Cybersecurity and College Attack

All is relatively well here at Woesnotgone Meadow, where everyone has above average bandwidth.

In the Meadow, the one service we don’t have on-ground is a University. The Meadow does have an extension office where we can take certain classes and there’s always the online option. These institutions have a plethora of data on the students, which could be targeted. The colleges also hold a significant amount of money from the student’s tuition and other sources. There is a college in the northeast which experienced a successful attack.

Cape Cod Community College is located in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. There are approximately 4,900 students, 68 full-time faculty, and 159 full-time staff. The college offers associate degrees.

The college did experience a breach. The attackers used for their tool a phishing campaign. With this mode of attack, the human element continues to be the greatest vulnerability. As noted previously, phishing continues to be a very effective method to attack an organization, especially the medium- and large-sized organizations. The phishing emails contained malware. This was coded to avoid their anti-virus (AV) and anti-malware programs. This was coded to exploit their banking relationships. With this incident, the funds were transferred from their account at TD Bank to other banks.

Mechanically, the attackers “allegedly” set up a phishing site which appeared to be the college’s bank by overwriting the bank’s URL. The attackers also social engineered the bank workers to get the transfers to clear in a timely manner. The attackers were able to have nine separate validated transfers. Three others were blocked.

Altogether, $807,130 was stolen from the college. This was a significant amount as their operating budget was approximately $35M. On a positive note, they were able to recover $278,887. With the attackers, the target was money, not personally identifiable information (PII). There was no evidence that PII or any employee records were compromised. Other operation centers were not affected.

When the attack was discovered, the college identified the malware and replaced the infected hard drives. The malware used for this attack was believed to be the Emotet banking Trojan. The college is continuing on with their plan to install the next-generation endpoint protection software (AppGuard). The college is also continuing with cybersecurity training for their staff. Due to the nature of the attack, the college did contact the state and federal authorities to assist with the investigation. While doing forensic work, other attacks were detected.

This should be another example of the potential effects from a simple click on a link or file.

Thanks for visiting Woesnotgone Meadow, where the encryption is strong, and the O/Ss are always using the latest version.

Resources

Cape Cod Today Staff. (2018, December 7). Breaking-Data breach at cape cod community college. Retrieved from https://www.capecodtoday.com/article/2018/12/07/243699-Breaking=data-Breach-Cape-Cod-Community-College

Cyware. (2018, December 11). Cape cod community college was hit by hackers who stole over $800,000. Retrieved from https://cyware.com/news/cape-cod-community-college-was-hit-by-hackers-who-stole-over-800000-aef6345c

Dissent. (2018, December 8). Hackers steal $800,000 from cape cod community college. Retrieved from https://www.databreaches.net/hackers-steal-800000-from-cape-cod-community-college/

Gatlan, S. (2018, December 10). $807,130 stolen by hackers after cape cod community college phishing attack. Retrieved from https://news.softpedia.com/news/807-130-stoeln-by-hackers-after-cape-cod-community-college-phishing-attack-524208.shtml

Gurubaran, S. (2018, December 12). Hackers steal over $800,00 by dropping malware on cape cod community college computer systems. Retrieved from https://gbhackers.com/hackers-steal-cape-cod-community/

Krantz, L. (2018, December 7). Hackers steal $800,000 from cape cod community college. Retrieved from https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/12/07/hackers-steal-from-cape-cod-community-college/

MCormick, C. (2018, December 8). More than $800k stolen in data breach at cape cod community college. Retrieved from https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20181208/more-than-800k-stolen-in-data-breach-at-cape-code-community-college

Nation, J. (2018, December 11). Sophisticated phishing attack costs cape cod community college over $800,000. Retrieved from https://medium.com/metacert/sophisticated-phishing-attack-costs-cape-cod-community-college-over-800-000-33717f502cd

Panettieri, J. (2018, December 11). Ernst & young investigates cape cod community college hack. Retrieved from https://www.msspalent.com/cybersecurity-news/ey-investigates-cape-cod-community-college-hack/

Radolec, M. (2018, December 11). Hackers steal $800,000 from cape cod community college through phishing. Retrieved from https://www.informationsecuritybuzz.com/expert-comments/hackers-steal-800000/

About the Author - Charles Parker, II has been working in the info sec field for over a decade, performing pen tests, vulnerability assessments, consulting with small- to medium-sized businesses to mitigate and remediate their issues, and preparing IT and info sec policies and procedures. Mr. Parker’s background includes work in the banking, medical, automotive, and staffing industries.

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