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Travelex being held to ransom by hackers

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Hackers are holding foreign exchange company Travelex to ransom after a cyber-attack forced the firm to turn off all computer systems and resort to using pen and paper across its thousands of sites.

On New Year’s Eve, hackers launched their attack on the Travelex network.

As a result, the company took down its websites across 30 countries to contain “the virus and protect data”.

The hackers are demanding a ransom to give the firm access to its systems.

They have demanded payment in exchange for either restoration of IT systems or the preservation of customer data.

It is understood that a deadline for payment has been set by the cyber-criminals.

The Metropolitan Police is leading the investigation into the attack.

In a statement, the force said: “On Thursday, 2 January, the Met’s Cyber Crime Team were contacted with regards to a reported ransomware attack involving a foreign currency exchange. Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.”

Travelex says it is working with police and has deployed teams of IT specialists and external cyber-security experts who have been working continuously.

‘Shockingly bad’

The recovery operation is being co-ordinated from a Travelex office in the UK and the company insists that no customer data has been leaked.

But it would not say what data could potentially be at risk.

The Travelex websites across Europe, Asia and the US have been offline since 31 December with a message to visitors that it is down due to “planned maintenance”.

Image copyright Travelex
Image caption Visitors to the Travelex website are told that the site is down for “planned maintenance”.

Customers have not been sent any email communication about the cyber-attack, but queries are being replied to on social media by the company.

“The public response from Travelex has been shockingly bad,” said security researcher Kevin Beaumont.

“The Travelex UK website still only says ‘planned maintenance’, a week after the problems began – many customers will be completely unaware hackers gained access to their network, and allegedly their personal data,” he said.

“Travelex have a responsibility to clearly communicate with customers and business partners the gravity of the situation.”

Travelex’s decision to take down its site has meant the large network of other firms that use its services cannot sell currency online.

The company has said it is keeping its partners up to date on the response to the cyber-attack.

Virgin Money’s site showed an error message, which said: “Our online, foreign currency purchasing service is temporarily unavailable due to planned maintenance. The system will be back online shortly.”

Sainsbury’s Bank also said its online travel money services were unavailable, although it said customers could still buy travel money in its stores. In a statement to the BBC, the bank said: “We’re in close contact with Travelex so that we can resume our online service as soon as possible.”

Image copyright Sainsbury’s
Image caption Sainsbury’s Bank’s website said it was not able to take money orders online.

A spokesperson for First Direct, which is owned by HSBC, said: “Unfortunately, our online travel money service is currently unavailable due to a service issue with third party service provider, Travelex.”

In a statement on Thursday, Travelex boss Tony D’Souza said: “We regret having to suspend some of our services in order to contain the virus and protect data.”

The company has resorted to carrying out transactions manually, providing foreign-exchange services over the counter in its branches.

“We apologise to all our customers for any inconvenience caused as a result,” Mr D’Souza said in the statement.

The company has since told the BBC that its systems are currently down and it is unable to sell or reload its pre-paid travel cards. But, it said: “Existing cards continue to function as normal and customers in the UK can continue to spend and withdraw money from ATMs.”

“For customers who have ordered money online, please contact Travelex customer services by phone or via social media to discuss their individual situation and requirements.”


Have you been affected by the cyber-attack on Travelex? Share your experiences by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

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Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51017852

AI

Pandemic Spurred Identity Fraud; AI and Biometrics Are Responding 

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AI and biometrics are being more widely incorporated in new cybersecurity products, as losses from cyberattacks and identity theft increased dramatically in 2020. (Credit: Getty Images) 

By AI Trends Staff 

Cyberattacks and identity fraud losses increased dramatically in 2020 as the pandemic made remote work the norm, setting the stage for AI and biometrics to combine in efforts to attain a higher level of protection. 

