Author Archives: Stephen Green

Thorough and Complete Background checks

NYS Lic:11000095379
Certified CII: M887

INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS & INVESTIGATIONS, INC.
Website: www.icicompanies.com
We provide background checks domestically for a fee of: $250.00 which includes Global Watch, & credit reports!!! Copy of a driver’s license and Social Security number will be required.

International fees are quoted based on the country of origin.

Individuals, Companies, and Corporations. ICI’s consent form will be provided once approved prior to proceeding. Form must be legible and completed.

LICENSED IN NEW YORK, CERTIFIED INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATORS. CII, Counsel of International Investigators.
Contact numbers: 212-582-3115 NY – 866-977-3700 Intl. 917-609-1026 Mobil.
Email: johnson@icicompanies.com

ICI accepts payment via PayPal noted on our website,
www.icicompanies.com

200 Park Avenue Suite 1700 New York, NY 10166-Phone: 212-582-3115 – Fax: 212-582-0028

ATM Users – Beware!

ATM Users – Beware!

ATM users be advised, this counterfeit $20.00 bill, seen below, is one of 100 inserted into an ATM machine in one stack; this is what placed it out of order.  The perpetrators planned to recover an advance fee from the bank of $200.00 utilizing a bank account opened with a stolen identity. This is just one scam involving the ATM machines of major financial institutions as well as the smaller regional banks.

CONCERNS:

First main concern:  bad guys will intentionally place a machine out of order utilizing a jamming device to set up an armed robbery while a technician is repairing the system.  The bank customer may also be forced at gunpoint to withdraw money by an armed robber who will remove the “jam”.  This, unfortunately is more common than most expect, especially at night in remote locations.  Remember,   each ATM machine contains substantial amounts money and is, therefor, a popular target for thieves.

Second main concern: there are mutable capabilities provided bad guys via high tech to obtain your personal data including your account information even as you use the machine.  Avoid using machines not owned by financial institutions such as those found in bodegas, convenience stores, etc.

In the past, a criminal could steal the whole ATM machine.   Mega structures containing these machines have made it very difficult if not impossible to succeed at that.  More reason, therefor, for you to be concerned that you are the “soft” target.

You must be always alert, avoid late night visits to ATM’s in areas of large shopping malls; especially stand alone island machines.  Make sure you observe the surrounding area looking for individuals standing around, often under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  At drive-up machines, as you approach the kiosk, be aware of occupied cars in an overlook position within the area of the ATM.

While utilizing an ATM system: 1) maintain due diligence, make sure you’re not being watched and/or someones has not sidled up to you, 2) If you drove up to a system, once again keep your eyes open for approaching individuals during or persons loitering in a automobile or being a column, 3) avoid machines not operated by financial institutions and 4) If possible avoid late night visits to utilize the ATM system.

Emerging Cyber Security Threats, 2021 and Beyond – Part 3

Internet of Things – The internet of things is exploding. Everything around us is becoming “intelligent” and connected. From the refrigerator that tells us when we need to buy more food, to the connected thermostats and light bulbs in our homes, everything is getting a chip inside. This means that hackers have new ways to get into our homes. There have been many reports of a hacker taking control of a baby monitor and was talking to the child through the internet. Home camera systems allow for hackers to watch our every move. They know when we are home, and when we are not.

One of the major areas of concern for IoT security is with medical devices. There have been numerous recent cases of vulnerabilities with connected medical devices that lacked security to keep hackers from making changes to medication dosages.

With the internet of things, we must begin to have a standard of security before allowing these technologies in our home. We are constantly researching new “IoT” items and looking for the vulnerabilities. We work with manufacturers to plug these security holes.

Mobile vulnerabilities – There are now malware and ransomware specifically designed for mobile devices that can lock your device or steal data from it. Hackers are using smart phone vulnerabilities to track people with GPS. We have found many cases where people were surveilled by criminals after having their phone infected. Hackers are also using ransomware to lock your smartphone and ask for money to unlock it. In some cases, this malware allows the criminals to steal valuable banking data from your device which can give them access to your bank account.

