Tag Archives: hackers

Combating Rising Cybercrimes in Canada

Ever since the pandemic began, the threat of hacking and cyber crimes rose at an alarming rate. Many people and even official sites were hacked which posed a threat regarding the usage of online platforms and the information people provided. It was even a big question mark since Covid-19 made everyone switch to working virtually.

Manitoba worked with Ottawa and temporarily took down their websites in order to boost their protection against cybercrimes and hacking, especially ransomware attacks, which is on the rise in Canada and Canada was in top countries who were the target of cyberattacks.

Cyber Threats and Risks Faced

Sami Khoury, head of the government-run Canadian Centre for Cyber Security said that Canada is among the top countries that has been impacted by cybercrime and the Government needs to advise a sound system for protection against cybercrime faced. The hackers are getting advanced and the state needs to protect themselves accordingly.

The Covid-19 pandemic has made it easy for hackers to advance in their malicious activities, since the entire workload has left the protected and encrypted computer systems of offices to the unprotected systems used at homes. Khoury said that hackers have honed in on system vulnerabilities in the shift to at-home work if this increase and lack of protection against cyberattacks can lead to national and international level threat. 

Not long ago Newfoundland and Labrador’s health-care system faced a major cyber attack of ransomware. Health-care workers were forced to use paper and manual systems for the first time in decades. This attack further put the residents and general public at the risk of identity frauds. The hackers hack data and in return they ask for a hefty amount in order to give the data back.

How do Hackers get a hold of your Data

Federal data shows the average ransom amount paid by the public and private sector soared to $300,000 in 2019 from $25,000 in early 2019 due to work from home shifting. The payment in fall levelled about $175,000. Ransomware hack usually starts from phishing. The victim gets an email which seems like a trusted source and the link(s) in that email that directs someone to the login site of an agency or a government’s site. The hacker gets a hold of the username and password. Such emails may also contain invoice or a receipt which contain viruses.

In such cases, the hackers try to steal as much data as they can and then encrypt the data, locking out the original owner of the data, threatening them for selling the data unless some amount is paid. Then a ransom is demanded which is usually paid in crypto (to protect the anonymity of the hacker).

What is Being done for Protection?

Amid the rising cyber attacks, Khoury’s federal group issued a guidance for the prevention and lookout for ransomware attacks.

Manitoba cyber-security expert Eddie Philips said that the companies and the government are not concerned enough about the threat that cyberattacks pose. He said that companies must have a recovery time objective (RTO). He further said that large firms need disaster recovery plans which include backup databases which workers can use.

Health and Manitoba governments said they had a back-up database and recovery targets which are divided among the departments. They also revamped up their cyber security system that helped secure the system of their workers among the networks.

Alot is being done by the government to combat the rising threat of cybercrimes. Pandemic changed the entire network of how people worked and interacted. Philips said that training is essential to prevent cyberattacks and every company and firm should take measures not only to protect their systems but to also train their employees about possible threats and how to prevent them. Sometimes, hackers just need a little window open through which they can invade and steal essential information. Education and training can help prevent cyberattacks.

Newfoundland is left to Rebuild their System ‘from scratch’ using backups, Following the Cyberattack

Amid the global pandemic, better working of the healthcare system is of utmost importance. The recent cyber-attack on Newfoundland and Labrador’s healthcare system has raised cautions about protection against hacks and cyber-attacks and protection of vital and personal data.

The Cyber-Attack on Healthcare System

Cyber-attacks on healthcare systems are not a new thing happening in Canada. The recent cyber-attack was termed to be the worst attack healthcare system in Canada had to face. On 30th October 2021 cybercriminals hacked the healthcare systems Newfoundland and Labrador, gaining access to the personal data of patients and employees. However, David Diamond, head of Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest health authority, told reporters that the system has been built again “from scratch” using backups.

The reason for rebuilding systems from scratch is because in ransomware attacks, the victims either cannot obtain the decryption key or the decryption key doesn’t work as intended to, as told by cyber security consultant and former special adviser to Europol’s CyberCrime Centre, Brian Honan.

What was Stolen?

Confirmed by the officials, the hackers stole personal information of health-care workers/patients from four health regions and social insurance numbers of 2,514 patients-1,025 of whom are still alive. These insurance numbers were likely collected by mistake as said by Diamonds.

