Delivery Scams Most Prominent Form of Smishing

Texts purporting to be from parcel and delivery companies are the most prevalent form of ‘smishing’ scams, according to new data provided to UK Finance by cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.

The data showed that over two-thirds (67.4%) of all UK texts reported as spam to the NCSC’s 7726 text messaging system, operated by Proofpoint, during the 30 days to mid-July 2021, were supposedly from delivery companies. The next highest category of scam texts was those pretending to be financial institutions and banks (22.6%).

Over the 90 days to mid-July, the proportion of spam texts relating to parcel and package deliveries was lower, at 53.2%, while those purporting to be from financial institutions and banks were 36.8%.

As with other forms of phishing campaigns, smishing attacks have risen substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the crisis providing significant opportunities for scammers to lure consumers into clicking on malicious links and giving away personal data such as credit card details. One of these relates to the rise in online deliveries as a result of social distancing restrictions.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, commented: “Criminals are experts at impersonating a range of organizations and have capitalized on the pandemic, knowing that many of us will be ordering goods online and awaiting parcel deliveries at home.

“We are urging people to follow the advice of the Take Five to Stop Fraud campaign and to always stop and think whenever you get a text message out of the blue before parting with your information or money. Always avoid clicking on links in a text message in case it’s a scam and forward any suspected scam text messages to 7726, which spells SPAM on your telephone keypad so that the criminals responsible can be brought to justice.”

Sarah Lyons, NCSC deputy director for economy & society, said, “Scammers and cyber-criminals regularly exploit well-known, trusted brands for their own personal gain, and sadly these latest findings bear that out.

“We would encourage people to be vigilant to any suspicious-looking text messages, which should be forwarded to 7726. However, these scam messages can be very hard to spot, so if you think you’ve already responded to a scam, don’t panic. Whether you were contacted by text message, email or phone, there’s lots you can do to limit any harm. Visit www.cyberaware.gov.uk for more information on how to protect your online accounts and devices.”

Last week, consumer group Which? warned consumers to be aware of a new smishing scam impersonating international parcel delivery firm DPD, which requests the user to send a small fee to rearrange delivery of a parcel.

Cadbury Campaigns Against Cyber-bullying

The formerly British-owned chocolate maker Cadbury has launched the second phase of a campaign that encourages people to take action when they witness cyber-bullying.

The #HeartTheHate campaign asks internet users to mark social media posts that have attracted online abuse with a purple heart emoji. 

Cadbury, which was bought by American multinational company Mondelēz International in 2003, initially cooked up the campaign in 2019 to show solidarity with abuse victims. 

The campaign was launched after a poll of 89,685 internet users conducted by Cadbury in partnership with Indian media company Inshorts found that 57.6% of respondents has been cyber-bullied, and 46.5% of victims had been harassed online more than once.

Anil Viswanathan, senior director of marketing at Mondelez India, said: “Cyber-bullying is something which affects everyone, especially today’s youngsters. 

“Apart from the direct impact of bullying, the apathy of the silent bystander impacts the victims in a big way. While we were pleased to see the impact created online through #HeartTheHate, which leveraged this insight in 2019, we knew there was a lot of work still left to do.”

Phase two of the ad campaign follows a more recent poll by Inshorts and Cadbury that surveyed 170,000 people. Researchers found that 42% of respondents reported being cyber-bullied, and 55% said that they had not been given any assistance from friends after falling victim to online abuse.

“Through the next phase of the campaign, we hope to further reiterate Purple Heart as an emoticon that helps express solidarity with the bullied,” said Viswanathan. 

“This campaign leverages technology in a smart way to make consumers understand how breaking their silence and standing up for the victims can make a huge difference in their lives.” 

In the campaign, Indian abuse victims are shown in different scenarios being comforted by seeing the purple hearts left by supporters or getting bullied more when bystanders ignore the first round of abuse.

India represents the third biggest market for Cadbury chocolate products after the UK and Australia. Cadbury Dairy Milk has also teamed up with cyber-psychologist Nirali Bhatiato to run training courses at 20 universities around the country about the impact of cyber-bullying.

T-Mobile Investigates Possible Data Breach

T-Mobile has launched an investigation into a claim that the personal data of more than 100 million of its customers had been compromised. 

The claim was first discovered and reported by Vice News. Researchers came across a hacker on an online forum asking for Bitcoin in exchange for Social Security numbers.

Though T-Mobile isn’t mentioned in the forum for sale post, the hacker told Vice that the data was a subset of 100 million records that had been taken from T-Mobile servers. 

The hacker alleged that the company misconfigured a gateway GPRS support node used for testing, exposing it to the internet and allowing the attacker to eventually pivot to the LAN.

It is alleged that the stolen information includes customers’ phone numbers, names, physical addresses, Social Security numbers, and driver licenses.

The hacker said that the rest of the data, which isn’t being offered for sale on the forum, is being sold privately. 

In a statement to Reuters, T-Mobile said: “We are aware of claims made in an underground forum and have been actively investigating their validity. We do not have any additional information to share at this time.”

Sharon Besser, SVP of Guardicore, said that if the data breach does prove to be genuine, it shows how important it is to properly segment internal environments to limit attackers’ ability to access ‘crown jewel’ data. 

