How businesses can prevent cyber attacks

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Computers around the globe were hit by a ransomware cyber attack Tuesday which asked for $300 in ransom.   Phosphorus founder Gregory Keeley discusses how to protect your computers from cyber attacks such as this.

“People need to get off their butts and start to patch and look after their endpoint security,” Keeley told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.

According to Keeley, consumers need to be aware of all the devices in their household that could be at risk from potential cyber attacks and secure them.

“You look at a household right now, a general household, it’s not unusual for it to have 20 or maybe 30 IoT (Internet of Things) devices.  Those devices are made with no secure backend.  So people aren’t patching and they’re not protected.”

Keeley says it is a similar issue for companies with small businesses often having a similar number of computer devices to consumer households.

“So, if you have a house, and that’s equivalent of what a small, medium enterprise was just a year or two ago, you need to be patching those, you need to detect, you need to patch.”

But Keeley says not all patches are created equal.

“The fix that is out there right now,” Keeley says, “Our guys have run it down, it’s not a fix, it’s what they call a zombie patch, that will protect your machine or your IoT hardware from infection, but it won’t clean your machine.”

In the case of the latest ransomware, Bartiromo asked whether people should pay the ransom to unlock their computers.

“Absolutely not,” Keeley responded, continuing, “As of last night there was no way to actually pay that ransom because German authorities shut down the email account they were using to collect that money.”

Keeley then weighed in on the potential source of the ransomware, telling Bartiromo, “Where it’s come from were not sure, my money if I was a betting man would be on Russia.”

Keeley suspected the ransomware wasn’t actually about collecting money.

“If they’re really spending all this time to develop a ransomware to collect money off of victims, they’ve done a pretty bad job about it.  That suggests to me that this actually isn’t a ransomware attack in so much as it’s perhaps and potentially a state-sponsored sort of denial of service.”


Madrid: “Diversity police” to protect mosques during World LGBT Pride 2017

World LGBT Pride 2017 is happening in Madrid, and “diversity police” are out in full swing, 24-7. One would think this police force might be to focused upon protecting participants from anti-LGBT hate crimes, particularly given the hatred jihadis display toward this group; they are directed by Islamic religious tenets to murder them as a divine punishment. The diversity police, however, will be allocating “resources to protect Madrid’s mosques from hate crimes”; this decision is being criticized by Christians:

We believe it is unfair that mosques and not churches are protected. We understand that we must avoid hatred against Muslims, but Christians have also been attacked and nobody is doing anything

In Madrid, the number of hate crimes has been reported to be rising against gays, anti-Semitism is reportedly demonstrated openly, and there has been “a recent spate of attacks on Christian places of worship, including an assault with Molotov cocktails just days ago.” Nonetheless, the “diversity police” are prioritizing mosques.

Madrid Police’s Diversity Unit is operating 24 hours a day as the city hosts World LGBT Pride 2017, so as to respond quickly to any complaints of hate crime.

The specialist ‘diversity’ unit, which was created last year by Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena — a former Communist activist — has officers deployed at the sites of Pride events and is responding to “any reports of incidents, any complaints or any queries that are related to LGBT matters”.

Asserting that Madrid “is an open city, tolerant of all people, faiths and beliefs”, the head of the city’s Diversity Unit, Angel Rabadán, said officers are on call 24 hours a day for the duration of Pride so as to take reports of hate crime.

“We are prepared to respond to any complaint,” he said, explaining that Diversity Unit officers are also handing out information leaflets to Pride attendees, in both Spanish and in English………

According to El Mundo, the “main objectives” of Madrid Police’s Diversity Unit are “fighting to ensure equality, and to prosecute hate crimes,

“Officers investigate any cases of intolerance and discrimination that occur in the city of Madrid, whether a criminal offense or not,” the Spanish broadsheet adds.

Local media reports that Carmena was slammed by Christian associations this week after ordering the Diversity Unit to allocate resources to protect Madrid’s mosques from hate crimes.

Christian faith groups questioned why the city is prioritising the protection of mosques yet doing nothing for churches, despite a recent spate of attacks on Christian places of worship, including an assault with Molotov cocktails just days ago.

