Ransomware is scary…

SecureWorld and the BBC have published a dark recitation that we all should read. It outlines a Ransomware Negotiation where hackers demanded a ransom of $3 million dollars. The following are excerpts from the article showing the hackers hubris:

“UCSF, or its negotiators, asked for hackers to take down information they had posted, to get things rolling.

[Netwalker hackers] “Done, your data is hide from our blog. Now let’s discuss.”

Hackers explained that UCSF had more than $5 billion in annual revenue, so a $3 million ransom seemed reasonable.

The university responded by offering $780,000 and explained that the coronavirus had been very costly to the university.

[Netwalker hackers] “How can  I accept $780,000? is like, I worked for nothing. You can collect money in a couple of hours. You need to take is seriously. If we’ll release our blog, student records / data, I am 100% sure you will lose more than our price what we asked. We can agree to an price, but not like this, because I’ll take this as insult.”

Keep that 780,000 to buy McDonalds for your employees. Is very small amount for us.”

In his BBC article, Tidy says back and forth negotiations continued for a day until the University of California came up. It now offered a ransom of $1.02 million. 

Then, the high stakes negotiating continued.

[Netwalker hackers] “I speak with my boss. I sent him all messages and he can’t understand how a university like you: 4-5 billions per year. Is really hard to understand and realise you can get $1,020,895. But okay. I really think your accountant / department can get $500,000 more. So we’ll accept $1.5m and everyone will sleep well.”

With the two sides still almost $500,000 apart, it was the university’s move.

A few hours later, Tidy writes, UCSF made a final offer of $1,140,895.

Hackers squeezed nearly another $120,000 from the university.

[Netwalker hackers] “Ok, good. Now you can sleep well. Well can you pay?” {End Comments}

Security is our new battlefield for business.

Article from

Economic downturn: Driving cost of software development down–alternatives to help your company.

With today’s pandemic and economic uncertainty, companies are now looking for creative ways to move forward, while reducing cost. Teams are considering alternatives solutions in order to maintain existing development,  or contemplating  new development opportunities with concern over meeting business deadlines and reduced budgets.

Ascension Development Group may have a solution for you.  We have clients that use our Nearshore development teams to help them meet new challenges.  The teams are based in Mexico. Many of the developers were educated in the US and speak English.

Cost reductions alone are realized by our clients of 25-40% versus US rates. We work on Central Time–working US all timezones. With Covid, most of us are working remotely and the future seems to point to more remote work than ever before.

If you want to discuss the advantages of nearshore, without any obligation, please call us at 425-750-0760 or you can email me directly at paul@ascension-tg.com.

Thank you and please be safe.

WHO, CDC & Gates Foundation credentials exposed

The Washington Post and Secure World, a very reputable cybersecurity news group, is reporting that organizations related to helping with this Pandemic have had their credentials exposed, organizations such as:

  • World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • The World Bank
  • U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • The Gates Foundation
  • Wuhan Institude of Virology

The estimate is around 25,000 email addresses and passwords were breached and exposed. The Post is reporting that NIH had issued a statement stating, “We are always working to ensure optimal cyber safety and security for NIH and take appropriate action to address threats or concerns. We do not comment on specific cybersecurity matters, as such information could be used to undertake malicious activities.”

The Post went on to state that the report by SITE, “said the largest group of alleged emails and passwords was from the NIH, with 9,938 found on lists posted online. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had the second-highest number, with 6,857. The World Bank had 5,120. The list of WHO addresses and passwords totaled 2,732, according to SITE’s report.”

We live in a dangerous world! We, at Ascension, have found that security and privacy are front and center in every means of this digital world. Feel Free to let us know you opinion on privacy and security.

Data Privacy Legislation for Washington Businesses

Ascension Technical Group is hosting an interactive TEAM’S session on April 8th at 10AM-11AM PDT. You can register now and we’ll send you a TEAM request.

The Webinar will provide analysis on the draft Washington Data privacy Act (WPA), its impact on business and detail the associated penalties for data privacy breeches.

This  webinar will help businesses determine potential security vulnerabilities and identify a mitigation strategy. The cyber breech discussion, will review the benefits of an in-depth security assessment that includes reviewing current policies, procedures, technical environments and other security related functions. Details will be provided on applicable standards including, ISO/IEC 27001, NIST 800-53, ISA 62443, COBIT 5, CIS CSC, CCPA, GDPR and PCI DSS.

Topics that will be covered include:

  • Data Security & Privacy
  • Awareness and Training with related policies, procedures, and agreements.
  • Governance, Analysis & Mitigation
  • Information Protection Processes
  • Identity Management, Authentication and Access Control
  • Protective Technology, Anomalies and Events, Detection Processes
  • Response & Recovery Planning
  • Law Enforcement

We look forward to your participation in this interactive TEAM’s Session on  April 8th at 10 AM -11 AM PDT.

