Ken “The Virus Doctor” Dwight on Malware Threats at SpiceWorld 2017

The Virus DoctorKen “The Virus Doctor” Dwight and I sat down at SpiceWorld 2017 to discuss ransomware and other malware threats to you and your security. Ken Dwight has been in the cybersecurity business for as long as cybersecurity has been a thing and long before anyone coined the term, cybersecurity.

Ken also offers his book and a Virus Remediation class from his website. He has helped many companies recover from virus infestations, ransomware attacks, and various malware infections. He is a consultant, a speaker, and a practitioner in the dark art of virus killing.

It was a pleasure to speak with Mr. Dwight on camera at SpiceWorld 2017.

Copyright 2017 The SecurityNOW Show. License: CC BY.


Absolute’s Global Security Strategist Richard Henderson discusses 2018’s Security Threats

Richard HendersonRecurring guest Richard Henderson (Global Security Strategist for Absolute) and I discuss what we think are the greatest threats to security in 2018. We ponder ransomware, standard threats, cryptocurrencies, and other advanced persistent threats.  Richard and I agree that 2018 will be another significant security threat year. One thing to note is that while attackers are more persistent, there are some threats that are actually waning such as certain types of ransomware, viruses, and malware that’s easily stopped by smarter browsers, host-based firewalls, and operating system security. That said, we don’t expect attacks to decrease in 2018.

As always, our podcasts are licensed CC BY and are rated G for all audiences and venues.

Length: 29:07 minutes. Format: MP3. Rating: G.

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A Ransomware Discussion with Absolute’s Richard Henderson (Podcast)

RansomwareRichard Henderson, The Global Security Strategist for Absolute, and I spoke about the global Ransomware threat, its prevention, and what to do if you’re victimized by an attack. Richard and I disagree a bit on what you should do if you’re a Ransomware victim. I say that you should never pay. He says that there are circumstances where it makes more sense to pay the ransom.

I write the introductory column for ADMIN magazine and in the most recent issue (Number 40), I wrote about this very topic. I titled it, “Feeding Seagulls is Wrong.” It is a light-hearted look at feeding seagulls, which I compare to ransomware writers. To me, paying ransomware writers is like feeding seagulls: You’re down a bag of Cheetos (Some amount of Bitcoin) and the seagulls (Ransomware writers) are never satisfied.

Listen to the podcast. Read my column. Make a decision. And feel free to tweet me @kenhess to start a discussion.

Podcast details:

Length: 24:11 minutes. Format: MP3. Rating: G for all audiences.

Copyright 2017 The SecurityNOW Podcast Show. CC BY.

Black Hat 2017 Conference Trends with Richard Henderson (Podcast)

Black Hat 2017I’ve never been to a Black Hat Conference but I’d love to go. Richard Henderson, Global Security Strategist for Absolute and regular SecurityNOW podcast guest, is going. Before he left, he shared some ideas and trends for this year’s conference in fabulous Las Vegas.
Richard and I discuss a lot of different things in this episode but our main focus is Black Hat 2017 and what he thinks the trends are going to be.

I think this was a fun one. Unfortunately, Preston was not able to join us, but we had a good time anyway. Richard is always a great guest and I think you’ll enjoy hearing a longer, calmer podcast than usual.

Podcast details:

Length: 36:22 minutes. Format: MP3. Rating: G for all audiences.

Copyright SecurityNOW 2017. License: CC BY

SecurityNOW’s Mid-Year 2017 Cybersecurity Review

HalfPreston and I took a few minutes to recap the year so far in cybersecurity and to catch you up on what’s going on with breaches, security tips, and ransomware. We have a lengthy (for us) conversation that covers all things cybersecurity for the first half of 2017 and all that it had to offer. I want you to pay particular attention to my five rules concerning ransomware. Please take this advice as wisdom from not only Preston and myself but from other cybersecurity professionals as well.

Podcast details:

Length: 33:56 minutes. Format: MP3. Rating: G for all audiences.

True Digital SecurityThis podcast was sponsored by True Digital Security.

Ransom Where? Study shows office not home is a better target

Ransomware InfographicIBM released the results of a study that included complete surveys from 600 businesses and just over 1,000 consumers about their willingness to pay and their paid history with ransomware. The study found that 70 percent of businesses that have experienced ransomware attacks have paid the ransom. In contrast, fewer than 50 percent of consumers hit with ransomware would pay the ransom.

Ransomware extortion is a profitable business. Business executives stated that they would pay between $20,000 and $50,000 to regain access to ransomed data. While smaller businesses are generally better targets because of their lack of training and a general lack of protection, they are less desirable to attack because of their inability to pay large ransoms. Consequently, only 29 percent of the small businesses in the survey had experienced ransomware attacks. Ransomware has grown close to a $1 billion business and there’s no end in sight for the numbers of attacks or the extent to which criminals will go to cash in on victims.

Consumers, who overwhelmingly stated that they would not pay a ransom, changed their minds when asked about paying to regain access to financial data and to their mobile devices. Some consumers would pay $100 or more to the extortionist, however ransoms usually are in the $500 or higher range. 55 percent of parents who have digital pictures of family and children are more willing to pay ransoms to regain access, while only 39 percent of non-parents would pay.

Ransomware is software that locks data using encryption techniques. Once infected, users can’t access the data. The ransomware writers demand a fee paid, usually in bitcoin (a virtually untraceable electronic “currency”), to gain access to the data via a passcode supplied by the extortionist.

Almost 50 percent of the businesses surveyed experienced ransomware attacks and 70 percent of those paid ransoms. Half of those who paid ransoms paid over $10,000 and 20 percent paid over $40,000. Close to 60 percent of the business respondents stated that they would pay a ransom to recover their data.

There are some things you can do to prevent becoming a ransomware victim. IBM’s X-Force experts recommend the following:

  • Be Vigilant: If an email looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be cautious when opening attachments and clicking links.
  • Backup Your Data: Plan and maintain regular backup routines. Ensure that backups are secure, and not constantly connected or mapped to the live network. Test your backups regularly to verify their integrity and usability in case of emergency.
  • Disable Macros: Document macros have been a common infection vector for ransomware in 2016. Macros from email and documents should be disabled by default to avoid infection.
  • Patch and Purge: Maintain regular software updates for all devices, including operating systems and apps. Update any software you use often and delete applications you rarely access.

The three most valuable pieces of advice that we, at SecurityNOW, can offer consumers and businesses is a) Train everyone to delete suspicious emails that manage to make it through your spam detection, b) Keep your computers and devices updated and patched, and c) Use an anti-malware program on every device you own, especially those used by children and less-skilled users.