“Repeated instances like this highlight the fact that organizations still struggle with reducing the attack surface and limiting lateral movement once a trusted network has been compromised,” she said. 

Jack Chapman, VP of Threat Intelligence at Egress, said the data breach “could be one of the most serious leaks of consumers’ sensitive information we’ve seen so far this year” due to the number of potential victims.

“The data leaked in this breach is reported as being already accessible to cyber-criminals, who could now weaponize it to formulate sophisticated phishing attacks targeting the victims,” said Chapman. “Follow-up attacks may utilize the information accessed through this data breach to trick people into sharing more personal data that can be used for identity and financial fraud.”

Denise Schlesinger is senior director of R&D at SentinelOne. In this interview, Denise gives us an inside look at her work and how big data presents new challenges for enterprises in general and cybersecurity in particular. Denise discusses how she meets and defeats these challenges in her work and shares what it takes to build a great data team that can respond to the problems and opportunities created by collecting data at scale.

Tell Us About Your Journey So Far.

I grew up in Argentina and came to Israel at the age of 18 to study Computer Science. I started working in software companies at the age of 24 as a software engineer, mostly developing web applications. I was promoted to team leader and then R&D director by the age of 30 and was managing teams of software engineers.

Over the years, I worked as an architect and a VP of R&D at several startups in different industries: Agrotech, Adtech and Cybersecurity. My roles involved supporting big infrastructure and re-architecting products to support large-scale building and scaling tech teams. I was part of teams where I oversaw designing the complete architecture, from the ground up, of many cloud-based SaaS products and defining technical strategy and roadmap for Distributed applications, ensuring high availability and scalability.

To keep myself up to date, I read many blogs on subjects such as big data, high scale and productionizing of Machine Learning Models such as engineering blogs from Uber, Netflix, Lyft and Wix.

What Does Your Typical Day Look Like at SentinelOne?

Before SentinelOne, I was VP R&D at Novarize, where we developed AI-based tools to provide insights for marketers. I joined SentinelOne remotely during the pandemic, which was certainly a big challenge. It was incredible to see how generous people are with their time and knowledge. Thanks to their support and understanding, my transition has been a fun and positive experience.

Currently, I am a Senior Director of Engineering at SentinelOne. I lead AI and Big Data teams. My group is in charge of the data pipelines, the services that do pre-processing, aggregation and detection for all the data collected. We ingest hundreds of millions of events per minute, we run on the cloud. Our production infrastructure is huge.

On my day to day, I am involved in all aspects of architecture, software and product development, delivery schedules for high scale applications. I review my group’s development projects to ensure reliability, effectiveness and ROI.

Give Us a Glimpse Into Your Toolkit.

We run Presto, Spark, Kafka, ElasticSearch and all of our services on top of Kubernetes. We leverage Databricks, AWS Sagemaker and Spark for machine learning. We use AI to solve the hardest problems that are part of leading with such huge amounts of data. I am hands-on and love trying new technologies and frameworks.

What Does It Take to Build a Great Data Team?

I manage and mentor my teams and the managers I lead. I lead by example, I love understanding the small details that make the big picture. I like the challenge of simplifying complex systems. Enabling my teams to grow by granting autonomy, I create a safe environment with permission to fail. I truly care for them, I understand the strengths of each person and do my best to enable him/her to thrive.

I work closely with different business stakeholders in the organization to create awesome products. Building relationships, motivating, coaching and enabling each team member to be at their top game. On top of the really interesting technical challenges that come with working with big data and AI, one great thing about working is the impact you can create. Also big data means big scale and this means big problems, which are usually fun and challenging to solve. We invest a lot in building our Data Infrastructure to provide Scalability, Reliability, and Efficiency. I strongly believe in the saying: “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This is highly important when creating a data-driven culture to breathe data and require for every decision to be data-driven.

What Do You Look for in Your Team Members When Hiring?

When hiring people I look for critical thinking, accountability, and innovation. I appreciate the ability to look at things from a bird’s eye view and at the same time dive into the details to get the whole picture. I value curiosity and find that great engineers want to work on difficult problems alongside peers. I hire good team players that believe in the mission and who value a culture of collaboration and exploration.

Soul of SentinelOne: Our Values

What Are Your Views on the Current AI and Cybersecurity Landscape?

Nowadays, hackers launch hundreds of millions of attacks worldwide. Unknown threats can cause massive damage affecting a company’s business if they go undetected. Human beings cannot possibly identify all the threats.

Organisations face the challenge of analysing and tracking cloud, network and workstation activities. There’s a lot of data that has to be scanned to allow protection from malicious people and software. AI is able to analyse billions of events and identify different types of threats: from malware exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities to identifying risky behavior that might lead to a phishing attack or download of malicious code.

AI allows the automated detection needed to skim through massive amounts of data and traffic; it can be trained to generate alerts for threats, identify new types of malware and protect sensitive data for organisations. Leveraging machine learning and deep learning to learn the network’s behavior over time can help recognize patterns, detect anomalies and respond to them.

We’d like to thank Denise for taking the time to talk with us about her role and the fascinating work of AI and Big Data. If you’re interested in working with Denise or any of our other teams at SentinelOne, check out our open positions here.

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