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Ransomware persists even as high-profile attacks have slowed



In the months since President Joe Biden warned Russia’s Vladimir Putin that he needed to crack down on ransomware gangs in his country, there hasn’t been a massive attack like the one last May that resulted in gasoline shortages. But that’s small comfort to Ken Trzaska.

Trzaska is president of Lewis & Clark Community College, a small Illinois school that canceled classes for days after a ransomware attack last month that knocked critical computer systems offline.

“That first day,” Trzaska said, “I think all of us were probably up 20-plus hours, just moving through the process, trying to get our arms around what happened.”

Even if the United States isn’t currently enduring large-scale, front-page ransomware attacks on par with ones earlier this year that targeted the global meat supply or kept millions of Americans from filling their gas tanks, the problem hasn’t disappeared. In fact, the attack on Trzaska’s college was part of a barrage of lower-profile episodes that have upended the businesses, governments, schools and hospitals that were hit.

The college’s ordeal reflects the challenges the Biden administration faces in stamping out the threat — and its uneven progress in doing so since ransomware became an urgent national security problem last spring.

U.S. officials have recaptured some ransom payments, cracked down on abuses of cryptocurrency, and made some arrests. Spy agencies have launched attacks against ransomware groups and the U.S. has pushed federal, state and local governments, as well as private industries, to boost protections.

Yet six months after Biden’s admonitions to Putin, it’s hard to tell whether hackers have eased up because of U.S. pressure. Smaller-scale attacks continue, with ransomware criminals continuing to operate from Russia with seeming impunity. Administration officials have given conflicting assessments about whether Russia’s behavior has changed since last summer. Further complicating matters, ransomware is no longer at the top of the U.S.-Russia agenda, with Washington focused on dissuading Putin from invading Ukraine.

The White House said in a statement that it was determined to “fight all ransomware” through its various tools but that the government’s response depends on the severity of the attack.

“There are some that are law enforcement matters and others that are high impact, disruptive ransomware activity posing a direct national security threat that require other measures,” the White House statement said.

Ransomware attacks — in which hackers lock up victims’ data and demand exorbitant sums to return it — surfaced as a national security emergency for the administration after a May attack on Colonial Pipeline, which supplies nearly half the fuel consumed on the East Coast.

The attack prompted the company to halt operations, causing gas shortages for days, though it resumed service after paying more than $4 million in ransom. Soon after came an attack on meat processor JBS, which paid an $11 million ransom.

Biden met with Putin in June in Geneva, where he suggested critical infrastructure sectors should be “off limits” for ransomware and said the U.S. should know in six months to a year “whether we have a cybersecurity arrangement that begins to bring some order.”

He reiterated the message in July, days after a major attack on a software company, Kaseya, that affected hundreds of businesses, and said he expected Russia to take action on cybercriminals when the U.S. provides enough information to do so.

Since then, there have been some notable attacks from groups believed to be based in Russia, including against Sinclair Broadcast Group and the National Rifle Association, but none of the same consequence or impact of those from last spring or summer.

One reason may be increased U.S. government scrutiny, or fear of it.

The Biden administration in September sanctioned a Russia-based virtual currency exchange that officials say helped ransomware gangs launder funds. Last month, the Justice Department unsealed charges against a suspected Ukrainian ransomware operator who was arrested in Poland, and has recovered millions of dollars in ransom payments. Gen. Paul Nakasone, the head of U.S. Cyber Command, told The New York Times his agency has begun offensive operations against ransomware groups. The White House says that “whole-of-government” effort will continue.

“I think the ransomware folks, the ones conducting them, are stepping back like, ‘Hey, if we do that, that’s going to get the United States government coming after us offensively,'” Kevin Powers, security strategy adviser for cyber risk firm CyberSaint, said of attacks against critical infrastructure.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, have shared a small number of names of suspected ransomware operators with Russian officials, who have said they have started investigating, according to two people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to speak publicly.