With many businesses having Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, enterprises must be aware of the risks of mobile devices being active on business networks. With the lines between business and personal usage of mobile devices being blurred, there is an increase for the business that allows personal devices to be used for business purposes.

Careers in cyber security – There is a tremendous shortage of qualified candidates with cyber security skills. There is an estimated 1 million unfilled cyber security jobs across the globe. By 2025, it is expected that there will be over 1.5 million vacancies unfilled.

In the US, not a single one of the top 10 computer science universities require a cyber-security course in order to graduate. Higher education needs to begin to start cyber security education programs in order to give the workforce of the future the skills they need to succeed.

As the world becomes more connected and reliant on technology, the need for cyber security will only grow. Now is the time to start getting involved, start educating, and start securing the future.

Emerging Cyber Security Threats, 2021 and Beyond – Part 2

There is no denying that the world of cybercrime has changed the way businesses think about security. Not only do you need to consider physical security but also your digital security. Everything in your business is at risk if the business has an internet connection. Intellectual property, trade secrets, personal data, financial data are just a few of the things that hackers will try to steal.  This essay continues our discussion on Cyber Security threats, 2021 and beyond:

Ransomware – Ransomware is becoming a household name. Ransomware is a computer infection that encrypts the data on your computer and asks for money for the decryption keys. While ransomware is becoming much more of a mainstream cybercrime today, believe it or not, it has existed since 1989 when the first version was mailed out to the participants of a World Health Organization conference on a 5 ¼ inch disks and the victims had to mail the ransom to a Post Office Box in Panama.

The use of digital currencies like Bitcoin have replaced the old ways of collecting funds. Due to the anonymity of Bitcoin and other digital currencies,  tracking down perpetrators of ransomware is more difficult. While Bitcoin does have an indelible ledger of transactions where you can track the flow of the money, there are no names associated with the accounts in the ledger.

The newest versions of ransomware steal your files before locking them. We have seen a large number of attacks that have stolen critical data out of the businesses, schools or hospitals.

Ransomware has seen a 165% increase during 2020: the UK reports that Britons are seeing more than 2000 attacks per day. The makers of Emotet and Trickbot are rumored to have made over $325 million in ransom since the first version.

Denial of Service attacks – Political statements seem to be the main motivator for Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and countries like Turkey have seen incidents increase to over 30,000 occurrences each day. The US has overtaken all other countries as the main target for attackers and cyber criminals have attacked news agencies, corporations and governments around the world in an effort to take their computer systems and websites offline.

A common misconception about DDoS attacks is that they only affect a business with a website which is inaccurate. A DDoS attack aimed at a business can shut down its outgoing internet access by flooding the connection with so much incoming traffic that nothing goes out. This means that all cloud services will be inaccessible and email will not be delivered,

Email phishing schemes – Phishing schemes are used to target individuals with online access to bank accounts, credit cards, etc. and they have become a major source of information and money for cyber criminals. The new term “whaling” has been coined for large attacks. In the US, we have seen emails appearing to come from a company CEO requesting wire transfers from the accounting departments to pay urgent invoices which have resulted in the money being remitted to fake vendors. Other attacks have targeted the Human Resources Department asking for information about employees. These attacks have led to leaks of social security numbers and other sensitive employee data. Mattel lost $3 million in a phishing scheme that appeared to be a legitimate invoice for goods that turned out to be fake. Luckily for Mattel, they were able to recover the funds with the assistance of the Chinese authorities. Most companies are not as fortunate.

Known Vulnerabilities – Most firewalls require a reboot following patching so most companies schedule quarterly, bi-annual, or annual updates. This regularity in scheduling leaves enterprises open to attack.

The Panama Papers leak, for example, has been attributed to outdated, unpatched software running customer portal and email servers.

The list of known vulnerabilities is growing each day and information about these vulnerabilities has become public knowledge.  Microsoft reported cyber criminals targeting so-called “zero-day vulnerabilities” impacting Microsoft Internet Explorer and HP’s 2019 Cyber Risk Report found that 44% of breaches in 2019 came from vulnerabilities that are two to four years old. This indicates that enterprises are not taking updating the hardware and software on a regular basis seriously – even the “big boys” are vulnerable.

