AT&T Data Breach Highlights Critical Need for Enhanced Business Cybersecurity

The recent security breach at AT&T, where hackers reportedly accessed extensive call and text records from almost all its wireless customers, including numerous business accounts, has sent shockwaves through the corporate world. This significant security incident accentuates the necessity for stringent cybersecurity protocols across industries. It is essential for business leaders to grasp the implications of such breaches and to implement strategic measures to secure their company’s critical information.

Breach Details

This extensive breach compromised six months’ worth of call and text data across AT&T’s network, affecting virtually every user. The data accessed includes phone numbers, which, despite not being directly linked to customer names, could potentially be traced back to individual identities using other online resources. This situation poses considerable privacy and security threats.

AT&T’s Measures and Future Plans

In response to the breach, AT&T has been instructed by the U.S. Justice Department to publicly detail the incident. The company is working closely with law enforcement to track the perpetrators and has bolstered its cybersecurity defenses to prevent future incidents. For businesses affected, AT&T has promised:

  • Consistent updates and immediate communication regarding new developments
  • Comprehensive explanations of the data compromised
  • Recommendations for securing personal and business information
  • Steps they are taking to improve security protocols
  • Commitment to restoring trust and dependability in their services

Implications for Businesses and Potential Risks

The impact of this data breach extends beyond individual privacy, posing significant threats to business operations, client confidentiality, and compliance with regulatory standards. Recognizing the breadth of these risks is vital for business leaders, prompting urgent action to mitigate potential damage.

Key vulnerabilities include:

Undermined Multi-Factor Authentication

The exposure of phone numbers can critically weaken the security of multi-factor authentication systems that rely on this information, increasing the risk of unauthorized access.

Corporate Communication Compromised

Insight into extensive call and text records could enable cybercriminals to decipher and exploit confidential business communication and strategies.

Heightened Phishing Risks

Armed with detailed communication logs, cybercriminals could launch sophisticated phishing attacks against your employees or clients, leading to further breaches or financial scams.

Legal and Compliance Concerns

The breach may have substantial legal repercussions, particularly concerning obligations under data protection laws and potential liabilities if third-party data is compromised.

Protective Measures for Your Business

In response to this breach and to fortify against future cybersecurity threats, businesses should adopt a holistic security strategy. Critical steps include:

Expand MFA Options

Investigate and implement multi-factor authentication methods that do not solely depend on phone numbers, such as hardware tokens or biometric verification.

Boost Employee Security Training

Enhance training programs to educate employees about the increased risk of sophisticated phishing attempts and the critical importance of authenticating unexpected communications.

Reevaluate Data Privacy Protocols

Conduct a comprehensive review of your data management practices to ensure they meet all current regulatory standards.

Implement Stronger Encryption

Upgrade encryption standards to secure all sensitive business communications against unauthorized interception.

Intensify Monitoring for Suspicious Activities

Increase the surveillance of your business’s digital footprint for any signs of abnormal or unauthorized activities that might indicate a breach.

Consult Cybersecurity Experts

Engage with cybersecurity specialists to assess your current security measures and develop an individualized strategy to address specific vulnerabilities.

A Critical Reminder

This breach serves as a critical reminder of the importance of proactive security measures in today’s digitally interconnected business environment.

At AE Technology Group, we stress the need to continuously evaluate and enhance your cybersecurity posture. By adopting robust security measures and promoting a culture of cybersecurity awareness within your organization, you can better shield your business from ongoing and emerging digital threats.

Remember, the security of your business is only as robust as its most vulnerable point. Act swiftly to prevent a seemingly minor data exposure from becoming a substantial security catastrophe. Secure your business’s future today.

Log4j Vulnerability is Almost Guaranteed to Impact Your Business

a man in a hooded sweatshirt typing on a keyboard

The major Log4j vulnerability has a widespread impact across various technology. We can’t stress how serious this is, and your business needs to take action right away.

What is Log4j?

We’ll keep it simple; programmers can utilize different programming languages when creating software. One of these languages is called Java, and in Java, programmers have “libraries” of instructions to work with. Log4j is one of those libraries.

A severe vulnerability has recently been discovered in the Log4j library that cybercriminals can exploit to gain access to your systems and data. It leaves your business and your information wide open to the world.

This particular Java library is pretty standard and is used in many applications and systems. It’s been used by some pretty popular products and services from some big names, like:

  • Amazon
  • Apple
  • Cisco
  • Fortinet
  • Google
  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • SonicWall
  • Sophos
  • VMware

…as well as others, large and small. Even the United States’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is affected.

Could The Log4j vulnerability impact my business?

