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Cyber Security

How Cybercriminals Target Cryptocurrency

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Written by Sherrod DeGrippo, Vice President for Threat Research and Detection at Proofpoint

As cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) become more mainstream, and capture headlines for their volatility, there is a greater likelihood of more individuals falling victim to fraud attempting to exploit people for digital currencies.  The rise and proliferation of cryptocurrency have also provided attackers with a new method of financial extraction. It’s commonly believed that cryptocurrency provides more anonymity via less governmental and organizational oversight and visibility coupled with the inherent fungibility, thus making it an appealing financial resource for threat actors. The financially motivated attacks targeting cryptocurrency have largely coalesced under pre-existing attack patterns observed in the phishing landscape prior to the rise of blockchain based currency.

Proofpoint researchers observe multiple objectives demonstrated by cybercriminal threat actors relating to digital tokens and finance such as traditional fraud leveraging business email compromise (BEC) to target individuals, and activity targeting decentralized finance (DeFi) organizations that facilitate cryptocurrency storage and transactions for possible follow-on activity. Both of these threat types contributed to a reported $14 billion in cryptocurrency losses in 2021. In fact, Business Email Compromise topped the list of types of attacks CISOs in UAE expect to face in the coming months with 35% of CISO’s being concerned of potential BEC attacks.

While most attacks require a basic understanding of how cryptocurrency transfers and wallets function, they do not require sophisticated tooling to find success. Common techniques observed when targeting cryptocurrency over email include credential harvesting, the use of basic malware stealers that target cryptocurrency credentials and cryptocurrency transfer solicitation like BEC. These techniques are viable methods of capturing sensitive values which facilitate the transfer and spending of cryptocurrency.

There are multiple DeFi applications and platforms – such as cryptocurrency exchanges – that people can use to manage their cryptocurrency. These platforms often require usernames and passwords, which are potential targets for financially motivated threat actors.

Despite public keys being “safe” to share, researchers are seeing actors solicit the transfer of cryptocurrency funds via BEC type emails that include threat actor-controlled public keys and cryptocurrency addresses. These email campaigns rely on social engineering to secure the transfer of funds from targeted victims.

Credential Harvesting and Cryptocurrency
In 2022 Proofpoint has observed regular attempts to compromise user’s cryptocurrency wallets using credential harvesting. This method often relies on the delivery of a URL within an email body or formatted object which redirects to a credential harvesting landing page. Notably these landing pages have begun to solicit values utilized in the transfer and conversion of cryptocurrencies.

Crypto Phishing Kits
Credential harvesting landing pages are often built with phish kits that can be used to create multiple landing pages and used in multiple campaigns. Phish kits give threat actors the ability to deploy an effective phishing page regardless of their skill level. They are pre-packaged sets of files that contain all the code, graphics, and configuration files to be deployed to make a credential capture web page. These are designed to be easy to deploy as well as reusable. They are usually sold as a zip file and ready to be unzipped and deployed without a lot of “behind the scenes” knowledge or technical skill.

It is no wonder that CISOs around the world consider phishing as one of the most prevalent and challenging cybersecurity threats. A 2021 Proofpoint study found that almost a third of CISOs in the UAE believed they were at risk of suffering a phishing attack. Proofpoint researchers have observed multiple examples of phishing threat actors create and deploy phishing kits to harvest both login credentials to cryptocurrency related sites and cryptocurrency wallet credentials or passphrases.

Business Email Compromise – But For Crypto
A popular form of financial crime vectored through phishing is business email compromise (“BEC”). In 2022 Proofpoint regularly observes cryptocurrency transfer within the context of BEC attempts. Primarily these requests are observed in the context of employee targeting, using impersonation as a deception, and often leveraging advanced fee fraud, extortion, payroll redirect, or invoicing as themes.

The initial BEC email often contains the safe for public consumption values, including public keys and cryptocurrency addresses. By impersonating an entity known to the user and listing an actor-controlled public key or address, actors are attempting to deceive users into transferring funds from their account willingly based on social-engineering content. This is like the way actors use routing and bank account numbers during BEC phishing campaigns.