One study found banks worldwide saw a 238% jump in cyberattacks between February and April 2020; a study from Javelin Strategy & Research found that identity fraud losses grew to $56 billion last year as fraudsters used stolen personal information to create synthetic identities, according to a recent account from Pymnts.com. In addition, automated bot attacks shot upward by 100 million between July and December, targeting companies in a range of industries.  

Companies striving for better protection risk making life more difficult for their customers; another study found that 40% of financial institutions frequently mistake the online actions of legitimate customers to those of fraudsters. 

Caleb Callahan, Vice President of Fraud, Stash Financial

“As we look toward the post-pandemic—or, more accurately, inter-pandemic—era, we see just how good fraudsters were at using synthetic identities to defeat manual and semi-manual onboarding processes,” stated Caleb Callahan, Vice President of Fraud at Stash Financial of New York, offering a personal finance app, in an interview with Pymnts. 

SIM Sway Can Create a Synthetic Identity  

One technique for achieving a synthetic identity is a SIM swap, in which someone contacts your wireless carrier and is able to convince the call center employee that they are you, using personal data that may have been exposed in hacks, data breaches or information publicly shared on social networks, according to an account on CNET.  

Once your phone number is assigned to a new card, all of your incoming calls and text messages will be routed to whatever phone the new SIM card is in.  

Identity theft losses were $712.4 billion-plus in 2020, up 42% from 2019, Callahan stated. “To be frank, our defenses are fragmented and too dependent on technologies such as SMS [texting] that were never designed to provide secure services. Banks and all businesses should be looking at how to unify data signals and layer checkpoints in order to keep up with today’s sophisticated fraudsters,” he stated.  

Asked what tools and technologies would help differentiate between fraudsters and legitimate customers, Callahan stated, “in an ideal world, we would have a digital identity infrastructure that banks and others could depend on, but I think that we are some ways away from that right now.”  

Going forward, “The needs of the travel and hospitality, health, education and other sectors might accelerate the evolution of infrastructure for safety and security,” Callahan foresees. 

AI and Biometrics Seen as Offering Security Advantages 

AI can be employed to protect digital identity fraud, such as by offering greater accuracy and speed when it comes to verifying a person’s identity, or by incorporating biometric data so that a cybercriminal would not be able to gain access to information by only providing credentials, according to an account in Forbes. 

Deepak Gupta, Cofounder and CTO, LoginRadius

AI has the power to save the world from digital identity fraud,” stated Deepak Gupta, author of the Forbes article and cofounder and CTO of LoginRadius, a cloud-based consumer identity platform. “In the fight against ID theft, it is already a strong weapon. AI systems are entirely likely to end the reign of the individual hacker.”  

While he sees AI authentication as being in an early phase, Gupta recommended that companies examine the following: the use of intelligent adaptive authentication, such as local and device fingerprint; biometric authentication, based on the face or fingerprints; and smart data filters. “A well-developed AI protection system will have the ability to respond in nanoseconds to close a leak,” he stated. 

Pandemic Altered Consumer Financial Behavior, Spurred Identity Fraud  

The global pandemic has had a dramatic impact on consumer financial behavior. Consumers spent more time at home in 2020, transacted less than in previous years, and relied heavily on streaming services, digital commerce, and payments. They also corresponded more via email and text, for both work and personal life.  

“The pandemic inspired a major shift in how criminals approach fraud,” stated John Buzzard, Lead Analyst, Fraud & Security, with Javelin Strategy & Research in a press release. “Identity fraud has evolved and now reflects the lengths criminals will take to directly target consumers in order to steal their personally identifiable information.” 

Companies made quick adjustments to their business models, such as by increasing remote interactions with borrowers for loan originations and closings, and criminals pounced on new vulnerabilities they discovered. Nearly one-third of identity fraud victims say their financial services providers did not satisfactorily resolve their problems, and 38% of victims closed their accounts because of lack of resolution, the Javelin researchers found.   