The chances are pretty high that your business uses some software that utilizes Log4j, making it susceptible to vulnerability. We can’t stress enough that this affects the big guys in the list above, but everyone uses their software.

The risks are incredibly high, too—with the vulnerability just coming to light, cybercriminals are going to start exploiting it. This is called a Zero-Day vulnerability, and it’s a ticking time-bomb.

How Can My Business Be Protected from Log4j?

You need to apply your security patches and updates and ensure that the software you use—all of the software you use—is getting support from your vendors. Suppose you are using software that is no longer supported or no longer gets updated. In that case, you’ll need to audit that system to determine if it is affected by the vulnerability or not. We recommend setting up an appointment to have your entire network audited. You can get this started by giving us a call at PHONENUMBER.

The problem is, as a user, you can’t tell if a website or piece of software is using this particular Java library.

Everything Just Got a Little Riskier, So It’s Up to You To Protect Yourself

Since this vulnerability is so widespread, it’s likely to have a lasting impact across all technology for years. It’s more critical than ever to use vital password hygiene. “Password123” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Everyone needs to start using strong passwords and use unique passwords across every single website and account they use. Otherwise, when one system is breached due to this vulnerability, cybercriminals will be able to use the passwords they stole from one account to get into others. This involves following the primary password best practices that we always talk about, like:

  • Using a unique password for each account and website
  • Using a mix of alphanumeric characters and symbols
  • Using a sufficiently complex passcode to help with memorability without shorting your security
  • Keeping passwords to yourself

Audit your IT TODAY

You need to protect the interests and information of your employees and customers. We recommend contacting a professional and having all your technology reviewed and updated.

Give AE Technology Group a call at (516) 536-5006 to schedule an appointment. Don’t wait for the Log4j vulnerability to blow over—it’s going to be a dangerous situation for companies that don’t take action.

The Major Takeaways from the Big Facebook Outage of 2021

two hands holding a phone with the facebook logo in the background

Unless you live under a rock and somehow missed it, Facebook experienced an outage, an inconvenience that kept users from accessing its services all over the world. Perhaps to your surprise, the real ramifications of this outage have nothing to do with people not being able to share pictures of their cats or yell at each other in the comments.

Let’s take a look at the event and what your business can learn from it.

The True Scope of the Outage Went Far Beyond Facebook

The fact of the matter is that not only was Facebook impacted, but so too were the other services it has acquired over the years, including an unlaunched web operating system called Parakey back in 2007 and the CRM platform Kustomer in 2020. Rest assured, Meta (the company that Facebook is owned by) also owns other services that were affected by the outage.

The big issue is that businesses relying on Facebook and its other applications were also impacted by the outage. WhatsApp, for example, is a VoIP and messaging application used by many organizations, so if Facebook goes out, then it stands to reason that this would create problems for any companies that rely on it. It’s the same case for any service that uses Facebook as its login credential. Users simply were not able to use these services during the outage.

You can see how one outage can set off a chain reaction and create problems for countless organizations around the world. It just goes to show that you can’t always rely on one particular solution or service for all of your needs.

Your Company Needs a Backup Plan

If some businesses were crippled by the Facebook outage, then imagine what would happen in the event of a Google or Microsoft outage. Granted, you could be using a solution that is not affiliated with either, and that could go down just as easily. It’s safe to say that no business is immune to this challenge, so you must do what you can to prepare for it.

The key to solving this dilemma is to use the business continuity planning mindset to your advantage. With business continuity, you are actively preparing for your business to not have access to assets that allow it to function. In other words, you should have a contingency plan in place, and your employees need to be able to make the shift regardless of where they happen to be working. If you can make this happen, then you’re in a good spot.

We Can Help Your Company Prepare for Any Kind of Disaster

There is so much that can go wrong for your business, especially where data and access are concerned. Let the professionals at AE Technology Group put your minds at ease with our managed services. To learn more, give us a call at (516) 536-5006.

How the Semiconductor Shortage is Influencing Supply Chains

a person in a white suit holding a micro processor

You may have noticed the recent price increase for consumer and business electronics, and it’s all caused by issues related to the global semiconductor shortage. How have these supply chains, stable for so long, been dealt such a severe blow to the point where acquiring new computers and networking equipment is so challenging? Read on to find out.

The Law of Supply and Demand

In 2020, as COVID-19 forced the majority of businesses and organizations to shift to remote operations, the global demand for new computers skyrocketed. 2021 has not been much better. While this looks like a great benefit for the semiconductor industry at first glance, that is only half of the equation. The industry may have seen its sales expand to nearly half a trillion dollars over the past year, but at what cost?

