UK Goverment Confirms WannaCry Speculation

Last week reports emerged of the UK government confirming their suspicions of WannaCry being a state sponsored attack involving North Korea.

Earlier this year, just after WannaCry came to prominence I wrote an article What is WannaCry.  In which I speculated due to the nature and style of attack, it did not appear to follow the traditional Ransomware style. What I mean by this is, from the outset WannaCry was targeting and effecting core infrastructure as well as the Public sector in the UK. Resulting in WannaCry becoming somewhat of a disruption, as a rule Ransomware attacker aim to make the process of decrypting the data as smooth and straight forward for the victims as possible. This is likely due to them being after one thing, money. Mozilla conducted an investigation as part of there Online Life is Real Life podcast series a from their investigation they rated Ransomaware customer services. This highlights how the process of ransomware cannot be to complicated as it will reduce and limited their overall ability to collect the ransom

But there are numerous article floating around the web that indicate WannaCry made between $20,000 – $100,000. For an attack of this level that impacted hundreds of thousand of people it was a very poor take.
But the level of chaos and “denial of service” that WannaCry caused indicated to myself that their was more to it than just the money. I am aware that the traditional sence a denial of service or DDoS is targeting web services and flooding them with packets. But in this case WannaCry effected ATM machine as well as computer within hospitals, effectively denying service to them.

Of course the North Koreans released a statement to the effect of them having no involvement and that these accusations are nothing but wild speculation. But it is important to consider that this “speculation” was floating around from the beginning of WannaCry and was stated by a number of security research teams that looked into WannaCry. As well as this, the UK government would not make these accusations without a substantial level of evidence.

The north Koreans have in te past been accused of other attacks, mainly the attack on Sony. This attack was alleged to have happened due to the upcoming release of movie The Interview.

Please let me know your views on the North Koreans involvment in WannaCry in the comments below.

 

 

ProtonMail – Review

I recently wrote about ProtonVPN, a VPN services from the creators of ProtonMail. And for those of you that don’t know, ProtonMail is a service that provides security and encrypted emails.
If I can remember correctly I was part of the in initial launch and was in a waiting list for a free account. And this was only due to seeing some stuff on Twitter about it and letting my curiosity get the better of me, and I’m glad it did.

So what is ProtonMail, well to put it simply it is an encrypted email client that is based in Switzerland, and by just saying that you should know that the privacy and security of its user will be fantastic. This is largely due to Switzerland having some of the best laws in place for online privacy and security. So you know from the start that they are going to make sure your privacy is protected as strongly as possible.

Creating you ProtonMail account is much the same as creating any email account these days, you chose a username and set you passwords. But unlike the likes of Gmail and setting only one password ProtonMail asks for you to set an account password and then another password for your mailbox. This is a second line off defense to prevent your account being compromised. You can also set up 2 factor authentication from the security tab in the settings later. This again adds another layer of security before you can even view your inbox. And don’t worry this isn’t just some SMS verification, you can use just about any authenticator application on the market.

The web client its self looks just like any other email client, this I feel is a great thing because it feels as natural an environment as you’d likely be use to. Before using ProtonMail I was skeptical that the user interface might have been lacking in the looks department as their main priority is the security and protection of their users. But gladly this is not the case. There are 2 options for the layout of your inbox, the first displays your emails in a column on the left and then display the selected email on the right. And then the section option is to just have the list of emails and you can open the emails you wish to view. Depending on where you are when you are using this client could depend on how you have it laid out.

Continue reading “ProtonMail – Review”

Passwords – Good Practise

Recently I have started to use a new password manager and got asked why I did not just use the same password across all of my accounts online. And this lead to me thinking that people as a rule don’t know effective and secure practice to follow when using online accounts and passwords.

Firstly you should always use a different password for each of your online accounts, this could be having one password with many variations such as different letters or symbols within it. This is necessary these days as it only takes one of the platforms you use to get hacked and you could potentially lose access to all of your accounts.

So Here Are Some Good Password Practice

Password Practise
The steps above are a fairly comprehensive guide to develop a highly secure password, by memorizing a sentence you have written, the arduous task of having to remember your new or complex password is reduces. you can also incorporate information about the account you are logging into meaning each accounts password will be a lot easier to remember.

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TrueKey is a password manager utility from Intel, and not only does it store information for online accounts you can also put in information like your social security number. This turns out to be very useful when paired with the mobile app. TrueKey also offers a feature that will generate a password for each account, and then log you straight in from the application. Meaning once you have secured all of your accounts you will only ever need 1 password to gain access to them.

