Netizen Cybersecurity Bulletin (January 31st, 2024)


  • Phish Tale of the Week
  • Microsoft’s Response to the Midnight Blizzard Cyberattack
  • Environmental Services Industry Faces Unprecedented DDoS Attacks
  • How can Netizen help?

Phish Tale of the Week

Often times phishing campaigns, created by malicious actors, target users by utilizing social engineering. For example, in this text message, the actors are appearing as Netflix and informing you that action needs to be taken regarding your payment method on your account. The message politely explains that our account is on hold until we update our payment information, and that they’re notifying us so that we can take action. It seems both urgent and genuine, so why shouldn’t we visit the link they sent us? Luckily, there’s plenty of reasons that point to this being a scam.

Here’s how we can tell not to click on this phishing link:

  1. The first red flag in this message is the senders’ addresses. Always thoroughly inspect the sender’s address to ensure it’s from a trusted sender. In this case, the actors neglected to spoof their email address, and a simple look at the sender’s address makes it very apparent that the email is not from Netflix. In the future, review the sender’s address thoroughly to see if the email could be coming from a threat actor.
  2. The second warning signs in this email is the messaging. This message tries to create a sense of urgency by using different phrases like “Update your account now” and “Your account is on hold.” Additionally, the word “customer” is misspelled. Phishing scams commonly attempt to create a sense of urgency in their emails in order to get you to click their link without thinking about it first. Always be sure to thoroughly inspect the messaging of all emails in your inbox before clicking on a link in your email.
  3. The final warning sign for this email is the lack of legitimate Netflix information. Fortune 500 companies and similar organizations standardize all email communications with customers. Support links, addresses, acceptable use policies, and other information is always provided at the bottom of each email, along with options to unsubscribe or change messaging preferences. While this specific email includes a small footer at the bottom, a quick investigation proves that it’s just for show. This email lacks all of the parts of a credible Netflix email and can be immediately detected as a phishing attempt.

General Recommendations:

phishing attack will typically direct the user to click on a link where they will then be prompted to update personal information, such as a password, credit card, social security, or bank account information. A legitimate company already has this sensitive information and would not ask for it again, especially via your email. 

  1. Scrutinize your messages before clicking anything. Have you ordered anything recently? Does this order number match the one I already have? Did the message come from a store you don’t usually order supplies from or a service you don’t use? If so, it’s probably a phishing attempt.
  2. Verify that the sender is actually from the company sending the message.
  3. Did you receive a message from someone you don’t recognize? Are they asking you to sign into a website to give Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as credit card numbers, social security number, etc. A legitimate company will never ask for PII via instant message or email.
  4. Do not give out personal or company information over the internet.
  5. Do not click on unrecognized links or attachments. If you do proceed, verify that the URL is the correct one for the company/service and it has the proper security in place, such as HTTPS.

Many phishing messages pose a sense of urgency or even aggressiveness to prompt a form of intimidation. Any email requesting immediate action should be vetted thoroughly to determine whether or not it is a scam. Also, beware of messages that seek to tempt users into opening an attachment or visiting a link. For example, an attachment titled “Fix your account now” may draw the question “What is wrong with my account?” and prompt you to click a suspicious link.

Cybersecurity Brief

In this month’s Cybersecurity Brief:

Microsoft’s Response to the Midnight Blizzard Cyberattack

The cyberattack on Microsoft by the Russian state-sponsored group Midnight Blizzard, detected in January 2024, serves as a critical reminder of the persistent and sophisticated cyber threats facing global corporations. This extended analysis delves deeper into the nature of the attack, Microsoft’s response, and the broader implications for the cybersecurity landscape.

Midnight Blizzard’s strategy utilized a password spray attack, a method where common passwords are used against numerous accounts to gain unauthorized access. This technique is particularly effective against systems still relying on single-factor authentication. The targeted nature of the attack, focusing on specific Microsoft corporate email accounts, including those of senior leadership, underscores the high level of sophistication and strategic intent behind the operation.

Microsoft’s response to the breach was multifaceted and swift. Following the detection and initial mitigation efforts, they conducted an extensive investigation, revealing that the attack had begun in November 2023. Their approach included notifying affected employees and ensuring that no customer data was compromised. Microsoft’s commitment to transparency was evident in their detailed public disclosures and SEC filings, aligning with evolving regulatory standards and expectations.