“We believe it is unfair that mosques and not churches are protected. We understand that we must avoid hatred against Muslims, but Christians have also been attacked and nobody is doing anything.,” Caso Aislado reported Christians as saying.


Philippines Confirms Islamic State Forcing Civilians into Sex Slavery in Marawi

AP Photo

The Philippine military has confirmed eyewitness reports that Islamic State jihadists, attempting to establish a caliphate in southern Marawi city, have taken civilians hostage and forced them to fight and loot for them, and have forced female hostages into sex slavery.

This behavior is consistent with what Islamic State terrorists have done to civilian populations in Syria, Iraq, and North Africa. In Iraq and Syria in particular, Islamic State terrorists have organized auctions to sell Yazidi girls and women as slaves and built children’s terror training camps for boys abducted from their families or brought to ISIS by jihadi couples.

“The hostages were tasked to loot houses, establishments [for] ammunition, firearms, cash, [and] gold” in Marawi, the Philippines’ only official “Islamic city,” according to Joint Task Force Marawi spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera. “Worst thing [is] there are cases of female hostages forced to marry the Maute local terrorist group. They are being forced to [be a] sex slave, forced to destroy the dignity of these women.”

Herrera added that those tasked with looting were forced to work on a schedule to prevent their injury during ongoing fighting, and some were also forced to take wounded jihadists to mosques, which the Philippine military has vowed not to attack out of respect for the local population. Herrera referred to the terrorists as “evil.”

The Maute group is an indigenous jihadist terror organization in the Philippines that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Maute and another Islamic State-affiliated group, Abu Sayyaf, overran Marawi in late May in an attempt to establish an Islamic State in the Philippines, an overwhelmingly Catholic-populated country.

The new information on civilian abuses, according to Philippine news outlet ABS-CBN, comes from seven hostages recently rescued from the city, who “shared harrowing stories of their captivity, which included rape and being forced to loot from abandoned houses in the war zone.”

The UK Telegraph cited another source, city official Hussein Datuharun, as confirming these eyewitness statements, particularly the fact that civilians who were unable to flee are being forced to fight against their own military.

“They [militants] put checkpoints all over the city and then they recruit only men, saying you join our group or we will kill you,” he told the newspaper, “That’s why the fight is still continuing. Many people who are not willing to join but are forced by the armed groups.”

The rampant human rights abuses committed against the people of Marawi are all the more notable because of the fact that reports suggest most of the Maute terrorists fighting in the city are extremely young men and boys recruited into the terrorist group through deceit.

Witnesses say many are teenagers, and in an interview granted anonymously to the Philippine website Rappler, a former Maute terrorist explained that his family allowed the Maute terrorists to take him away as a child because they promised an Islamic education for him that they could not afford. Islamic State propaganda videos out of Marawi also showcase terrorists who appear to be in their teens or 20s.

The raid of Marawi began in late May, when Maute terrorists attacked soldiers conducting a raid on the suspected hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, the head of Abu Sayyaf. Following that incident, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a 60-day martial law period on the entire island of Mindanao, where he also lives, and the military campaign to eradicate ISIS terrorists from the city has continued since.

The Philippine military claimed Monday that the fight is nearly over. “Victory is irreversible. It is just a matter of time before we will be able to complete our mission,” AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo told reporters, according to the Philippine Star.

Government sources noted in particular reports that Maute terrorists were divided on whether they should surrender or die fighting, which has caused strife among the fighters, and Maute terrorists appear dishearted at reports that Hapilon himself may have fled Marawi.

Another sign of the terrorists feeling less comfortable in their victory is a report that Maute terrorists reached out to the AFP to make a deal, offering to trade the freedom of Father Teresito “Chito” Suganob, who was abducted during the beginning of the raid in May, for the parents of the Maute brothers who lead the gang, Cayamora and Farhana Maute.

Reuters reports that government officials met with Maute negotiators during Eid, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, over the weekend and rejected the offer. Through this meeting, however, they confirmed that Suganob was alive and healthy.


