Phishing

New Phishing Attack Targets Gmail Users

PhishingIncreased awareness is taking place concerning a phishing attack. It has been around for over a year and is targeting Gmail users. Inboxes are being infiltrated by hackers, which is allowing these cyber criminals access to both incoming and outgoing email messages. That in and of itself isn’t the shocker. What is more surprising is what happens next. Hackers look for emails that have links attached and replace them with a Gmail login screen that is malicious. Once the user clicks on the attachment, they will see a Gmail login screen prompting the login and password for that account. Once this happens, the hackers have instant access to sensitive login information, making it easy for them to see a whole new inbox to start the process over from.

Here’s how it works…

Let’s say someone sends you an email that has a Word document attached to it. That email is sent from their Gmail account to your Gmail account. Your account becomes hacked, which opens it up to cyber criminals who can get in and put that malicious Gmail login screen in place of the attached Word document. Now when you click on that attachment, you follow the prompts to sign into your Gmail account. Instead of opening the document as you thought it would, it gives hackers full access to your password so they can get into your account. They grab more email addresses from your list and repeat the cycle.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks take place when malicious links, malware or attachments sent by hackers infect your account through the emails they send. They are certainly nothing new, but they are always changing and evolving, becoming more sophisticated and tough to catch.

This Gmail attack is a great example of that. Usually there are several red flags associated with a phishing attack that make it easy to avoid being infected. But with this attack, it comes from an email thread that seems familiar and trusted. You usually don’t know the sender, whereas in this Gmail attack, you most likely do know the sender. It’s easy to suspect a hacker when you see urgent messages in your email, telling you to please open immediately. It could be under the guise of overdue bills, an invoice that has a mistake, package tracking info, etc. Because it is coming from a trusted source, you click on the malicious attachment, giving the hackers the info they are looking for. One tip is to watch out for spelling and grammar mistakes. The hackers are counting on the fact that you won’t think twice about it if it’s coming from an email you already deem safe. If you see spelling errors, be careful about what you click on. Also, be wary of any screen prompting you to log into your account when you’re already logged in! Many people miss the small but obvious signs of a phishing attack.

Stay safe online with more tips from Tech Sentries! Call us at 843-282-2222.

computer encryption Myrtle Beach

Computer Encryption and How it Works

computer encryption Myrtle BeachKeeping others from being able to see the content on your computer is your right. No justification is needed—only appropriate action. In today’s political climate, computer security is one of the most common questions we are asked here at Tech Sentries. These questions often deal with protecting your data, keeping the government out of your affairs, and even encryption. If you don’t know what encryption means, much less how it’s used, this article is for you!

So Just What Does Computer Encryption Mean?

Basically, encryption involves scrambling text into a unique code using mathematics. Special encryption software uses algorithms to generate these codes from your text. Unless you are a person who knows how to unlock this code, it will look like unrecognizable nonsense.

The key to unlock encryption is referred to as a cipher. They have been used in many ways for the last 2000 years. Due to their complexity, it can take many years for any person or computer to successfully decode or unlock the cipher.

The truth is we all use computer encryption everyday but might not be aware of it. Did you know that each time you log into your bank account, join a Wi-Fi network or shop on an HTTPS site you are using encryption? These types of transactions use encryption called “in transit,” which deals with information transferred over the internet. If a file or disk gets encrypted on a computer, it’s referred to as “in place or at rest” encryption.

To put it simply, think of encryption as bits. The standard encryption key uses 256 bits, which literally has billions of possible cipher combos. The math is downright overwhelming! The two most common encryption types are symmetrical and asymmetrical. This simply means that with symmetrical, the same key is used to both lock and unlock the encrypted files. The opposite is true of asymmetrical—one key locks it and another unlocks it. The latter is the more commonly used method.

How Does Computer Encryption Work?

Certain software is used that creates ciphers which are highly complicated. This is what will scramble the data in your folders and files. Often, the encryption is so complicated that it can only be read once unless properly decrypted or “unlocked.” While a supercomputer or superhuman might be able to decode the encryption, it would likely take many years. Instead, encryption software can be installed like other programs and you will need a strong password to protect the files it encrypts. The password is your cipher to unlock everything so it is crucial to choose wisely when creating this password. Here are some tips:

  1. Don’t use words from the dictionary
  2. Try creating a phrase rather than just a word
  3. The more characters, the stronger the password
  4. If possible, use combinations of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters such as (#$%&!).

