8 Predictions for 2018

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2017 seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, bringing with it several changes, and these moments have paved the way for the future. That said, here is a quick look at what is in the forecast for 2018 in the security and compliance industries:

GDPR

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been expected to set a new standard for consumer rights regarding their data, but companies will face a challenge as they update their systems and processes to comply with the new regulation. Companies must be able to show compliance by May 25, 2018.
  • However, CSO suggests that some U.S. companies subject to the European Union’s GDPR are falling behind, and may not be able to make the compliance deadline.

Cybersecurity

  • F-Secure predicts that production of new types of ransomware will probably slow down in 2018, however cyber criminals will focus more on conducting attacks on companies for a bigger profit from fewer victims.
  • Biometrics as a form of identity authentication will continue to become more widespread.
  • State-sponsored attacks will continue as political tensions continue to rise. FireEye suggests that we will see more instances of ‘hacktivism’, that is, attacks to promote a political agenda or social change.
  • McAfee predicts that there will be a machine learning ‘arms race’ between cyber attackers and defenders.

Cryptocurrency

  • Bitcoin took a hit after the South Korean government announced new legislation that would heighten regulations on the country’s cryptocurrency markets, however predictions for it and other cryptocurrencies in 2018 remain strong– BlockTribune offered a few predictions regarding increasing user growth for Bitcoin, the use of Bitcoin as a ‘gateway’ to other cryptocurrencies, and increased market growth.
  • Forbes predicts that cryptocurrency will continue on its path to go mainstream, where more retailers will diversify payment options by offering the use of cryptocurrencies, and furthermore, the development of cryptocurrency-only e-commerce stores.

As these landscapes are so fluid and swiftly changing, it is up to time to determine what changes the New Year will yield. We hope our readers enjoy their celebrations and we will be back next week with another blog update!

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Show, Interrupted: The Latest on Widespread ‘Netflix’ Phishing Attempts

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As the weather cools down, holiday decorations go up, and snow blankets the ground, it seems like the perfect time to settle down on the couch for good binge-watching Netflix session.

But maybe your plans for that were interrupted by an email claiming that your Netflix account has been suspended due to a conflict with your payment information. If you have received that message, you may have been the target of the most recent phishing scam.

More than 110 million people have already been targeted by the scam, which uses phishing emails disguised as official correspondence from Netflix to get users to enter their payment information on a fake login page.

While most scam emails are pretty easily identifiable from legitimate ones, this iteration has been referred to as ‘sophisticated’, where the display looks alarmingly similar to real correspondence from the company.

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HAS ANYONE RECIEVED THIS EMAIL?! I would’ve fell for this because it literally looks so realistic. However, this is 100% a SCAM and the email was sent from iflex-invoice@spectrum.net, and not an @netflix email.
Please boost this to help people keep their info safe!! pic.twitter.com/RAqWnsrm3v
— Val (@VeeeLooo) December 22, 2017

Furthermore, the phishing attempts have branched out from email to text messages as well.  

So, what are the key things to look out for when on the receiving end of a phishing attempt?

Identify the sender

If something looks real but you aren’t sure about it, take a look at who is sending the email or text message. The full list of legitimate email addresses used by Netflix are marked on their actual website. If the email you received is not from one of these addresses, you may be assured that it’s a scam.

Don’t click on anything in the email.

Simply close it and navigate away. If you are concerned about the state of your account,you can navigate to the company’s website yourself and verify your information there either by reviewing your account settings, or in the case of the suspended account scam – simply try to run Netflix. If your account was suspended, you would not be able to watch shows on it.

If you accidentally clicked on any links in the email, make sure you change all affected passwords (email, company website, etc.) and if you provided financial information to a malicious website, contact your bank.

Never provide any login or financial details over email.

Big companies like Netflix will never ask you to provide your password or financial information over email. Sometimes scams take this into consideration and provide links to fake websites to trick readers into giving them their account or financial credentials. If you’ve been the target of one of these scams, don’t click on any links in the email.

If you are concerned about the state of your account,you can navigate to the company’s website yourself and verify your information there either by reviewing your account settings, or in the case of the suspended account scam – simply try to run Netflix. If your account was suspended, you would not be able to watch shows on it.

If you think that you may have fallen for one of these phishing scams, make sure you change your password on your email and your Netflix account. Furthermore, you should double check with your bank to make sure your financial information hasn’t been compromised.

If you were the recipient of one of the duplicitous emails or text messages, Netflix outlined some steps you can take listed on its website. These include instructions for forwarding the suspicious email or text message to phishing@netflix.com, which will help the company identify these scams.

