Category: Security

Whaling, SMiShing, and Vishing…Oh My!

three types of phishing: mass scale phishing, spear phishing, and whaling
Infographic by Digital Guardian. Check out the full phishing infographic by Digital Guardian

There’s more than one way to be phished!

Cybercriminals use types of social engineering—manipulating people into doing what they want—as the most common way to steal information and money. Social engineering is at the heart of all types of phishing attacks—those conducted via email, SMS, and phone calls. Technology makes these sorts of attacks easy and very low risk for the attacker. Make sure you’re on the lookout for these variants on the traditional, mass emailed phishing attack:

  • Spear phishing: An attack of this kind often involves very well-crafted messages that come from what looks like a trusted VIP source, often in a hurry, targeting those who can conduct financial transactions on behalf of your organization (sometimes called “whaling”).
  • SMiShing: Literally, phishing attacks via SMS, these scams attempt to trick users into supplying content or clicking on links in SMS messages on their mobile devices. Flaws in how caller ID and phone number verification work make this an increasingly popular attack that is hard to stop.
  • Vishing: Voice phishing, these are calls from attackers claiming to be government agencies such as the IRS, software vendors like Microsoft, or services offering to help with benefits or credit card rates. Attackers will often appear to be calling from a local number close to yours. As with SMiShing, flaws in how caller ID and phone number verification work make this a dangerous attack vector.

No matter the medium, follow these techniques to help prevent getting tricked by these social engineering attacks:

  • Don’t react to scare tactics: All of these attacks depend on scaring the recipient, such as with a lawsuit, that their computer is full of viruses, or that they might miss out on a chance at a great interest rate. Don’t fall for it!
  • Verify contacts independently: Financial transactions should always follow a defined set of procedures, which includes a way to verify legitimacy outside email or an inbound phone call. Legitimate companies and service providers will give you a real business address and a way for you to contact them back, which you can independently verify on a company website, support line, etc. Don’t trust people who contact you out of the blue claiming to represent your company.
  • Know the signs: Does the message/phone call start with vague information, a generic company name like “card services,” an urgent request, and/or an offer that seems impossibly good? Hang up or click that delete button!

Related resources to check out

Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2019

This content is from a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC). 


Take Control of Your Personal Information to Help Prevent Identity Theft

The first full week of March is National Consumer Protection Week. The week is designed to help people make good financial decisions and understand their rights as consumers. Understanding your rights as a consumer can help you recover from identity theft.

Identity theft has become a fact of life during the past decade. If you are reading this, it is a safe bet that your data has been breached in at least one incident. Does that mean we are all helpless? Thankfully, no. There is a lot we can do to protect ourselves from identity theft and to make recovery from cyber incidents quicker and less painful.

First, take control of your credit reports. Examine your own report at each of the “big three” bureaus. You get one free report from each credit bureau once per year. You can request them by going to AnnualCreditReport.com. Make sure there’s nothing inaccurate in those reports, and file for correction if needed. Then initiate a credit freeze at each of those plus two other smaller ones. Instructions can be found at Krebs on Security. To keep an eye on your credit report all year, space out your credit bureau requests by requesting a report from a different credit bureau every four months.

Next, practice good digital hygiene. Just as you lock your front door when you leave home and your car when you park it, make sure your digital world is secured. This means:

  1. Keep your operating system up to date. When OS updates are released, they fix errors in the code that could let the bad guys in.
  2. Do the same for the application software you use. Web browsers, plug-ins, email clients, office software, antivirus/antimalware, and every other type of software has flaws. When those flaws are fixed, you are in a race to install that fix before someone uses the flaw against you. The vast majority of hacks leverage vulnerabilities that have a fix already available.
  3. Engage your brain. Think before you click. Think before you disclose personal information in a web form or over the phone.
  4. Think before you share on social media sites. Some of those fun-to-share-with-your-friends quizzes and games ask questions that have a disturbing similarity to “security questions” that can be used to recover your account. Do you want the answers to your security questions to be published to the world?
  5. Use a password manager and keep a strong, unique password for every site or service you use. That way a breach on one site won’t open you up to fraud at other sites.
  6. Back. It. Up. What do you do if you are hit with a ransomware attack? (Or a run-of-the-mill disk failure?) If you have a recent off-line backup, your data are safe, and you can recover without even thinking about paying a ransom.
  7. Full disk encryption is your friend. If your device is stolen, it will be a lot harder for a thief to access your data, which means you can sleep at night.
  8. Check all your accounts statements regularly. Paperless statements are convenient in the digital age. But it is easy to forget to check infrequently used accounts such as a health savings account. Make a recurring calendar reminder to check every account for activity that you don’t recognize.
  9. Manage those old-style paper statements. Don’t just throw them in the trash or the recycle bin. Shred them with a cross-cut shredder. Or burn them. Or do both. Data stolen from a dumpster are just as useful as data stolen from a website.