You might have a file with one or more lines of text in it that could be dangerous. If you enter that line into your encryption software, it would take the line of text and convert it to a long combination of letters, numbers and characters that would make no sense to anyone unless decoded. It may end up looking far longer than your original line of text, which makes it even harder for a hacker to get to it.

Should I Encrypt My Data?

For the most part, we strongly encourage everyone to encrypt their data. Even more so if you use tablets and/or laptops. Encryption goes a long way in protecting you from spying eyes of thieves, hackers, and even government. It also prevents malware and other viruses from getting into your data. The simple fact that it takes your carefully chosen password to unlock your files makes encryption worth it—everyone who values their privacy and security should use it!

There are a few options depending on what device you’re using.

Each of these options works in much the same way. Enable or install the encryption program, set a drive or folder, give it a secure password and encrypt. Just do not forget that password!

What About Backdoors?

The term “backdoors” has come up when certain officials aren’t happy with security companies not providing them a “backdoor” way to access encrypted files. Government seems to always want to put more surveillance in place and they don’t take too kindly to companies refusing to provide them with a hidden key that would allow them access to the data they want whenever they choose. Fortunately, no backdoor access is currently being enforced and we have no reason to believe that these security companies are building any backdoor access to their encrypted data files.

The bottom line is encrypting your files is legal, free and easy to do. If you run a business or just have personal files you don’t ever want anyone gaining access to, computer encryption is the safest thing to do!

For more information about computer encryption and computer security, call Tech Sentries today! (843) 282-2222.

Scam Alert Myrtle Beach

Protecting Yourself From Email Scams During The Holidays

Fraud Alert Myrtle Beach

 

During the holidays, it’s extra important to be aware of email scams as you’re sending and receiving your holiday gifts and packages. One of the more common scams during this season are the fake delivery notices that you have a package waiting. Consumers are once again reporting this scam at an alarming rate so we wanted to help you be aware of what it is and what it looks like

What Does This Email Scam Look Like?

The scam works like this: An email is sent by the scammers with the subject line reading something like “Delivery Failure From USPS.” There will be a link to click on to find out why your package wasn’t able to be delivered. As soon as you click on that link, you’ve opened up your computer for the virus. Some of the lingo used might look something like this:

USPS.com

You have a package that your postman was unable to deliver.

Please print the label provided to you through this link and take it to your nearest post office to retrieve your package.

NEVER CLICK ON THE LINK!

Clicking on links associated with these email scams can open up a host of issues. The biggest risk is downloading a virus to your hard drive. This allows your sensitive information to become exposed and easily stolen. Scammers would have access to your passwords, credit card info and other financial data.

Often, malicious ransomware and malware infect your computer without you ever even knowing it. Once you attempt to sign into various accounts online, the email scammers will use a mirroring program to record your actions and they will use that to steal every bit of personal information they can get their hands on.

It isn’t just the post office dealing with these scams—UPS and FedEx also have fallen prey to hackers and scammers. The scary part is the scammers will use official looking logos and websites to make themselves look legit. You will receive notices that look completely official from the shipping companies, making it hard to know when you are dealing with an email scam.

Protecting Yourself

Stay aware! If you get emails that you don’t think you should be getting from either the post office or a major shipping company, do not click links within that email! Even though you may be waiting on a package, it’s better to deal with the company directly, rather than risking a virus by clicking on a link.

Be on the lookout for any phone calls claiming to be employees of any of these agencies. If you are called and asked for sensitive information, never provide that info until you know for sure who you are dealing with!

Look for obvious errors in grammar and spelling on any emails or other communication. It’s usually a dead give-away that you’re dealing with an email scammer.

Never answer texts you aren’t sure about. This, too, can open you up for email scams.

You can never be too careful when it comes to your personal information this holiday season! It’s ok to be suspicious of any text, email or phone call that you aren’t sure about. If you are expecting a package, always deal directly with the shipping company!

