In addition to having fought the Russian virus for two years, he estimated that attacks from all sources on accounts serviced by his company occur at an average rate of three per second. That totals 259,200 individual hack attempts per day or roughly 94.6 million per year.
Those attacks are logged and the logs are kept for one month, but Weber said it would be a Herculean task to keep track of every attempt.
"We can't watch these logs all day long," he said. "It's insurmountable."
The main way those attacks occurred, Weber said, is by cracking users' email passwords.
He used one of their users as an example of a virus traced back to
"She got the virus, it launched on her computer, and the first thing it set up was a mail server," he said. "Then it goes through all her address books and picks up anything that looks like an email address -- not hard to find, look for the 'at' sign, find the chunk to the left of it after the space, find the chunk to the right of it with a dot and three letters, and you've got an email address."
Once the virus collects those email addresses, it sends out copies of itself to each of them from the original infected account. Infected systems can then be mined for valuable data, damaged remotely or hacked to make a political statement, among other possibilities.
On behalf of his own customers, Weber said he blocks about half of their emails -- known to be spam -- right off the top. The remainder that come in are scanned for viruses before they ever show up in any folder, even in a customer's spam filter.
Weber said he has taken the additional step of blocking all of
But part of the problem is that companies such as
He added that he could even subscribe to a service that blocks "poisoned" IPs, but it creates the same problem.
"We can't block
MontanaSky also offers its customers a subscription-based PC Fitness Service Program to have their computers regularly cleared of viruses, spyware, adware and fake alert software.
"In our day and age you see a lot of cyberattacks that have impacted customers with credit cards through restaurants and stores. It's a very common threat that we recognize," Bemis said. "We work with our vendors very closely to make sure our customers' information is protected."
Bemis called that protection an ongoing process monitored "on a 24/7 basis" by a "very dedicated team that is constantly keeping up with the different cyberattacks."
Despite the volume of attacks and the amount of potentially dangerous email, Weber said users can protect themselves from most of that danger by taking one simple step -- changing their passwords.
In fact, Weber said the reason both Target and
"The simplest thing could have saved it -- if they all had complex passwords," he said.
According to Weber, 85 percent of all email passwords are four letters or fewer, and five percent are the email address itself. For example, an email address of "JohnDoe@emailserver.com" with a password of "johndoe."
Complex passwords include both lowercase and capital letters as well as numbers and special characters, such as =, & or #.
Weber said his users will soon be required to have passwords that include non-sequential numbers and will be barred from including words that can be found in a dictionary.
"It's time for you to pull up your big boy pants and realize that you own a computer and you've gotta figure out how to run this in the future," he said.
He noted that Windows computers are the most vulnerable, adding that Macintosh computers, by and large, "have no problems." He said Windows users should make sure to take the additional steps of keeping their Windows software up to date and paying to keep their antivirus software up to date.
The investigation into the
URM processes credit and debit card transactions for its customer businesses, and was hacked and had information stolen pertaining to transactions
The press release stated that Super 1 Foods stores in
The investigation was unable to come up with enough information to identify which specific cards or information was taken, only that it is believed that the hacker was only able to access "track 2 data" -- card account numbers, expiration dates and card verification numbers -- for most of the transactions, only obtaining the cardholder's name in a small number of cases.
No customer addresses, phone numbers or
"We are incredibly grateful to our customers for their patience and understanding through this difficult experience," URM Chief Executive Officer
Local banks were quick to work with their customers to help them recover money stolen from their accounts and to cancel affected cards and take other precautionary measures.
Among the "key discoveries" listed in the beginning of the report are that spam is continuing to decrease while the proportion of "maliciously intended spam" remains constant, that 99 percent of all mobile malware in 2013 targeted Android devices and that "malicious exploits are gaining access to Web hosting servers, nameservers and data centers."
The report indicates that the top nine themes for spam/fraudulent messages worldwide are, in reverse order, PayPal, gift cards or vouchers,
To read the entire report, visit www.cisco.com/en/US/prod/vpndevc/annual_security_report.html.
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