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The History Of Ransomware

A ransomware is a malicious program that infects a target device and gains control. The program encrypts files and blocks the user access to the infected data (or system) until the targeted organization pays the ransom to the attackers. Although the instances of ransomware attacks have gained momentum lately, it is actually a primitive cybersecurity threat.

Here is a brief account of history of ransomware:

  • First Ransomware: The first known ransomware attack was recorded in 1989. The attack was carried out by Joseph Popp, an AIDS researcher. He distributed 20,000 floppy disks containing a malicious program to AIDS researchers across 90 countries. He made pretence that the floppy disks contained a survey program. It was a basic ransomware attack and since then ransomware attacks have evolved and have acquired an array of advanced features.
  • Locker Ransomware: In 2007, a new category of ransomware malware appeared. It was known as Locker Ransomware. This type of ransomware did not encrypt files; instead it locked the victim out of the device preventing him from using it. Another ransomware that operated on this technique is known as WinLock. The ransomware employed worms such as Citadel, Lyposit, and Reveton for displaying a fine message from a law enforcement agency. The ransomware demanded $10 as ransom in exchange for the unlocking code.
  • Scareware: After a few years, the attackers changed their strategy. They started capitalizing on the fear of ransomware by spreading fake applications and antivirus programs. In these types of ransomware attacks, the malicious applications attack a target device and display a pop up message saying that the device has been infected with viruses. The message encourages the victim to visit a website and pay for antivirus software for fixing the problem. The link mentioned in the message redirects the user to a malicious website designed to look authentic and legitimate. After a few years, cyber criminals understood that they can compromise any website instead of designing fake websites. They switched to automated ransomware attacks the included phishing emails as vectors.
  • Crypto Ransomware: In 2013, first cryptographic ransomware emerged. It was known as CryptoLocker. It was launched by Gameover ZeuS bot and was sent as an email attachment. Once downloaded, the ransomware encrypted the files on the device and demanded a bitcoin payment for unlocking the files.
  • Ransomware-As-A-Service: It is the latest step in the evolution of ransomware. It first appeared in 2015 with the Tox toolkit launch. This gave beginner cybercriminals a chance to develop custom ransomware tools with advanced capabilities.

Centex Technologies offers cybersecurity solutions to businesses. For more information on, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Popular Modern Hacking Techniques

The year 2020 has witnessed a shift in the digital ecosystem as major number of employees have taken a turn towards working from home. Thus, most organizational networks are now being accessed remotely by employees sitting at diverse locations spanning across the globe. This has given rise to new opportunities for hackers who are exploring different techniques to disrupt the vulnerable networks.

Here is a list of popular modern hacking techniques:

  • H2C Smuggling: H2C stands for HTTP/2 cleartext. These attacks abuse H2C unaware front-ends to create a tunnel to backend systems. This enables the attackers to bypass frontend rewrite rules and exploit internal HTTP headers.
  • Portable Data exFiltration: Cross Site Scripting (XSS) attacks are extensively being used to compromise data stored in PDF files and exfiltrate it to a remote server. The rate of these attacks has extensively increased with the increasing popularity of server-side PDF generation such as generation of e-tickets, boarding passes, etc. These PDF documents often contain sensitive information including bank details, passport numbers, addresses, and other personal data. In this attack, a malicious injection vector is injected into the PDF. When a user clicks on the link or anywhere in the PDF, the hacker can extract all the sensitive information entered by the user.
  • TLS Attacks: Exploiting features of TLS (Transport Layer Security) makes it possible to land Server Side Request Forgery attacks. The attack technique involves exploiting technologies involved with TLS session caching. The hacker can manipulate the session to send a TLS session ID ticket or psk (pre-shared key) identity to his server.
  • NAT Slipstreaming: NAT slipstreaming exploits the victim’s browser in conjunction with the Application Level Gateway (ALG) connection tracking mechanism built into NATs, routers, and firewalls. This is done by chaining internal IP extraction via timing attack or WebRTC, automated remote MTU and IP fragmentation discovery, protocol confusion through browser abuse, etc. As the destination ports are opened by NAT or firewall, this helps in bypassing any browser-based port restrictions.

Understanding of the hacking techniques is essential to formulate effective prevention strategy against modern hacking attacks. An effective prevention strategy is important to ensure the safety of organization’s network and individual user systems. A loophole in the cyber security strategy can cause major losses in terms of stolen data, user information, business secrets, etc.