Philippines says beheaded civilians found in rebel-held town

Five decapitated civilians were found in a Philippine city occupied by Islamist rebels on Wednesday, the military said, warning the number of residents killed by rebel “atrocities” could rise sharply as troops retake more ground.

The discovery of the five victims among 17 bodies retrieved would be the first evidence that civilians trapped in besieged Marawi City have been decapitated during the five-week stand by militants loyal to the Islamic State group, as some who escaped the city have previously reported.

Some 71 security forces and 299 militants have been killed and 246,000 people displaced in the conflict, which erupted after a failed attempt on May 23 to arrest a Filipino militant commander backed by Islamic State’s leadership.

President Rodrigo Duterte promised to destroy the militants in Marawi and said the Philippines was now dealing with “a very dangerous situation” due to young Muslims inspired by the “mass insanity” of Islamic State.

“All they do is just to kill and destroy, and killing in a most brutal way,” he said at an event where he received hundreds of sniper and assault rifles donated by China to help the military campaign in Marawi.

“They enjoy decapitating people in front of cameras. They have to be dealt with, with the same ferocity but not the brutality,” he said.

The information about the beheadings came via a text message to reporters from Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Garcia of the Western Mindanao Command. Garcia did not respond to repeated requests for details.

A civilian rescue worker, Abdul Azis Lomondot, told Reuters body parts were found, but with “no proof of beheading”.

Military spokesman Jo-Ar Herrera said bodies were found separately in two groups, of 12 and five, but he was unable to confirm if the five were beheaded.

The battle entered its 36th day on Wednesday, with intense gunfights and bombing in the heart of the town and black-clad fighters seen from afar running between buildings as explosions rang out.

The rebels’ hold on Marawi, while incurring the full force of a military for years trained by its U.S. counterparts, has much of the region on edge, concerned that Islamic State’s influence may run deeper than thought.

Those fears are also being felt in Malaysia and Indonesia, whose nationals are among the Maute group of rebels fighting in Marawi, suggesting the group may have built a cross-border network that has gone largely undetected.


Military spokesman Restituto Padilla earlier said it was likely that many civilians had been killed and the death toll – at 27 before the latest 17 were announced – was only what the authorities could confirm independently and escapees had reported many in the area of fighting.

“(It) may increase significantly,” Padilla told reporters. “There have been a significant number that have been seen.”

Padilla said the cause of all of those deaths would be “atrocities committed by the terrorists”.

Among those atrocities, the army says, have been residents being forced to loot homes, take up arms or become sex slaves.

Videos have appeared this month on the website of Islamic State’s Amaq news agency and its social media channels of hostages in Marawi pleading for their lives, saying they would be beheaded if air strikes were not stopped. Clips have also appeared of kneeling captives, shot in the head from behind.

Reuters was unable to confirm the authenticity of the footage.

The military has so far been reluctant to discuss the possibility that the real impact of the fighting on civilians could be far more severe than has been reported.

It has played down the impact of daily air strikes and mortar assaults aimed at rebel sniper positions, which have reduced areas of the lakeside town to rubble and alarmed people stuck there, some of whom have said the shelling was a bigger threat than the militants.

Military spokesman Padilla said troops needed more time to finish what was a tricky mission, complicated by trapped civilians, hostages and booby traps.


Three ISIS members, including Brit, killed making booby-trap in Salahuddin

Shirqat – Three Islamic State members died when a booby trap they were preparing in Salahuddin province exploded, said a local source on Wednesday.

The three were bomb experts with the group, and included a British national nicknamed Abu al-Baraa al-Muhajer, the source told Alsumaria News. They were booby-trapping a vehicle, the source added.

The trio arrived to the city of Shirqat a month earlier, escaping battles in the western side of Mosul where Iraqi forces are days away from retaking IS’s largest bastion and previously-proclaimed capital.

Dozens of IS members have died over the past months while planting explosives at different havens in Salahuddin and other provinces.

Islamic State has been in control over the eastern side of Shirqat since 2014. The group has recently stepped up attacks across Iraqi provinces, and an increasing activity on the group’s behalf has been detected at Salahuddin’s borders with neighboring provinces.

