Embarking Once Again on Our Technological Odyssey!
A Gentle Prelude for Our Readers:
New to our storytelling circle? A warm welcome to you! We recommend a brief pause and a delightful detour to our previous chapter, “Navigating the Storm: The Cloud Migration Tale”. It’s a rollercoaster of technical feats, overlooked expert counsel, and a journey through corporate escapades that border on the comical.
For our returning adventurers, your familiarity with our past exploits will only enrich today’s journey.
This isn’t just one tale, but a series of five! So, buckle up, as we set sail into the next chapter of our intriguing tech journey together.
Story 1: Triumph Over Turmoil in the Digital Kingdom of Company “X”
In a realm far beyond our tangible world, a digital domain if you will, there burgeoned a company, let’s call it “Company ‘X'”. Embarking upon the vast expanses of its digital voyage, Company ‘X’ marveled as its websites technological prodigies blossomed astonishingly amidst harrowing odds and palpable resource constraints. These cybernetic miracles, nurtured and sustained by the masterful artistry of technological savants, smoothly sailed through steady digital seas, whispering for only the faintest manual touch. Until, tranquility was ruptured by an unwelcome visitor: Chaos.
Ah, Chaos! An entity far from amiable, with a penchant for digital devastation. Upon its arrival, stability was mercilessly obliterated: servers buckled under monumental burdens, cron jobs faltered mid-odyssey, and databases ceaselessly raised their “Excessive Occupation” banners. The warning bells of Zabbix clamored in discordant melody, warning lights executed a frenzied dance, and a maelstrom of troubling notifications coalesced, forewarning a looming digital catastrophe. The digital vessel of ‘X’ swayed perilously on the precipice, mere moments from a cataclysmic plummet, bound by the shackles of resource scarcity.
Chaos, bellowing threats of “Database corruption!” schemed a nefarious plot, one that may well have reigned supreme, had it not been for…
Our support team heroes adorned in shining digital armor who daringly plunged into the abyss of server logs, application journals, and a variety of error reports and activity accounts. The secrets unearthed from their hazardous dive were sort of expected: DDoS attack, actively being executed against our virtual servers.
Random search queries, vast in number, assailed our resource-starved infrastructure.
You shall not pass! became the rallying cry of our noble support team, hastily enacting protocols, initially to absorb the vile blows and subsequently to construct formidable digital defenses against the unyielding onslaught.
Steadfast and unbroken, our website persevered, a lighthouse of resilience amidst the chaotic tempest. In the subsequent hours, the digital adversaries, vanquished in their malevolent quest, receded, dissolving into the endless digital abyss, their shadows forever banished from our dominion.
Story 2: A Digital Duel with E-Commerce Marauders
Leap forward across an indeterminate swath of time in the digital domain…
A phone rings, jolting the tranquility of an otherwise unremarkable day.
It’s the payment processor, raising the alarm on a carding attack in progress on one of the company’s virtual storefronts.
The numbers tell a tale of urgency: over 100,000 declined transactions within a mere 24-hour window – a scenario demanding immediate and vigilant attention, would you not agree?
The support maestros, ever the digital custodians, were swiftly on the scene, inaugurating a potent (and significantly substantial) monitoring tool to vigilantly guard the e-commerce proceedings.
Monitoring tool provided oh so required visibility, combined with log entries gave the exact location of the attacker:
And there you go, the digital tempest abated. True, sporadic attempts were made to rekindle the nefarious activity, but each was deftly mitigated, extinguished almost as soon as it dared to ignite.
Amidst the bits and bytes of digital commerce, our support guardians deftly secured Company ‘X”s data, reputation, and online functionality against invisible brigands.
Story 3: A Resilient Defense Against a Prepared Adversary at Company “X”
In the digital landscape, time cascaded into the future, introducing another chapter of challenges.
One seemingly ordinary morning, tranquility was pierced by the vehement blaring of the monitoring tool, signaling an unusual disruption coursing through one of the websites.
This time, the antagonist, familiar yet more formidable, sought vehemently to validate credit cards a recognizable hallmark of another carding attack.
Yet, a diverging element shadowed this tale in contrast to our second story:
the malevolence came prepared, armored with sophisticated tactics and strategies, shaping a digital siege that was both relentless and astute.