“It is clear that financial institutions must continue to proactively and transparently manage fraud as a means to deepen their customer relationships,” stated Eric Kraus, Vice President and General Manager of Fraud, Risk and Compliance, FIS. The company offers technology solutions for merchants, banks, and capital markets firms globally. “Through our continuing business relationships with financial institutions, we know firsthand that consumers are looking to their banks to resolve instances of fraud, regardless of how the fraud occurred,” he added.  

This push from consumers who are becoming increasingly savvy online will lay a foundation for safer digital transactions.  

“Static forms of consumer authentication must be replaced with a modern, standards-based approach that utilizes biometrics,” stated David Henstock, Vice President of Identity Products at Visa, the world’s leader in digital payments. “Businesses benefit from reduced customer friction, lower abandonment rates and fewer chargebacks, while consumers benefit from better fraud prevention and faster payment during checkout.” 

The 2021 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin is now in its 18th year. 

Read the source articles and information from Pymnts.com, from CNETin Forbes and in a press release from Javelin Strategy & Research. 

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Source: https://www.aitrends.com/security/pandemic-spurred-identity-fraud-ai-and-biometrics-are-responding/

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Pipeline Update: Biden Executive Order, DarkSide Detailed and Gas Bags

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The administrator of your personal data will be Threatpost, Inc., 500 Unicorn Park, Woburn, MA 01801. Detailed information on the processing of personal data can be found in the privacy policy. In addition, you will find them in the message confirming the subscription to the newsletter.

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Source: https://threatpost.com/pipeline-biden-darkside-gas-bags/166112/

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8 Cyber Security Practices Every Organization Adopt

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Computer internet cyber security background. Cyber crime vector illustration. digital
Computer internet cyber security background. Cyber crime vector illustration. digital

Cyber security is such a pressing matter among companies, especially for large enterprises. Since there’s a lot to get from hacking large companies, they’re bound to experience cyber threats such as Trojans, malware, phishing, and ransomware regularly. But remember that there have been cases of cyberattacks on businesses with 100 or fewer employees, so small- and medium-sized companies are not exempt from this issue.

Regardless of the size of your company, consider strengthening your cyber security. There’s no better way to do that than by increasing the number of your security controls.

Security controls are countermeasures that prevent cyberattacks and minimize security risks on information, physical property, and, most importantly, your computer systems. For more information, you can read the article of Beryllium regarding security controls.

If you plan to establish newer security controls for your computer systems, you might want to consider looking into the following cyber security practices:

Table of Contents

Invest In Antivirus Software

A long time ago, you only had to worry about viruses, but that’s no longer the case. Today, there are all kinds of cyberthreats such as Trojan horses, worms, spyware, ransomware, and malware. If you want to be protected against these kinds of threats, you should consider investing in antivirus software. Antivirus software refers to any program designed to detect and eliminate various threats to a system, including those mentioned earlier.

Establish A Firewall

Antivirus software focuses on threats that may corrupt the programs inside a computer system. However, it doesn’t cover external threats; for those, you need a firewall. A firewall is a form of security control that helps keep external threats from breaching a computer system in the first place. You can think of it as the first line of defense against cyber threats. A firewall partnered with antivirus software can provide extremely powerful protection for any organization.

Utilize Multifactor Authentication

Usually, when logging into a computer system, you need to input your username and an authentication code, which is the password. But as previously said, cyberthreats have already evolved. It’s no longer enough to use a single authentication code, and that’s what multifactor authentication (MFA) is all about.

Basically, multifactor authentication is the process of requiring more than two codes from the user. So instead of a password alone, the system may also ask for a fingerprint, one-time passwords (OTPs), and more. This reduces the chances of hackers getting into the system.

Encourage Safe And Secure Passwords

Although you can use MFA, passwords are still the hardest authentication codes to crack. Hackers can steal OTPs with special software or even fake fingerprints. However, passwords are difficult to predict, perhaps due to their randomness.

