Daily email attacks

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) receives over a quarter of a million malicious daily email attacks, according to official figures.

This data revealed under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the Parliament Street think tank’s cyber security team. It showed 283,597 malicious emails were blocked by the organization every day over the first eight months of 2020.

The scale of daily email attacks

The data shows that the BBC receives an average of 6,704,188 monthly hostile emails classed as scam or spam. Additionally, an average of 18,662 malware attacks such as viruses, ransomware and spyware are blocked. From January to August 2020, a total of 51,898,393 infected emails were blocked by the BBCs systems.

The highest month of daily email attacks was July with a huge total of 6,801,227 incidents recorded. Of these 6,787,635 were spam and 13,592 were malware. The second highest month was March, when the COVID-19 outbreak was at its worst in the UK. The BBC received 6,768,632 spam attempts and 14,089 malware attempts, totalling 6,782,721.

Daily email attacks

The vast majority of email sent every day is unsolicited junk mail. Examples include:
Advertising, for example online pharmacies, pornography, dating, gambling.

Multiple cyber-attack incidents

In the past the BBC has experienced multiple incidents when it comes to cyber attempts and potential breaches. In 2013 the BBC twitter feed was subject to a phishing hack. It appeared to be sympathizers of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The BBC said the “phishing” emails contained what appeared to be links to The Guardian newspaper or Human Rights Watch online and brought users to a fake web mail portal.

In 2016 there was another hack. An anti-Isis hacking group claimed responsibility for downing BBC websites and services on New Year’s Eve.

Additionally, there were daily email attacks in December 2015, when the BBC’s websites were unavailable because of a large web attack. However, it is believed that a web attack technique known as a “distributed denial of service” was causing the patchy response. This aims to knock a site offline by swamping it with more traffic than it can handle.

A ripe opportunity for hackers

The data suggests that it is an ongoing struggle for the BBC to obstruct these malware, phishing and spam attempts.

Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian

Tim Sadler,
CEO at Tessian

According to Tim Sadler, CEO at Tessian, The global pandemic has become a ripe opportunity for hackers’ phishing scams. We can clearly see that in reflected in the spike of malicious attacks on the BBC. In the wake of the outbreak, journalists and employees would have been busier and more distracted than usual.

“Using clever social engineering techniques, cyber-criminals’ prey on people’s desire for information during uncertain times. They bank on the fact that busy, distracted and stressed employees may miss the signs of a phishing email. As a result, they fall for their scams. Organizations, therefore, must have security measures in place to automatically predict such email threats and warn people before they click or download an attachment.

What do these daily email attacks means for business?

The various malware, phishing and cyber-attacks on the BBC acts as a warning for all businesses. Criminals will never let a good crisis go to waste. Employees are now connecting to their organizations from home in large numbers. This allows cyber criminals to target businesses in many more ways. These tactics have always existed. Therefore, as Tim Sadler advises, organizations must have the security measures to detect such email threats.

At LIS our clients benefit from the latest anti-spam and anti-virus solutions. They also take advantage of our Office 365 Security Package. This allows them to stop advanced threats and stay compliant. As well as being productive and keeping their data safe. Contact the LIS Help Desk to make sure your business is safe and secure.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Security #Emails #CyberCrime #ITsupport

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

SpaceX teams with Microsoft for Space Development Agency

A digital environment will allow the user to visualize an entire satellite architecture, test satellite designs and artificial intelligence algorithms. It was announced earlier this month that SpaceX won a $149 million contract from the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency to build four satellites to detect and track ballistic and hypersonic missiles. SpaceX teams with Microsoft Azure’s as they were interested in the orbital emulator.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief of operating officer, revealed in a pre-recorded interview released Oct. 20 that Microsoft is a subcontractor working on the SDA program with SpaceX.

Shotwell in the video spoke with Tom Keane, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure Global, about a new agreement to use SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband to connect Azure cloud computing data centres deployed around the world. Keane also asked Shotwell to discuss the companies’ other partnership for the SDA contract.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft

Microsoft teams up with SpaceX to launch Azure Space to bring cloud computing into the final frontier.

