What is Ethical Hacking? – The World of Ethical Hackers

Data breaches compromised 158 million social security numbers in the last one year. Furthermore, one or the other illicit act of hacking terrorizes business and consumers alike. Wondering how hacking can ever be ethical then? The following sections shall tell you what is ethical hacking and provide you with a basic insight into the world of LEGIT ethical hackers.

What is Hacking?

Hacking has been a branch of computing for almost five decades. It is a very broad discipline that covers a wide range of topics. The first known event of hacking took place in 1960 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA. Consequently, it led to the origin of the term “hacker”.

Hacking is the act of identifying the possible entry points in a computer system or a computer network and finally entering into them. It is usually done to gain unauthorized access to a computer system/network to either cause harm or steal sensitive information.

What is Ethical Hacking?

Yes, hacking can be LEGAL.

BUT, as long as it’s purpose is to identify the vulnerabilities in a computer/network system as a part of penetration testing. This is what Ethical Hacking is all about.

So what is ethical hacking exactly? And what is the work of ethical hackers?

Also called “penetration testing”, it is the act of breaking into a system or network to identify its possible threats and vulnerabilities. Finally, it involves assessing the loopholes that a malicious hacker could exploit to execute data theft, financial heist, cyberwarfare or other major damages.

Ethical hackers use the same tools and methods as malicious hackers to break into a network or system.

The ONLY difference?

Ethical hackers have the authorization to execute hacking for penetration testing.

 
 
 
 
Typical-Tasks-of-an-Ethical-Hacker-01
 

Ethical Hackers – The ‘Good’ Hackers

Criminal hacking never fails to make headlines with its potential to wreak havoc on a global scale. It can bring the most powerful of the nations down to their knees.

Consider the Yahoo Data Breach, for instance.

The Yahoo Data Breach compromised the email ID, name, phone number, and passwords of nearly 3 billion users!

With growing instances and concerns of cyber attacks, the need for professional ethical hackers who can conduct penetration testing and protect networks/ systems is on the rise.

The Emergence of Ethical Hackers

The 1970’s saw ethical hacking and ethical hackers coming into the limelight for the first time. This was when the US Government formed ‘red teams’ to test their network vulnerabilities by hacking into their own systems.

Yes, there are bad guys out there are launching devastating cyber attacks in the form of malware, viruses, DDoS, and spams. In contrast, another fraternity of hackers possessing the same set of skills is standing guard to protect against such attacks. These are ethical hackers.

A Brief History of Ethical Hacking

6th Century – Origin of practiced gamesmanship involving point and counter-point combats through board games
1475 – Chess gains popularity as a strategy-based game
1812 – A wargame ‘Kriegsspiel’ developed to help Prussian Army prepare for battles
1889 – Adoption of war gaming as a training tool by the US Navy
1964 – Formation of a group of technical specialists called ‘Tiger Teams’
1974 – One of the 1st ethical hacks conducted by the US Air Force
1984 – US Navy Commander, Richard Marcinko, leads Navy Seals who tested the naval bases’ susceptibility to terrorism
1985 – 1st issue of Phrack published, an e-zine written by and for hackers
1995 – ‘Ethical Hacking’ was coined by IBM’s John Patrick
2003 – The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Testing Guide containing penetration testing practices released
2013 – Worldwide expenses on enterprise security touches $6.4 billion

The Evolution of Ethical Hacking

In the wake of the 2001 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre, New York, the EC Council mulled ethical hacking. The purpose was to leverage ethical hacking as a means to defend computer systems and networks from malicious attacks. It then received mixed responses and was ultimately rejected by the people and media.

With time, ethical hacking and the fraternity of ethical hackers gained more acceptance and popularity. Apart from penetration testing, there are other responsibilities imparted to ethical hackers. They impersonate a malicious hacker and identify a network’s vulnerabilities so that one may deploy adequate cyber security measures.

How Ethical Hacking is Different from Traditional Hacking?

Ethical hackers and hackers possess the same skills and knowledge of hacking tools and methods. While malicious hackers have unscrupulous intent behind hacking, ethical hackers purposely break into networks/systems to analyze its security vulnerabilities. They employ hacking to conduct penetration testing so as to protect enterprises from catastrophic financial or data loss.

Some ethical hackers engage in ethical hacking for the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction that it brings to them. Whilst, some others come with specialized IT expertise with an emphasis on digital and cyber security. On the other hand, traditional hackers pursue hacking illegally for fun, financial gains or sometimes to seek revenge.

 
 
 
 
What is Ethical Hacking_Ethical Hacker
 
 
 
 
 

Strategies Used by Ethical Hackers for Penetration Testing

  • Port scanning tools such as Nmap or Nessus are often used by ethical hackers to scan systems and identify open ports. This enables them to map the vulnerabilities of the ports and deploy remedial actions.
  • Inspection of patch installations to ensure that they are not broken or exploited.
  • Ethical hackers often use Social Engineering to gain access to crucial information or coerce employees to share their passwords. This can include techniques such as shoulder surfing or dumpster diving.
  • Attempts to escape IPS (Intrusion Prevention systems), IDS (Intrusion Detection systems), firewalls, and honey pots.
  • Hijacking web servers and applications, bypassing and cracking wireless encryption, and sniffing networks.

The Ethical Hackers Code of Conduct

The following are the rules that an ethical hacker needs to follow. It is only then that it is ethical and legal to carry out the hacking.

  • Articulated (often written) authorization or permission to probe the network and effort to identify potential security risks
  • Regard for the individual’s or company’s privacy
  • Closing up of efforts, not leaving anything exposed for them or someone else to take advantage of at a later time
  • Apprise software developers or hardware manufacturers of any additional security vulnerability found in the system or network.

Benefits of Ethical Hacking

Most of the profits of ethical hacking are obvious, but one tends to overlook various others. The profits range from simply preventing malicious hacking to preventing national security breaches. The benefits include:

  • Protection against terrorism and national security breaches
  • Deploying defensive measures to avoid cyber security breaches
  • Penetration testing to identify security vulnerabilities
  • Understanding the hackers’ modus operandi or technique
  • Creating adequate preparedness for a cyber attack
 
Need-for-Ethical-Hackers-01
 

Limitations of Ethical Hacking

As with all types of events or procedures, ethical hacking also has its darker side. The probable drawbacks of ethical hacking include:

  • The ethical hacker may turn unscrupulous and use the information they gain to execute malicious hacking activities.
  • Since a hacker has access to a company or individual’s financial and business-critical data, he/she can misuse it in the worst case scenarios.
  • There is always a risk that the ethical hacker may send and/or place malicious code, viruses, malware and other destructive things on a computer system.

Though the above risks are not universal, enterprises or individuals should take these into consideration before availing the services of an ethical hacker.

Texial – In the League of Creating Exemplary Cyber Security Professionals

The Center for Cyber Security (Texial) envisions to conduct niche research in Cyber and Digital Forensics. It boasts of a state-of-the-art Digital and Cyber Forensics Lab equipped with the latest digital forensics tools and technologies.

Texial Provides Ethical Hacking Training in Bangalore

The EC-Council has authorized Texial to provide ethical hacking training in Bangalore. It offers the coveted Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) certification accredited by the EC-Council.

This ethical hacking training in Bangalore provides learners with a hands-on experience in advanced hacking techniques and tools. Above all, learners are taught to leverage these techniques ethically break into network and systems, and assess its security vulnerabilities. Texial ethical hacking training in Bangalore offers aspirants an opportunity to work with the government or private organizations to assess their networks for loopholes, bugs, and vulnerabilities.

Contact us for Ethical Hacking Training in Bangalore.

 

The Next Big Career in India – Become an Ethical Hacker

Do malware, DDoS attacks, or computer viruses trigger your curiosity and enthusiasm? If yes, then you might want to consider becoming a certified ethical hacker, or what is also known as ‘penetration tester’ or ‘what-hat hacker’. But the question ringing in your mind would be how to become an ethical hacker in India? And where to get ethical hacking training in India? This blog will answer all these questions.

Cyber Security Needs as Much Importance as Border Security of Nations

Security is a crucial issue in today’s world. But, not only in the physical space but also in the cyber space. This is because cyber attacks are growing more malicious and sophisticated by the day. In the present times, one malicious malware or a DDoS attack can bring down an entire nation.

Remember the effects of ransomware, WannaCry, which literally made the strongest of the nations across the world CRY!

WannaCry affected nearly 300,000 computers across 150 countries and locked up critical files in systems powered by MS Windows.

Cybercrimes Can Devastate Complete Nations

American business tycoon, Warren Buffet, forecasts cyber attacks as threats that shall soon be graver than nuclear attacks to mankind.

