Category: Managing Threats & Attacks

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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
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Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report
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REPORT FINDS MORE THAN HALF OF RANSOMWARE VICTIMS WOULD PAY THE RANSOM
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Ratings agency starting to factor in Cyber risk profile
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Cyber attacks becoming common place: Different industries, similar methods
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Bypassing the Castle Walls: Tactical Exploitation of America’s Vulnerable Grid
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K&L Gates Supports Safer Internet Day 2019
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Is Microsoft giving us a window to our personal data?

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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Scammers are becoming more tech-savvy according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams report

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

Australian businesses and consumers were duped into paying scammers with nearly half a billion dollars in 2018 according to the ACCC’s Targeting Scams: Report of the ACCC on scam activity 2018 (Report). The Report also highlights the use of sophisticated technology by scammers.

According to the Report, the most financially harmful scam affecting Australian businesses was the ‘business email compromise’ (BEC) scam. This involved a scammer gaining access to a business’s entire email or IT system. The scammer would then impersonate the business and send emails to suppliers and customers of the business, advising changes to payment details.

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REPORT FINDS MORE THAN HALF OF RANSOMWARE VICTIMS WOULD PAY THE RANSOM

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Rebecca Gill

Telstra’s 2019 Security Report has found that majority of the respondents who have been victims of ransomware attacks have paid the attackers to unlock files. Many of these respondents successfully retrieved their data after paying the ransom.

Of the 320 Australian respondents, 51 per cent said that they had paid ransomware attackers to regain access to encrypted files. Further, the Report found that 77 per cent of Australian businesses that had paid a ransom were able to retrieve their data after making the payment. Whilst this was the lowest rate of data retrieval post-payment out of the 13 countries in the survey, 79 per cent of the Australian respondents still said that they would pay the ransom again if they had no back-up files available.

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Ratings agency starting to factor in Cyber risk profile

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

A recent report released by Moody’s Investors Services has shed some light on which business sectors are most at risk for cyberattacks.

After assessing 35 broad sectors it was concluded that banks, hospitals, security firms and market infrastructure providers face the highest risk. This was based on levels of vulnerability and the potential impact an attack would have.

The key determinative factor for these sectors is that they all rely strongly on technology and the vital role of confidential information in their operations.

The financial repercussions following a cyberattack in each of these sectors is extremely significant when considering the costs of insurance, penalties, consumer impact, potential litigation costs, R&D and technological impact to name a few.

The financial market is so high risk because of the financial and commercial data it holds and ever increasing fact that its services are being offered digitally, across multiple platforms i.e banking mobile/smart watch apps.

On a similar note because medical records are primarily collected and held in electronic form hospitals are very attractive to hackers given the sensitive nature of the data.

While the industries should not be a shock to the reader, it is important for participants in those industries and for suppliers to those participants to realise the risk profile that attaches to them and have procedures in place reflective of those risk levels.  How one manages these risks in now likely to have indirect cost implications when you see ratings agencies like Moody’s assessing these sorts of areas. 

Cyber attacks becoming common place: Different industries, similar methods

By Cameron Abbott and Ella Richards

Popular car manufacturer Toyota has been hit by a malicious attack rendering their employees completely unable to access their emails. It is unclear whether any customer or employee data has been accessed, and Toyota is going to extensive efforts to discover the origin of the attack.

Staff who are powering on despite their access restrictions have been told to use face-to-face, phone and text communication until the emailing system is back online. Can you imagine!

Although the central server system is inaccessible, dealerships are continuing to operate normally besides being able to provide customers with the date they’ll receive their exciting new car.

Additionally, Melbourne Heart Group was subject to a cyber attack which completely locked them out of their filing system. 15,000 files were scrambled and held for ransom after a cyber crime syndicate hacked into their server, blocked all access to files and demanded a cryptocurrency payment be made.

Melbourne Heart Group is based at Cabrini Hospital in Malvern, but the separation of their systems ensured that no Cabrini operations were affected. Even though a payment was made to decrypt their servers, information including patient details and sensitive medical records are yet to be recovered.

