Category: Managing Threats & Attacks

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Riding in cars with hackers
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AI (Adverse Inferences): AI Lending Models may show unconscious bias, according to Report.
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Interlopers in Things? IoT devices may be used as backdoors to your network
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Trending: Security as a service
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A Different Immune System: TGA provides Insight into Cyber Security for Medical Devices
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Who have you been giving your name and number to? A cautionary tale
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The battle against phishing
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Major privacy and security breaches confirmed this week: Westpac, the ANU and Princess Polly targeted
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Privacy Awareness Week (Online Privacy): credential stuffing attacks are on the rise in Australia
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Privacy Awareness Week (Data Breaches): Study finds majority of Australian businesses are ill-equipped to handle cybersecurity incidents

Riding in cars with hackers

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Alyssia Totham

Ransom-based hacking techniques have primarily been limited to the intangible. We live in a world where unauthorised access to email accounts, bank accounts, and computer systems that may otherwise be private is no longer uncommon.

In some situations, hackers demand a lump sum in return for reinstating control of the accounts and systems to its owners and managers, and otherwise refusing to pay this ransom can likely leave our information and data at the mercy of hackers.

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AI (Adverse Inferences): AI Lending Models may show unconscious bias, according to Report.

By Cameron Abbott and Max Evans

We live in an era where the adoption and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of business advancement and social progression. Facial recognition technology software is used or is being piloted to be used across a variety of government sectors, whilst voice recognition assistants are becoming the norm both in personal and business contexts. However, as we have blogged previously on, the AI ‘bandwagon’ inherently comes with legitimate concerns.

This is no different in the banking world. The use of AI-based phishing detection applications has strengthened cybersecurity safeguards for financial institutions, whilst the use of “Robo-Advisers” and voice and language processors has facilitated efficiency by increasing the pace of transactions and reducing service times. However, this appears to sound too good to be true, as according to a Report by CIO Drive, algorithmic lending models may show an unconscious bias.

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Interlopers in Things? IoT devices may be used as backdoors to your network

By Cameron Abbott and Karla Hodgson

This month Microsoft reported that its Threat Intelligence Center discovered that IoT (internet of things) devices – a VOIP phone, a printer and a video decoder – were used to gain access to corporate networks in April.

Microsoft have identified Strontium – also known as Fancy Bear or APT28 – as the culprit, a hacker group associated with the Russian government who appear to be targeting government, IT, military and defence, engineering, medical and education sectors. Strontium has been linked to the hacking of Hillary Clinton’s presidential election campaign and of the email accounts of researchers investigating the missile strike on MH17 and the Skripal poisonings. In the last 12 months alone Microsoft has delivered almost 1,400 notifications to those targeted or compromised by Strontium.

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Trending: Security as a service

By Cameron Abbott and Karla Hodgson

Remember the time when you first heard about cloud computing and it took you a few moments of quiet contemplation before you wrapped your head around the concept of computing being situated “up there”?  Of course today we aren’t surprised to learn that over 80% of enterprise workloads will be in the cloud by next year and that a new wave of cloud-based security as a service (SECaaS) solutions are rolling in to address the forecasted USD $5.2 trillion per year in cybercrime damage that is expected to impact within the next 5 years.

Based on the software as a service (SaaS) model, SECaaS is a cloud-based managed security service that removes the need for businesses to buy and continually upgrade on-premises hardware and software and keep staff upskilled in the ever-shifting world of cybersecurity risk and protection.

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A Different Immune System: TGA provides Insight into Cyber Security for Medical Devices

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Max Evans

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has published its guidance framework dealing with medical device cyber security for manufacturers and sponsors of medical devices, as well as for consumers, health professionals and other users. This is driven by a number of challenges that regulators face to protect users against cyber security risks, including the alteration of device function, loss to privacy and the alteration of personal health data.

The crux of the framework is based on the TGA view that knowledge is power, in that patients using connected medical devices should be informed about the potential cyber security risks those devices have, and take proactive measures to protect their devices and networks.

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Who have you been giving your name and number to? A cautionary tale

By Cameron Abbott and Allison Wallace

Have you inadvertently given the owners of global, searchable databases of phone numbers and associated names access to your entire contact list?

We suspect that you cannot confidently answer “no”.

In yet another tale of why you should read the terms of use and service of apps and other online products you download or sign-up to use, we’ve recently been exposed to the shock of having your name appear on a complete stranger’s phone, after they’re given your number (but not your name) to call you. We asked the question of how this could happen – and found the answer to be quite alarming.