The situation crescendoed into a three-day digital battlefield, with the support team meticulously monitoring, identifying, and counteracting each strike from the adept assailants.
The endurance and wit of the “bad guys” precipitated a sustained, wearying struggle for our support champions. Continuous monitoring, swift identification of nefarious activities, and immediate counterblocking became a rhythmic dance of defense, as they sought to guard the virtual fort. Only after three strenuous days, through unyielding defense and sagacious strategies, was a solution introduced, restoring equilibrium and allowing business to resume its usual digital pulse.
Story 4: The Irony of Security in the Virtual Expanse of Company “X”
Once more, our digital timepiece sweeps us into the future, arriving at a point where a daunting challenge casts a shadow upon Company “X”.
One of their websites was branded as a disseminator of viruses, a blow that struck directly at the company’s reputation and, more pointedly, at the dedicated support team tasked with its upkeep.
A brief detour into the past unveils a pertinent tableau: the support team, ever vigilant, had persistently implored all to refrain from assigning themselves administrative’ roles without true necessity.
Alas, their earnest pleas fell upon deaf ears, dismissed by a lack of understanding of benefits of the principle of Least Privilege in Access Control Lists (ACL).
Returning to our ominous moment, the website was maligned with warnings: a beacon heralding potential identity theft and a risky visit.
Let’s pause and visit a recent addition to this narrative.
Just prior to this events, Company “X” had struck a deal with the illustriously named “Most Amazing Cyber Security Company In The World With A Huge Price Tag,”;
Procuring a feature dubbed “Amazing Security Solution For Anything And Everything For A Lot Of Moneys.”
This investment resulted in an ironic twist: the very individuals once capable of content management found themselves locked out, while the anticipated secure sanctuary did not quite materialize as envisioned.
The support team delved into logs, website intricacies, and the particulars of administrative access.
Their findings unveiled a compromised set of credentials belonging to the marketing team, (who undeniably required admin level privileges):
that were cunningly utilized by infiltrators to bypass the “Amazing Security Solution For Anything And Everything For A Lot Of Moneys.”
Solution? A retreat to the support team’s initial plea: revoking admin access and the rightful imposition of structured ACLs, for the beleaguered website.
The rest of the sites though, remained enveloped in their false security, assured by the formidable-sounding “Amazing Security Solution For Anything And Everything For A Lot Of Moneys,” which promised an impervious digital fortress.
But was it truly secure?
Story 5: Echoes in the Digital Chaos
“People add words when they want things to sound more important than they really are.” George Carlin
Now, an astute observer such as yourself might ponder, amidst the unfolding of our previous tales, where was the security department amidst these cybernetic storms?
Ah, an apt query, indeed! Company “X” was not without its fortress, not without a dedicated battalion purportedly shielding it from digital marauders.
The security department, as one might imagine, did mark its presence in every single tale we’ve spun thus far.
But let us reflect upon the pivotal query that perpetually lingered within the halls of this esteemed department as chaos unfurled around them: “Is it a security event?”
Picture this: Servers under the brutal siege of a DDoS attack, alerts blaring, the very integrity of the production database teetering precariously on the edge, and therein emerges the security team, pondering “is it a security event?”
Or envisage a day where 100k transactions face ruthless decline within a mere 24-hour span, a situation so dire that even the payment processor raises an alarmed eyebrow. The security team, unperturbed, muses “is it a security event?”
And in a realm where credentials find themselves ensnared in the deft hands of malicious entities, exploiting administrative access and wreaking havoc upon the production environment, again the security team broods “is it a security event?”
The absurdity of it does tickle the funny bone, does it not?
And should that not stir a chuckle within, perhaps a glimpse at the title of their distinguished leader shall: The Global Chief Information Security Officer. A title neither modest nor meek, but Global, Chief, and Information…
In the pandemonium of the digital abyss, the poignancy of Carlin’s words reverberates, wouldn’t you say?
Let’s take a moment and dissect the common theme across the stories we’ve journeyed through:
a) Attack One: DDoS
This required a network of servers, often compromised, to bombard their target with traffic.