Payment in these situations is always troubling, dealing with faceless individuals, having to trade in cryptocurrencies in order to chart a course to the fastest resolution.

Bypassing the Castle Walls: Tactical Exploitation of America’s Vulnerable Grid

By Cameron Abbott, Max Evans and Wendy Mansell

A recent Wall Street Journal Report has detailed how America’s utility grid was hacked. The Department of Homeland Security has named Russia as responsible for the overwhelmingly complex and threatening campaign.

The scheme targeted energy companies affiliated with the government and was carried out in a sophisticated manner by initially focusing on small firms within the utility supply chain.

Early techniques involved planting malware on the websites of online publications likely to be read by employees of companies within the energy sector. The hackers would lace the online publications with malicious content allowing them to steal usernames, passwords and infiltrate company systems.

A number of small firms fell victim to these tactics giving the hackers broad access to company networks. Fake emails were subsequently sent out on behalf of the affected firms containing forged and malicious Dropbox links which captured usernames, passwords and other credentials. Further they used fake personas to send emails and pretended to be job seekers, by sending resumes containing tainted attachments to energy companies.

The hackers continued this technique of sending malware emails on behalf of firms until they reached the top of the supply chain. It was reported that on at least 8 occasions the hackers infiltrated companies who had access to the industrial control systems that run the grid.

An alarming aspect was the number of affected companies that remained oblivious of the penetration. The report is a useful description of the variety of methods used to tempt employees to expose their credentials. All too easy to do. These same techniques are regularly used by more pedestrian hackers. Two factor authentication and regular password resets remain measures to limit these threats but so many organisations do not use them.

We repeatedly counsel that employees are the last line of defence for your organisation. Circulating the Report may make an interesting read to remind them of the variety of ways they can be seduced to click an incorrect link.

K&L Gates Supports Safer Internet Day 2019

By Cameron Abbott and Wendy Mansell

Today is Safer Internet Day and K&L Gates is a proud supporter of this yearly international event which raises awareness of cyber issues and online safety concerns.

K&L Gates has a strong focus on promoting and advocating for a safer internet through the Cyber Civil Rights Legal Project. This project helps victims of non-consensual pornography known as ‘revenge porn’ by providing pro bono legal assistance to individuals suffering from these cybercrimes.

Revenge porn is a serious invasion of privacy and K&L Gates assists in having the images removed from the internet. This cyber epidemic is taking place around the world and due to K&L Gates global legal presence, these services can be provided to victims internationally.

K&L Gates further supports Safer Internet Day through the working relationship being built with the Office of the eSafety Commissioner,who is responsible for coordinating the event in Australia.

The theme for this year’s event is “Together for a better internet“, which encourages the development of respect, responsibility, reasoning and resilience skills when using the internet. K&L Gates is actively striving for a better internet through focusing on improving online safety and fighting against cybercrimes.

Is Microsoft giving us a window to our personal data?

By Cameron Abbott and Allison Wallace

We often blog on this page about personal information being breached, data being hacked, systems being compromised – and tell cautionary tales of the difficulties businesses can experience if they experience a data breach.

So what if there was a good news story? A way to know what information there is out there about you, so that if it is compromised, you can take control? Microsoft may just be working on such a solution.

Multiple websites (see here and here) have now reported on Microsoft’s “Project Bali” – which, although still in a private testing phase is accessible to a lucky few, by invite only.

The Project Bali website reportedly describes the tech giant’s project as “a new personal data bank which puts users in control of all data collected about them” and will allow users to “store all data (raw and inferred) generated by them ..[and] to visualise, manage, control, share and monetise the data”.

It is reported that the project was borne from a Microsoft Research paper in 2014 that delved into the concept of “Inverse Privacy” – allowing consumers to access the data that any given business holds about them, increasing transparency, something consumers value.

In theory, Project Bali seems like a good antidote to the increasing number of privacy incursions we are seeing (such as this and this). However, whether the idea is commercialised and becomes publicly available, only time will tell. We will keep you posted.

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