As per a research by Microsoft, a data breach costs an average company nearly $3.8 million! In fact, a cybercrime can potentially cost global communities a whopping $500 billion!!!

Need we say more about why organizations and nations across the globe should prioritize cyber security? Therefore, a certified ethical hacker is in great demand in organizations these days.
Become an ethical hacker and join the army of Cyber Security professionals standing guard to keep cyber attacks at bay!

 
 
 
 
Global Cybercrime Damage
 

The Growth of Ethical Hacking

Hacking or breaking into computer systems was once a leisure or entertainment for geeks. However, now it has turned into a full-fledged career option. Hacking is an offense. Sure. But it is ETHICAL when done under an agreement between the ethical hacker and the organization.

A certified ethical hacker is someone who has the LEGAL consent, permission or authorization break into systems or networks. The intent is to identify potential vulnerabilities and make them stronger and penetration-proof.

Need for Ethical Hackers is Proportional to the Rise in Cybercrimes

At present, there is a distressing increase in the number of cyber crimes such as data breach, hacking, malware and virus attacks etc. in India and the world. Consequently, this has increased the requirement of an ethical hacker who is a computer network’s knight in shining armor.

Do you also harbor the zeal to protect networks and computing systems from devastating cyber attacks? Then don’t waste any more time knowing all about ethical hacking training in India.

Knowing a Certified Ethical Hacker Up, Close & Personal

An ethical hacker is a computer expert who legally hacks into a computer system or network. By doing so, he/she is actually identifying the loopholes in an individual’s, organization’s or nation’s IT infrastructure. Hence, ethical hackers ensure that the individual, organization or nation is well defended against malicious cyber attacks in the future.

An ethical hacker demonstrates a strong passion for preventing and solving problems. This helps them safeguard an organization’s IT infrastructure from malicious hackers. The duty of a certified ethical hacker is two-fold. First, to report the loopholes in the security system of an organization. Second, to provide the corresponding solutions to protect the network as well as their systems.

An Ethical Hacker is a Highly Skilled IT Professional

The other names used for ethical hacking are penetration testing, red teaming or intrusion testing. Technically speaking, ethical hackers are highly skilled IT professionals. They are well versed in computer and networking algorithms and their functions.

Computer or Cyber security is a burning global issue and it’s the job of an ethical hacker to make the cyber space safe, now and forever. Currently, an ethical hacking training in India can open your doors to premier organizations and a hefty pay package!

How to Become an Ethical Hacker?

Are you an IT or a digital/cyber forensics graduate? Or, maybe a Computer Science engineer? No? Well, no worries! Whether you are one or all of the above, or not, you can still become a certified ethical hacker. All that you need is a never-ending passion to decrypt codes and encryptions.

Wish to become an ethical hacker in India?

A number of courses and certifications are available for cyber security and ethical hacking training in India. These courses provide learners with an all-rounded overview of ethical hacking. Right from how hacking occurs and the types of cyber attack to understand the modus operandi of malicious hackers.

What to Expect from Yourself If You Wish to Become an Ethical Hacker?

Ethical hacking involves a great deal of problem-solving, as well as good communication skills. It is all about the art of balance. First of all, it needs a balance of intelligence and common sense, and of strong technical and organizational skills. Furthermore, you need to strike the perfect balance between lending an opinion and keeping your calm in a demanding situation.

When you become an ethical hacker, you need to get into the shoes of a black hat or corrupt hacker. Above all, you need to think like a malicious hacker to identify their nefarious goals and understand the extent of their unscrupulous skills and methods.

A Promise of Discipline and Honesty

One expects an ethical hacker to stay on the legit side of hacking. You need to know your boundaries and maintain discipline and honesty in your approach. You CANNOT engage yourself in unethical hacking activities and must also protect the intellectual property of others.

As part of EC Council’s ethical hacking certification, candidates need to maintain the Council’s code of ethics and never support unethical hackers or malicious activities.

What Education to Pursue to Become an Ethical Hacker?

There are no standard education criteria to become an ethical hacker in India. Every organization in India has the freedom to enforce its own requirements as far as a Penetration Tester or Ethical Hacker is concerned. A Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Information Security, Computer Science, Forensic Science or even Mathematics, provides a strong foundation for an aspirant to pursue an ethical hacking training or career.

For those who aren’t college bound, a military background, especially in intelligence, can help your resume get noticed by hiring managers of various MNC’s. Military service is also a plus-point for employers who prefer those with security clearances.

You can also check the below website if you want to become Certified Ethical Hacker

 
 
 
 
Ethical Hacking Certifications

What is the Certified Ethical Hacking Training?

A certified ethical hacker is a professional certified by the EC- Council (International Council of E-Commerce Consultants) to use hacking legally for penetrating testing. The EC-Council awards this certificate on the successful qualification of the CEH (Certified Ethical Hacking) examination. Most importantly, the CEH certificate is globally renowned and well accepted by various organizations around the world.

The EC-Council usually recommends a five-day CEH training class for aspirants without prior work experience. To do well in the course, aspirants should have Linux and Windows systems administration skills, familiarity with TCP/IP and working knowledge of virtualization platforms. However, candidates can also indulge in self-study to get a grasp of the topics and perform well in the examination.

Becoming an Ethical Hacking Pro Requires a Constant Learning & Development

Achieving the CEH certification from the EC-Council is just a stepping stone to the world of learning and opportunities waiting for you.

The intermediate-level CEH focuses on system hacking, social engineering, enumeration, SQL injection, worms, Trojans, viruses and other forms or types of attack, including denial of service (DoS). Additionally, the aspirant must also demonstrate the knowledge of cryptography, penetration testing, firewalls, honey pots and much more.

Thinking that the CEH is not your cup of tea?

Multiple other short-term courses, workshop, and training sessions in ethical hacking are also conducted by various Digital and Cyber Forensics Organizations, Research Centers, and Institutes. By obtaining a relevant certification in ethical hacking, one can set his/her foot in the digital forensics domain even in the absence of profuse hands-on experience.

Ethical Hacking Training in India by Texial

The Center for Cyber Security (Texial) is an organization founded with the vision cater to the cyber security needs of the nation. Texial offers certified ethical hacking training in India at its Bangalore head office.

If you have the passion, Texial can help you nurture your dream of becoming an ethical hacker. Texial provides ethical hacking training certified by the EC-Council at its state-of-the-art digital forensics laboratory in Bangalore.

Drive your passion to become an Ethical Hacker with Texial.

 

10 Easy Tips to Protect Yourself from Online Financial Frauds

Lakhs of Indians have joined the online community with India’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ campaign. Furthermore, as the demonetization wave hit India in November 2016, e-wallets and online payments took off like never before! Consequently, the country has seen a sharp rise in online financial frauds. Here are 10 easy ways to protect yourself from online financial frauds.

Digital India Initiative Has Brought an Overwhelming Number of Indians Online

India has witnessed a massive upsurge in the use of digital transactions in India in the last couple of years. Did you know that in September 2018, the National Payments Corporation of India’s Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has documented over 400 million digital transactions in India? Digital transactions carried out by Indians rose by 30% from August 2018 to September 2018.

As more and more join the digital fraternity, the obvious question that arises is whether digital transactions are safe?

A report by Experian’s Digital Consumer Insights 2018 shows that 1 in 4 online banking consumers is a victim of online financial frauds. Also, 24% experienced fraud directly while engaging in online/digital transactions.

In fact, a recent RBI report shows a rise of over 20% between 2016-17 and 2017-18 in online banking frauds involving digital transactions of more than INR 1 lakh!!!

A Ranking That India Didn’t Aspire For

As per a global survey conducted by a financial technology services firm, FIS, Indians are the most frequent victims of online banking frauds. In a survey conducted in 2017, 18% of Indians reported being a victim of online financial frauds.

Interestingly, people in the age group 27-37 are more susceptible to online banking frauds as per the survey. Incidentally, this is the age group that comprises maximum users of digital transactions. In another survey, 25% of people in this age group experienced an online financial fraud at least one time.

Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister for Information Technology, publicly declared the number of online financial frauds in India in 2017 as 25,800. These resulted in the theft of close to 1.8 billion rupees!!!

 
 
 
 
India and Digital Transactions - Avoid online financial frauds
 

Step 1 to Protect Yourself from Online Financial Frauds – Know How Online Banking Frauds Happen

The sharp rise in the number of online banking frauds is a clear indication of the loopholes in the modes of digital transactions. A cognizance of how these frauds occur is important to protect yourself from online financial frauds.

Here are some common ways in which fraudsters execute online financial frauds.