Choosing a server, which is consistently online, over a personal laptop, with potentially limited connectivity, is an obvious choice for attackers. Store this thought for a moment.
b) Attack Two: Initial Carding Attack
A rather straightforward assault. An individual needed only a stolen database of credit card details and a rogue script from the darknet to initiate the attack.
c) Attack Three: Advanced Carding Attack
This assault utilized a botnet a conglomerate of infected servers, devices, or phones reminiscent of the first attack’s methodology.
d) Attack Four: Malware Injection
Noticing a pattern here?
In three out of four attacks, the adversaries necessitated some sort of compromised third party (servers or devices) to successfully roll out their malicious endeavors.
What leads us to…
Today’s subject: SMBs and CyberSecurity.
So how does one get their hands on such a vast array of compromised entities, to brew cyberattacks of mammoth proportions?
A conversation with a close friend and a voraciously loyal reader who, by the way, suffers the most by proofreading all this content sheds light on a pivotal point:
“You talk a lot about security, but do you realize a lot of small to medium businesses (SMBs) probably don’t give a damn?
You could toss your security package into their laps for free, and they couldn’t care less.
Why? Their eyes are glued to one metric: the performance of their website, especially its ability to churn out successful sales.
The technical setup, architecture precision, or the security of their online tools might not even make it to their worry list. It’s all about performance and orders, end of story.”
Which is true!
A significant portion of SMBs devote their attention and resources towards enhancing performance and pushing sales, often putting security in the back seat until a cyber calamity forces a reevaluation.
While this mindset might align with immediate business objectives, it unknowingly sets the stage for a perilous cyber environment; and makes them tantalizing targets for cybercriminals.
These businesses, while small, usually have enough digital horsepower (think servers) which, if compromised, can be maneuvered into aiding large-scale, sophisticated attacks on various fronts.
Majority SMBs only begin to entertain cybersecurity as a priority after enduring a harsh lesson. Such an approach not only leaves their own digital realm teetering on the dangerous route but also, once penetrated by cyber adversaries, morphs into a menacing threat to the larger digital community.
In our interconnected digital world, the cybersecurity faux pas or blind spots of one entity amplify vulnerabilities across the broader network.
This underscores why a committed adherence to cybersecurity practices, from businesses big and small, is pivotal in forging a secure digital sphere for all users.
In all those tales, we aimed to spotlight how a casual approach to cybersecurity among SMBs didn’t only jeopardize their own operations but also unwittingly fortifies the malicious endeavors of cybercriminals on a larger scale, amplifying threats for the entire digital populace.
Another massive slice of the “security oversight” pie can be attributed to us, the IT folks.
As an example, let’s talk about cPanel, a widely used web hosting control panel that prides itself on being user-friendly and accessible to those with minimal technical know-how.
It’s a tool designed to empower users, even those lacking a foundational IT background, to carry out technical tasks with relative ease.
But here’s the kicker: This simplification comes with a trade-off. The lack of technical understanding can steer configurations in suboptimal, sometimes hazardous, directions.
Take FTP (File Transfer Protocol) usage as an example. Many cPanel users might not realize that FTP credentials aren’t secure and can potentially be sniffed by anyone with a basic understanding of network eavesdropping.
Yet cPanel allows users to easily create an FTP user and open up an FTP connection to their server, sometimes with a meek popup warning about security which, let’s be honest, is often ignored or misunderstood.
This “simplification for the non-tech-inclined” modus operandi has unintentionally crafted a generation of “Senior IT Directors” with potential chasms in fundamental knowledge necessary for their roles.
This leads to a cascade effect:
Precarious decision-making at the management level that drips down, producing situations where, amid a raging DDoS attack, teams are left scratching their heads, muttering, “Is this a security event?”
It appears like a sort of de-evolution, doesn’t it?
In our earnest endeavors to democratize digital operation and management, could it be that we’ve unintentionally nurtured an environment where essential aspects like security, technological accuracy, sound architecture, and appropriate solutions are all relegated to the backseat due to a knowledge gap?