This article was written by Kristina Weber of Centry LTD. For more content like this, follow @CentryLTD on Twitter!

Cryptocurrencies & Sanctions

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Bitcoin has seen its value skyrocket in the past few weeks, and some cyber analysts are beginning to worry that the digital cryptocurrency is primed for exploitation by countries looking to dodge sanctions.

Bitcoin is but one of many cryptocurrencies backed by encrypted blockchain technology that allows users to conceal their identities when buying or selling the currency. This offers a level of anonymity that has been perceived as hitherto limited to cash transactions. Consequently, cryptocurrencies may offer a means for criminals and sanctioned entities to conduct business beyond the global financial system.

Furthermore, the anonymity available in bitcoin transactions makes it challenging for international authorities to prove that money has been transferred by sanctioned entities.

Nonetheless, we have seen stories crop up surrounding North Korea’s use of the currency to dodge UN sanctions. According to FireEye, North Korean state-backed hackers have been increasing attacks on cryptocurrency exchanges in South Korea to steal Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. It’s expected that North Korea’s hold of the digital currency will continue to increase in the wake of tightening sanctions.

Keeping in mind that FireEye’s article was originally published in September, it was stated that they observed North Korean actors target at least three South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges since May 2017. When taken into consideration in combination with the ties between North Korean operators and a compromised Bitcoin news site in 2016, as well as the use of a cryptocurrency miner, we begin to see the potential interest that the nation has in Bitcoin, among other cryptocurrencies.

Furthermore, Bloomberg recently published a report suggesting that Russia may utilize cryptocurrencies to work around increasing sanctions.

However, there are still quite a few obstacles in the way of using Bitcoin for large-scale transfers, as cashing out of the system is complicated. Regulators keep a close watch on the transfer of virtual currencies into cash, and anything that operates in dollars would be subject to US regulation.

Moreso, there’s simply the issue that there is a limited quantity of the cryptocurrency available. The total market capitalization of Bitcoin seems to be around $280 billion, which, while it is a lot of money, is but a drop in the bucket of true global wealth.

For more content like this, follow @CentryLTD and @CentryCyber on Twitter! 

When is ‘State-Owned’ a Red Flag?

One of the things that we screen for in our risk assessments is the connection of the subject to a politically exposed entity. This basically refers to any individual or company that has connections to the government of a country or other public office. For someone unfamiliar with screening processes and typical red flags, you might ask – when does political exposure or state ownership become a red flag?

The short answer is that state-owned corporate groups are linked to sensitive geopolitical spheres and carry with them the potential for many prominent international sanctions.

To get more in depth, the issue with state ownership can be a multi-faceted one. Usually, it’s not a problem. When it does present an issue, it’s because of the political exposure – where an individual or entity with prominent public function is at higher risk for bribery and corruption. In that case, determining the level of risk is up to the country in question.

Russia has had its state-owned companies sanctioned by the West. Whilst proper screening will yield entities that have been sanctioned, the connections between these and potential business partners may not always be so cut and dry. Say you are a tech company supplying technology that has been sanctioned from being imported to Russia. Over the course of business, you may find out that the new customer you were about to supply that tech to has a reliance on a separate customer that is state-owned. In that case, your company would need to evaluate the connections of your prospective customer to ensure that there are no liabilities present.

For a macro perspective, there is also the issue of planning global ventures to navigate geopolitics and risky relations. These situations must take into consideration regional tensions, such as that between the Middle East and Israel.

The issue of lobbying is one that should be considered as well, because a state-owned or backed company may attempt to influence your business to rise to the occasion. Whilst in some cases, state-backing can be a boon, danger could arise from discrete or unknown political exposure. If something is “off the radar”, it could mean that there is something to hide.

In many areas of the world, it’s impossible to do business with important state-owned entities without at least having gratitude payments involved. It’s also very common in some countries to have a former high ranking Politically Exposed Person (PEP) or government official connected to a state-owned company, where the PEP’s own companies on the side are taking advantage of the state-owned one. It’s even possible for these individuals to continue to benefit from this type of action even when they are no longer directly in the state-owned company.

Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all casting for state-owned or politically exposed entities as a whole, as it is all dependent on the laws and geopolitical context of each unique situation. That said, we hope this article has provided you with some perspective on how investigators may draw evidence-based conclusions regarding entities with political connections.

For more content like this, follow @CentryLTD on Twitter! This article was co-written by Oskar Savolainen and Kristina Weber of Centry Ltd.