1. A Software That Tracks Your Keystrokes on a Keyboard

Cyber fraudsters use a special software called key logger for recording the keystrokes made by a user on a keyboard. Key logger can record static passwords such as bank passwords or 3D PINs typed using a keyboard even without the user’s knowledge! Thus, it is better to use a dynamic PIN for digital transactions or an app having an inbuilt secure swipe option.

2. Shoulder Surfing

We all have the notion that OTPs or One Time Passwords are secure since they have a limited validity. However, OTPs mostly appear in the form of pop-ups on mobile phones or email notifications. Furthermore, the mobile popup is clearly visible even with the mobile in a locked condition. If a person manages to look over your shoulder, he/she can easily view your OTP. Thus, such digital transactions are susceptible to a breach.

3. Social Engineering

Beware of fake and fraudulent calls from banks! Social engineering is widely used by fraudsters to cheat people by making a call to them as fake bank representatives. Often, the technique used to defraud cardholders is to request them to share an OTP for confirming their online transaction. Once divulged, the fraudster makes a fraudulent transaction with the victim’s credit or debit card. Also, one can longer contact or trace the caller!

Remember that no bank official shall ever call and request you to share an OTP or any other confidential details.

4. OTP Accessibility on Smartphones

An OTP is the backbone of digital transactions. However, they can also be an easy gateway to online financial frauds. Most of the times, digital transactions involve OTPs sent as an SMS. What is noteworthy here is that many apps on our smartphones can access our SMS messages. Thanks to the privileges that we ourselves give to those apps when we install and run them!!

Therefore, there are chances of the misuse of an OTP by a malicious app on your phone. So, be careful of the access that you give to apps to the data available on your phone. Look at the reviews and number of app downloads before installing any random application on your smartphone!

5. Electronic Data Capture Machines

We have some bad news. Swiping your card on Electronic Data Capture or EDC machines is not as safe as you thought! Such machines are vulnerable to a breach and once compromised can record the details of the card that is swiped. Even though a PIN verification process follows a card swipe, a compromised machine can store the static PIN of credit/debit cards. This allows fraudsters to misuse your personal data for online banking frauds.

 
 
 
 
How Do Online Banking Scams Happen
 

Step 2 to Protect Yourself from Online Financial Frauds – Handy Tips for Digital Transactions

First of all, we reiterate the basic thumb rule to protect yourself from online financial frauds. DO NOT ever share your password and OTPs with ANYONE. And, by ANYONE we literally mean anyone! Additionally, when choosing a password, ensure that you have a strong alphanumeric one with interspersed symbols.

Apart from the above, here are 10 tips that you must keep handy to protect yourself from online financial frauds.

1. Avoid Installing 3rd Party Applications

Abstain from installing random 3rd part apps, cracks or software on your personal computer or mobile phone. This is to protect your phones and computing devices from malware that have the potential to steal confidential data.

2. Avoid Clicking Suspicious Links

DO NOT click on clinks from arbitrary, suspicious or anonymous sources received as an SMS or email or even on your social media accounts.

3. Use Virtual Keyboard

Try to practice the habit of using a Virtual Keyboard when typing passwords during digital transactions.

4. Activate SMS & Email Notifications

Activate both SMS as well as email notifications for all your transactions. This will help you respond instantly by keeping you notified of fraudulent transactions.

5. Be Careful While Using Public Networks

Avoid using net banking or engaging in digital transactions when connected to a public network or hotspot. Likewise, avoid any activity involving your confidential personal/financial data when using public or shared computers.

6. Use 2-Factor Authentication

Make sure you set up account notifications and employ 2-factor authentication for your accounts.

7. Create a Strong Password

As already stated, make sure you create a strong password and keep changing it on a regular basis. Keep your password a smart mix of upper and lower case alphabets, numbers, and special characters.

8. Never Disclose Financial Details

NEVER disclose your financial details or OTPs to anyone, even if they claim to be a bank representative. Similarly, NEVER click on suspicious emails purportedly sent from your bank that requests your financial details. This could be a phishing email to cheat you of your money!

9. Install an Effective Anti-virus Software

Install authentic anti-virus software on your phone and computing devices. Also, make sure that you update it at regular intervals. Updating your internet browsers and operating systems to the latest versions also contribute to keeping online banking frauds at bay.

10. Use Secure File-Sharing

AVOID sharing personal details such as account numbers, email signatures, passwords etc. via email. We suggest you to use a secure file-sharing service to send documents containing sensitive data. Better still, resort to the good old practice of relaying information verbally!

 
 
 
 
Tips to Avoid Online Financial Frauds

Cyber Security Training & Awareness with ARDC

The Center for Cyber Security or Texial is a cyber and digital forensics research organization located in Bangalore and Chennai. Texial aims to keep law enforcement agencies and other organizations up-to-date on cyber defense mechanisms with its research on the latest cybercrime and cyber security trends.

Texial engages in cutting-edge research on mobile forensics, computer forensics, and network forensics to provide crucial insights on reinforcing the cyber security of the nation as a whole.

How to Safeguard Your Organization from Insider Threats in Cybersecurity?

Another year is coming to an end. It is time to ruminate over the mistakes of the past and plan for the year that lies ahead. The year 2018 witnessed some of the biggest data breaches that compromised the personal information of millions of people. But do you know that the most harmful cybersecurity threats actually originate from within an organization? Here’s all that you need to know about the types of insider threats and how can you combat insider threats in cybersecurity?

Facts About Data Breaches You Ought to Know

Data breaches are not getting any cheaper! The loss of data in any form can cost an organization dearly. The findings of a study by the Ponemon Institute revealed that the average cost of a data breach now stands at a whopping USD 3.86 million! Rolling your eyes, are you?

Wait, there’s more! If an organization faces a MEGA Data Breach (1 – 50 million lost records), the average costs of data breaches can shoot up to USD 40 million – 350 million!!!

In fact, it may take months for an organization to even realize that a data breach has occurred! The average time to detect a data breach is nearly 197 days that comes to around 6.5 months. So you can well imagine how much time mega data breaches would take to get detected!

What are Insider Threats or Insider Breaches?

Though imposters are increasingly finding newer ways to launch cyberattacks, the most detrimental threats are actually coming from trustworthy insiders. Yes, you read that right! It’s not malware or malicious cyber criminals but insiders who pose the biggest threat to an organization’s cybersecurity.

Insider breaches or insider threats are the data breaches caused by the employees or members within an organization. They are also some of the most difficult data breaches to identify and are the costliest too.

The 2018 IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index reveals that two-thirds of the 2017 data breaches were due to inadvertent insiders. Furthermore, 60% of cyberattacks are due to insider threats!

Insider Threats in Cybersecurity Are For Real!

One may think that it is only vindictive or malicious insiders who cause insider threats in cybersecurity. However, nearly 51% of insider threats are unintentionally caused by ignorant employees or contractors. The insiders who pose a threat includes regular employees, privileged IT users/admins, or temporary workers such as service providers or contractors.

In 2017, Google’s parent company, Alphabet, filed a litigation against a former employee, Anthony Levandowski, alleging that he leaked internal files. Allegedly, he gave away nearly 14,000 business-critical files to his new employer, Uber.

 
 
 
 
How to Safeguard your organization from insider Data Breaches
 

Why Are Insider Threats Costlier & Difficult to Manage?

Data breaches cause organizations a bomb, both in terms of money as well as reputation. Though it is difficult to arrive at the actual cost of a major security breach, a study estimates it is worth USD 100,000 to USD 500,000 per successful insider breach.

So what makes insider threats so dear and difficult to identify?

  • Such threats can remain undetected for years, thus increasing the remediation expenses. The longer it takes to identify a breach, the higher are the reparative charges.
  • Originating within the organization, it can be challenging to distinguish a malicious activity from routine work. This makes insider breaches hard to detect.
  • It is harder to prove an employee involved in insider breaches guilty. This is because anyone can claim the act as an unintentional one and get away with it.
  • It is easy to cover up insider breaches by deleting or editing logs to hide malicious activities.

How to Curb Insider Threats in Cybersecurity?

Does your company have critical data and resources, which when misused can cause damage to the company’s reputation and profitability? Does your organization have a framework in place to detect insider threats in cybersecurity? Does it have a strategy and a plan for segregating, launching and testing practices? If not, then it’s something that you start worrying about!

Here are some basic steps that you can take to curb insider threats in cybersecurity.

1. Keep a Watch on Employee Behavior

Keep a watch on sudden changes in your employees’ behaviors such as signs of resentment, anger or unhappiness. An employee’s disappointment with the organization is likely to trigger vengeance in the form of insider breaches. Additionally, watch out for abrupt changes in an employee’s financial conditions or work hours. These could also be indicative of possible dangers for your organization in the offing.