The Iraqi government, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, is expected to move towards clearing IS pockets across Iraq once its eight-month-old campaign against the group in Mosul, the militants’ largest stronghold in Iraq. finishes. The fall of Mosul could mean a collapse of the group’s self-styled “Islamic Caliphate” declared in 2014.


Top US admiral warns: ISIS-linked militants seek new fronts in Asia

June 28: Smoke is seen while Philippines army troops continue their assault against insurgents from the Maute group in Marawi City

The commander of U.S. Pacific forces said Wednesday that ISIS-linked militants returning from the Middle East are intent on opening a new front in Asia, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Adm. Harry Harris used the battle in the southern Philippines as a prime example. He warned that the militants may be losing ground in Syria and Iraq, but their supporters are still willing to fight.

“Marawi is a wake-up call for every nation in the Indo-Asia Pacific,” he told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “These terrorists are using combat tactics that we’ve seen in the Middle East to kill in the city of Marawi, in Mindanao, the first time ISIS-inspired forces have banded together to fight on this kind of scale.”

About 500 gunmen, including several foreign fighters, stormed the lakeside city of 200,000 people, occupied buildings, burned schools and hoisted Islamic State group-style black flags on May 23.

Faced by his worst crisis, President Rodrigo Duterte responded by declaring martial law in the south and ordering a massive offensive.

The fighting has forced more than 300,000 people to abandon their homes in Marawi and outlying towns and flee to evacuation centers, which rapidly became overcrowded.

Harris said militants are attempting to indoctrinate people in the town. He called on Muslim leaders to attempt to confront the threat.

“We can counter violent extremists organizations like ISIS collaborating with regional allies and partners that may have elements in their countries sympathetic to ISIS’s cause,” he said.


New Cyberattack Causes Mass Disruption in Europe

FILE - In this in this Jan. 1, 2008 file photo a flag files over the headquarters of shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Jens Dresling/AP via Ritzau)

PARIS — A new and highly virulent outbreak of malicious data-scrambling software appears to be causing mass disruption across Europe, hitting Ukraine especially hard.

Company and government officials reported serious intrusions at the Ukrainian power grid, banks and government offices, where one senior official posted a photo of a darkened computer screen and the words, “the whole network is down.” Ukraine’s prime minister said the attack was unprecedented but that “vital systems haven’t been affected.”

Russia’s Rosneft oil company also reported falling victim to hacking, as did Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk.

“We are talking about a cyberattack,” said Anders Rosendahl, a spokesman for the Copenhagen-based group. “It has affected all branches of our business, at home and abroad.”

The number of companies and agencies reportedly affected by the ransomware campaign was piling up fast, and the electronic rampage appeared to be rapidly snowballing into a real-world crisis. Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblaad says that container ship terminals in Rotterdam run by a unit of Maersk were also affected. Rosneft said that the company narrowly avoided major damage.

“The hacking attack could have led to serious consequences but neither the oil production nor the processing has been affected thanks to the fact that the company has switched to a reserve control system,” the company said.

There’s very little information about what might be behind the disruption at each specific company, but cybersecurity experts rapidly zeroed in on a form of ransomware, the name given to programs that hold data hostage by scrambling it until a payment is made.

“A massive ransomware campaign is currently unfolding worldwide,” said Romanian cybersecurity company Bitdefender. In a telephone interview, Bitdefender analyst Bogdan Botezatu said that he had examined samples of the program and that it appeared to be nearly identical to GoldenEye, one of a family of hostage-taking programs that has been circulating for months.

It’s not clear whether or why the ransomware has suddenly become so much more potent, but Botezatu said that it was likely spreading automatically across a network, without the need for human interaction. Self-spreading software, often described as “worms,” are particularly feared because they can spread rapidly, like a contagious disease.

“It’s like somebody sneezing into a train full of people,” said Botezatu. “You just have to exist there and you’re vulnerable.”

The world is still recovering from a previous outbreak of ransomware, called WannaCry or WannaCrypt, which spread rapidly using digital break-in tools originally created by the U.S. National Security Agency and recently leaked to the web.

This particular variant of ransomware leaves a message with a contact email; several messages sent to the address were not immediately returned.