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft:

  • Create an Identity Theft Report by filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online (or call 1-877-438-4338).
  • Use the Identity Theft Report to file a police report. Make sure you keep a copy of the police report in a safe place.
  • Flag your credit reports by contacting the fraud departments of any one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax (800-685-1111); TransUnion (888-909-8872); or Experian (888-397-3742).

Resources

Video Resources

This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC).


Social media safety

Using Social Media for Good—Safely Creating a Positive Presence Online

We have all heard about the evils of social media. Fortunately, there is another side to social media, and with a little savvy, you can harness its potential for good. You just need to make sure to steer clear of the pitfalls and work on safely curating a positive online presence.

Your Social Media Story

Our social networks tell a story about us. You want to make sure that the story your social media tells about you is a good one. As articulated in a blog from the Digital Marketing Institute: “Sharing online allows you to craft an online persona that reflects your personal values and professional skills. Even if you only use social media occasionally, the content you create, share, or react to feeds into this public narrative. How you conduct yourself online is now just as important as your behavior offline.”

A positive online reputation is vital in today’s digital world. Like it or not, your information is out there. What you can do is help to control it and what it says about you.

Social media is so ingrained in our society that almost everyone is connected to it in some form. With every social media account you sign up for, every picture you share, and every post you make, you are sharing information about yourself with not only your friends and family but the entire digital world. How can you make sure your information and reputation stay safe online? Here are a few easy steps to get you started.

  • Keep it clean and positive. Be entirely sure about what you’re posting. Make sure to post content that you feel positively reflects you, your creativity, your values, and your skills. Remember that future employers may look at your social media accounts before hiring you. Questionable content can leave a bad impression; this can include pictures, videos, or even opinions that make you seem unprofessional or mean and may end up damaging your reputation. Always think before you post or share negative or inappropriate content. Use the 24-hour rule before posting, allowing yourself 24 hours before posting any content that may be questionable to give yourself time to reflect on whether it is a good idea.
  • Oversharing and geotagging. Never click and tell. It can seem like everyone posts personal information on social media all the time, including where they are and where they live. As noted on the DHS.gov site: “What many people don’t realize is that these seemingly random details are all criminals need to know to target you, your loved ones, and even your physical belongings—online and in the real world. Avoid posting names, phone numbers, addresses, school and work locations, and other sensitive information (whether it’s in the text or in the photo you took). Disable geotagging, which allows anyone to see where you are—and where you aren’t—at any given time.”If you really want to post that picture of your friends at brunch, consider following the concept of #latergram and post your content at a later time than when it actually happened. It is a win-win. You get to share your experience and at the same time still maintain the privacy of your location in real time.
  • Don’t rely on privacy settings. You have a private social media account so you can post anything you want? Nope. Privacy settings make it harder to see your full account, but it’s not impossible. Also, there is always the chance that one of the people with access to your private account could screenshot and share the content. Make sure to keep your social media apps up to date and check the privacy settings frequently. Under no circumstances should you rely on privacy settings to shield inappropriate content. If there is any question that the content is inappropriate, don’t post it.
  • Make sure you’re professional. Keep it classy! Every post is a reflection of you. Your social media accounts allow you to put your best foot forward or stumble if you aren’t careful. A positive social media presence can help create both personal and professional opportunities. Promote your personal brand or what you want people to think of you. And, your high school English teacher was correct—proper spelling and grammar are always a plus.
  • Control your content. Claim your identity on social media. Set up social media accounts and keep the profiles current. You don’t have to join every platform; a few key ones will do. You can also look into apps that will cross-post the content to all of your social media accounts, freeing up some of your valuable time. Use your accounts to engage professionally and personally in a positive way. Your social media accounts should tell the story of you that you want employers and others to see. Google your own name on a regular basis to make sure that that information out there is accurate. If you find incorrect information online, request that the website update it or take it down.

If you follow these few simple recommendations, you are on your way to safely building a positive online reputation. Using social media positively doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and use it to express yourself; however, you want to ensure that you’re okay with anyone seeing everything you post. Once you post something online, it’s out there forever.

Resources

Here are some resources to help you manage their social networks wisely:

This content was provided by Educause as a part of their Campus Security Awareness Campaign 2019. This post is part of a larger campaign designed to support security professionals and IT communicators as they develop or enhance their security awareness plans. The campaign is brought to you by the Awareness and Training Working Group of the EDUCAUSE Higher Education Information Security Council (HEISC). View the other monthly blog posts at the security awareness resource page.