For more information on popular modern hacking techniques, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.        

Basics Of Cyber Security Strategy

In a practical environment, a cyber security strategy is actually an amalgamation of multiple strategies. Cyber security professionals employ different strategies in coordination with each other in order to ensure a multidimensional protection against cyber threats.

Here is a brief guide to cyber security strategies:

Creating A Secure Cyber Ecosystem: The cyber ecosystem involves a wide range of entities including devices, individuals, management, private organizations, etc. which interact with each other. This strategy emphasizes on having a robust cyber ecosystem that would permit its devices to interact in a secure manner. A strong cyber ecosystem has three symbiotic structures – automation, interoperability, and authentication.

Creating An Assurance Framework: The basic objective of this strategy is to design an outline in compliance with global security standards. The framework that is designed is in compliance with industry wide standards, guidelines, and practices. These parameters help businesses to manage cyber security related risks.

Encouraging Industry Standards: Standards help in defining the outline of how an organization approaches the information security related issues. Implementation of cyber security standards enhance the efficiency of security processes, enable systems incorporations, provide a medium to test new applications, organize the approach to arrange new technologies in the cyber framework, etc.

Creating Mechanisms For IT Security: Different IT security mechanisms differ in their internal application features and attributes of security they provide. Following are the common IT security mechanisms:

  • Link Oriented Measures
  • End-To-End Measures
  • Association-Oriented Measures
  • Data Encryption

Protecting Critical Information: Critical information such as user data, login credentials, financial data, business trade secrets, etc. is the backbone of any organization. Safeguarding critical information against growing cyber threats needs a structured approach. This strategy can be implemented via following steps:

  • Defining critical information
  • Categorizing the available information
  • Prioritizing information categories
  • Securing the most critical information
  • Testing the framework
  • Securing the second category and repeating the cycle

Security As A Service: SaaS providers offer a cyber security solution with different attributes to meet diverse cyber security needs of organizations. This strategy can be implemented based on 5 C’s:

  • Change – Organizations face changing pressures from different sources such as competitive threats, new regulations, internal threats, cyber threats, etc. SaaS model enable organizations to respond to these changes quickly.
  • Compliance – SaaS solutions are designed keeping in mind the governances, regulations, etc.
  • Cost – SaaS provides an alternative cyber security solution allowing the in-house IT teams to focus on core business.
  • Continuity – Multi-tenant SaaS services are hosted in highly reliable data centers with built-in redundancy.
  • Coverage – SaaS solutions offer clear benefits with geographically dispersed sites allowing easy management of remote users.

For more information on basics of cyber security strategy, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654. 

What Is SQL Injection Attack?

SQL injection (SQLi) attacks exploit existing vulnerabilities to alter SQL queries by injecting malicious code. If successful, SQL injection attacks can allow the cyber attackers to modify database information, access sensitive data, execute administrator tasks on the database, and recover files from the target system. In extreme cases, attackers can also issue commands to the database operating system.

In order to defend against SQL injection attacks, it is imperative to understand the working of the attack.

How Does A SQL Injection Attack Work?

Cyber criminals may use several different types of SQL injections to execute an attack. Here are some common variants of SQL injections:

  • SQL Injection Based On User Input: In this type of SQL attack, the user inputs are used to inject malicious code and gain access to the system. Web applications accept user inputs via forms. The information collected by these forms is then passed on to the database for processing. If the web application server does not screen the forms, the attacker can inject SQL statements via user input form fields and delete, copy, or modify the contents of the database.
  • SQL Injection Based On Cookies: In this approach to SQL injection, the cookies are modified to infect database queries. Web applications often load cookies to use data stored in them as part of database operations. The malicious users or a malware installed on the system can modify the cookies to inject SQL statement in the backend database. Once infected, cyber attackers can access the database to steal, modify or delete the data stored in the database.
  • SQL Injection Based On HTTP Headers: Some web applications are designed to accept inputs from HTTP headers. In such cases, malicious actors create fake headers containing arbitrary SQL statements. When the web application accepts input from these fake HTTP headers, the malicious code is injected into the database.
  • Second Order SQL Injection: These are most complex SQL injection attacks because they are designed in a way that allows the SQL code to lie dormant in the system for a long time.