2. Conduct Background Checks

Thanks to the internet, conducting background checks of any individual is now a cakewalk! As an organization, you MUST conduct a thorough background check before taking an employee on board. No need to adopt a complex mechanism. Just Google it, or look through his/her social media profiles. These are sufficient to give one an overview of an individual’s personality! A simple background check can keep insider threats at bay by helping you identify a potential imposter.

3. Monitor User Actions

A user action monitoring software is an organization’s trump card for curbing and investigating insider threats in cybersecurity. This no-fuss software offers a video recording of user sessions that help in reviewing the misuse of data. In case of a misuse, it helps detect if the misuse was planned or unintentional! Furthermore, such user action monitoring solutions are of great help for evidence to provide in the court of law.

4. Regulate User Access

A strong password or encryption not only keep insider breaches at bay but also defends against malicious external threats. Encourage your employees to keep their systems and files password protected. Discourage credential sharing among employees and try to keep the use of shared accounts to the minimum required. Implement and use 2-factor authentication wherever possible. Plus, there are scores of free solutions available out there for enterprise-level data security. Try them out!

5. Create Awareness

As mentioned earlier, not all insider threats in cybersecurity are results of malicious intent. Some are just caused due to inadvertent or ignorant insiders! This makes it crucial to educate employees in the potential of insider threats and the means to curb them. Conduct awareness drives and training sessions to transform your employees into the facilitators of cybersecurity, and not the inhibitors!

Get Consultation on Insider Threats in Cybersecurity from Texial

The Center for Cyber Security (Texial) is a pioneer in digital forensics research. Texial conducts cutting-edge research on cyber and digital forensics to be able to guide organizations on the latest cybersecurity measures. Texial regularly conducts seminars and workshops to educate organizations in insider threats and the means to curb them.

Contact us for Consultation on Protection Against Insider Threats.

 

Beware of Email Scams – Examples of Some Common Email Scams

Whether you are a working professional or a homemaker, can you imagine a day without emails? We can bet that a single day cannot pass without your phone beeping with a new email’s notification at least once. This is the power and outreach of emails which has, unfortunately, made them the chosen media of executing cybercrimes too. Here’s a list of the common email scams that one should be wary of.

The Widespread Use of Emails

Did you know that the number of emails sent each day is nearly 105 billion? Experts predict it to reach 246 billion before 2020. Furthermore, the number of email users worldwide shall rise to 2.9 billion by 2019.

At present, email is the most important application on the internet for communication and execution of transactions.

Although some prognosticators think that emails shall soon be extinct, it is still the chosen mode of communication for most. It is an open and decentralized platform available for anybody and everybody to use. Therefore, in spite of newer solutions, email continues to be the most flexible and cost-effective solution for all purposes.

The Rise of Email Scams

It is the cost-effectiveness and easy usability of emails that has spelled doom for its users as email scams.

The email platform is being constantly and increasingly misused by cyber conmen to defraud and cheat users. Some common examples of email misuse include spams, phishing e-mails, distribution of child pornography, and hate emails besides propagation of viruses, worms, hoaxes, and Trojan horses.

Here are some common email scams that netizens are vulnerable to.

1. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most prevalent email scams at present. Do you know that 76% of businesses reported being a victim of phishing in the year 2017?

In such email scams, the victim receives a mail that looks like it’s sent by a trusted entity or organization. Fraudsters use this simple technique of social engineering to deceive the victims into clicking on a malicious link.

The link usually leads to a look-alike website that prompts them to provide their personal details. However, this is nothing but a trick for crooks to have their details so that they may later misuse them for stealing funds or identity theft. In some cases, clicking on the malicious link can also lead to the installation of malware on the victim’s phone or computer.

Phishing Attack Example

What Happened?

A massive phishing attack targeted 1 billion Gmail users in May 2017.

1. Cyber criminals delivered the worm to users’ mailboxes as an email from a reliable contact. It prompted users to open an attached Google Docs file.

2. On clicking, a look-alike Google security page opened up. Users were then deceived into giving permission to the fake application for managing their email account.

3. Worse still, the worm reproduced by sending itself to all of the victim’s contact – Gmail and others.

 
 
 
 
Google Docs Phishing Scam

Source: https://auth0.com/blog/all-you-need-to-know-about-the-google-docs-phishing-attack

 
 
 
 

The Potential: With control over the victim’s account, scammers could harvest their personal data for malicious objectives. They could even reset the passwords of platforms linked to the Gmail account and take over their online banking, Facebook, and online shopping accounts.

Response: Google claimed that none of their user’s data was misused. Furthermore, they disabled the malicious accounts and pushed updates to all users.

2. Advance Fee Fraud

Also known as Nigerian scam, such email scams lure victims into making an advance payment in exchange for a favor. Usually, the email promises a large sum of money or other rewards such as jobs, scholarships, gifts, loans etc. in exchange for a processing fee.

Once the victim makes the payment, the fraudster leads him/her into a web of lies for extracting more money. Else in certain cases, the perpetrator simply vanishes!

Nigerian Scam Example

What Happened?

Fake job offers purporting to be from reputed enterprises (Larsen & Toubro Ltd. in the example below) are on the rise.

1. The victim receives a fraudulent email purporting to be from a reputed MNC or organization.

2. The attached offer letter bears the logo of the organization and promises a hefty pay package and remuneration.

3. The victim is then asked to deposit a refundable security amount in the designated bank for attending the face-to-face interview.

 
 
 
 
L&T fake job email scam

Source: https://www.jagoinvestor.com/2013/10/beware-of-fake-emails-scams-asking-for-password-critical-information.html

 
 
 
 

The Potential: Hapless job seekers receiving such emails often fall prey to the scam and end up paying the deposit. It is only when their calls or emails are not answered that they realization of having cheated dawns upon them.

Response: Almost all major MNCs and IT firms have issued a notice on their websites to warn job seekers of such frauds and dissuade them from making any advance payments for attending interviews.

3. Online Dating Scams

Although online dating and matrimonial platforms have offered much relief in the match-making scenario, they have reaped unscrupulous outcomes too.

What Happens?

Fake calls from the customs department dupe victims in online matrimonial scams.

1. The fraudster befriends the victim on an online dating or matrimonial platform. Usually, he/she poses as a foreign national or NRI.

2. Eventually, he/she then moves the conversation to emails or social media chats.

3. The fraudster takes no time in confessing his/her love for the victim and soon wins over the latter’s trust.

4. Using greed to dupe the victim, the fraudster sends him/her the list or photographs of expensive gifts that he/she sent.

5. The gifts are usually high-end bags, clothing, perfume, make-up, or gadgets.

6. The victim then receives a call purportedly from the airport’s Customs Department. The fake customs official asks for a payment of customs duty for the clearance of the gifts at the airport. The amount demanded can range anywhere between a few thousand to several lakhs.

7. Once the victims pays the money, the “friend” vanishes.

 
 
 
 
Online Dating Scam

Source: https://www.truthfinder.com/infomania/safety/nigerian-scammers

4. Lottery Scam

In this type of Nigerian Scam, the victim is lured into making an advance payment for claiming a lottery reward.

Lottery Scam Example

What Happened?

Many duped by a fraudulent
Lottery Scheme under the names of legitimate Spanish lottery houses such as Loteria Primitiva and El Gordo.

1. The victim receives an unsolicited email notification about winning a reward in a lottery or sweepstake.

2. The winner is then prompted to contact a claim agent and make an advance payment. The common pretexts include insurance costs, courier charges, bank fees or government taxes.

3. Usually, the email presses the victim to ‘respond quickly’ to avoid missing out on the reward.

4. Most victims ended up making the payment only to realize that the trap later.

 
 
 
 
Lottery Email Scam

Source: https://securelist.com/congratulations-youve-won-the-reality-behind-online-lotteries/36450

 

5. Charity Scams

Charity scams are one of the newest types of email scams doing the rounds of late. Scammers use fake charity names or impersonate genuine charities to exploit people’s compassion and generosity. The financial losses of victims in charity scams have increased steadily over the last couple of years. Such scams escalate during natural disasters or emergencies such as floods, earthquakes, cyclones, and wildfires.

What Happens?

1. Scammers send an email posing as a genuine charity seeking a donation. The donations range from relief for natural disasters to medical help.

