anyone who happens to comes across it.

Whilst, the reality is any app on your personal smartphone may place your phone and personal data at risk, (as discussed here ‘Research Reports say risks to smartphone security aren’t phoney‘)

Customers can mitigate risk by:

  • only using their financial institutions official banking apps, these are downloadable from the relevant institution’s official website;
  • paying attention to the ratings, customer reviews when downloading from Google Play;
  • implementing security controls on your smartphone device from a reputable mobile security provider; and
  • contracting their financial institution directly to seek further guidance on the particular banking apps in use.

 

It cannot be overlook, whilst Google Play moved quickly to remove the apps we query how it was so easy for cyber criminals to launch fake apps on Google Play in the first place.

242 data breaches reported in second quarter of notifiable data breach regime

By Warwick Andersen, Rob Pulham and Colette Légeret

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released its second quarterly report of notifiable data breaches. This report is of particular significance as it, unlike the first “quarterly” report, covers a full quarter and therefore depicts a more accurate account of data breaches over a calendar quarter.

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My Health Records – To opt-in, or to opt-out? That is the question

By Cameron Abbott and Keely O’Dowd

This year all Australians will have a My Health Record created. A My Health Record will operate as a digital medical file that allows healthcare providers to upload health information about a patient. This information may include prescriptions, medical conditions and test results. A patient’s digital medical file will be stored in a national electronic database operated by Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA).

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