The potential for a hacked tweet from a senior business figure’s account to move a company’s share price was highlighted on Wednesday after a dozen high-profile celebrities had their Twitter accounts hijacked. Darren Thomson, Head of Cyber Security Strategy for cyber analytics leader CyberCube, said that a sophisticated social engineering attack had been used by the criminals to gain access to Twitter’s own systems. According to Thomson, the outcome of the attack was not as serious as it could have been. Latest estimates suggest over $100,000 has been lost by individuals sending bitcoins in response to fake messages offering to double their money. Homeworking creating cyber-vulnerabilities Thomson said: “This attack highlights two key points. First, CyberCube’s recent report on the effects of the pandemic found that homeworking was creating new avenues for criminals to use in their attacks. In this case, the Twitter employees whose accounts were compromised were working from home, where it may have been easier for criminals to manipulate their targets.” “The confluence of COVID-19 and advance social engineering techniques poses a growing threat. Second, it shows just how much influence high-profile figures’ accounts have. We’ve already seen how genuine tweets from the likes of Elon Musk can affect a share price. One can foresee a similar kind of attack whose objective is primarily to damage a business’s market valuation or its reputation. There’s the potential to do real harm to an organisation here. Perhaps of even greater concern is that potential political consequences of a world leader’s social media account being compromised.” More cyber-attacks could be expected The CyberCube team said more of this type of attack should be expected, particularly if this hack was a test by criminals. CyberCube is the cyber risk analytics company for the insurance industry. Its analytics platform allows insurance businesses to analyse what a major cyber-attack and other cyber-related scenarios would have on a portfolio of insurance risks.
C-suite executives will increasingly be targeted by cyber criminals looking for ways of extorting money from large corporations. According to a new report from cyber analytics provider CyberCube, organised criminals and hackers are moving away from ‘high volume, low-value’ methods of attack to, instead, carefully selecting senior managers who have access to organisations’ bank accounts and are in a position to authorise payments. Maximum degree of compliance Criminals are also predicted to use artificial intelligence to construct algorithms that will ‘hunt’ for individual targets while deciding which of their ‘buttons to press’ in order to obtain the maximum degree of compliance. The report, Understanding Ransomware Trends, predicts that criminals will more closely calibrate their ransom demands to an organisation’s financial performance, data assets and other measurables. This includes appetite and ability to pay ransoms. Aggressive organised criminal groups Overall, the report contends, the nature of ransomware attacks is changing with greater focus on organisations rather than private individuals. According to figures from cyber security specialist Symantec, the volume of cyber attacks focusing on consumers has fallen from 69% in 2016 to 19% in 2018. In hand with this, payment demands are increasing, rising to millions of dollars in some instances. The nature of ransomware attacks is changing with greater focus on organisations Oliver Brew, CyberCube’s Head of Client Services and one of the report’s authors, said: “The business model for cyber crime is evolving rapidly. Threat actor groups are conducting campaigns and adjusting their models to extract greater value from a smaller number of attacks. Recently, we’ve seen some very sophisticated and aggressive organised criminal groups conduct carefully targeted ransomware attacks, which mark a move away from the traditional high volume, low-value approach.” Forward-looking view of cyber threats Yvette Essen, CyberCube’s Head of Content, added: “Criminals are realising that ransom demands of millions of dollars are achievable when the target becomes a corporation rather than lots of consumers. The danger now is that the Coronavirus outbreak is creating the ideal conditions for ransomware attacks to flourish. With widespread working from home, increased internet traffic, increasing use of technology for what were face-to-face transactions, corporations must increase their vigilance.” Darren Thomson, Head of Cyber Security Strategy for CyberCube, said: “Insurers need to take a forward-looking view of cyber threats like ransomware. That’s why CyberCube is investing in research and development necessary to help the insurance industry anticipate how these attacks are evolving. It’s important to remember that the amount of ransomware attacks like Travelex which have gone public are just the tip of the iceberg.”