Do You Know About The Rise of Cyber Espionage?
Cyber espionage is a form of cyberattack that steals confidential, sensitive data or intellectual equity to gain an advantage over a competitive company or government entity.
Espionage, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the method of spying or using spies to obtain information about the plans and activities especially of a foreign government or a competing company.”
Take this into the cyber world, and the spies are armies of heinous hackers from around the globe who use cyber warfare for economic, dogmatic or military gain. These deliberately drafted and highly valued cybercriminals have the technical know-how to shut down anything from government infrastructures to financial systems or utility resources. They have influenced the outcome of political elections, created havoc at international events, and helped companies succeed or fail.
The Rise of Cyber Espionage in 2014
Sometimes insecurity we find ourselves using certain footings very broadly. We use them correctly, but the specifics can vary a lot, and that puts us at a disadvantage.
Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume 20 revealed two highly versatile forms of malware believed to be used in espionage – Regin and Turla. Regin, being one of the most jaded pieces of malware seen to date, had the abilities of a chameleon- it provided attackers with tools like remote access, screenshot capture, information stealing, network snooping, and deleted file recovery. In the instance of Turla, attackers used spear-phishing and watering hole tactics to target the governments and embassies of former Eastern Bloc countries. Turla gave attackers remote access to infected computers, giving them access to steal files, delete files, and connect to servers, and a host of many other things.
Who Performs Cyber Espionage?
In accumulation to attack groups, there are state actors who are acting on behalf of a governmental frame, patriotic hackers, hacktivists, scammers, and data thieves can all be involved in cyber espionage. Some aggressors are out to steal intellectual property in order to sabotage businesses, others are going after sensitive government data and some will even go as far as attacking industrial systems such as energy grids and petroleum lines.
How is it Done?
Cyber espionage is a very complex process- it’s not just the act of discarding malware onto a computer and having a free-for-all. It is more of a sophisticated crusade where the attackers have chosen their target, the type of information they’re looking to steal, or they could just be looking to cause damage.
Sometimes, infiltration is not as easy as exploiting a zero-day software in order to gain access to an organization’s network. If attackers can’t find a software vulnerability within the network of an organization, they will look to an individual working within the organization. Sometimes these attacks require the human element of social engineering in order to succeed, such as phishing campaigns.
When attackers are targeting a person, they will do investigation on their subject by searching for details about them online, looking for social media sites, blogs, or anything that will give an attacker insight into their victim’s interests. They can then use that data to tailor a specific phishing campaign that is relevant to the target, in hopes of gaining their attention. Once the attacker has the attention of the quarry, all it takes is opening the email, clicking on malicious links or downloading malicious software. Once the victim completes that task, the malware will then be installed onto the victim’s computer, allowing the attackers access to the network, where they can then carry out their mission of espionage.
How Can I Keep My Company and My Info innocuous?
Guard your passwords
If a cybercriminal gets a hold of your email address or username to an account you hold, they can use special tools to try and “crack” your password. Strengthen up your password by ensuring that is a strong one. Be sure to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, omit words found in the dictionary, and certainly don’t use any personal information to make up the password. Also, don’t reuse the same password on multiple sites. Try to use two-factor authentication when available.
Don’t fall for phishing.
Educate yourself on the perils of phishing attacks. Know what to be on the lookout for, how to identify spoofed emails
Locked Your Software.
Always perform regular software updates once available on all of the programs you use. Leaving programs outdated can leave holes that attackers can sneak malware through.
Armor your social media accounts.
As mentioned previously, attackers will do research on their targets, so make sure your social media accounts privacy settings are in check. Don’t allow any personally identifiable information to be viewable to the public, and be leery of people who contact you that you don’t know.