2. Sometimes, they also attach photos of sick children who need medical attention.

3. Often they provide links that lead to a fraudulent look-alike website.

4. Scammers usually avoid electronic modes of payment and insist victims on making a cash payment.

5. The victim either does not get a receipt or receives one that does not have the charity’s details on it.

 
 
 
 
Charity Email Scam

Source: https://securelist.com/the-japan-crisis-an-it-security-timeline/35965

Combating Email Scams with Texial

The Center for Cyber Security or Texial is a cyber and digital forensics research organization located in Bangalore and Chennai. With a state-of-the-art digital forensics lab and a team of the best-in-class experts, Texial strives to conduct cutting-edge forensics research. It seeks to assist law enforcement agencies and other organizations with the latest cyber defense mechanisms and also conducts regular seminars and awareness campaigns.

 

Tips to Avoid Ransomware Attacks and What to Do After a Ransomware Attack?

Ransom is a word that was mostly associated with kidnappings. Enter the Digital Era. The word ‘ransom’ now has associations with the cyber world too! Introducing the latest and most widespread menace in the world of Information Technology – Ransomware. What is ransomware? How to avoid ransomware attacks? The ensuing sections shall give you some handy tips for preventing ransomware attacks, and what to do in its aftermath.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware garnered global attention after the infamous WannaCry attack on the National Health Services, UK, in 2017. Coming to what is ransomware? It is malicious software or malware that encrypts data on the system it attacks. It then locks the user out of the system and blocks the data until the payment of a ‘ransom’.

In layman’s terms, a ransomware attack leaves the user with two choices. Pay the ransom and hope to reclaim the data, or avoid paying and lose the system’s data indefinitely.

The main objective of ransomware attacks is to extract money from hapless users, usually in the form of cryptocurrencies. Cyber criminals generally target ransomware attacks at high-profile businesses or organizations such as hospitals, public schools, law enforcement agencies etc. that deal with huge amounts of confidential data.

Distribution of Ransomware

Did you know that ransomware hits an enterprise every 40 seconds?

Miscreants send hundreds and thousands of spam emails every day. So, no points for guessing! Email is the most widely used channel for the distribution of ransomware. Phishing emails containing malicious attachments urge users to click on a link leading to the webpage containing the malware.

Cyber conmen may sometimes also use compromised websites for the distribution of ransomware using a tool called ‘exploit kit’. The tool scans the computer to identify software containing vulnerabilities that att
ackers can exploit to download and install ransomware.

Above all, it is the curiosity of netizens that has led to the increase in ransomware attacks and distribution. Known as ‘social engineering’, it the technique of coercing individuals to click on a malicious link or divulge confidential details.

Identifying Ransomware Attacks

Being able to identify ransomware is foremost in order to execute steps for preventing ransomware attacks.

Ransomware attacks are of two types – one that encrypts files on a system/network, second that locks the victim’s screen. Like WannaCry, some ransomware attacks have the inherent nature of worms. These distribute themselves amongst other systems connected to the infected network without any interaction with the infected user or attacker.

The most common symptom of a ransomware attack is when the computer becomes inaccessible with a ransom message popping up on the screen. In some cases, a pay page pops up immediately, either on a browser or a text editor.

Interestingly, certain malware called ‘wiper malware’ presents and masks itself as ransomware. However, in such cases, the files are not decrypted even after the payment of ransom.

Tips for Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are getting more complicated by the day. In fact, 2017 witnessed an increase in new ransomware variants by 4.3 times compared to 2016. Shockingly, 67% of businesses targeted by ransomware attacks permanently lost a part of all of their enterprise data.

1. Fortify Email Security

Why?

Emails remain the favorite medium for launching mass targeted attacks with 1 in 131 emails containing a malware! In fact, ransomware delivered through phishing emails grew by over 97% by the end of 2016.
Anyone who connects to the internet or works on a network uses emails. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to secure this key source of vulnerability.

How?

Be careful before clicking on attachments or links in emails from unsolicited sources. Inform your IT team immediately when you receive a suspicious email. If you feel that the mail is from a known source, ensure that you check the legitimacy of the mail.
Ensure that the mail servers of your organization have content scanning and filtering features which scan incoming emails. By doing so, you can block or avert emails having attachments that could pose a threat.

2. Secure Your Network & IT Environment

Why?

By now you are aware of the damage wreaked by ransomware on a single computer. Imagine then what happens when it distributes itself over the entire network! This is the worst nightmare for any organization and its IT department.

How?

Implement a data security software for checking incoming emails before their delivery to the intended recipient. This helps to significantly curb the spread of malware inside the infected organization’s network. Additionally, a network security software also keeps a tab on the outgoing traffic. Therefore, it deters any attempt of the ransomware to begin the encryption process by connecting to the external server.

Keep your organization and personal computing devices secure by employing genuine antivirus software and firewalls. Avoid using pirated software as they offer bleak chances of protection from ransomware and other cyber attacks.

Make sure that you regularly update your software and operating systems and install the latest patches. Regular patching ensures that attackers are unable to exploit the software or network vulnerabilities for launching an attack.

3. Create and Spread Awareness

Why?

Employees are the building blocks of any organization. Thus, it is crucial to make them a crucial part of the cyber security process. Often, ransomware and other cyber attacks are successful due to an individual’s ignorance and lack of training on incident response. An organization must take proactive steps to transform panic into an intelligent incident response by educating each and every employee.

How?

Conduct awareness and training sessions for all employees, including higher management and IT professionals. Educate them on the tips to avoid ransomware attacks and the steps to undertake in its aftermath.

Train your IT or Cyber Security team regularly to keep them abreast of the latest threats. They should have access to the latest resources for being cognizant of newer techniques to ward off threats.

What to Do In the Event of a Ransomware Attack?

Say, a ransomware attacks you. Panic ensues. Plausible. But what next? The moments in the aftermath of a ransomware attack are very crucial. Here’s what you must do.

1. Do NOT Pay the Ransom

In spite of all the panic, DO NOT pay the ransom! We mean it when we say that paying the ransom does not ensure the decryption of your locked data. In most cases, the attack is a ‘ranscam’ or wiper malware in the guise of ransomware. This means that even after you pay, you do not get your data back. The result – NO data, and LOST money!

Moreover, paying the attackers and giving them exactly what they wanted indirectly fuels their malicious intentions. It encourages them to continue with their unscrupulous yet profitable business model! Also, know that it takes days to set up a Bitcoin wallet to pay the ransom. Just keeping you informed!!!

2. Try Decrypting the Data

If you are lucky enough, the ransomware may be poorly coded or may have leaked master keys. And since you have nothing to lose, it’s worth a shot to check for a suitable decrypting tool online. CAUTION – DO NOT try your hands at decrypting the data if it is absolutely an unknown territory for you! Take the help of a specialist instead. Nonetheless, the decryption attempt comes with the rider of losing the data forever if something goes wrong.

3. Exercise Extra Caution

The period following a ransomware attack is even more opportune for cyber criminals to launch other forms of cyber attacks.
DO NOT entertain any demand for divulging confidential information when responding to a phone call, message or email. Fraudsters trick victims into installing malware or disclosing sensitive details (passwords, login IDs, account details etc.) by claiming to be from a Cyber Security Firm or from the IT Department.

Inform your organization’s IT and Cyber Security Teams immediately if you or your colleagues receive suspicious calls or emails.

4. File Restoration

If possible, try restoring the affected files from a reliable backup source. Restoration is a robust tactic to regain access to the impacted files.

Texial – In the League of Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks are not getting any easier to manage. In the wake of its evolution and proliferation, taking adequate steps to avoid ransomware attacks is primary. As stated above, you can take proactive measure for preventing ransomware attacks from affecting your personal or corporate data.
The Center for Cyber Security (Texial) is a digital and cyber forensics research facility located in Bangalore and Chennai. The team of digital forensics experts at Texial backed by industry mavens conducts cutting-edge research on the latest cybercrime landscape. This enables them to offer cyber security training and awareness to law enforcement agencies and other key stakeholders.

Contact Texial for Cyber Security Training & Awareness.

Online Harassment And Cyber Crimes Against Women – An Insidious Menace

In spite of the umpteen technological and cultural advances across the globe, guaranteeing women’s safety is still a far-fetched dream. Be it in the physical or the virtual world, women are one of most targeted sections of the society. Cyber crimes against women are on the rise and are increasingly jeopardizing the dignity and online safety of women. And, awareness is key to prevention. The following sections shall take you through the common forms of online harassment, and cyber crimes against women. Get to know about the cyber harassment laws applicable in such cases and tips to prevent cyber crimes against women.