For more information on how to protect yourself from email scammers during the holidays, call us today at Tech Sentries! Our number is 843-282-2222.

Remember “Think Before You Click!”

Which Generation Is More Likely To Fall Victim To Online Scammers?

Scammers Myrtle BeachDid you know that elderly people aren’t necessarily the most likely to be scammed online? Well, the Better Business Bureau issued a report stating that its Millennials and Generation X’ers who are the most likely to be a victim of scammers. The reason? The elderly population are far more likely to actually report the incident of a scam before financial loss occurs. In fact, over 90% of them will report it sooner than the younger generation. Even though Millennials and Generation X’ers are far more tech savvy, they are far slower to report being scammed, making them much more likely to lose money as a result.

Oddly enough, many of these younger people never reported the scam activity because they never actually believed they were really a victim. Even though they may feel they are immune to malware attacks and other scammers, none of us are immune to it. Staying aware and being informed is your best defense, no matter how old you are! Knowledge is power when it comes to protecting yourself against online scams. If you fail to report being scammed in a timely manner, your chances of suffering a financial loss will increase dramatically! The elderly population seem to know this.

One other important factor worth noting is that the individual’s online activity can play into becoming a victim of scams. This is because of online shopping and other retail websites visited by younger people. Individuals under the age of 45 tend to shop online much more than the older generation, thereby making them more susceptible to online scammers and malware.

The bottom line for a take-away lesson here is to always be aware of the fact that you are as much at risk for being scammed as anyone else. If you are solicited to spend money, sign up for various websites and their services, or even asked to click on a link you receive in your email, STOP and THINK before you click anything! Make sure that you are spending only in secure websites with secure methods of payments. If you have any questions about what you are seeing, call the BBB and ask them to verify the site or company before you spend any money or click any links that could cost you dearly!

While it is possible to recover a financial loss, it’s very difficult if it is not reported immediately! To get the absolute best protection, call Tech Sentries today! We can apply the best application whitelisting technology which will block unsafe or unwanted programs from ever opening. Let us show you how easy it is to be protected so you can keep your mind on the things that matter most to you!

Just Give Me Your Personal Information and Everything Will Be Fine

A woman visiting a Myrtle Beach resort recently report a scam in which her credit card was charged close to $2,000 – in California!

The scam is neither new nor localized. In 2015 a Memphis hotel guest fell for the same scam and soon discovered $1,000 in unauthorized charges on his card.

Information, Please

Personal Information Myrtle Beach

The scam is simple. The scammer calls the hotel room and identifies themselves as “so and so and the front desk.” He or she goes on to explain that the hotel’s credit card system has crashed or that there was a minor problem with their credit card when they registered. All they need is to read your credit card information to them again over the phone.

The problem is that the call did not originate at the front desk. In fact, it could originate from nearly anywhere, as long as the caller sounds sincere.

Don’t Think You’d Fall for That? Think Again.

What if you were doing research on the internet and a window pops up on a website indicating that the information you want is a “secure file” or “protected document?” It’s not a problem. All you need to do is provide the requested personal information and you will be given access to the file.

Same scam. Different playground. Fooled you! Whether it is done on the phone or on the internet, the scammers are phishing, and you have taken the bait, hook, line, and sinker.

Be Smarter Than the Scammers

A simple rule: Never give out your personal information. The tighter you hold onto it, the less likely it is to be stolen.

A simple question: Was your information really stolen? Or, did you voluntarily give it away.

A simple strategy: THINK before you give out your personal information. It’s nice to be nice and cooperative, but it’s stupid to be stupid and cooperative.

A simple precaution: If you receive an email that asks you to view a secure or protected document by clicking a link, delete the email. Do not open. Do not pass Go. Do not lose $200.00 (or more).

For more information, please call Tech Sentries at 843-282-2222.

Your Mobile Phone Calls May Be Up for Grabs

mobile phone security

You’ve seen the cell phone intercepts, tracking, and cloning in the movies and on TV. It’s scary, but you know that it is make-believe.

You’ve read the headlines about the NSA listening in on cellular conversations. That’s really scary, but you don’t really care because you think that they won’t be listening to you. You have nothing to hide.

Think again. The NSA’s favorite son, Edward Snowden says that you should care.

“Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”

IMSI Catcher Development

IMIS catchers were developed in the mid-1990s. Referred to in the vernacular as “grabbers,” IMSI catchers are cellular monitoring devices. Of course, since no one wants anyone else to be able to be able to monitor their calls, the original versions were marketed as anti-terrorism equipment.

Just in case you are wondering, IMSI is the acronym for International Mobility Subscriber Identity. And, if you are thinking that cellular monitoring requires a technologically advanced war room deep inside the NSA (or China), be warned that, as rapidly as technology advances, so does the technology require for grabbing your subscriber identity and call data.

Don’t think for a minute that wearable technology is only about being healthy and fit. As far back as 2013, body-worn IMSI catchers were advertised “for covert snooping.” According to published reports,

“The device is small enough to fit under a shirt. It needs from one to 90 seconds to capture the international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) or international mobile equipment identity (IMEI) of the person being tracked. It works on all GSM-based networks regardless of country and is fully operational even when functioning in a moving vehicle.”

IMSI Catcher Distribution

The distribution of IMSI catchers is kind of like hand grenades. They may be advertised as anti-terror devices, but they can also be used to create the thing they were designed to prevent. And, they are illegal in most places.

While it’s not always clear whether grabbers are illegal (technology moves faster than legislators), like hand grenades, not many of us want our neighbors to own them. It’s not a matter of whether they are legal or not. It is a matter of whether they will use them.

We should all be able to take comfort in the knowledge that our neighbors would never be able to obtain a hand grenade – or a grabber. We should be able to, but we can’t – because they can. Most ostensibly, Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce website offers a grabber for $1,800 USD.

Do a Google search for IMSI catcher under the Shopping tab. The good news is there is only one SERP. The bad news is that there are any. It should also not warm the cockles of your heart to see that there are nearly 15,000 searches per month for IMSI catcher. Who are those people and why are they searching for this?”

IMSI Detection

All is not lost. Android IMSI Catcher Detector (AIMSICD) is an app designed to “detect and avoid fake base stations.” SnoopSnitch is available from Security Research labs in the Google Play Store, but its application is somewhat limited at this time. Signal, RedPhone, TextSecure, and ChatSecure apps are all robust enough to shield the content of your personal communications.

What happens on your cell phone should stay on your cell phone. Especially if you are Anthony Weiner.

Call Tech Sentries today for all your security needs.

New Age of Security

mobile-security

Open Whisper Systems has taken mobile device voice and texting to a new level with the release of its Signal 2.0 app.

The original version of the free, open source, encryption app for iOS encrypted calls between phones on which the Signal app was installed. Version 2.0 add encryption for SMS text message as well as voice communication. This is but another step in the agile development process for which the objective is “a unified app that will work on iPhones, Android-based phones, and desktops.”

Signal 2.0 ensures complete end-to-end encryption of voice and text based on the TextSecure protocol. The app has already been cited as easy to use and, although it is open-source, it nonetheless features forward secrecy, eliminating the potential for a once hacked, always hacked scenario. In other words, if someone is able to decrypt your message, they will not be able to do so to future messages, because forward security utilizes a new, random key for every session.

The Humorous Side of Cellular Security

In most cases, there is no humorous aspect to security. It is interesting at the very least to note that some Signal users have complained that the app requests access to their contact list. This is a case of being overly sensitive about messaging security that goes back to the days of tin can and string telecommunications. Just as that communication required another person with a tin can attached at the other end of the string, so does modern encryption technology.

And, just as it would be foolish to speak into a tin can and a string without the string being attached to the right person with another tin can, so it is necessary that the app knows that the person you want to contact has his or her own tin can.

The Serious Side of Cellular Security

Lest we forget, there are even government agencies that would like to eavesdrop on our messages. The forward secrecy aspect of Signal 2.0 stymies their efforts as well. The significance of this matter has not been overlooked by the popular WhatsApp. Although not yet fully encrypted over all platforms, WhatsApp has partnered wth Open Whisper for encryption of their own messaging system.

Cellular security is, indeed important, for governments, businesses, and individuals. Ask anyone (except Hillary Clinton). The Intercept recently issued the following caveat.

