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Capstone Works, Inc. Blog

Capstone Works, Inc. has been serving the Cedar Park area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How Hackers Steal Your Data (Part 1 of 2)

securityIt’s no secret that your data is a hot commodity. Each day sophisticated cybercriminals attempt to make money by stealing your private information to pose as you, blackmail you, or simply sell your information to someone who will. If you want to stay in business, you’ll need to be able to thwart these attempts. But to do so, you must understand the increasingly advanced methods hackers use. In this two-part article, we’ll examine the techniques hackers are currently employing to gain access to your sensitive data.

Cracking Passwords

The fact that hackers might simply guess your passwords probably seems painfully obvious, but the hard truth is that many companies still lack proper password management. If your password is a series of common words, a dictionary attack can use algorithms to cycle through a word database and quickly discover your chosen phrase.

Simply adding some numbers won’t be enough, either, as hackers can up the ante with a brute force attack which allows them, with some additional computing power, to cycle through alpha-numeric combinations until they strike gold.

And if they are very determined and well equipped, a hacker can also use a rainbow table attack. When passwords are attempted, they are “hashed” to avoid sending the actual plaintext password over the communication line. In this type of attack, pre-computed tables are used to recover these hashes and reverse them to reduce guessing time and discover complex passwords.

To prevent these, you’ll need to create unique passwords that are more than ten characters long and have a mix of numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and symbols for each account. One popular trick for this is to think of a phrase and codify it. For example, “Cousin Greg lives in Seattle” becomes “C0u$iNGr3gLiV3SinS3ATtLE”.

Additionally, you should use multi-factor authentication whenever possible so that your password isn’t the only thing standing between an attacker and access to your accounts.

Phishing Schemes

One of the most common methods of data hacking, phishing scams are so effective, they’ve produced many high-profile data breaches including the hacking of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, who unknowingly gave up his Gmail password, and Snapchat, where an employee gave up payroll information that led to widespread identity theft.

In a phishing scheme, disguised e-mails are used to lure the recipient into a trap. Posing as a trusted source, such as someone you do business with, your bank, or your email provider, hackers trick you into providing them information directly, clicking a link that leads you to a fake site, or downloading an attachment that then allows them access to your system. One of the oldest tricks in the book, phishing is an evergreen technique that is continually being re-invented in order to become harder to spot.

The best way prevent being hooked in by a phishing scam is to study the way they are being used and stay vigilant. Make sure to check the spelling of URLs in email links and watch out for URL redirects. Keep your browsers up-to-date to ensure you have the most recent security patches and install anti-phishing toolbars on your browser that can run checks on sites you visit and compare them to a database of known phishing sites. And, of course, never give out personal information over email.

These are two of the most popular ways attackers attempt to gain access to your system but stay tuned for Part 2 of this article as we dive into three more sophisticated methods cyber attackers are currently using. Concerned you’re not as safe as you thought? Contact Capstone Works immediately. Our cybersecurity professionals have the expertise to make sure you’re one step ahead of the latest tricks, scams, and hacks that could threaten your business.

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FBI Warns Businesses of Email Scams

The FBI has issued alerts to all businesses about the spread of BEC scams.  One of the fastest growing hazards facing businesses today is the growth of Business Email Compromise or BEC scams.  According to the FBI, these scams have grown by more than 270% since the beginning of last year.  At their last reporting, more than 7,000 businesses have lost more than $1.2 billion in the last 2 years.  At Capstone Works we help you to manage your IT risks.  We are at the forefront of IT risk management; monitoring, assessing and evaluating threats to your network no matter where they may come from.  You can be confident knowing that Capstone Works is in your corner.  While these scams may, at first, seem less impressive than thefts perpetrated by sophisticated malware targeting banks and other large institutions; a BEC attack is, in reality, more vicious.  They are more versatile and can avoid the basic security steps taken by businesses and individuals.  Instead of simply targeting your machines, a BEC scam targets your people!  Criminals are convincing their victims to hand company money right over to them, and they have been very successful in doing so.  According to the FBI, “The scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 79 countries.  Fraudulent transfers have been reported going to 72 countries; however, the majority of the transfers are going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

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715 Discovery Blvd
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Cedar Park, Texas 78613