It’s unclear what Russia will do with those names, though Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted the countries have been having a useful dialogue and said “a working mechanism has been established and is actually functioning.”

It’s also hard to measure the impact of individual arrests on the overall threat. Even as the suspected ransomware hacker awaits extradition to the U.S. following his arrest in Poland, another who was indicted by federal prosecutors was later reported by a British tabloid to be living comfortably in Russia and driving luxury cars.

Some are skeptical about attributing any drop-off in high-profile attacks to U.S. efforts.

“It could have just been a fluke,” said Dmitri Alperovitch, former chief technology officer of the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike. He said asking Russia to crack down on large-scale attacks won’t work because “it’s way too granular of a request to calibrate criminal activity they don’t even fully control.”

Top American officials have given conflicting answers about ransomware trends since Biden’s discussions with Putin. Some FBI and Justice Department officials say they’ve seen no change in Russian behavior. National Cyber Director Chris Inglis said there’s been a discernible decrease in attacks but that it was too soon to say why.

It’s hard to quantify the number of attacks given the lack of baseline information and uneven reporting from victims, though the absence of disruptive incidents is an important marker for a White House trying to focus its attention on the most significant national security risks and catastrophic breaches.

Victims of ransomware attacks in the past few months have included hospitals, small businesses, colleges like Howard University — which briefly took many of its systems offline after discovering a September attack — and Virginia’s legislature.

The attack at Lewis & Clark, in Godfrey, Illinois, was discovered two days before Thanksgiving when the school’s IT director detected suspicious activity and proactively took systems offline, said Trzaska, the president.

A ransom note from hackers demanded a payment, though Trzaska declined to reveal the sum or identify the culprits. Though many attacks come from hackers in Russia or Eastern Europe, some originate elsewhere.

With vital education systems affected, including email and the school’s online learning platform, administrators canceled classes for days after the Thanksgiving break and communicated updates to students via social media and through a public alert system.

The college, which had backups on the majority of its servers, resumed operations this month.

The ordeal was daunting enough to inspire Trzaska and another college president who he says endured a similar experience to plan a cybersecurity panel.

“The stock quote from everyone,” Trzaska said, “is not if it’s going to happen but when it’s going to happen.”



Password Management in Network Security



Password Management in Network Security

When it comes to ensuring the highest levels of cybersecurity for any establishment, password management in network security is one of the most paramount factors in guaranteeing security. As one of the essential cybersecurity measures, password management is a critical element for any online activity, whether for software or hardware. Everything is protected with a password.

What is Password Manager and How does it Work?

To those not familiar with the concept, password management’s significance exceeds the creation of a strong password to protect your data or account. It is a cybersecurity system. A system that manages any saved login credentials, all while guaranteeing a safeguarded relocation of data from one device to another. When coming up with a valid password, a few factors must be taken into account, such as the potential of being exposed to high risks and identity theft.

For any establishment, the correct password manager helps to monitor any activity and amounts of logins for servers people work on. As a software application, it is developed for storing and managing online credentials. With the increased available platforms and programs requiring safety credentials, the risk of losing or forgetting a password has never been higher. User password management, such as Google password manager, helps users with a handful of passwords for essential web applications.

By providing the needed digital space to generate and store any, and all passwords in one location, password management in network security keeps any data safe and secure in various ways, including biometrics data.

Why Use Password Manager?

Through the encryption of users’ logins, a reliable password manager protects your credentials and cannot be accessed until the master password is submitted. In this case, no password is stored on the device itself or even on the manager’s servers. While some might think that storing all of your important passwords in one place might be hazardous, the truth is, password managers are the safest bet to safeguard all your passwords, as the chances of a password manager being breached are extremely low and almost very unlikely to happen.

Without getting into all the technical terms as to why password managers are the safest option, these applications can be perceived as the lesser evil. While users will still need to create one master password – preferably to be long and a bit complicated – it will guarantee the protection of any login credential for any account or credit card information.

The ideal password managers to download are backed by two-factor authenticators, where users are asked for a one-time code alongside the password whenever a new login into a new device takes place.