“It’s important to keep in mind that no technology is 100 percent secure, and an encrypted messaging app can only be as secure as the device you install it on. Intelligence agencies and other hackers can still exploit security bugs that have not been fixed, known as zero-day exploits, to take over smartphones and bypass the encryption that privacy apps employ. But apps like Signal go a long way to making mass surveillance of billions of innocent people infeasible.”

Call Tech Sentries if you have any doubt about your security. We provide peace of mind.

Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

safe-modeJust when you thought it was safe in the water … Well, you know the rest of the story.

Just because something looks safe, that does not mean that mean that it is. In fact, it now appears that just because something says that it is safe, no longer means that it actually is.

Unfortunately, that now applies to your computer’s Windows’ OS Safe Mode.

No Safe Is Safe

We should all be aware by now that there is no such thing as a safe safe. The infamous Willie Sutton claimed that there would never be a safe that he could not crack. The theory is simple: If you can figure out how to build a safer safe, someone else can figure out how to break into it.

That is precisely what has happened to Windows’ Safe Mode. That even includes computers with Windows 10’s Virtual Safe Mode, according to a report released on September 15, 2016, by CyberArk Labs.

It’s Kind of Like Judo

The attacks on Safe Mode are similar to the fundamental concepts behind Judo and other martial arts. Leverage the other person’s strengths against them. In this case, the strength is Safe Mode and hackers can now use it against you and your business.

The strength of Safe Mode is that it allows users to boot their PCs and servers using only those tools that are essential to the operating system. Put another way, the computer or server booted in Safe Mode restricts the operation of third-party software. That can – and often does – include security software.

Safe This Way

This new innovation of hack enters through the door where you least expect it – the one that is marked “Safe This Way.” While that may sound innocuous enough, to a safecracker more like an invitation. Hackers see it the same way. We think it identifies a safe route or place. Safecrackers and hackers see it as the route to the place where the safe is.

From the hackers’ perspective, “Once in Safe Mode, logins can be stolen and otherwise with defeated pass-the-hash lateral techniques can be used to compromise other networked machines. A fake login screen can be shown using a COM object technique to emulate a normal boot and cloak Safe Mode. Users who then type in their credentials assuming a normal reboot will hand their logins to attackers.

Once attackers break through the perimeter and gain local administrator privileges on an infected Windows-based machine, they can remotely activate Safe Mode to bypass and manipulate endpoint security measures.

In Safe Mode, the attackers are able to freely run tools to harvest credentials and laterally move to connected systems – all while remaining undetected.”

What Should We Do Now?

Unfortunately, not much. However, we advise the following precautionary measures per CyberArk’s and PC Pit Stop’s advice: Network administrators should

  • cycle privileged account credentials to disrupt pass-the-hash attacks
  • enforce the least privilege by stripping local administrator rights
  • deploy security tools capable of running in Safe Mode.\
  • ensure your operating system and applications are updated
  • run a security scan at least once a week
  • think before you click

Finally, read our newsletters and releases to stay abreast of threats and ways to prevent them. And don’t be afraid of the dark.

For any further information, please contact Tech Sentries at 843-282-2222.

dropbox got hacked

The Sky Is Falling! The Sky Is Falling! Dropbox Got Hacked!

“Have you heard?dropbox got hacked

Dropbox was hacked!” 

“Oh no! When did that happen?”

“In 2012.”

“Now you’re telling me?”

 

If No News Is Good News Does That Make Old News Bad News?

Well, it’s a little bit of both. The good news is that it is old news. Dropbox has fixed their security issues. Everything should be fine now.

According to Information Age, “The company was alerted to the breach when users noticed they were receiving spam on email accounts they only used for Dropbox. Their investigation found that usernames and passwords recently stolen from other websites were used to sign in to a small number of Dropbox accounts.” (Emphasis ours.) That item was posted on 01 August 2012. Seems innocuous enough. Things happen.

Now for the bad news. Fortune magazine published a report on 31 August 2016 first released by Motherboard on 30 August 2016. Thanks to these updates, we now know what “a small number” means. To the surprise of many, it is close to 70 million. That’s small compared to the national debt, but it’s kind of a big deal for any of the 68,680,741 accounts whose email addresses and password details were stolen.