Combating the Cyber Attack

Ever Since the attack, the officials were reluctant to reveal any information regarding the nature of the attack or the cybercriminals responsible for this cyberattack on the healthcare sector of Newfoundlnd and Labrador. It took days to reveal that the reason behind the disruption of the healthcare system was a cyberattack.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s health-care system was built from scratch as the experts said it is not an easy task. Vice-president of Industry Security Strategy at eSentire, Mark Snagster said that the reason for rebuilding the system from scratch was to make sure that the attackers had not left behind any “hidden back door” from which they can enter back again. Though it was an expensive and difficult job.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador was reluctant in giving any information regarding the cyberattack or having contact with any of the perpetrators. They refused to tell whether any ransom was demanded or paid during the attack. The involvement of ransomware was not clearly conveyed either by the government.They didn’t even tell whether the data was lost, however Honan said it was unlikely since they were rebuilding the system from scratch.

The cyberattack on Newfoundland and Labrador’s health system is deemed to be the worst cyber attack in the history of Canada. The lack of word and information by the government further made the public doubtful about the security of their personal data and information which seemed vulnerable to the attacks of cybercriminals. The cyberattack was a signal towards the Canadian government to protect and safeguard the information of its citizens.

Russian Hackers Target Canadian Covid19 Researchers

Russian hackers, Cozy Bear and the Dukes , are being accused of malicious attacks against Canadian, US and UK’s researchers working on Coronavirus vaccine, according to cyber security experts in those countries.

The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) , Canada’s foreign signals intelligence, said Cozy Bear and the Dukes, Russian hacker group believed to be associated with Russian intelligence, is behind the malicious attacks.

CSE said that the hacker’s group “almost certainly operates as part of Russian intelligence services”. Kremlin denies the allegations.

These malicious cyber activities were very likely undertaken to steal information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines, and serve to hinder response efforts at a time when health care experts and medical researchers need every available resource to help fight the pandemic.

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The Communications Security Establishment (CSE)

CSE declined to comment whether hackers were able to obtain any secret information about Covid-19 vaccines.

Canada, USA and UK said that Russian hackers use custom malware known as WellMess and WellMail to attack organizations.

Paul Chichester, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, said that allies “condemn these despicable attacks against those doing vital work to combat the coronavirus pandemic.”

Happened Before

CSE has also confirmed that they are investigation earlier breaches that happened in May and were Covid-19 related also.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, said he denies allegations and that real evidence is needed.

Data OF 15 Million LifeLabs’ Canadian Customers Compromised

Lifelabs , Canada’s largest provider of health diagnostic testing services, acknowledged that more than 15 million of accounts have been compromised in a recent hack.

However Lifelabs has mentioned that they have negotiated with hackers and paid a ransom fee to get the data back.

Information of more than 15 million of customers in British Columbia and Ontario have been compromised. Data like the names, addresses, email addresses, customer logins and passwords, health card numbers and lab test results have been accessed by hackers.

The company states that the hack has occurred on November 1st 2019.

This is not the first time LifeLabs gets hacked. They had similar incident few years ago where hard drives with data of thousands of patients were stolen.

Lifelabs apologizes for the incident and says that it will offer one free year of identity theft insurance as well as dark web monitoring.

An Open Letter to LifeLabs Customers

To our customers:

Through proactive surveillance, LifeLabs recently identified a cyber-attack that involved unauthorized access to our computer systems with customer information that could include name, address, email, login, passwords, date of birth, health card number and lab test results.

Personally, I want to say I am sorry that this happened. As we manage through this issue, my team and I remain focused on the best interests of our customers. You entrust us with important health information, and we take that responsibility very seriously.

We have taken several measures to protect our customer information including:

Immediately engaging with world-class cyber security experts to isolate and secure the affected systems and determine the scope of the breach;

Further strengthening our systems to deter future incidents;

Retrieving the data by making a payment. We did this in collaboration with experts familiar with cyber-attacks and negotiations with cyber criminals;

Engaging with law enforcement, who are currently investigating the matter; and

Offering cyber security protection services to our customers, such as identity theft and fraud protection insurance.

I want to emphasize that at this time, our cyber security firms have advised that the risk to our customers in connection with this cyber-attack is low and that they have not seen any public disclosure of customer data as part of their investigations, including monitoring of the dark web and other online locations.