Conclusion
Financially motivated threat actor activity attempting to steal or extort cryptocurrency is not new. However, cryptocurrencies, digital tokens, and “Web3” concepts are becoming more widely known and accepted in society. Where once “crypto” was a concept that thrived in certain parts of the internet, it is now a mainstream idea, with cryptocurrency apps and services advertised by professional athletes and celebrities, and major events sponsored by cryptocurrency and block chain companies.

But threat actors are way ahead of general adoption of cryptocurrency, with existing infrastructure and ecosystems long established for stealing and using it. And as mainstream awareness and interest increases, it is more likely people will trust or engage with threat actors trying to steal cryptocurrency because they better understand how DeFi operates or are interested in being a part of “the next big thing”.

Users should be aware of common social engineering and exploitation mechanisms used by threat actors aiming to steal cryptocurrencies.

Cyber Security

Group-IB Unveils Unified Risk Platform

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Group-IB has today unveiled the Unified Risk Platform, an ecosystem of solutions that understands each organization’s threat profile and tailors defenses against them in real-time. Every product and service in Group-IB’s now consolidated security suite is enriched with information from a Single Data Lake, which contains 60 types of sources of adversary intelligence. The Unified Risk Platform automatically configures your Group-IB defenses with the precise insights needed to provide the best possible defense against targeted attacks on the infrastructure and endpoints, breaches, fraud, brand, and IP abuse.

“At the heart of the Unified Risk Platform is a Single Data Lake that has the most complete and detailed insight into threat actors. Group-IB has collected the industry’s broadest range of adversary intelligence, with 60 types of sources across 15 categories,” the company said in a statement.

The data is gathered by and exclusive to Group-IB, providing customers with unprecedented visibility of threat actors’ operations. The raw data is enriched with context, converted into actionable intelligence, and added to Group-IB’s Single Data Lake. The patented technology is continuously refined by state-of-the-art research, science, and modeling conducted by Group-IB’s dedicated analyst teams spanning 11 cybersecurity disciplines.

The modular architecture of the Unified Risk Platform allows additional capabilities to be easily activated, providing increased protection from cybercrime without friction. A range of out-of-the-box integrations and flexible APIs enable the Unified Risk Platform to easily enhance any existing security ecosystem. When organisations need specialist support, Group-IB’s comprehensive suite of services is available for any purpose, from one-off red teaming exercises or incident response to in-life managed detection and response.

In addition to the services, every Group-IB product is powered by the platform to provide complete coverage of the Cyber Response Chain:

  • Group-IB Threat Intelligence provides deep insight into adversary behaviors. Threat Intelligence was independently evaluated as creating a 10% increase in team efficiency over alternative vendors and in a case study generated a 339% return on investment.
  • Group-IB Managed XDR enables organizations to respond 20% faster to threats according to an analyst study.
  • Group-IB Digital Risk Protection allows organizations to reduce the risk of brand abuse, piracy, data leaks, and more with best-in-breed protection. Group-IB has been benchmarked as detecting pirated content in 30 min on average and taking down 80% of the content within 7 days.
  • Fraud Protection was calculated by consultants to reduce the rate of false-positive fraud cases by 20% and enable 10% to 20% more fraud attempts to be detected and prevented. Furthermore, Group-IB identified 30% more one-time password fraud.
  • Attack Surface Management continuously discovers external assets to identify shadow IT, forgotten infrastructure, misconfigurations, and other hidden risks. As part of the Unified Risk Platform, the solution provides a threat actor’s view of the attack surface so that weak spots can be quickly and proactively strengthened.
  • Business Email Protection defends corporate email from sophisticated attacks. The solution monitors for indicators of compromise identifies malicious behavioral markers and extracts artifacts to identify risky emails before they reach their destination.
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Cyber Security

Genetec Announces Availability of its Synergis Cloud Link PoE-Enabled IoT Gateway

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Genetec has announced the immediate availability of a new generation of its Synergis Cloud Link PoE-enabled IoT gateway for access control. Manufactured in North America to mitigate supply chain delays, Synergis Cloud Link addresses the increasing demand for non-proprietary access control solutions and provides a safe and secure gateway to a cloud or hybrid deployment.

