Through the joint efforts of law enforcement agencies in the United States, Bulgaria, Germany, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine an international crime gang based primarily in Russia has been busted with ten of its members being charged with a variety of offenses in the United States. The gang, known as the GozNym network named after the GozNym malware it used to steal online banking information to enable the criminals to steal money from their victims’ bank accounts are accused of stealing 100 million dollars from thousands of victims. The gang advertised on the Dark Web, that part of the Internet where criminals do business. They would sell a variety of their services such as the use of the malware they developed, tech support and money laundering services to other criminals. Their targets were primarily small businesses, law firms, international corporations and non-profit organizations. However there are lessons for all of us as individuals in the actions of the GozNym network. Like so many other cybercrimes, the first step was luring their victims into clicking on malware infected links in spear phishing emails that had been specifically crafted to entice the people receiving the emails to clicking on the links and downloading the malware that would then locate the bank account information of their victims including their passwords. The criminals would then use that information to steal from their victims’ bank accounts.
Everyone is subject to the kind of attacks suffered by the victims of the GozNym network. One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from becoming a victim is to never click on links in emails regardless of how legitimate the emails may appear unless you have absolutely verified that the email is legitimate. Don’t depend on your security software bailing you out because the latest zero day defect strains of malware will not be stopped by your security software. It often takes a month or more for the security software companies to come up with patches to defend against the latest strains of malware. This is also why it is important to update your security software with the latest security patches as soon as they become available. If Equifax had done so in a timely basis, it never would have suffered the massive data breach in 2017. Another lesson is to use dual factor authentication whenever possible. If the victims of the GozNym network had used dual factor authentication, they would not have had their accounts stolen because merely stealing the account numbers and passwords would not have been sufficient to gain access to the accounts. Dual factor authentication whereby when you access an account, a one-time code is sent by a text message to you is a important safety measure.
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