What Is The Impact Of SQL Injection Attacks?

SQL injection attacks can cause various harms to the victim system:

  • Steal user credentials resulting in identity theft.
  • Access information stored in database server.
  • Alter or add new information to infected database.
  • Delete database records leading to DoS attacks.

 For more information on SQL injection attack, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.

Guide To Web Application Penetration Testing

In a dynamic cyber security environment, it is important to test the security protocols of your web application at regular intervals. An effective approach is to check how the security system will react if the application is actually attacked.

Web application penetration testing is a simulation technique that simulates attacks against the web application to help developers and cyber security teams identify any cyber security flaws, weaknesses and vulnerabilities for timely remediation. This type of testing can be used to identify vulnerabilities across web application components and APIs including backend network, database and source code.

Types Of Penetration Testing:

Depending upon the location of attack, web application penetration testing can be classified into two types:

  • External Penetration Testing: In this type, the web application is attacked from outside. The penetration test simulates the way an external attacker would launch an attack against the web application. This type of testing helps in checking firewalls and server security protocols.
  • Internal Penetration Testing: In this type of penetration testing, the attacks against the web application are launched from within the organization. The testing is usually performed through LAN connections. The goal off internal penetration testing is to identify vulnerabilities that might exist within the firewall. This type of testing helps in understanding the reaction of web application security system in case of a malicious insider attack.

Another important aspect of consideration when testing web application security is level of access. Following types of web application penetration testing can be performed to test the level of access and scope of knowledge:

  • Black Box Penetration Testing: This type of web application penetration testing simulates cyber security attacks that may be launched by external attackers who have no prior knowledge of targeted system.
  • Gray Box Penetration Testing: This type of web application penetration testing checks the response of security systems in case of an insider attack launched by internal threat actors having user level access to certain systems.
  • White Box Penetration Testing: This is a comprehensive penetration testing that simulates cyber security attacks that may be launched by a threat actor having root level or administrator access to the web application servers and data.

How Is Penetration Test Executed?

Planning:

  • Define the scope of test.
  • Provide required information and documentation to the tester.
  • Determine success criteria of the test.

Execution:

  • Run the test several times.
  • Follow pre-defined success and reporting criteria.
  • Create a clear & detailed report.

Post-Execution:

  • Provide recommendation for remediating vulnerabilities.
  • Re-test to check if remediation was effective.
  • Once all tests are concluded, revert the system to original configuration.

For more information on web application penetration testing, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.         

History Sniffing Cyber Attacks

History Sniffing is an umbrella term that defines different techniques used to monitor the web browser history for diverse purposes including the launch of a cyber attack. Although it is an old trick, the technique is still being used for victimizing internet users. In the recent times, studies have shown a rise in the types and numbers of history sniffing cyber attacks for the sheer ease of launching such attacks.

How Is History Sniffing Cyber Attack Launched?

  • The cyber attackers create fake online advertisement and preload attacker code in this ordinary looking advertizement.
  • The code is embedded with a list of target websites (the websites that hackers want to know if the user has visited).
  • When user clicks on the advertizement, the code starts running and checks the browsing history for target websites.
  • If the user has visited any of the target websites, the program will indicate a match to the hacker.
  • The hackers then redirect the victim to corresponding fake version of the website to cause further damage.

How Are History Sniffing Attacks Used?

The data collected by history sniffing attacks is used as a foundation for other types of cyber attacks by hackers.

  • Phishing: Hackers use history sniffing techniques to find out the financial organization websites visited by the victim. This data is then used to launch customized phishing attacks which automatically match every victim to a fake page of actual financial organization. The victims are tricked into filling their financial details which can be used by hackers to steal money from users’ accounts.
  • Stalking: History sniffing can be used to stalk internet users by keeping an eye on their browsing behavior. Hackers may keep a track of social media pages or locations saved in the browser history. Stalking may cause some serious problems for the victim such as kidnapping, physical damage, assault, etc.
  • Identity Theft: It is common for internet users to save their login details or choose the option to ‘keep Logged In’ on their browser. Hackers can use history sniffing coupled with other malicious code to check the social media profiles logged in on the browser and access these profiles to pose as the user. They can further use these accounts to send unauthorized messages, post fake news, etc.

For more information on history sniffing cyber attacks, call Centex Technologies at (972) 375 - 9654.