Password Management Best Practices in Network Security

In terms of obtaining the highest level of protection for network security, few practices are applicable to almost anyone to ensure the highest level of user password management.

1. Training

Training the team and raising awareness of potential password threats is one of the most important things to consider. Team members working on network security have to understand the risk of cybersecurity and the importance of implementing the right measure to protect and secure any account credential.

2. Enforcement of Reliable and Strong Passwords

Enforcing the creation of strong passwords and establishing they follow the best practices for network security to protect the network and its data while respecting the integrity, confidentiality, and accessibility of the network’s computer systems.

This includes performing a thorough network audit, deploying network and security devices, disabling file sharing features, updating antivirus and anti-malware software, securing all routers, using a private IP address, and finally establishing a network security maintenance system.

3. Multi-factor Authentication

Endorsing your password management with two-factor authentication is like adding another solid layer of protection to your accounts and their passwords. Multi-factor authentication ensures that only people responsible for the network have access to its sensitive data.

Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Cybersecurity space to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.

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How to Check a Suspicious Link Without Opening it



We are all well aware of the troubles opening a fishy link can lead us to.  Luring users to click on a given link has been of one the well-known techniques to get access to the device, install virus and malware or even go as far as creating a full ransomware attack. To protect your computer and private information, there are multiple techniques to check links without opening them. What is important though is never to open the link if it is suspicious.

When you are not dealing with a shortened URL, the best way to go thoroughly through the link to see if there is any spelling mistake. Attackers usually tend to change a minimum number of letters so that you are unable to tell the difference. For instance, things like www.goagle.com instead of www.google.com should catch your attention with the second ‘o’ of Google replaced with an ‘a’.

Emails are the best sources for phishing attacks. These kinds of attacks are used to steal some sensitive information such as passwords and credit card information. The best way to avoid these kinds of attacks is to authenticate the sender. For that purpose, do not only check the name of the sender, you need to double-check the email the sender is using. In general, attackers use credible sender names with emails which do not correspond to the promoted identity. Next time you get an email from your bank like “XBank”, check that the sender email is person@Xbank.com rather than person@anyothermailclient.com.

Many websites actually provide link checking or link scanning features. This is a very neat technique to simple check the link before clicking on it.


www.virustotal.com  is an excellent website for this task. This online tool practically does the job of an anti-virus. When you go to the website, you have the possibility to analyze files and URL for malware or any other security breach. Once you submit your file or enter the URL, the website will use different tools and software, then provide you with a detailed output from each of these tools. If you are unsure if a given software is credible enough, you can compare it to the output of other platforms on a single website.

Use a Short URL Expander

Sometimes attackers try to shorten URLs to hide any malicious intention. Analyzing shortened URL is not straightforward. To overcome this problem, copy the provided URL without opening it and use specific websites that actually expand the provided URLs. Then, you can analyze the original URL for possible security breaches.  Many websites are there to do this task. Just search for “short URL expander” on your search engine and use the top provided websites.

Upgrade your Anti-Virus with Internet Security Features

Anti-virus software is commonly used to protect personal computers from viruses and other malware. While these are available for free, you can easily upgrade them to include internet security features for a small monthly fee. This will bring major improvement to your internet browsing experience including custom-made safe browsing tools.

Use Google Transparency Report

Google provide a nice tool to check for the safety of websites. To do so, visit https://transparencyreport.google.com and enter the URL in question. The Google source will then provide you with a safety report of that website.  

The nicest solution is kept to the end. When you hover over a link in your email client or web browser, a small square appears including all the information related to the chosen URL. These details can be used to give a preliminary indication whether to trust the source.

Final Thoughts

Suspicious links are everywhere! To make sure they don’t catch you by surprise, follow the highlighted and you’ll be safe to go.

“Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Cybersecurity space to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.”