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This final method is a touch old school I know. But in my opinion nothing can beat a trusty notebook (Granted I am probably one of a few that still like handwritten notes.) But the beauty of using a notebook is that you never have to worry about getting hacked and they can be carried on you at all times. Ok, so this option might not be the best if you tend to lose things but other than that its a sure fire way to manage multiple account details offline.
 

And hopefully if you follow some of the steps listed above you should be able to maximize your online security. As it is commonly known that the weakest point in most security systems is the human element. And that is because a lot of people have poor security knowledge or training. And this can be down to a number of thing such as age or use case.

But again hopefully this helps and you can share it with your friends and colleague to again increase everyone online safety.

Daily use of a VPN

The first time I used a VPN or DNS  services was on an iPad 1, through a website called unblock US. And this was for the simple reason that I wanted to watch the American Netflix ,at that time the UK’s was very limited. But since Netflix has caught on to people changing their DNS settings and IP address it is very difficult to gain access to the Us Netflix from the UK.

So why do I still use a VPN across most of my devices, well there are multiple reasons to use on for day to day activity. This can range from regularly using a shared network or a public network. And some of the others are less obvious but are also a very good reason for using a VPN service on a daily basis.

Public or Shared WiFi and internet –

One of the main reasons I personally use a VPN is due to the places that I regularly connected to the internet from. Due to living in accommodation that has 1 router per floor, there are multiple users on the same network. And if you don’t secure your connection it is very possible for people to either monitor your network traffic. Or depending on how you have setup your machine you might have made your Windows OS visible on the network.

So how does a VPN help to protect you in this environment? Well its simple, a VPN created an encrypted tunnel between yourself and the host server meaning that your connection is going through the VPN services before going to the internet and not directly from your machine to the router and then out into the internet. This is the simple principle for public WiFi the type you might find in a coffee shop or any other place that offers you free WiFi. This is such as risk as you never truly know who else is connected to the same connection as you are, meaning there could be a hacker that is potentially trying to intercept packets from your machine. Or gaining access to your machine without your express permission. Both of these things could have multiple effects on you, such as credit card fraud or the loss of sensitive personal information that you would rather keep away from prying eyes.

Bypass Censorship –

This next reason for daily use of VPN is a very serious and unfortunate on in the information age that we are currently living in. Thankfully in the UK there are no restrictions or censorship on what we can and cant view on the internet. But sadly this is not the case in many country’s around the world and as a result some people are either being punished for using the internet or being that heavily restricted its all just propaganda and information that has been deemed acceptable.

Some VPN services actually market themselves as being able to offer a way around these censorship. This could be very important if your are in a journalist in an area were freedom of speech is heavily limited and expressing information that the government doesn’t agrees with can land you in a heap of trouble.  By using a VPN service it restores the control and freedom that should be globally available when using the internet.

It can also reduce the risk of people using free-speech to speak out against regime that from the outside world might look as if the care about the population. This open the world to the horrors of living in these country’s. There are also other ways around this such as using the Tor network, but again when using this service there is a massive recommendation to use a VPN. As some country’s will either block access to the Tor download page or will monitor and punish people that access the site.

Government Monitoring –

We are currently in an age of government monitoring, as more and more people are using the internet the information that is passed around using it has also increased.  In some ways govement monitoring is very useful and important. But in others they are monitoring the normal users online that have no malicious intentions in the slightest. So in some cases it is not fair that the government monitors all of your internet usage. This is proven when you read story’s such as true crime writers having there house raided due to there internet search habits (As research for a new book)

The scale of government monitoring has been proven in recent years, after data leaks from the likes of Edward Snowden. But the scale is ever growing as more and more government agency’s are gaining the ability to access anyone’s information. This was shown when you look into the Investigatory Powers Bill  the amount of agency’s that have the permission to monitor your activity’s is huge. If you read the list of agency’s that have permission, you might very well question why these agency’s need such a huge amount of power. Granted the UK if thankfully not a country that censors the nations internet access, but with these law that allow monitoring it is always good practice to protect your self if you like you privacy.

Some Good VPN Options

ProtonVPN Express VPN Cactus VPN
Windows, Mac, Linux and ios and android support Windows, Mac, Linux and ios and android support Windows, Mac, Linux and ios and android support
$8 per month $12.95 per month $6.99 per month