How Privacy Legislation affect your business.

There is current legislation and standing law that will affect your firm’s ability to manage Consumer Data. Legislation is now in process that will affect Human Resource Data of your employee’s next year.  Washington State has legislation almost completed today.  If you wish to book a free one-on-one briefing, please select the button below and we can call you to advise you of the current issues relating to privacy and security.

Ascension partnering with Insperity, was scheduling, an Executive Briefing regarding Privacy legislation that affects your business.  We wanted to invite you or members of your team.  Due to the warranted restrictions in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we are moving the briefing to later this Spring or Summer. However, if you wish to book a free one-on-one briefing, please select the button below and we can call you to advise you of the current issues relating to privacy and security.

Washington State Privacy Law — Senate and House are meeting to hopefully compromise.

After the House of Representatives passed an amended Privacy Bill on the evening of March 6th, the Senate received the Bill and responded ” Senate refuses to concur in House amendments.” The Senate “Asks House to recede from amendments.”

Today, the “House insists on its position and asks Senate for a conference. Conference committee appointed. Representatives Hudgins, Hansen, Dufault.” And the “conference committee request was granted.”

Now, hopefully the committee jointly can work out the details and come to some compromise that helps both the consumer and business.

You can find updated information regarding the bill at https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/?billNumber=6281&year=2020&initiative=False

Washington State Consumer Privacy Law is one step closer to reality.

Tonight, I was watching the debate for Senate Bill SB 6281, Personal Data Privacy Law, in the Washington State House of Representative. There were many amendments to the Bill and many were not adopted to provide clarification for this upcoming law.

However, with the debate heated up and some legislators believing that the bill would fail, the bill did pass. The vote was 56 Yea and 41 Nay, 1 excused.

The next steps are for the Senate to review and vote on the changes made by the House of Representatives. Then off to the Governor if passed.

You can find updated information regarding the bill at https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary/?billNumber=6281&year=2020&initiative=False

Ransomware destroys evidence – Suspects go Free!

A West Palm Beach news station WPTC.com, has reported that Police in Stuart Florida, had to let six suspected drug dealers go free, based on lack of evidence. Evidence that was stored on computers at the Stuart Police Department. It has been reported that hackers, using Ransomware, have locked files which would have been positive proof to enable prosecutors to put the suspected drug dealers behind bars.

Ransomware presents a clear and present danger to most companies, governments and non-profits. Here are some of the basic suggestions to help reduce the threat of ransomware:

  • Patch Management of systems should always be frequent and tracked thoroughly.
  • Misuse or misconfiguration of remote access techniques that allow outsiders to penetrate systems and networks undetected.
  • Access Management issues. Users should be classified and given the least amount of privileges to allow them to effectively do their work.  Most administrators are not providing a clear and effective means for granting and managing user rights.
  • Misconfiguration and/or lack of monitoring Anti-Virus/Malware systems.
  • Backup verification and validation. Making sure the backup are working correctly.
  • Of course, Security Awareness is the cornerstone of prevention.

Just letting you know, Ascension will be holding Privacy & Security presentations starting in April, if you wish to attend or wish to contact us regarding this new development, please email us at paul@ascension-tg.com or call at 425-750-0760.

West Palm Beach Article: https://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/stuart/police-evidence-lost-in-stuart-hack-attack-six-suspected-drug-dealers-walk-free

Washington State Senate passes sweeping Consumer Privacy Law

Overwhelmingly the Washington State Senate passes a sweeping Consumer Privacy Law, posed to be one of the strongest consumer data privacy protection statute in the country.

Senators voted 46-1, in favor of Senate Bill 6281, sponsored by Sen. Reuven Carlyle of Seattle. In the Bill, the following summary was provided to outline the scope of the new law:

  • Provides Washington residents with the consumer personal data rights of access, correction, deletion, data portability, and opt out of the processing of personal data for specified purposes.
  • Specifies the thresholds a business must satisfy for the requirements set forth in this act to apply.
  • Identifies certain controller responsibilities such as transparency, purpose specification, and data minimization.
  • Requires controllers to conduct data protection assessments under certain conditions.
  • Authorizes enforcement exclusively by the attorney general.
  • Provides a regulatory framework for the commercial use of facial recognition services such as testing, training, and disclosure requirements.

As of today, the bill has been advanced to the House of Representatives and currently is in the Innovation, Technology & Economic Development Committee. Scheduled for public hearing in the House Committee on Innovation, Technology & Economic Development on Feb 21 at 10:00 AM.

Ascension will be holding Privacy & Security presentations starting in April, if you wish to attend or wish to contact us regarding this new development, please email us at paul@ascension-tg.com or call at 425-750-0760.