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Disadvantages of AI in Cybersecurity



Cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) are two very trending topics at the moment. AI has been the pivotal elements modifying business strategies, improving decision-making processes, and triggering automation in every industry in the world. The latest sentience debate is a clear indicator on serious and advanced AI is becoming nowadays. Cybersecurity is the other important element of today’s technological world. With an increasing reliance on data and the move to online services that require an individual’s biometrics, security essential in preventing data thefts and associated cybercrimes. AI has undeniably improved cybersecurity practices by allowing a real-time analysis of internet traffic to discover possible threats at the earliest and take defensive actions. This important learning process hides however several disadvantages of AI in cybersecurity.

What Are the Downsides to AI in Cybersecurity?

The touted advantages of AI in cybersecurity are real and very useful. However, the increasing adoption of AI solutions for security is actually causing problems at different levels.

Hackers Use AI as Well

When it comes to maturity in technology, hackers are the best at it. These individuals sitting behind computer screens logging data and doing advanced analytics to identify any loophole or vulnerability they can use to their benefits. The use of AI as far as cybersecurity is concerned is a double-edged sword. It is actually a race of who can develop a better algorithm that caters better to the data which is circulating online. In this sense, the use of AI is a big threat to security.

Another issue is that while a company is analyzing and learning from data to discover threats, a hacker is concurrently analyzing the company’s cyber-defense mechanisms and policies to find “open doors’ that will take it into the system to complete the intended attack.

Data Confidentiality

AI algorithms are associated with the analysis with large volumes of data, a key requirement for the developed algorithms to produce accurate outputs. The data a company deals with contains normal traffic related to daily transactions and activities, but also sensitive information related to the clients including their biometrics and personal information. What happens to our data when it goes to the AI-agent though is another thing. Protecting the data is key when AI is used for cybersecurity reasons. The secrecy of the clients’ data should not be compromised for any reason.

Increasing Need for Data

The field of cybersecurity is constantly evolving with ingenious attacks and threats emerging every now and then. Browser-in-the-browser attacks and increasingly advanced ransomware attacks have been notable examples in 2022. In order to discover attacks at a later stage, the AI algorithm needs to have data to do the proper training. The increasingly dynamic environment with threats emerging and evolving will lead to a surge in the required volumes of data, which can potentially not be readily available to have a fast response to the attack itself. Whether it is the ability of AI to keep track of the exponential growth in data or the availability of data for the AI-algorithm to produce results is a big disadvantage of this approach for cybersecurity

Will Cybersecurity be Replaced by AI?

With the drive towards more and more automation, it is questionable whether this can be applied as well for cybersecurity practices. AI can certainly assist in processing and learning from data and produce insights. However, the real decision maker in such as sensitive area where no errors can be tolerated is the cybersecurity expert himself. The only way for AI to replace cybersecurity is when it becomes sentient or developed enough to think and act like humans do. There is still a long way for that to concretize.

Explainable or interpretable AI is a key intermediate step in reaching this target. First, we need to understand how AI produces results. Proper cybersecurity practices require a reduction in bias while optimizing the performance of the algorithm.

How Will AI Affect Cybersecurity Jobs?

The adoption of AI will certainly cause major shifts in the cybersecurity job market as in the case in other industries, but probably at a smaller scale. The level of skill and experience needed to thwart cyberattacks will safeguard the need for security experts to provide the final decision regarding suspicious data patterns.

On the other hand, the incorporation of AI will call for new skilled workers that can manage and optimize the performance of the algorithms. Another alternative would be for existing workforce to be upskilled and retrained to handle the new analysis tools.


As data is becoming the basic unit for decision making, AI has invaded all industries and businesses, including cybersecurity. Companies are starting to incorporate learning algorithms to their offered services in order to have a more intelligent management of the different security threats. However, the role of AI in cybersecurity should be considered with enough judgment. The addition of AI would increase the complexity in the data management process, notably in terms of data privacy and the continuous need for more data.

“Inside Telecom provides you with an extensive list of content covering all aspects of the tech industry. Keep an eye on our Cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence space to stay informed and up-to-date with our daily articles.”

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