Cyber Security Today: Limit admin access, a botnet gains more modules and watch your suppliers

Happy Canada Day weekend. Welcome to Cyber Security Today. It’s Monday July 2nd.

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Security experts emphasize the importance of limiting access to sensitive computer systems to strengthen IT security. Here’s another example: Recently the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior said five government-run hydro dams are vulnerable to security threats. Not from hacking, but from too many employees having unneeded access to system administration accounts on industrial controls systems. In some cases group accounts had been created with unneeded administrative access. Not only that, the passwords of employees who left the department hadn’t been deleted. Password and access control is one of the easiest ways for any organization to tighten security. Make sure your organization is looking after it.

If you want to know why it’s hard to check the spread of malware, a new report from Trend Micro gives a clue. It details how a network of captured home and company devices called a botnet is regularly updated to deal out new viruses and the like. In this case its the Necurs botnet, whose creators have added cryptocurrency miners and information stealers to the spam modules it first distributed. These different modules look for certain things in your computer if it gets infected, like a cryptocurrency wallet, or if the computer is on a network with more than 100 users. One module looks for particular email addresses. A new module discovered last month hunts for passwords and usernames held in Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox browsers. Then it sends spam to people from a victim’s email contact list. That trick bypasses the botnet as the sending mechanism.

The best way to protect against botnets is to make sure you use good malware protection and take care of opening attachments in your email. Remember, just because a message comes from someone you know doesn’t mean the attachment is safe.

Finally, It’s not enough for organizations to lock down their internal systems from cyber attacks; they also have to make sure any partner or supplier who links to their networks is also secure. The U.S. restaurant chain PDQ learned that the hard way last month when it admitted a hacker had gotten into its computer system and made off with the names, credit card numbers, expiration dates and cardholder verification number of some customers. The attackers had a year inside the system. How did they get in? The chain believes it was through the remote connection tool from a technology company it uses. This is another reminder to business executives that every company in your supply chain is a potential attack point to you. And its a reminder to tech companies that make hardware, software or supply support services that you can be used to attack your customers.

That’s it for Cyber Security Today. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing. Thanks for listening.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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