The new space race

“We were pleased that Microsoft was on our team,” said Shotwell. “We will be delivering to the government a number of satellites that host a capability to protect against ballistic weapons. Microsoft will be doing quite a bit of work as a subcontractor which I think was kind of a funny twist to the relationship here.” Shotwell did not discuss what specific role Microsoft will play in the SDA program. SpaceX is vertically integrated and does not work with many subcontractors.

The SDA satellites will be delivered by September 2022. They will have a “wide field of view” overhead persistent infrared sensor capable of detecting and tracking advanced missile threats from low Earth orbit. The spacecraft will have optical crosslinks to pass data to relay satellites.

SpaceX teams with Microsoft forming the dream team

The orbital emulator “conducts massive satellite constellation simulations with software and hardware in the loop,” according to a Microsoft blog post. “This allows satellite developers to evaluate and train AI algorithms and satellite networking before ever launching a single satellite.”

The SDA satellites are being designed to process data on board and re-task themselves autonomously. The Azure emulator tool allows the user to see what the satellite sees, which helps model scenarios and simulate the architecture.

To infinity… and beyond!

Like Buzz Lightyear, we are huge fans of space adventures and new technology. We love helping our existing and new clients achieve their goals and stay ahead of the competition. Managed IT services do not have to cost as much as a space mission. Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. We will make sure you avoid viruses and steroids. Stay on the correct flight path and make sure you have a safe landing.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#AzureSpace #Microsoft #SpaceX #Technology

Upgrading your software

Upgrading your software can cause issues

Upgrading your software is a huge decision for any business. When an automatic update appears on your screen, should you press update? Recently, some of the big software companies have released updates that have caused issues. Here are four stories that were in the news recently.

A Windows 10 update that was only released 2 weeks ago is breaking some PCs. Matt Hanson from TechRadar take a look.

An Unexpected’ iPhone and iPad update threatens app glitches. James Clayton & Leo Kelion, Technology reporters from the BBC publishes a recent article.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux runs into Boothole patch trouble. Steven Vaughan-Nichols for Linux and Open Source wrote an article for ZDNet.

Norton Antivirus fails to update on Windows 10. Aleksandar Ognjanovic a Troubleshooting Expert  wrote a story for Windows Report.

Upgrading your software

Given upgrades are here to stay, the key is not to regard them as a nuisance, but to recognise that by investing in them, you will benefit your business.

The pros and cons of upgrading your software

To help you make the right decision we’ve created a list of the pros and cons involved:

Pro: Security

New software is always more secure than its predecessors, because the longer a piece of software is on the market, the longer hackers and other bad actors have to figure out its weaknesses. With cyber-security being one of the biggest threats to businesses today (In 2016, 36% of all crimes were “cyber enabled fraud”, while “computer misuse” accounted for a further 17%) that’s a PRO you can’t ignore! Upgrading your software will help your systems with threats from cyber crime.

Con: New software costs money

Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company. To overcome these hurdles, Clockwork IT also offers a rental option to its customers allowing them to implement a new system with minimal upfront costs.

Pro: New capabilities

How do businesses justify charging you for an updated piece of software? By providing something that’s substantially better than earlier versions! The latest programs will undoubtedly address previous flaws, increase functionality, and take user feedback into account.

Con: But do you need it?

Of course, while the newest software may be the best, there is no guarantee that you need it. If your “old” program still works fine, and none of the new features will be useful to you, why throw money away on an updated product? In this case, there will almost certainly be something better to spend your money on!

Pro: Productivity and efficiency

The bottom line is this: as software functionality improves, it should deliver greater gains in productivity and efficiency. Some companies could save thousands of hours of work with a simple upgrade – at that point, the question becomes one of economics. Upgrading your software will keep your business up to date with the latest technolgu. This will ensure your team can produce the best product and service for your industry.