Cyber Crimes Against Women are on the Rise

In India alone, the number of internet users is touching the 500 million mark. Although women account for only 30% of the users, they are the most vulnerable group in the cyber world. Women are still one of the most oppressed sections of the society. The emergence of various social networking platforms has enabled women to free themselves from the conservative chains of society and communicate freely. However, not without some damaging cons!

The choice of a multitude of social networking platforms is all the more responsible for endangering women’s safety online. According to a survey, nearly 76% of women under the age of 30 have been the victims of online harassment. It is shocking that revenge porn or sextortion targets every 1 in 10 women under the age of 30!

5 Common Cyber Crimes Against Women

Cyber crime is any illegitimate activity conducted using a computing device as the primary means. Following are some of the most common forms of cyber crimes against women.

1. Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is one of the most common and outrageous forms of online harassment of women. Nearly 4 out of 5 cyberstalking victims are women!

In the physical world, ‘stalking’ is a behavior comprising repeated engagement in harassment meant to induce terror and distress in the victim. Similarly, cyberstalking entails several activities of online harassment meant to torment or terrorize the victim.

Examples include covertly following a person’s online activities, sending threats, and/or constantly subjecting the victim to unsolicited messages, emails etc. As per past incidents and surveys, cyber stalkers usually target women in the age group of 16 to 35. The motives behind cyberstalking range from romantic obsessions and ego, to sexual harassment and revenge.

2. Cyber Defamation

Cyber defamation involves sending, posting or sharing derogatory content about women on the internet. Perpetrators usually post defamatory matter about the victim by hacking his/her social media account or under the disguise of the victim’s fake profile. The fake profile contains all relevant information about the victim that makes it appear like a genuine one!

Once again, most cyber defamation victims are women and inflicting mental trauma and agony are the main motives.

Unfortunately, cyber harassment laws in India do not distinctly cover cyber defamation. The criminal justice system in India treats it under the same provisions as those of cyber pornography or publication of obscene material online.

3. Email Harassment

Since the days of yore, women have been bearing the brunt of harassment through anonymous, and sometimes threatening letters. Email harassment is the modern and technologically advanced version of the same form of nuisance. Just that in this case, it is harder to identify the perpetrators as they use fake email IDs for this.

The purpose of harassing women via emails ranges from bullying, threatening and blackmailing to cheating and financial frauds. Usually, miscreants send dozens of emails, sometimes offensive and aggressive, to threaten or blackmail the victim.

The Information Technology Act does not explicitly cover email harassment. However, Section 292A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) is applicable for those printing or publishing obscene or offensive matter, or any matter intended to blackmail. Furthermore, one can even invoke Section 509 of the IPC in cases involving any gesture or statement insulting the dignity of a woman.

4. Cyber Pornography

Cyber pornography is one of the most dangerous threats to women in the cyber world. Cyber pornography is the act of generating, sharing, downloading or importing adult content in the cyber space. This includes adult websites as well magazines produced/published/printed using computers.

Women are increasingly using social networking platforms to publish and share personal images. This has only fueled the incidents of cyber pornography involving women. It is a cakewalk now for crooks to download their images and/or videos and misuse them to produce adult content. Cyber pornography can leave indelible psychological and emotional scars on women and can tarnish their images forever.

5. Doxxing

A term not much heard of, doxxing is fast emerging as one of the most sinister cyber crimes against women. Doxxing is the act of sharing personal information or documents online without the owner’s consent. Almost every online service or platform prompts a user to enter his/her personal and/or banking details. The huge pool of personal information available online provides a lucrative opportunity to crooks for misusing them.

Often due to sheer ignorance, women end up becoming the victims of doxxing when miscreants share their personal information such as name, address, phone numbers, spouse/children’s names, and email IDs while they are completely oblivious to it! The information is further misused for prolonged harassment, prank calls, and even death threats!!

Cyber Harassment Laws to Combat Cyber Crimes

India is one of the few countries in the world to have cyber harassment laws for penalizing cyber crime perpetrators. Although not specific to women, it cites cyber offenses such as hacking, tampering of data and publication of obscene content as punishable offenses. The Information and Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000), and Indian Penal Code (IPC) cover the following cyber crime offenses.

Section 67 (IT Act, 2000)

Most of the cyber crimes against women come under the purview of Section 67 of the IT Act, 2000. The provisions under this section cover the publication or transmission of vulgar material in an electronic form. The 2008 Amendment of the IT Act made inclusions for child pornography and custody of records by intermediaries.

Section 66A (IT Act, 2000)

It covers the act of sending offensive messages using a computing or communication device that can cause annoyance, insult etc. It also includes online communication meant to deceive or mislead the recipient about the source of the message (email spoofing). The punishment for such offenses is penalty or imprisonment up to three years.

Section 66B (IT Act, 2000)

Section 66B punishes perpetrators for fraudulently and consciously receiving or retaining a stolen communication device or computer resource. The punitive action includes fine up to ₹1 lakh, or imprisonment up to three years.

Section 66C (IT Act, 2000)

It covers identity theft attempts involving the misuse of another individual’s password, digital signature or any other unique identification feature.

Section 66D (IT Act, 2000)

Section 66D includes offenses of cheating using a computer resource or communication device by impersonating someone.

Section 66E (IT Act, 2000)

The provisions under Section 66E deal with punishment for violation of privacy. This section covers the publication or sharing of images pertaining to the private areas of an individual without consent.

Section 72 (IT Act, 2000)

This section books a person for breaching the confidentiality or privacy of another individual through unauthorized access to an electronic record, book, register, document etc.

Section 354D IPC

This section of the Indian Penal Code deals with stalking in all forms. It includes stalking a woman or her contacts physically or monitoring her online activities against her consent or knowledge.

Section 500 IPC

It covers printing or engraving any matter about someone knowing that it is derogatory and defamatory (cyber defamation). The offense is punishable as per Section 500 i.e. imprisonment up to two years and/or fine.

Stay Safe – Tips to Prevent Cyber Crimes Against Women

Cyber crimes against women often go unreported due to lack of awareness and education on the prevention and incident response. Now that you are cognizant of the different cyber crimes against women, it is time you fortify your online safety. Take your time to trust a stranger and keep your eyes open and mind alert during online communications and/or transactions. Following are some tips to prevent cyber crimes against women. Follow and share them to avoid being a victim of cyber crimes or online harassment.

1. NEVER Share Your Passwords

So you think it is okay to share your passwords with a trusted partner or a friend? No, it is not! Keep your passwords confidential and abstain from sharing them with anyone! You never know how and when one intentionally or unintentionally misuses it.

2. NEVER Leave Your Webcam Connected

We know you’ve heard of applications that can discreetly switch on your webcam and start recording. Yes, it is true and quite possible! Make sure you disable your camera permissions and cover/close the lens when not in use. For laptops, we recommend that you apply a small sticker to cover the webcam when you don’t need it.

3. Share Personal Data/Images DILIGENTLY

Don’t go overboard in trusting an unknown person on online platforms. Even if it’s someone you’ve known for long, make sure you don’t share anything more than necessary. Relationships can turn sour any moment. One can easily manipulate and misuse intimate photographs and online chats for revenge and/or blackmail.

4. NEVER Meet Online Connections Alone

The cyber world is a tricky one as it can easily masquerade the truth and reality. When you befriend someone on an online platform, tread cautiously. Keep your family and friends informed of who and where you are meeting. Irrespective of you cringing right now, trust us with this tip more than a random person you’ve met online!

5. Install Updates and Use Anti-Virus Software

Make sure you install the latest and genuine anti-virus software on your smartphone and computing devices. Installing a reliable security system and firewall creates the basic protection for your devices against malware and malicious software. Regardless of how busy you are, make sure you install the latest security patches and software updates on your devices.

6. Read Terms & Conditions

Make sure you read the terms and privacy policy of the online services you use. Yes, it sounds pointless and plus you don’t have the time, but here’s how it helps. Some websites have the legal rights to own, share, sell or resell your personal information to anyone they wish to. If defrauded on such platforms after agreeing to their policies, even the law cannot help you get justice!

7. Block Unwanted People

Declining random friend requests or overtures to converse with unknown people is absolutely FINE! Trust your instincts because it plays a crucial role in your safety, both in the physical and cyber world. If you someone makes you feel uncomfortable, then just ignore, unfriend or block them!

8. DO NOT believe in Freebies

Remember that no one is sitting out there doing charity! There is nothing called ‘freebies’ and we mean too-good-to-be-true sounding offers and deals. Such offers serve as baits to urge users to install malware, spyware, viruses and other malicious software on their devices.

Texial – In the League of Preventing Cyber Crimes Against Women

The Center for Cyber Security (Texial) strives to play an active role in sensitizing the society about cyber crimes against women. Texial engages in various activities to protect online harassment of women through social media monitoring and leveraging its research to empower women policing units and conduct awareness drives

Contact us for Consultation and Investigation of Cyber Crimes Against Women.

