Recent cyber attacks are a wakeup call to all tech users

Category: Cybersecurity | Posted date: 2021-07-08 17:22:32 | Posted by: Christopher M Link


Due to recent events accross the United States of America, cyber attacks are on the rise and not all attacks are from foreign actors. LinkTech ITC has been monitoring exploits to systems from Wordpress to Remote Monitoring services to inform customers.



what are hackers?

Hacking is an art form!  In the past, the security community informally used references to hat color as a way to identify different types of hackers, usually divided into five main types. A few of these terms have been replaced to reflect cultural changes.

  • Ethical hackers or authorized hackers -- previously known as white hat hackers -- strive to operate in the public's best interest rather than to create turmoil. Many ethical hackers who work doing pen testing were hired to attempt to break into the company's networks to find and report on security vulnerabilities. The security firms then help their customers mitigate security issues before criminal hackers can exploit them.
  • Threat actors or unauthorized hackers -- previously known as black hat hackers -- intentionally gain unauthorized access to networks and systems with malicious intent. This includes stealing data, spreading malware, or profiting from ransomware, vandalizing or otherwise damaging systems, often in an attempt to gain notoriety. Threat actors are criminals by definition because they violate laws against accessing systems without authorization, but they may also engage in other illegal activity, including corporate espionage, identity theft and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
  • Gray hat hackers fall somewhere between ethical hackers and threat actors. While their motives may be similar to those two groups, gray hats are more likely than ethical hackers to access systems without authorization; at the same time, they are more likely than threat actors to avoid doing unnecessary damage to the systems they hack. Although they aren't typically -- or only -- motivated by money, gray hat hackers may offer to fix vulnerabilities they have discovered through their own unauthorized activities rather than using their knowledge to exploit vulnerabilities for illegal profit.
  • Red hat hackers, also called eagle-eyed or vigilante hackers, are similar to ethical hackers. Red hat hackers intend to stop unethical attacks by threat actors. While red hat hackers may have a similar intent to ethical hackers, they differ in methodology, as red hat hackers may use illegal or extreme courses of action. Often, red hat hackers will deploy cyber attacks toward the systems of threat actors.
  • Blue hat hackers, also known as vengeful hackers, use hacking as a social weapon. Frequently, it is used as a means for revenge against a person, employer, or other organization. Hackers who post personal and confidential data online to ruin reputations or attempt to gain unauthorized access to email and social media accounts are classified as blue hats.

What happened to allow an attack to occur.

The Darkside ransomware gang broke into Colonial Pipeline through an inactive account that didn’t use multifactor authentication, according to a consultant who investigated the attack.

The ransomware group took advantage of a compromised password for a virtual private network (VPN) account April 29 to get into the network of the Alpharetta, Ga.-based pipeline giant, said Charles Carmakal, SVP and CTO of FireEye’s Mandiant division. The VPN account was no longer in use at the time of the attack but still provided hackers with access to Colonial’s network, according to Carmakal.

Carmakal and Colonial Pipeline CEO Joseph Blount spoke with Bloomberg Friday afternoon, and their comments were subsequently confirmed to CRN by spokespeople for FireEye and Colonial. The ransomware attack promoted Colonial to shut down its 5,500-mile natural gas pipeline for five days, resulting in more than 10,000 gas stations across the South-eastern United States being out of fuel.

So, what went wrong?

In the IT world there are thousands of assets included in ensuring companies from small to large operate properly and efficiently which in turn makes securing all the devices a whole lot more difficult. 

A standard company IT infrastructure consists of hundreds of servers and NAS (Network Attached Storage) Arrays to process data into information to provide information to users and employees.  For security purposes, companies in 2020 had to rely on VPN appliances for employees to work from home securely.  A virtual private network extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network.

Who is at fault?

Some of these connections are sometimes overlooked due to insufficient or incompetent in-house IT management teams.  LinkTech ITC identified a problem within companies are the in-house IT teams dwindling knowledge base due to corporations not funding different certifications to increase their security and management.

Why hire an outsourced IT agency?

The argument can be made that offsetting an in-house IT asset with an outsourced IT element would create a more secure operating environment. Outsourced IT consultants like LinkTech ITC are more focused and diligent without becoming complacent due to contractual requirements placed on the consultants by the company.

Some values for businesses from hiring outsourced IT companies

  • Reduce labor costs: Training and maintaining a large in-house IT department is costly. The most basic tech support specialists in the United States earn an average of $46,420 annually. Systems Analysts, on the other hand, earn upwards of $80,000 every year, with Data Administrators and Network Administrators earning nearly the same. Hiring temporary IT tech employees often end in disappointment given the limited investment, both mentally and financially. Employing a company dedicated to providing IT support services, on the other hand, brings highly skilled workers at a fraction of the labor-related costs.
  • Lessen IT costs: Installing IT infrastructure with networks, servers, security, storage, and a whole host of other components is extremely pricey. Outsourcing IT system support transforms fixed IT costs into variable costs and gives you room to budget accordingly. In short, you only pay for what you use, which can be a huge cost reduction. Add to that the cost of maintaining and servicing such a system frequently exceeds the cost of the initial outlay, and outsourcing seems wise.
  • Provide uninterrupted flow of service: As technology grows increasingly complex, hardware and software management has become notably more challenging. With a saturated industry, particularly in sales and marketing, businesses need to have innovative hardware and software solutions. They also need end-to-end networking and a continuous flow of functionality for internet, intranet, and extranet. Professional IT network service providers can fully handle such technicalities.
  • Remain focused on your core business: Every manager likely feels there are not enough hours in the day to tackle all the challenges. Having to divide attention between core business functions and IT related concerns limits potential even more. Outsourcing allows employees to stay focused on what they are skilled at, trained for, and paid to do.
  • Decrease risk to your infrastructure: There is no way around it: every business investment carries a level of risk. An ever-evolving palette of government regulations, competitors, economic conditions, and technologies ensures this is the case. Companies who provide IT system support assume much of this risk. They harbor specific industry-related knowledge—most importantly those about security and compliance issues. With this knowledge, they can better ascertain and avoid inherent risks.
  • Guarantee compliance and security tailored to you: In the world of account data protection, there is no such as thing as being too safe. Take a look at these major data breaches from 2015 alone for evidence:
    • Hackers stole the data from 4.8 million users at V-tech;
    • Attorney-client privileges may have been violated for 70 million inmates as millions of call logs, and thousands of call recordings were stolen;
    • Stealing credit card data from Donald Trump’s hotels across the United States, hackers compromised the information of thousands of people throughout the country;
    • When as many as 15 million T-Mobile users had their information stolen, the results included lost social security numbers, passport numbers, birth dates, names, and addresses.

To safeguard against these breaches of data, companies must be up to date on the latest governing standards. Business owners must ask themselves whether they have a DMZ installed, whether their firewall is current and if all of the workstations and     servers are properly audited. It is important to also look at whether the business has implemented and adhered to current PCI security standards. With the varied payment methods available to organizations, due diligence must be taken to protect data. A qualified managed services provider can minimize the risks associated with keeping such data, thereby minimizing the risks associated with doing business.

For more information on how LinkTech ITC can help your business please go to https://www.linktechitc.com/corporate-services/infrastructure-services to receive a free Information Technology Audit.