Con: Hurdles

While new software tends to be better, and can improve productivity, there will always be a “learning curve” to take into account. If the new programs are very different, it will require significant man-hours to understand. As well as major input from IT specialists, you may want to ask yourself: is it worth it? In other words, do the productivity gains you think you will reap from installation outweigh the height of the hurdles you will need to jump to get to them?

Managed updates

At LIS, we only roll out new software and updates when we know they can help make your business more efficient. This will save you time and money. Our clients benefit from managed upgrades.

If you would like to learn more about the software solutions that could be helping your business towards a more profitable future, contact the LIS Help Desk.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#microsoft #updates #BlueScreenOfDeath

Mini Computer Upgrade

New Micro:Bit Mini Computer Upgrade

The new BBC micro:bit ‘mini-computer upgrade’ is given to school children, with AI and machine learning support. It was launched in 2016 as part of the BBC ‘Make it Digital’ campaign. Four years later over five million have been used by schools and children around the world. The project is no longer run by the BBC. It was taken over by the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, a non-profit group setup to make coding more accessible.

The new mini computer upgrade features include a microphone and speaker. It can help with listening out for doorbell sounds to playing back voice recordings. The device will include a touch sensor that could count how often a fly lands on a pad.

The new mini computer upgrade version of the palm-sized device is expected to be available from the middle of November. Other new sensors on the device including light, magnetism and temperature, to create a wider range of applications.

Micro Bit Educational Foundation said the changes were in response to requests from teachers around the world over the four years since it was first released.

‘The purpose of the micro:bit is to help children unlock their creative potential and learn how to shape the world around them,’ Gareth Stockdale, chief executive of the Micro Bit Educational Foundation, told BBC News.

Mini Computer Upgraded

BBC micro:bit to get its first major update since launching in 2016 including a new built-in speaker,
microphone and touch sensor and support for artificial intelligence

‘Learning coding and computational thinking can enhance their life chances in the 21st Century.’ 

The micro:bit is a similar concept to the Raspberry Pi but is much simpler and is more of an educational aid than the computer on a chip Pi. Both can be used for ‘maker’ style projects – in that you can attach sensors and other items to create real world projects. But the Pi is much more advanced, with slots to plug in monitors, keyboards and other ‘full computer’ devices.

The new micro:bit is a more powerful device combining all the same features of the original and extra features to enhance learning in the classroom, the foundation said. As well as new hardware features, the latest update includes a new technical platform adding support for AI and machine learning.  It is a palm-sized circuit board and has 25 LED lights that can be programmed to show shapes, numbers and letters. It also has a bluetooth chip for wireless connectivity.

BBC Director General Tim Davie said the micro:bit project has the same qualities that form the core of the BBC – to ‘inform, educate and entertain. Since its launch through our Make it Digital campaign, it has helped transform digital skills and learning,’ Davie said.

Five million micro:bits in use

There are more than five million micro:bits used in classrooms around the world, used to teach the basics of coding through interactive projects. It started as a way to support computational thinking in the UK, but since then the BBC micro:bit has gone on to global success. To use the device users write code on a computer, tablet or even a smart phone then transfer them to the device to make it perform tasks.

The previous version could flash messages and record movements . The new version now includes a microphone, more memory, speaker and touch sensor. The new device can do much more, including responding to sound.  It is estimated that about 25 million children have learnt computing skills on the device since 2016. The campaign is successful and is used in 60 countries.

The device is used in primary and secondary schools. As well as libraries and has even been used in universities to demonstrate coding applications.

“The [micro:bit] has a low floor and high ceiling – you can make it as advanced as you wish but it can also be very basic,” Keith Quille, a lecturer at the Technological University Dublin, told BBC News. “We teach it at primary schools and at university degree level. You don’t need lots of other tools to make it work, it’s very easy to use.”

The foundation says it transforms ‘students’ engagement with technology’. As well as building teachers’ confidence in leading digital skills and creative computing education.