The Samsung Smart Call function, which is powered by Hiya, boasts that it allows you to “deal with spam the easy way”, by letting you know who is calling you, even if their number is not saved in your contact list. In theory, this is a handy tool, and in the context of robocalls or other unsolicited marketing calls, doesn’t create any privacy issues. But when the database which powers the function contains the names and numbers of (we suspect) millions of private citizens, this becomes quite concerning.

So, how do private numbers (and the names of their associated users) come to be listed in databases such as Hiya? Well, for one, anyone who downloads the Hiya app is given the option to share their contacts. If they do, and your number is saved to their phone, your details will become part of the database. We have no doubt that many who download and use the Hiya app didn’t realise what they were signing up for (or what they were signing up their entire contact list for) – because they didn’t read the terms of use. This also begs the question – are companies like Hiya properly satisfying their privacy obligations merely by asking users to “opt in” to share their contacts?

Hiya is of course not the only “caller ID” app on the market – a quick search of the Apple App store reveals numerous other options for download – including Truecaller, Caller-ID, Sync.ME and CallHelp. In 2018, Hiya reached 50 million active users worldwide, while Truecaller’s website says it has over 130 million daily active users. Those figures of course would barely scrape the surface of the number of names and phone numbers held in their collective databases.

In case you’re wondering how much damage could really be done by a third party having access to your name and phone number – think about all of the things your number is linked to. Your Facebook, your Gmail, maybe even your bank account and credit cards. Information is power – and this is the kind of information that could easily allow hackers to wreak a reasonable amount of havoc. So before you sign-up to a new app, take the time to read the terms of service, because your use could not only be exposing your personal information, but that of your entire contact list.

The battle against phishing

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Jacqueline Patishman

All over the world, organisations and individuals battle phishing. Even in systems with a high degree of security, phishing is still a risk and human failures to spot and deal with phishing can cause the best of security policies and procedures to become undone.

To fight phishing at the source, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently achieved some success in this space through its use of email verification technology to fight phishing attacks. This technology, called ‘Synthetic DMARC’, works by assigning a DMARC record for all domains attempting to pass-off as gov.uk domains, by analysing and vetting non-existing subdomains against DNS records and building on authentication systems of the past.

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Major privacy and security breaches confirmed this week: Westpac, the ANU and Princess Polly targeted

By Cameron Abbott, Allison Wallace and Rebecca Gill

It’s been a chilly start to winter for three Australian organisations, who’ve this week reported major privacy and security breaches.

Up to 100,000 Australians’ personal information has been exposed in a hack affecting Westpac Bank. Westpac confirmed on Monday that details of Australian bank customers (not just those of Westpac) were exposed in a cyberattack on real time payments platform PayID. The banking giant says it noted a high volume of PayID lookups in 2019 on a semi-daily basis, which was a result of attackers trying to guess phone numbers, which, if guessed correctly, would give them the name of the account holder to which the number is linked. Despite the hack, Westpac says that no customer bank account details were compromised as a result of this cyberattack. Nevertheless, experts warn that the details accessed could still be used to commit fraud.

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Privacy Awareness Week (Online Privacy): credential stuffing attacks are on the rise in Australia

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

Today’s topic for Privacy Awareness Week is “online privacy”. It is no surprise that online privacy is a key topic of concern for businesses and consumers alike, given recent high-profile privacy breaches. Of particular significance is the issue of credential stuffing, as Australia is now the fifth highest target for credential stuffing attacks according to Akamai’s Credential Stuffing: Attacks and Economies report of April 2019 (Report).

Credential stuffing is a form of cyberattack where account credentials, usually usernames or email addresses and corresponding passwords, are stolen, typically from a previous security breach. The account credential combinations are then used to try and gain access to accounts at other sites via an automated and large-scale web application directed to multiple logins. It relies on individuals using the same password across multiple sites. K&L Gates has previously blogged on a high-profile credential stuffing attack that can be found here.

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Privacy Awareness Week (Data Breaches): Study finds majority of Australian businesses are ill-equipped to handle cybersecurity incidents

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Rebecca Gill

It’s Privacy Awareness Week and today’s topic is “data breaches”. With data breaches and responding to cyber attacks becoming an inevitable part of doing business, it’s a timely reminder about the importance of adequately resourcing your IT security areas, and of having comprehensive and well-tested data breach response plans in place, as illustrated by the Fourth Annual Study on The Cyber Resilient Organization (Study), conducted by the Ponemon Institute on behalf of IBM Resilient.

The Study surveyed 3,655 IT and IT security practitioners in 11 countries and regions, including Australia. The results of the Study indicate that a majority of Australian businesses are vulnerable to cyber-attacks due to a lack of skilled personnel and incident response plans.

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