 

Do not take the bait! Understanding Email Phishing

What precisely is phishing?

Phishing is a tactic used by hackers to trick you into providing personal information or account data. Hackers steal sensitive data by generating new user passwords or inserting malware (such as backdoors) into your device once they have your knowledge.

Financial frauds or identity hacks perpetrated using the victim’s private information are the more serious consequences of phishing. Phishing is responsible for almost 90 percent of all data breaches.

What are the various kinds of phishing scams?

Depending on the perpetrator, phishing attacks will hit a wide variety of people. It is likely that this is a generic email phishing scam searching for someone with a PayPal account. However, these are almost certainly phishing attempts. Phishing may also take the form of an email that is sent to only one user. Because of their access, the attacker would devote time and effort to crafting an email for a single recipient. If the email is on this end of the continuum, even the most suspicious individuals are likely to fall victim to it. According to statistics, 91 percent of data security breaches begin with some form of a phishing scheme.

What is the concept of Email Phishing?

Since the 1990s, email phishing has possibly been the most prevalent form of phishing. These are the emails that a hacker sends to any and all email addresses he or she can get his hands on. The email normally advises the user that their account has been compromised and that they must reply immediately by clicking on the ‘this page’. Since the English are not always plain, these assaults are normally easy to detect. It sometimes gives the idea that someone used translation software to go through five different languages before deciding on English.

suspect source if you search the email source and the actual connection that you are being led to.

Sextortion is a form of a phishing scheme that involves giving someone an email that seems to be from themselves. The hacker appears to have broken into your email server and then into the machine in the email. They claim to have two crucial pieces of information: your password and a video of you. The sextortion takes place on the captured footage.

They claim to have two crucial pieces of information: your password and a video of you. The sextortion takes place on the captured footage. According to the claim, you were viewing adult entertainment videos on your monitor while the camera was recording. You must pay them, normally in bitcoin, otherwise, they will reveal the video to your relatives or co-workers.

How to Recognize a Phishing Email?

Every month, users all over the world receive an average of 16 malicious emails! Furthermore, given the plethora of email newsletters that we knowingly sign up for, a detailed review of an email prior to answering can be time-consuming. Nonetheless, being aware is crucial in thwarting future efforts to steal your personal or company information.

Here are few pointers on recognizing a phishing email:

  1. Avoid any email requests for sensitive information.

Remember that a legal company will never send you an email requesting confidential personal or financial information. Furthermore, an organization with which you are familiar would like to have a phone call with you about some account details. Unsolicited emails demanding personal information and containing a connection or attachment should be avoided. It is unquestionably a ruse. Generic Email Salutations Should Be Avoided

  1. Avoid emails that address you as a “respected member,” “favorite client,” “customer,” or “account manager,” among other words. 

    Emails with such generic salutations should be stopped at all times since they are almost invariably spam. Bear in mind that a legal business will call you by your name. Any cyber con artists, on the other hand, totally disregard the salutation portion of the text! As a consequence, make sure you check the other things on this guide and see whether it’s deceptive or not.

  2. Verify the Sender’s Domain in the Email Address

Examining the sender’s address is one of the most effective ways to detect a phishing text. Check the domain in the email address, which is the part after the @. This will give you a good sense of the email’s sources and therefore its validity. Cybercriminals sometimes change the spelling of a domain to make it seem legal. But proceed with caution! But, since businesses often use special or random domains to reach out to their clients, this is not a foolproof tip. Small businesses, in particular, rely on third-party email providers to deliver emails. As a consequence, the dubious-looking domain could be real!

  1. Spelling Errors Can Serve as a Warning Flag

One thing to keep in mind! Any brand and business invest heavily in their proofreaders and copywriters. This is to ensure that the material they distribute to consumers is error-free, factually correct, and grammatically correct. An error in material, particularly in an email to a prospective or current client, is a major source of embarrassment for an organization. As a consequence, it’s self-evident that an email from a legitimate organization must be well-written. Scam texts, on the other hand, are easily detected by their grammatical and spelling mistakes. Hackers, obviously, are not idiots! They know who they’re after, and these phishing emails are often aimed at people in the lower echelons of the educational ladder.

  1. Be wary of uninvited attachments

If you know what the most often used phishing email bait is? Attachments and connections that are unsolicited and suspicious-looking. Emails with random attachments or connections are never sent from a legitimate entity. They would rather take the user to their own website to retrieve the required documentation or files. Companies that have your contact information, on the other hand, can give you white papers, newsletters, and other materials as attachments. So, though you can be careful of attachments with extensions.exe,.scr, and.zip, this isn’t a completely secure trick. In case of uncertainty, the safest course of action is to contact the sender directly.

  1. It makes no difference if you have the world’s most reliable surveillance system. It only takes one untrained employee to be duped by a phishing attack and hand over the information you have worked so long to safeguard. 

Be sure you and your colleagues are all aware of these particular email phishing scenarios, as well as all of the warning signs of a phishing attempt.

Gaps and Limitations and how to tackle them 

Both consumers and companies must take action to defend themselves from phishing attacks. Vigilance is important for consumers. A spoof message sometimes includes inconsequential errors that reveal its true identity. As seen in the previous URL example, these may involve spelling errors or domain name changes. Users should also consider that they are sending such an email in the first place.

The foregoing phishing email detection tips will undoubtedly raise your tolerance and vigilance of phishing attacks. Phishing attacks, on the other hand, are becoming stealthier and more subtle by the day. And seasoned users can find it difficult to spot a phishing email before it’s too late, thanks to changing techniques.

It’s shocking to hear that almost half of all phishing or bogus websites already have SSL Certification or HTTPS encryption! To escape tracking, they are increasingly using tactics such as web page redirects. Fake fonts and other encoding methods are often used by some fake banking websites to give the impression of a real website. Also, the most vigilant customer is finding it more difficult to detect phishing attempts as a result of these tactics.

Texial’s – Phishing Attack Victims Investigation Services

Texial is a forensics laboratory that focuses on optical and Cyber Forensics. Texial’s Lab delivers investigative and cybersecurity expertise and technologies, supported by a roster of the best-in-class forensic experts. Texial’s Lab also delivers cybercrime detection training and information to corporations and law enforcement authorities.

Sick And Tired Of Doing Artificial Intelligence The Old Way? Read This

What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad field of computer science that focuses on creating intelligent machines that can execute functions that would otherwise require human intelligence. AI is a multidisciplinary discipline with many methods, but advances in machine learning and deep learning are causing a paradigm change in almost every industry.

AI is a field of computer science that seeks to mimic or emulate human intelligence in computers at the most basic level. Artificial intelligence’s large objective has ignited a slew of questions and debates. So much so that there is no widely agreed description of the field.

HOW DOES ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE WORK?

Artificial intelligence can be classified into two categories:

AI with a limited scope: This kind of artificial intelligence, also known as “weak AI,” works in a restricted sense and is a simulation of human intelligence. Although narrow AI is always based on executing a single task exceedingly well, these devices work under much more restrictions and limits than even the most simple human intellect. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI): AGI, also known as “Strong AI,” is the kind of artificial intelligence that we see in movies like Westworld’s robots or Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Data. AGI is a computer that has general intelligence and can use that intelligence to solve any problem, just as a human can.

HISTORY OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Ancient Greek mythology included intelligent robots and artificial beings for the first time. The development of syllogism and its introduction to deductive logic by Aristotle was a watershed moment in humanity’s attempt to comprehend its own intellect. Despite its long and deep origins, artificial intelligence as we know it today has only been around for a century.

Basics in Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to systems that can comprehend, read, and function in obtained and generated data. AI today operates in three ways:

Assisted data, which is already freely accessible, enhances what individuals and organisations are already doing.

People and organisations will now do something they couldn’t do before thanks to augmented reality, which is just getting started.

Autonomous intelligence is a form of artificial intelligence that is being designed for the future. It consists of computers that operate independently. Self-driving cars, as they become widely used, would be an example of this.

AI may be said to have certain elements of human intelligence, such as a store of domain-specific knowledge, mechanisms for acquiring new information, and mechanisms for bringing the information to use.

Today’s AI technology includes machine intelligence, expert algorithms, neural networks, and deep learning, to name a few instances or subsets.

Machine learning employs mathematical methods to allow computers to “learn” (e.g., boost output over time) from data rather than being directly programmed. Machine learning performs well when it is focused on a single goal rather than a broad mission.