Time for an upgrade

LIS clients benefit from our extensive knowledge and expertise. Clients who are on a monthly support contract receive remote support and software upgrades. As well as the latest security and access to upgrade their hardware.

Does your computer system run slow? Fed up with slow Internet speeds? Can you work from home like you do in the office? Contact the LIS Help Desk for an IT Audit. Our team will be able to recommend the most cost-effective solutions to bring your system up to speed.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technology #computers #education #microbit

Ban ransomware payments

Should ransomware payments be banned?

The Government have been recently lobbied to ban ransomware payments. They have been asked to prohibit companies and individuals being able to pay ransom demands. Cyber criminals try to scam organisation with cyber-attacks using ransomware malware. The prohibition of ransom payments would cut the flow of income to attackers. As well as shutting down the desire to hit U.K. citizens and companies with ransomware.

Prohibition of ransom payments for ransomware could mean there is no point in cyber attackers going after U.K. Alexander Culafi a news writer from Search Security explores the ban ransomware payments story in more detail.

Ransomware payments

A security firm involved in the business of combating ransomware has called for a government ban on the
payment of ransoms by companies. There was no other practical solution other than to ban ransomware payments.

Paying ransomware demands could be illegal

Companies paying ransom when attacked by ransomware in an effort to retrieve their data has always been controversial because it encourages future attacks. Now, doing so may also be illegal.

The U.S. Department of Treasury today warned that paying ransomware demands may be illegal and that companies that do so could be prosecuted.

The warning came in advisories from the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Both warned that any company that paid a ransomware payment, or a third party that facilitated a payment, could be prosecuted in the case that the hackers demanding the ransom were subject to U.S. sanctions.

There is an exception: Companies that are considering making a ransomware payment can do so but only with government approval.

Specific attention was given to third-party companies that facilitate ransomware payments. “Companies that facilitate ransomware payments to cyber criminals, encourage future ransomware payment demands. They also may risk violating OFAC regulations,” the Office of Foreign Asset Control said in its advisory.

Ransomware payments are controversial

Paying ransoms in ransomware attacks has always been controversial. Firstly, a serious ransomware attack could and has seriously crippled companies and cost them. Secondlay, hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business and costs. Finally, sometimes paying the ransom to obtain access to core business files is arguably worth it.

The counter-argument is that every single time a company pays a ransomware demand, it encourages future ransomware attacks. Hacking groups know this, which is why they keep deploying attacks.

An expert’s opinion

James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at security awareness training company KnowBe4 Inc. compares ransomware to the Italian Mafia.

“Many years ago, in Italy, there were many kidnappings by organized crime groups of the wealthy and affluent families,” McQuiggan told SiliconANGLE. “They would request large sums of money in exchange to return the victim’s loved ones. The kidnappings got so bad that the Italian government initiated a ban on paying any ransom to organized crime groups. The government would seize all financial assets to prevent the kidnapped families from getting the money to pay.”

He went on, “At first, the crime groups called the bluff of the families who couldn’t pay and killed the family member. However, after a short while, the organized crime groups realized they couldn’t pay, and quickly, the kidnapping and ransoms came to an end.”

Returning to today’s advisories, McQuiggan said that even if an organization wishes to pay the ransom, it would have to collaborate with the U.S. Treasury, FBI and other government agencies to send the funds. “The U.S. government’s recommendation of not paying comes with a similar notion of not negotiating with terrorists. Never pay the ransom when involved with kidnappings and thus, the anticipated action of reducing ransomware attacks,” he said.

Stay protected with LIS

Unfortunately, we are unable to stop cybercrime. However, we try and help prevent it. Our clients benefit from our Anti-Spam, Anti-Virus and Office 365 Security Package solutions. Can you afford to take the risk?

Practice safe IT. STAY PRODUCTED! Contact the LIS HELP DESK to discuss your options.

LIS – Securing your digital world

#Ransomware #Cybercrime #Security #ITSupport