Every six seconds some cybercriminal launches a hack attack. Actually, I don’t know this to be the case. It could happen even more frequently, given all the firepower out there! Most of them are pretty much by the book: a spear phishing attack using some savvy social engineering, a lookalike domain tricked up to look identical to the site it’s spoofing, an email containing a link that in a moment of fatigue or all-too-human excitement (What do you mean I can get iTunes gift cards for 30% off?!) you click on, even though you know better.
These types of attacks are familiar to most security people. If you’re moderately savvy, awake and not too distracted, you most likely will not fall for them. However, a few types of hack attacks exist in a scary realm all their own. They’re spine-tingling because you have no control over them, or you didn’t see them coming. And once you do a post-mortem on them, it feels like you stepped into a horror movie. And you can imagine watching others in the same situation, as you scream: Don’t click that link! Don’t believe that certificate! Don’t send that data without encrypting it!
Given that Halloween is just around the corner, I can’t think of a better time to scare you out of your wits. Let’s begin!
IoT Botnet Zombies!
I put this one first because you’re probably familiar with this one. The Mirai botnet first became news two years ago when a zombie botnet army made up of thousands of IoT devices using default passwords distributed Mirai malware to launch DDoS attacks. It took down DNS service provider Dyn and led to internet outages on such well-known sites as Spotify, Amazon and Twitter.
Since then, the problem has only gotten worse. DataBreachToday’s Mathew Schwartz writes: “[N]ew generations of botnets are continuing to probe for internet-connected devices that they can easily compromise, often via a vastly expanded list of default usernames and passwords.”
These botnet armies are scary even though we know about them. They’re relentless. But focusing on machine identity protection may quell some of your fears. In fact, Schwartz quotes Timothy Easton, a threat researcher at Sophos, who says: “[I]t’s preferable to use SSH keys instead of passwords for logins.”
Unsecured Printers from Hell!
How often do you think about a laser printer, any laser printer, as long as it works? You may have an impeccable security ecosystem, but chances are printers are not a part of your security strategy. Recent statistics show less than 2% of business printers are secured!
Printers are machines in their own right, so it isn’t just a matter of making sure you don’t leave sensitive information sitting in your printer’s output bin (although you should educate your employees not to do so). Hackers can also break into your network via your printer in three additional ways:
Stored Data in the Data Queue: Similar to computer RAM, printers hold stored printer data. And a devious hacker can not only steal that information, they can also get metadata on that data, such as the person requesting the hard copy.
The Printer BIOS: Hackers can access a printer’s BIOS just as they would on a PC, and using malware or another means, steal data long before you realize what happened.
Printer Data in Transit: If printer data moves through your network unencrypted, a hacker can intercept that information as it travels through your network.
As with zombie IoT botnets, you can protect your printers from attack by encrypting any data passing through them and through SSH keys rather than passwords.
The Azure Blob!
The recently discovered Azure Blobattack may be the scariest of all the hacks I’ve discussed. Microsoft’s Azure Blob storage stores unstructured data online, and when you connect to it using HTTPS, you see a legitimate SSL certificate from Microsoft itself, assuring you of its validity.
Now hackers have begun storing phishing forms that target Microsoft service logins, impersonating Microsoft with the help of Microsoft’s own legitimate certificates. When you click the email link (Don’t click that link!), you’re taken to a login form that appears to have a legitimate Microsoft Blob URL. And because Office 365 hosts the form, this page will come complete with a Microsoft-issued certificate.
You enter your credentials expecting to see the document you’re expecting, but instead of being taken to that PDF, you’re taken to Microsoft’s SharePoint product page. Now anything related to Microsoft could send me screaming just on its own (No, not the Excel spreadsheet! Anything but the Excel spreadsheet!),but the creativity of this hack should leave all of us scared, no matter what time of year it is.
What are some of your scariest hack attacks? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!