We have fixed the system issues related to the criminal activity and worked around the clock to put in place additional safeguards to protect your information. In the interest of transparency and as required by privacy regulations, we are making this announcement to notify all customers. There is information relating to approximately 15 million customers on the computer systems that were potentially accessed in this breach. The vast majority of these customers are in B.C. and Ontario, with relatively few customers in other locations. In the case of lab test results, our investigations to date of these systems indicate that there are 85,000 impacted customers from 2016 or earlier located in Ontario; we will be working to notify these customers directly. Our investigation to date indicates any instance of health card information was from 2016 or earlier.

While you are entitled to file a complaint with the privacy commissioners, we have already notified them of this breach and they are investigating the matter. We have also notified our government partners.

While we’ve been taking steps over the last several years to strengthen our cyber defenses, this has served as a reminder that we need to stay ahead of cybercrime which has become a pervasive issue around the world in all sectors.

Any customer who is concerned about this incident can receive one free year of protection that includes dark web monitoring and identity theft insurance.

Yours sincerely,

President and CEO

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Charles Brown

LifeLabs

Security Firm OneSpan Opens R&D in Montreal

Security firm from Chicago is opening a center in Montreal to do their R&D. They will be investing $9m to operate the center there.

This is on top of their existing office there where they employ 150 employees. This new addition should add another 100 hires.

Company claims to have over 10,000 clients and employs over 600 employees worldwide.

Data breaches, identity theft, and financial fraud have become all too common features of our modern digital life. OneSpan is dedicated to protecting people from financial fraud and stopping billions of dollars in losses for consumers, banks, and businesses.

Our new Montréal R&D centre and the city’s world class technical talent will play a prominent role in ensuring OneSpan remains at the forefront in preventing fraud in the global financial services industry.

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Scott Clements

Chief Executive Officer, President, and Director at OneSpan

This is a big win for Quebec government who had their share of controversy in the last few months. This shows that current Quebec government can attract foreign investment into the province.

Eric Girard, Quebec’s Minister of Finance, said that “It is essential to develop high-level expertise in personal data and information protection in Québec. Cybersecurity and data protection remain a priority of our government.”

Montreal is well known in the world for its amazing game development contribution with companies like Ubisoft and Eidos. Now they can add two more to their list: artificial intelligence and cyber security.

It is impressive to see that Montreal IT work-force has increased from 100,000 to 150,000 in less than a decade.

Tesla Model 3 Hacked in Canada

Two hackers in Vancouver had won a Tesla after they have found loophole in Telsa’s web browser that let them bypass security.

This happened at a Pwn2Own hacking contest in Vancouver where so called white hackers and security experts gather to try to exploit various computer systems . Pwn2Own has been going on for over 10 years.

This year was a special year as this is the first time a big company like Tesla agreed to lend them a car to be exploited and hacked .

Two security experts, Richard Zhu and Amat Cam, were able to penetrate Tesla’s web browser and show a custom message.

Tesla gave the duo the same car they hacked as a gift. They also mentioned that they will be fixing the bug asap.

“In the coming days, we will release a software update that addresses this research. We understand that this demonstration took an extraordinary amount of effort and skill, and we thank these researchers for their work to help us continue to ensure our cars are the most secure on the road today.”

Tesla’s been involved with hacking community for many years and have been giving away bounties of up to $15,000 US. Nice way to keep the car safe.

iPhone Facetime’s Hack

Update: Apple released iOS 12.1.4 that fixes FaceTime security flaw that let people eavesdrop in on you or even see your camera without your authorization. Feel free to go to Settings > General > Software update to do the update now.

You would never expect a large firm like Apple would let you eavesdrops on another person’s iPhone. But yesterday social media went crazy discussing how easy it is to do just that.

Basically you can call another person’s iPhone and eavesdrop or even see a video without the other person’s accepting it.

Apple acknowledge that it’s a bug in their Facetime software system and even without answering the call the other person can hear and see what you are doing.

We’re aware of this issue and we have identified a fix that will be released in a software update later this week

Apple

Apple has also said that it has disabled group Facetime chat, the software that was causing an issue.

This is a big setback for Apple as it is trying to a be a leader when it comes to its users’ privacy.

At Planetweb, we have replicated an issue. It is very simple to do. Just call someone using Facetime and while calling, swipe up and add yourself to the convesation. Even if the other person does not answer – you will stay connected and can hear the other person’s microphone.

What’s even worse, if that person mutes the incoming call with up or down volume button, that will switch on his or her camera, and you will be able to see video.

How to fix it? Just wait for an update from Apple. You have been warned.