Great example of the above, a recent job offer posted on a popular job board caught my eye. The company in question was in search of a tech expert, tasked with assisting in the migration of their twelve e-commerce stores from Magento to WooCommerce. The job description ticked all the conventional boxes; it laid out architectural decisions, technology requirements, and everything you'd typically expect from a migration offer of this sort. It's safe to say that whoever drafted the description had thoroughly done their homework and framed a reasonable request, with just one exception... They planned to migrate from Magento - a platform engineered for e-commerce, packed with ready-to-go business features and a plethora more - to WooCommerce, inherently a blogging platform, where every desired feature would require the integration of third-party modules; platform, notorious for it's security flaws. The company, boasting over a million orders across twelve websites and undoubtedly possessing a budget to support their operations, didn't seem to be constrained by financial challenges. Yet, their technological decision to transition to a blogging engine for their e-commerce needs raises eyebrows and provides food for thought. It brings forth another sterling example of a potential "Senior IT Director" lacking foundational knowledge, driving the company into such unorthodox technological directions. How does a firm, evidently savvy in e-commerce practices, end up opting for a platform misfit for their obvious scale and complexity? Such a scenario reaffirms the importance of ensuring that the decision-makers in tech roles are not only well-versed with the fundamental knowledge but also aligned with the technological requirements and challenges specific to their industry. The cascading impact of such misaligned IT decisions can ripple through the company, leading to potential operational hiccups, security issues, and inefficiencies down the line.
Above concludes the today’s blog post, and let’s sum it all up, shall we?
Our key takeaways are:
- Security Is Imperative, No Exceptions:
Regardless of your business, website, or chosen platform: security is non-negotiable. A digital presence invariably equates to a digital liability. A lack of due diligence can unwittingly transform your website or server into a tool in a larger cyberattack, spawning challenges that directly ricochet onto your business.
- Cybersecurity Doesn’t Necessitate a Splurge:
Securing your website and maintaining its cybersecurity doesn’t automatically demand a lavish budget or the enlistment of top-tier cybersecurity entities. The reality is, most cyber adversaries, upon encountering even mild resistance from your website or server, will likely divert their focus.
2.1 Platform Consistency: Choose a platform that resonates with your operations. Running an e-commerce website? Opt for an e-commerce platform, as it likely embodies stricter security regulations and prerequisites, comparatively to a blogging engine.
2.2 Frequent Security Scans: Engage in regular security scans, applying discernment in selecting a vendor to execute these. Consider: is it a recognized company? Are reviews largely positive? Can they elucidate their advantages? Often, security scans can be availed for free, which, if the budget is tight, isn’t a poor route to traverse. However, do remain vigilant about the company’s reputation and recognizability. Complying 100% with a security scan isn’t a mandate. A substantial portion of scan results might translate into somewhat inconsequential tasks. The objective behind these scans pertains to the critical 10% those items genuinely bolstering your website’s protection. For instance, whereas disabling SSL support of TLS 1.0 and 1.1 might barely budge your security posture, rectifying an identified SQL injection possibility is paramount.
2.3 Implement Live Monitoring: If feasible, institute live monitoring to safeguard your server and website. This ensures a peaceful night’s sleep, unmarred by concerns about your website being compromised and potentially utilized in extensive cyberattacks.
Lending a Hand in Your Cyber-Journey? Certainly!
The tidbits and snippets from our cyber journey in this blog post might stir a question: Can we assist in navigating through these complexities? A resounding yes! We are here not only to offer consultations and solutions that span the security spectrum of your business and website but to also dive deeper.
Whether it’s architectural reviews, aiding in platform and vendor choices, scrutinizing code, or anything that tangentially relates to your web application, we are here to extend a supportive hand.
Was This Blog a Marketing Pitch? Here’s Our Transparent Answer.
Yes, and no.
Yes, because we’d warmly welcome you as our client and would be thrilled to shield your digital assets with the security suite we offer.
No, because the genuine essence behind these words and stories is to echo the significance of security, irrespective of your online stature and operational scale.
Our aim is to raise the cyber-awareness banner, declaring that security should nestle at the core of your digital endeavors, and it doesn’t pivot on the size or nature of your operations. We want to sow seeds that germinate into a cyber-conscious environment, fostering a safe and secure digital realm for all.
As we close the curtains on today’s blog, we hope it was a valuable read and imparted insights that you can integrate into your cyber strategy.
We’ll be back, exploring more cyber tales and unboxing insights to keep you ahead in your digital journey.
Stay cyber-safe, explore fearlessly in the vastness of the wild web, and do look forward to our upcoming posts!