A pivotal aspect of Microsoft’s response was the acceleration of its Secure Future Initiative (SFI). This initiative marks a significant shift in Microsoft’s cybersecurity approach, highlighting the urgency of enhancing security measures, particularly for legacy systems. SFI is focused not only on addressing immediate threats but also on preparing for future cybersecurity challenges, demonstrating a proactive stance.

Microsoft’s handling of the Midnight Blizzard breach highlights the evolving role of regulatory compliance in cybersecurity. Their transparent reporting, adhering to new SEC guidelines, emphasizes the importance of immediate and ongoing disclosure. This approach signals to other corporations the necessity of integrating regulatory compliance into their cybersecurity strategies.

In response to the Midnight Blizzard breach, key defensive strategies have been highlighted, including enhanced password security through enterprise password management solutions, upgrading to multi-factor authentication, adopting a least privilege approach with endpoint privilege management, and implementing identity threat detection and response systems.

The implications of the Midnight Blizzard attack extend beyond Microsoft, serving as a cautionary tale for the wider industry. Organizations are advised to adopt continuous monitoring and threat detection systems, enhance their cybersecurity frameworks to be adaptive and responsive, and regularly update and train their workforce on cybersecurity best practices.

In conclusion, the Midnight Blizzard breach at Microsoft is a reflection of the complex and evolving challenges in the global cybersecurity landscape. The insights gained from Microsoft’s experience are invaluable for organizations worldwide as they navigate through an increasingly sophisticated and threat-laden digital environment. This incident underscores the need for heightened security measures, proactive response strategies, and transparent communication in facing modern cyber threats.

To read more about this article, click here.

Environmental Services Industry Faces Unprecedented DDoS Attacks

The environmental services industry, a sector not traditionally in the crosshairs of cybercriminals, has recently faced an alarming spike in cyber threats. Reports indicate a significant surge in HTTP-based distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, accounting for an unprecedented portion of the industry’s HTTP traffic. The environmental services sector has witnessed a drastic increase in DDoS attacks, marking a sharp rise compared to the previous year. This surge represents a significant percentage of the industry’s total HTTP traffic, highlighting the intensity and focus of these cyber assaults.

Interestingly, the timing of these cyberattacks coincides with major environmental events and conferences. This pattern suggests a deliberate targeting of the industry, especially during periods when environmental issues are in the global spotlight. Such a trend points to a disturbing development where environmental milestones are becoming triggers for sophisticated cyberattacks. These recurring cyber threats during key environmental events underscore an emerging nexus between environmental issues and cybersecurity. This intersection is increasingly becoming a focal point for attackers, indicating a shift in the motives and targets of cybercriminals in the digital age.

While the environmental services sector is emerging as a new target, other industries continue to face the brunt of cyberattacks. Sectors like cryptocurrency, gaming, gambling, and telecommunications remain high on the list of targeted industries, underlining the diverse range of sectors vulnerable to cyber threats. The origins of these cyberattacks are geographically diverse, with significant contributions from several key countries. This global distribution of attack sources reflects the widespread nature of cyber threats and the challenges in pinpointing and mitigating these attacks effectively.

The landscape of DDoS attacks is evolving, with a noted increase in their frequency, duration, and sophistication. Cybercriminals are employing more complex strategies, targeting a wider range of IP destinations and employing multiple vectors in their attacks. This evolution in tactics underscores the need for advanced cybersecurity measures. This rise in cyberattacks against the environmental services industry and other sectors highlights the critical need for robust cybersecurity defenses. As cyber threats evolve, organizations across industries must enhance their security protocols, employ advanced monitoring and mitigation techniques, and remain vigilant against the ever-changing tactics of cybercriminals.

To read more about this article, click here.

How Can Netizen Help?

Netizen ensures that security gets built-in and not bolted-on. Providing advanced solutions to protect critical IT infrastructure such as the popular “CISO-as-a-Service” wherein companies can leverage the expertise of executive-level cybersecurity professionals without having to bear the cost of employing them full time. 

We also offer compliance support, vulnerability assessments, penetration testing, and more security-related services for businesses of any size and type. 

Additionally, Netizen offers an automated and affordable assessment tool that continuously scans systems, websites, applications, and networks to uncover issues. Vulnerability data is then securely analyzed and presented through an easy-to-interpret dashboard to yield actionable risk and compliance information for audiences ranging from IT professionals to executive managers.

Netizen is a CMMI V2.0 Level 3, ISO 9001:2015, and ISO 27001:2013 (Information Security Management) certified company. We are a proud Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor for hiring and retention of military veterans. 

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