“When modernizing an existing security system, Synergis Cloud Link’s open architecture allows organizations to leverage their current access control infrastructure and easily upgrade to a secure IP-based solution. Synergis Cloud Link provides a more efficient approach to multi-site deployments and replaces the need for servers, reducing the cost of ownership.  The Synergis Cloud Link IoT gateway has embedded functionalities that keep an organization’s access control running even when the connection to the server is down,” the company said in a statement.

“The new generation of Synergis Cloud Link provides more features, enhanced cybersecurity, and helps future-proof security installations. Synergis Cloud Link features enhanced cybersecurity such as encrypted user data, Secure Boot, and an EAL6+ industry gold standard Secure Element that stores cryptographic elements,” the company added.

“The need for non-proprietary access control solutions has never been greater,” said Thibault Louvet, Access Control Product Group Director, Genetec Inc. “Our new generation Synergis Cloud Link enables us to provide organizations with a powerful, secure, and intelligent gateway to the latest technology while allowing them to easily connect to hybrid or cloud access control environments and keep their existing security investment including hardware, wiring, and infrastructure.”

The device is compatible with non-proprietary access control modules from the industry’s most established manufacturers including HID Global, Axis Communications, ASSA ABLOY, Mercury Security, Allegion, SimonsVoss, STid, and others. A single Synergis Cloud Link device can support up to 256 readers and electronic locks, 600,000 cardholders, 150,000 offline events, as well as monitor hundreds of zones and alarms.

Synergis Cloud Link features a new firmware design, improving reliability and lifecycle management, and updates management. It also opens the door to containerized approach for operating software on the device, expanding its future capabilities.

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Cyber Security

Surge in Ransomware Attacks Has Made Effective Cyber Security and Defence a Top Priority

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Emad Fahmy, the Systems Engineering Manager for Middle East at NETSCOUT, speaks about the evolving threat landscape in the region

How has the security threat landscape evolved in recent months?
According to a 2021 survey by PwC, cybersecurity is a growing concern for organizations, with approximately 43% of Middle East CEOs planning to increase investments in cybersecurity and data privacy by 10% or more over the next three years. Moreover, 41% of these leaders think that their organization should be doing more to measure cybersecurity. The ever-evolving threat environment has made it increasingly necessary to be vigilant.

Cybercrimes continue to grow in terms of both complexity and frequency. Among the businesses that identify breaches or attacks, 21% lose money, data, or other assets, and 35% report being negatively impacted in other ways and suffering from wider business disruption. As such, it’s vital for enterprises to ensure the security of data, applications, networks, and critical business processes to stay competitive and thwart attackers. Depending on traditional security solutions and methodologies isn’t enough to combat the sophisticated attacks that target businesses today.

Is ransomware still an issue?
It is, unfortunately. The unprecedented surge in ransomware attacks has made effective cyber security and defence a top priority in today’s world. Every day, new ransomware attacks are reported by businesses and government authorities alike, not to mention the attacks that go unreported, and it seems like no one is immune.

Threat intelligence is vital to combat ransomware attacks. Threat intelligence is the study of the bad actors who perpetrate these attacks, along with the tactics and tools they use. This involves unveiling the bad actor’s attack methodologies and why they are targeting those victims. This knowledge is then turned into actionable insight that enterprises can access and comprehend. Empowered with this knowledge, enterprises can learn about their network’s vulnerabilities to actively defend against ransomware.

Companies have been trying to protect the endpoint for years. How can companies make sure endpoints are protected and monitored for attacks and mitigation?
As service providers increasingly focus on cloud services, edge computing, end-users, and endpoint devices, the traditional approach of utilizing distributed detection solutions in concert with centralized mitigation centres within the network is no longer enough. However, mitigation measures that are distributed out to the network edge necessitate both infrastructure and intelligent defence capabilities that are capable of working hand in hand across locations and platforms.

A more modern threat mitigation strategy involves distributing both detection and mitigation functions throughout the network to intercept threats nearer to the source. In this way, network operators can stop attacks upstream, instead of having to incur the cost of peering and transit link traffic that is only going to be discarded once it reaches a centralized scrubbing centre. By conducting the scrubbing as close as possible to the threat source, service providers can reduce any potential impact on traffic, helping to ensure high-quality service.

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