Network credentials and virtual private network (VPN) access for colleges and universities based in the US are being advertised for sale on underground and public criminal marketplaces. "This exposure of sensitive credential and network access information, especially privileged user accounts, could lead to subsequent cyber-attacks against individual users or affiliated organizations," the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in an advisory published last week. See: https://www.ic3.gov/Media/News/2022/220526.pdf
The cyber intrusions against educational institutions involve threat actors leveraging tactics like spear-phishing and ransomware to carry out credential harvesting activities. The gathered credentials are then exfiltrated and sold on Russian cybercrime forums for prices ranging from a few to thousands of US dollars. Armed with this login information, the agency pointed out, adversaries can proceed to conduct brute-force credential stuffing attacks to break into victim accounts spanning different accounts, internet sites, and services. "If attackers are successful in compromising a victim account, they may attempt to drain the account of stored value, leverage or re-sell credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information, submit fraudulent transactions, exploit for other criminal activity against the account holder, or use for subsequent attacks against affiliated organizations," the FBI cautioned.
In May 2021, the FBI said it found more than 36,000 email and password combinations for email accounts ending in the ".edu" domain publicly available on an instant messaging platform shared by a group that specialized in the trafficking of stolen login credentials.
To mitigate such threats, academic entities are urged to keep operating systems and software up to date, raise awareness about phishing, secure accounts with two-factor authentication, monitor remote access, and implement network segmentation to prevent the spread of malware. It is up to all organizations to take steps and adopt procedures to protect themselves from cyber-attacks. No government can stop these attacks except for the counties that are sponsoring the attackers. Will that happen? Probably not in many countries.
The following is what Red Sky Alliance recommends:
- All data in transmission and at rest should be encrypted.
- Proper data backup and off-site storage policies should be adopted and followed.
- Implement 2-Factor authentication-company-wide.
- For USA readers, join and become active in your local Infragard chapter, there is no charge for membership. infragard.org
- Update disaster recovery plans and emergency procedures with cyber threat recovery procedures. And test them.
- Institute cyber threat and phishing training for all employees, with testing and updating.
- Recommend/require cyber security software, services, and devices to be used by all at-home working employees and consultants.
- Review and update your cyber threat and information security policies and procedures. Make them a part of all emergency planning and training.
- Ensure that all software updates and patches are installed immediately.
- Enroll your company/organization in RedXray for daily cyber threat notifications directed at your domains. RedXray service is $500 a month and provides threat intelligence on ten (10) cyber threat categories including Keyloggers, without having to connect to your network.
- Purchase annual cyber insurance coverage from Red Sky Alliance provided by Cysurance.
Red Sky Alliance is a Cyber Threat Analysis and Intelligence Service organization. For questions, comments or assistance, please contact the office directly at 1-844-492-7225, or feedback@wapacklabs. com
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