If you’re going to implement MFA, you might as well make sure your employees have safe and secure passwords. You can start by giving them a few pointers, such as the following:

    • Use a password generator for the sake of randomness.
    • Avoid common characters.
    • Use a mix of characters.
    • Lengthen your password.

Monitor Third Parties’ Access To Data

Certain companies outsource some of their operations to third-party agencies. In doing so, they’re giving those firms access to confidential information.

If you’re currently in partnership with an outsourcing agency, you might want to consider monitoring them and limiting their access to data as well. After all, you can’t strengthen their cyber security even if you want to. If you do suffer from security breaches due to their negligence, your company would be on the losing side, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Check For Security Patches And Updates

Operating systems roll out security patches and updates every now and then. Your job is to apply those patches as soon as possible. Even if you leave your computer system outdated only for a few hours, there can be severe consequences.

Back Up All Data

Regardless of how secure your system is, there’s no guarantee that a hacker won’t get past your security controls. To minimize the damage from security breaches, companies must have a backup of all their data on a device not connected to the computer system. That way, if ever the computer system’s corrupted, you don’t have to worry about your data getting lost.

Educate Your Employees

Making mistakes is what makes one human. Some errors have minor consequences, but some can lead to huge problems. If your employees have access to the company’s system, the only thing hackers need to do is to take advantage of inexperienced employees. They can do this through phishing and other social engineering techniques.

If you don’t want your employees to bear all the blame for a security breach, try raising their awareness through training that teaches them about cyber security threats. Granted, it won’t guarantee 100% security, but it will reduce the chances for a cyberattack nonetheless.

Wrapping Up

Take note that every security control has a weakness. Your job is to ensure that those weaknesses are taken care of by other security controls. Take antivirus software and firewall, for example. Antivirus software deals with internal threats, while a firewall deals with external threats. If you want to strengthen your cyber security, you need to know how cyber security practices interact with each other, and this guide should have everything you need in that regard.

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Source: https://cybersguards.com/8-cyber-security-practices-every-organization-adopt/

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How to Become a Cybersecurity Specialist

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In the modern age, a cybersecurity expert acts as a watchdog. Cybersecurity experts work with businesses and organisations to keep networks and data safe.

One of a cybersecurity specialist’s main duties is to keep track of their company’s systems and report any problems to management. They are also in charge of foreseeing potential threats and providing advice about how to deal with them.

Table of Contents

What is a cybersecurity specialist?

Depending on the size and shape of his or her company or organisation, a cybersecurity specialist can wear a variety of hats.

Cybersecurity experts, as the job description suggests, are supposed to provide a certain degree of experience and knowledge that enables them to provide guidance and training on the most up-to-date digital best practises.

Cybersecurity experts may have in-depth knowledge of a specific vendor’s product (such as CISCO Systems, which manufactures networking and IT products), or they may have experience with other domains such as computer operating systems or mobile applications.

A cybersecurity specialist can be thought of as someone who monitors a company’s or organization’s security while also assisting other employees and teammates in staying current on best practises.

This position is crucial because data breaches are often caused by employees, either deliberately or unintentionally.

Four key steps to becoming a cybersecurity specialist

1. Education: Most cybersecurity specialist positions, like the majority of other cybersecurity jobs, require some sort of formal education. However, since cybersecurity specialist positions cover such a broad range of job descriptions and duties, a specialist job can be obtained after completing many levels of cybersecurity education.

In other words, people with a cybersecurity associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree will work as cybersecurity specialists. Furthermore, several cybersecurity specialists found jobs after completing a similar degree (such as computer science, engineering, or mathematics) and/or gaining relevant work experience.

2. Industry certifications and clearances: Obtaining the required industry certifications and/or clearances is a vital phase in job planning, as it is in many other cybersecurity career paths.

It’s a good idea to start thinking about what certifications an employer may need, or what certifications make job applicants more competitive in their profession.

Here are a few examples of the different types of cybersecurity certifications available:

Security+ is a CompTIA qualification that is widely recognised by cybersecurity practitioners as a foundational credential. The topics of risk management and threat evaluation are included.

