In late June, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warned US companies of increased malicious cyber-activity from Iranian Hackers.
DHS also urged US companies to do everything they can, now, to protect against some of the hackers’ most common practices, such as data-wiping malware, password spraying, spear phishing, and credential stuffing.
What are these hackers’ common practices?
Data-wiping malware is just like it sounds. It deletes data on compromised systems, but the purpose is usually to prevent forensic analysis. However, in 2012, Iran used such malware to attack national oil companies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This forced the companies to shut down temporarily, causing significant financial losses.
Password Spraying is a type of attack that is similar to brute forcing. The hacker will take a commonly used password and see how many accounts they can access with it. Example: people who use “password” as their password.
Spear phishing is a type of social engineering attack where the hacker will send a specific email to someone in an organization to gather information. Example: An email that comes from the CEO to the head of HR asking for social security numbers.
Credential stuffing is simply a hacker taking known information like usernames and passwords that have been leaked on third-party services and using the information to gain access to other accounts they are targeting. This usually targets password reuse. Example: people who use “password” for their password on multiple accounts like Amazon, their bank, and Facebook.
What does this mean for the US?
With the US now working against Iran, it is likely that US companies will now become targets. While they have actively gone after energy companies, the health care industry is farther behind in cyber-preparedness, so these are good warnings to heed. Just because Iran is doing this doesn’t mean that other hackers aren’t.
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