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Silence is Sinister in Potential New Wave of Cyber Attacks

by Chris Fairbairn

Friday, March 4th, 2016

Director of SBRC Mandy Haeburn Little SCOTLAND is under threat from a sinister new wave of silent cyber attacks – leaving individuals and businesses at risk of unwittingly losing private information from their mobile devices.

The Scottish Government and Police Scotland’s business delivery arm has revealed that criminals are targeting mobile devices, in particular GPS and data enabled smartphones, with a variety of devious techniques designed to go completely unnoticed by the victim.

The advice, from the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), comes ahead of the national conference, Trading Securely for Business, which is being billed as the most comprehensive event supporting business in tackling the menace of cyber crime.

The e-criminals are using invasive surveillance technology – fake cell towers known as IMSI Catchers – to intercept mobile phone traffic and track the movement of mobile phone users. IMSI catchers cause devices located nearby to automatically lock on, subjecting the phones in its vicinity to a man-in-the-middle attack. The latest and most powerful models can intercept and listen to phone calls, collect and read text messages and emails, with early studies revealing evidence of widespread but largely unreported usage across the UK.

Scots are also being warned of ‘Silent SMS attacks’, which send a ‘text’ to a mobile device without it ever becoming apparent to the recipient. Once automatically downloaded, cyber criminals can then access personal information from the breached handset. It is also possible for a third party to take remote control of a phone’s camera or microphone and record video and conversations taking place.

Odd Helge Rosberg, Chief Technical Officer at Rosberg System, a Norwegian headquartered firm heading the battle to produce software capable of stopping attacks from Silent SMS and IMSI catcher technologies, will highlight the issue at the Trading Securely for Business conference.

Odd Helge Rosberg said “We know that smartphones are now the leading security risk for businesses.

“Businesses need to be aware that until they address the issue of smartphone security, they’re effectively leaving the doors and windows to their network wide open for cyber criminals to access.”

Rosberg’s Verji app – which launches in the UK & Ireland on 9th March through Scottish based distributors The Security Circle – is the world’s first hardware agnostic smartphone security solution, using end to end encryption on speech, attachments and messages in addition to protecting against SMS based attacks and fake cell towers.

SBRC Director, Mandy Haeburn-Little, said that while so many businesses are dependant on using their smart phones for business transactions, this is one of the threats that they need to be aware of.

Mandy said: “We are here to keep business up to speed with emerging threats and this is all about giving business the information it needs to keep their own data and that of business safe. This is the first time we have heard of Scotland being targeted by these new and complex waves of silent surveillance and attack methods.

“While systems continue to be attacked by viruses and bugs, cyber criminals are becoming ever more sinister in their approach to raid mobile devices – a very relevant problem considering how much we now rely on mobile devices and the sheer amount of information they can store.

“All Scottish businesses to be very aware and to seek as much professional advice as possible, as realistic solutions which could save your private information are out there.”

Mandy added: “Cyber crime can at times appear to be an unwinnable battle, but the reality is that often small steps can make a huge difference in limiting the likelihood or impact of an attack.

“This upcoming conference is hugely exciting. It will be the strongest ever gathering of global experts on the subject in one room, to discuss practical advice for any interested party.”

Hosted by the SBRC, the conference, taking place at the National Museums in Edinburgh, will feature talks from global industry experts, examples of leading tech products along with dramatic demonstrations to highlight the battle that is being waged against all forms of e-crime.

Businesses of all sizes are encourage to attend to gain practical advice, in particular, on how to combat the risks that increased use of smartphones, tablets and laptops can pose.

The Trading Securely for Business conference will feature live demonstrations from tech industry experts Sophos and SensePost, as well as the SBRC’s own crack team of Ethical Hackers – who routinely highlight weaknesses in business’s networks – allowing them to address and limit the risk of a criminal attack.

The event is sponsored by industry leading names; TrendMicro, NCC Group and Rosberg.

For more information on Trading Securely for Business 2016 and to download the delegate and exhibitor packs, visit: www.sbrcentre.co.uk


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Chris Fairbairn of Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh

Chris Fairbairn

Chris Fairbairn is a PR account manager with award-winning public relations agency Holyrood Partnership. He is part of an expert PR team delivering PR services to a wide range of clients from headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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