CompTIA offers Network + as well. This credential focuses on networking technology and operations, as the name suggests. It is regarded as a basic qualification.

A more specialised qualification, the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), is reserved for cybersecurity practitioners with at least five years of experience. Architecture, engineering, and management are among the subjects covered by the credential.

Since it normally allows candidates to have several years of work experience, the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) credential is often considered a more advanced cert. The aim of an ethical hacker credential is to develop threat assessment and mitigation skills by understanding how cyber attacks unfold.

These are just a few of the many cybersecurity certifications that are accessible. When looking for cybersecurity work openings, it’s a good idea to keep track of the certifications that employers are looking for.

When applying for cybersecurity specialist jobs, it’s also a good idea to inquire about professional development programmes, such as certifications that an employer will pay for.

3. Experience: Another important aspect of obtaining a job as a cybersecurity specialist is demonstrating relevant experience.

This can be in the form of a structured internship or other formal hands-on learning, or it can be in the form of other similar work experience.

4. Network: Looking for opportunities to grow a professional network is always a good idea.

There are a variety of specialist cybersecurity associations and groups with a network-oriented approach that are explicitly structured to notify members about job openings and professional development opportunities.

A good place to start is Digital Guardian’s list of the top 50 cybersecurity networking groups and professional organisations.

What do cybersecurity specialists do?

Security evaluations of computer hardware and software systems are created and implemented by cybersecurity experts. They ensure that the systems work as they should and are secure from attack.

A cybersecurity specialist’s work can be very routine at times. They are in charge of ensuring that networks and operating systems are up to date and free of software bugs.

Furthermore, security specialists are responsible for ensuring that other coworkers are kept up to date on security best practises, which could require them to serve as a trainer or counsellor.

Designing firewalls and other protection mechanisms to ensure that information and proprietary networks are compatible with the most current security requirements is another part of a cybersecurity specialist’s task.

Cybersecurity experts are also in charge of continuously monitoring security systems and networks for irregularities and documenting and reporting on their findings.

Skills for specialists

Cybersecurity professionals play an interesting role in the businesses and institutions where they work. People in this role are often hired for their social skills as well as their technical abilities.

Cybersecurity experts must be able to interact effectively and work well in groups. Coaching and advising coworkers on security best practises is a common part of the job.

In addition, cybersecurity experts are often called upon in times of crisis or disaster, as well as when networks or data structures are malfunctioning. As a result, the ability to survive in “emergency” situations is critical.

Finally, becoming a security specialist can entail assisting coworkers in adopting new technologies and security software as it evolves. However, most people are averse to change, especially if it necessitates learning a new operating procedure or work-flow. As a result, the ability to express the rationale for the transition, as well as the ability to appeal to the desires and objections of coworkers, is crucial.

Cybersecurity experts must be at ease in a continuously changing and shifting environment. New digital attack vectors and mechanisms emerge on a regular basis, and a cybersecurity expert is charged with determining what skills and expertise are needed to defend against these new threats.

This frequently necessitates continued education, both in the form of formal, industry-recognized certifications and informal learning and monitoring of industry developments.

A cybersecurity expert should be like a Swiss Army knife of the digital world in terms of expertise, experience, and general attitude. This role requires multi-disciplinary skills and the ability to adapt to a wide range of circumstances.

Outlook for cybersecurity specialists

According to a new PayScale survey, the majority of workers with the job title cybersecurity specialists are satisfied with their employment.

According to Payscale, cybersecurity professionals are paid differently based on their expertise, roles, and place. A specialist’s salary varies from $45,644 to $115,841. The average salary is $74,140 a year.

Employment prospects for cybersecurity specialists are expected to rise 36 percent by 2024, far faster than other careers, indicating an increasing demand for cybersecurity expertise in all fields and career levels.

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Source: https://cybersguards.com/how-to-become-a-cybersecurity-specialist/

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