Expert systems are computer programmes that address problems in specific domains. They solve problems and make decisions using fuzzy rules-based logic and closely selected bodies of information, mimicking the thinking of human experts.

Neural networks are a programming model inspired by biology that allows a machine to learn from observational data. Each node in a neural network assigns a weight to its data, showing how right or incorrect it is in relation to the process at hand. The sum of these weights is then used to calculate the final product.

Deep learning is a form of machine learning that is focused on learning data representations rather than task-specific algorithms. Deep learning-based image processing is now often superior to humans in a range of fields, including autonomous vehicles, scan analyses, and medical diagnosis.

Applying artificial intelligence to cybersecurity

AI is well-suited to solving some of the world’s most challenging challenges, and cybersecurity is surely one of them. Machine learning and AI will be used to “keep up with the bad guys” in today’s ever-evolving cyber-attacks and the explosion of smartphones, automating vulnerability identification and responding more effectively than conventional software-driven approaches. Cybersecurity, on the other hand, poses several special challenges:

A wide assault field.

Thousands or tens of thousands of computers per company

There are hundreds of attack vectors to choose from.

There are significant shortages of trained security personnel.

Massive amounts of data that have developed beyond the reach of a human issue

Many of these issues should be solved by a self-learning, AI-based cybersecurity posture management system. There are technologies available to better train a self-learning machine to collect data from around the business information systems in a continuous and autonomous manner.

Following that, the data is processed and used to conduct pattern correlation across millions to billions of signals specific to the enterprise attack surface. As a result, new levels of intelligence are being fed to human teams in a variety of cybersecurity categories, including:

IT Asset Inventory – compiling a full and comprehensive list of all computers, customers, and programmes with links to information systems. In inventory, categorization and calculation of market criticality are also important.

Threat Exposure – Hackers, like anyone else, track patterns, so what’s trendy for hackers shifts on a daily basis. AI-driven cybersecurity tools can provide up-to-date awareness of global and industry-specific risks, allowing you to prioritise threats based not just on what might be used to target your company, but rather on what is most likely to be used to attack your company.

Controls Effectiveness – To sustain a strong security strategy, it’s critical to consider the effects of the different security tools and processes you’ve implemented. AI will help you find out where the information security software excels and where it falls short.

AI-based programmes can forecast if and when you are most likely to be compromised, taking into account IT asset inventory, vulnerability presence, and controls effectiveness, so you can allocate resources and tools to places of vulnerability. Prescriptive knowledge obtained from AI research will assist you in configuring and optimising controls and processes to produce the best performance.

Incident response – AI-powered applications may have a better background for prioritising and responding to vulnerability threats, for fast incident response, and for surfacing root causes in order to eliminate bugs and prevent potential problems.

Explainability of recommendations and review is key to using AI to complement human information security teams. This is crucial for achieving buy-in from stakeholders around the company, recognising the effect of various information management initiatives, and reporting relevant data to all stakeholders, including end customers, security operations, the CISO, auditors, the CIO, CEO, and the board of directors.

Adversaries’ Use of AI

Instead of actively running after malicious behaviour, IT security practitioners will use AI and machine learning (ML) to implement sound cybersecurity policies and shrink the threat surface. State-sponsored criminals, terrorist cyber-gangs, and ideological hackers, on the other hand, may use the same AI tactics to bypass protections and evade detection.

The “AI/cybersecurity conundrum” exists here. Companies will need to be aware of the possible drawbacks of AI as it matures and expands into the cybersecurity space:

Hackers can defeat security algorithms by targeting the data they train on and the warning flags they search for, so machine learning and artificial intelligence can help protect against cyber-attacks.

Hackers may also use AI to circumvent protections and build mutating malware that alters its configuration in order to prevent detection.

AI systems can provide misleading findings and false negatives if they are not fed large amounts of data and incidents.

Organizations would fail to retrieve the right data that feeds their AI programmes if data theft goes undetected, with potentially catastrophic results.

Conclusion 

AI has emerged as a necessary technology for augmenting the contributions of human information management teams in recent years. Since humans can no longer defend the complex organisational attack surface effectively, AI offers much-needed research and vulnerability detection that can be used by cybersecurity experts to reduce intrusion risk and enhance protection posture. In the field of security, AI can recognise and prioritise danger, detect malware on a network instantly, guide incident response, and detect intrusions before they occur.

AI enables cybersecurity teams to form powerful human-machine collaborations that extend our expertise, enhance our lives, and propel cybersecurity in ways that seem to be greater than the number of their parts.

Ransom in the world of Malware: Understanding Ransomware

Understanding the basics

Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to data or systems unless a ransom is paid and threatens to publish it, Some Ransomware has a deadline. If the victim fails to pay up by the deadline then they may lose the data. Most exchanges are done via Bitcoin. 

Ransomware is a rapidly increasing threat to the data files of individuals and companies. On an infected computer, it encrypts data and retains the key to decrypt the files before the user pays a ransom. This malware is responsible for damages of hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Due to the large amounts of money to be made, new versions appear frequently.

Mechanics of Ransomware

There is a very compressed timeline of an attack. From exploitation and poisoning to getting the ransom note, you frequently have 15 minutes.

Step 1: Infection-Ransomware is downloaded and installed on the computer secretly the most common way of sending ransomware is phishing mail.

Step 2: Execution-Ransomware searches and maps locations for targeted types of files, including locally stored files, and network-accessible mapped and unmapped networks. Any ransomware attacks also erase all backup files and directories or encrypt them.

Step 3: Encryption-Ransomware uses the encryption key to share a key with the Command and Control Server to scramble all files located during the execution step. Access to the data is also blocked.

Step 4: User Notification-Ransomware adds instruction files that detail the method of pay for decryption and uses those files to show the user a ransom note.

Step 5: Cleanup – Ransomware normally terminates and destroys itself, leaving behind the instruction files for payment.

Step 6 : Payment: In the payment directions, the victim taps a connection that brings the victim to a web page with extra details about how to make the appropriate payment. To prevent detection by network traffic monitoring, secret TOR services are also used to encapsulate and obfuscate these messages.

Step 7 : Decryption: The victim will obtain the decryption key after the victim pays the ransom, normally from the Bitcoin address of the offender. There’s no assurance, that the key will be delivered as promised.

Types of Ransomware

There are primarily two kinds of ransomware:

  1. Locker Ransomware – Ransomware from Locker denies access to computing services. It is based on blocking access to a computer such that it is difficult to access the GUI. From there, it prompts payment by users to unlock the unit.
  2. Crypto ransomware – Crypto ransomware denies access to files on the computer. It’s possible to access the user interface on the computer, but the files can’t. By encrypting the files and requesting payment for decryption, it does this.

Examples of Ransomware Attacks

CryptoLocker

Cryptolocker was one of 2010’s first global ransomware attacks; it infected more than 500,000 computers at its peak in 2013 and 2014. A botnet, distributed through spam email, was used to encrypt user files. Overall, CryptoLocker harvested around $3 million with its variants taken into account.

Teslacrypt

Gamers were aimed at TeslaCrypt, capitalizing on the importance that devoted users put on files such as saved maps, sports, and material for downloadable video games. For ransom, it encrypted these files. Interestingly enough, the attack developers ended up releasing the encryption key publicly.

Simplelocker

SimpleLocker is one of the first smartphone ransomware attacks on a wide scale. It encrypts mobile files through a Trojan downloader, targeting Android users.

Wannacry

One of 2017’s most notable attacks, WannaCry has raced across the United States and Europe, affecting hospitals in particular. A noted Microsoft vulnerability known as EternalBlue took advantage of the attack. Although the patch was released, many systems were unable to implement updates and were left vulnerable, leading to a high volume of infections.

Is there a way to avoid this? 

Preventive mechanisms 

Proactive approaches are a must when it comes to preventing ransomware attacks. An organization needs to plan to stop a computer infection, similar to immunizing yourself from a physical virus.

Update Security – New variants of ransomware are regularly published. Safety tools and operating systems are continuously modified to prevent becoming the target of the latest upgrade. Upgrade any obsolete and unpatched applications and keep up to date on anti-virus rules and signatures. Do not make the work of cybercriminals easy.

Bolster Firewalls- To distinguish and evaluate different kinds of network traffic, firewalls are used. Data is provided when ransomware attacks are publicized to help filter out the threat. In WannaCry, for example, the call was to directly reject all (TCP) Port 445-SMB, (UDP) 137, (UDP) 138, and (TCP) 139 traffic.

Back up your files regularly and frequently – The harm caused by a ransomware attack can be greatly reduced by getting vigilant data backup processes in place, as encrypted data can be recovered without paying a ransom.