When the supply chain cannot keep up with demand, it is natural that the supply will eventually run dry. When you compare this immense demand to the PC market in previous years, you might start to see why such a shortage exists. The stagnation in the PC market coupled with the increase in demand for these devices, as well as other electronics and the greater need for cloud computing, led many industry professionals to forecast increases of another 12 percent in 2021 to $511 billion.

As a result of this massive bump in demand, the industry simply was not prepared for the influx of sales and, thus, could not keep up with it. The shortage itself began in the second quarter of 2020, and its effects have been felt by manufacturers, retailers, and businesses alike.

The Greater Ramifications

The semiconductor shortage doesn’t only impact computers and smartphones; it is causing ripples all over for any devices that require them. One notable example is the automotive industry, which has experienced several halts in production due to the chip shortage.

On a greater scale, the electronics industry has had to make several hard choices related to hardware simply because the pieces required to make their devices are not available in the needed quantities. As you might imagine, this shortage has a considerably larger impact on smaller organizations, as large-scale manufacturers have the advantage of more capital to invest in buying up the remaining stock.

How This Affects Your Business

It might not be clear how this semiconductor shortage will affect your business, but what is clear is that people with an understanding of this industry are not holding their breath expecting the issue to resolve itself. Businesses, in particular, will need to keep their eyes on the market for any signs of recovery, as the need for new hardware and increased data processing capacity will drive the demand for semiconductors until the shortage recedes.

It’s likely that businesses will see increased prices for the foreseeable future–at least for the next four to six fiscal quarters, or until the supply chain is able to recover and fulfill demand. AE Technology Group will keep an eye on this situation so we can best serve our clients. After all, we want to help you get the best resources at a reasonable price. If you have any questions or concerns about this semiconductor shortage, AE Technology Group is happy to help. To learn more about how we can help you navigate this situation, reach out to us at (516) 536-5006.

BlackRock Trojan: Aggressive Viral Menace For Android Device Users

a computer screen with a malware symbol on it

A new attack on android applications known as the BlackRock trojan has already targeted over 300 applications on the android operating system, including banking, social media, and dating applications. Any application with payment features, which is most nowadays, has been targeted and users credit card information has been compromised. How does this all work though, and what implications will it have for the future of the android operating system?

The Mechanics of BlackRock

The essential approach that BlackRock takes to get access to your information is it sends out a false Google Update and requests accessibility privileges. After it is granted these privileges it develops its own autonomy and no longer needs further interaction from the user to operate, it does this through granting itself further permissions afterwards. 

Some abilities BlackRock has, are traditional of trojan attacks, and some are quite problematic. It can collect device information, it can perform overlay attacks, but even more concerning, it can prevent antivirus software and even prevent uninstalling, leading to a longer lifespan than most hacks and more damage being done to your device and more of your information being compromised.

The Network and History of BlackRock Malware

Information from the site ThreatFabric has concluded that BlackRock is based on banking malware known as Xerxes, which itself is a version of Lokibot malware, discovered in 2019. Lokibot is part of an underground network of rented malware which circulated in 2016 and 2017. What really caused it to be a ubiquitous problem is when the source code got leaked. 

Android tried to get out in front of the older malware by pushing their newer devices which, with their new hardware, had a natural adaptation curve for implementing the attacks on the new systems. This, unfortunately, didn’t last long. In 2018, MysteryBot dropped, which was an update on the Xerxes system to work with new Android systems. 

The ancestral history of BlackRock is inundated with Lokibot variants. Parasite was a brief problem, although after disappearing from the malware space, Xeres was the direct parent of BlackRock, with the former appearing in 2019 and now, here in 2020, we have BlackRock.

Top Apps That Have Been Threatened

Numerous applications have suffered the injection and compromise of BlackRock, but the most notable are:

  • Gmail
  • Google Play
  • Netflix
  • Wells Fargo
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Many others have been targeted as well, leading to an entire suite of applications being at risk. Millions of users could have been affected and had their financial and contact information now in the hands of hackers, which could be numerous themselves seeing as the above mentioned malware network is vast and diverse.

Implications for Android

Android, being a more open operating system, runs the risk of more of these said attacks if they don’t take a new approach to how they monitor their application base. Two futures exist for android after this latest breach.

One, they stay with the same approach they have now and hope that they can rely on a numbers game, praying that the majority of their apps stay solid with their own individual protection protocols, and hoping the majority of their users stay safe.

The other is they radically change how they monitor their operating system, implementing much more rigorous analysis of their potential apps and making the approval process contain much more scrutiny in their security requirements. 

Either way the future for android will remain risky if they simply ignore the growing underground network of malware. They desperately need to engage in research of this growing corner of the hacking world if they have any hope of maintaining a safe and secure user base.

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