 

Don’t Run. Reset.

There is no need to panic (unless you are one of the 68,680,741). What’s done is done. It’s water under the bridge. There is nothing anyone can do to undo what has been done. Dropbox initiated a password reset during the last two weeks of August. According to a Dropbox spokesperson, “We’ve confirmed that the proactive password reset we completed last week covered all potentially impacted users.” That makes you wonder how similar “all potentially impacted” and “a small number” are.

Dropbox recommends that users also reset their passwords as a precautionary measure. Tech Talk has published seven easy steps to enable a two-step verification for Dropbox account access. Those steps are listed below.

  • Sign in to dropbox.com.
  • Click on your name from the upper-right of any page to open your account menu.
  • Click Settings from the account menu and select the Security tab.
  • Under Two-step verification section, click Enable.
  • Click Get started.
  • For security reasons, you’ll be asked to re-enter your password to enable two-step verification. Once you do, you’ll be given the choice to receive your security code by text message or to use a mobile app.
  • After enabling the feature, consider adding a backup phone number that can receive text messages as well. If you ever lose your primary phone, you’ll be able to receive a security code to your backup phone number instead.

That does it. Be good to go. The sky is not falling. We will let you know if it is.

In the meantime, if you need any additional information, contact us here at Tech Sentries at 843-282-2222.

CYBERATTACK – BEYOND THE HEADLINES!

When there’s an attack – cyber or otherwise – there are headlines. Satellite and cable news channels come alive, stirring everyone’s imagination. How did it happen? Who dunnit? What should we do now?

ciber crimeHow long a cyberattack remains a headline depends on the next major story that breaks. That’s just the nature of things. An attack happens, followed by headlines and hoopla, then most everyone moves on.

Unless, the attack happens to you.

No One Is Exempt

Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said that “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lost yours.” We might paraphrase that as “A cyberattack is when you neighbor’s computer is hacked. A disaster is when yours is.” It’s a disaster we all want to avoid.

Every computer device, personal or business, is at risk. What, or whom, is attacked is up to the attacker. We may not even know the reason. One thing we know is that the questions the new commentators are asking are no longer important to us when we have been attacked.

We want to know how this happened and what we can do to prevent it from happening again. And, oh yes, how much damage has been done, and do I still have any money in my bank account? The attack is not a headline that slips silently into oblivion. It can be a disaster felt in FEMA-like magnitude as one wonders what has happened to personally identifiably information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) or, in the case of businesses, intellectual property (IP).

Triage and Recovery

According to a recent report from Deloitte, recovery from a typical cyberattack could take years. All the initial stir in the wake of an attack is simply triage. The efforts to stop attacks in progress, assess damages, and implement remedial action may take days or weeks. But, time is not the only issue. The Deloitte study reveals those early triage activities address less than 10 percent of the actual total impact. The therapy (impact management) and recover process may take years.

Think of it like having a heart attack. The EMTs (Notice that the “T” stands for “technicians”) arrive on the scene quickly to check vital signs and stabilize the injured. Then it’s off to the Emergency Room and, sometimes, Intensive Care. Then…well, you know the rest. Recovery is usually a long road with a low speed limit, with a big medical bill at the end. During the cyberattack recovery process, infrastructure must be repaired, relationships may need to be addressed, and systems may need to be redesigned – all with a big bill at the end.

An Ounce of Prevention

There’s an old adage that parents used to tell their children to teach them to brush their teeth. “They’re just your teeth. Ignore them and they’ll go away.”

Cyberattacks are not like your teeth. They will not go away if you ignore them. Being aware is only the beginning. You must also be prepared.

With technology advancing at an historically unparalleled pace, no individual can keep up with the increasingly stealthy attacks of the nefarious minions who may seek nothing more than to disrupt some anonymous person’s life or business.

The only reasonable remedy that can provably prevent penetrations and intrusions is by using Managed Security Service Providers (MSSP). We are the guys in the white hats. As your partners in the battle against cybercrime, we defend and protect your systems and your information with round-the-clock, automated monitoring. We spot existing and potential threats and stop them before they cause extensive damage and expense.

Contact Tech Sentries today to learn more.  You can reach us at 843-282-2222!

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