Emerging Cyber Security Threats and Trends, 2021 and Beyond – Part 1

There is no denying that the world of cybercrime has changed the way businesses think about security. Not only do we need to consider physical security but also digital security. Everything in business is at risk if the business has an internet connection. Intellectual property, trade secrets, personal data and financial data are just a few of the things that hackers will try to steal from your business.

So let’s talk about cybercrime and the top cybercrime trends we have seen in 2020 – Part 1

Cybercrime – as-a-service – Cybercrime has gone mainstream and, like software, cloud, and infrastructure technologies, it is now being offered as a service. With the rise in computing power and the decrease in cost, cyber criminals have seized the chance to make money by offering their cybercrime skills to others who have the money to pay for their services with no technical experience required. Denial of service attacks can be launched for less than US $10 and email accounts on popular sites like Gmail, Yahoo, and Hotmail cost around $130.

State sponsored cyber-attacks – Hacking is no longer performed by the stereotypical teenage hacker in a basement accessing your systems. State sponsored hacking is now performed by sophisticated organized groups using every tool available to steal valuable intellectual property & critical data as well as to damage or shut down core infrastructure.

Think of the Sony Pictures or Office of Personnel Management data breaches in the US for examples of how state sponsored hackers have stolen valuable or damaging information from companies. These hackers are targeting companies and information that can provide economic or political advantages.

Recently publicized cases in the US show that state-sponsored hackers from Iran accessed critical infrastructure systems at a dam in upper New York state. In late December, alleged Russian hackers took down the power grid in Western Ukraine. Hackers have turned the fantasies of Die Hard into reality by accessing the core infrastructure of nations with direct penetration attempts. The state sponsored hackers are trying to get control of everything from oil fields, power stations, water stations, and nuclear facilities.

Hackivism – One of the emerging cybercrime threats to the world is what is termed “hactivism” or politically motivated hacking to destroy reputation, steal data, or affect critical infrastructure. Hackers such as Anonymous use their skills to forward their own political agenda. This trend began to gain traction during the US elections where people from around the world enlisted hacking as a form of speech. Businesses must have protections in place that can address the threat of hacktivism. From defacing your website to bringing down your network with a denial of service, hacktivism must be defended against.

Next: Ransomware

Fraud in the Time of Corona -19

Fraud in the Time of Corona -19

During this time of uncertainty due to the Corona-19 virus, we all need to protect ourselves and our loved ones and friends from unscrupulous people.  These bad actors will take advantage of any situation in order to defraud those vulnerable or unaware.

International Consultants and Investigations, Inc. (ICI) recommends the following guidelines in order to avoid falling prey to scammers:

  1. Don’t give out a healthcare insurance number or Medicare number to anyone other than a trusted health care provider.
  2. Do not provide a social security number, bank account or checking account number over the phone to anyone, even if they claim to be from the Social Security Administration or your financial institutions. A follow-up call to the Agency or your bank can confirm if there is an issue to be addressed.
  3. The Census taker will not require any personal information such as an employee ID, Social Security number, etc.
  4. The IRS will not call to inform you that you are under threat of arrest unless you remit immediately by providing banking information to the caller. The IRS does not make these calls.
  5. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other health agencies will not call to ask for donations. Stick to charities you know and trust.
  6. Beware of any stranger or recent acquaintance that offers to take your money and go to the supermarket or drug store for you; your money and your new friend will not be back.
  7. If you don’t recognize a number on your caller ID don’t answer. If it’s a “real” call a voice mail will be left.  If you don’t have caller ID and you answer the phone to “dead space” hang up; chances are it’s a “robo” call.
  8. Work from home offers are often scams requiring the victim to “buy” materials necessary to earn money for representing the “firm”. Check any such offering of work-at-home home with your local Better Business Bureau or the police.
  9. No one from Nigeria or a Baltic country has millions of dollars they need you to help move to the United States. In all cases remember, if it sounds too good to be true it is probably fraud.

Scammers are friendly people.  In this time of social isolation a friendly voice on the phone is a scammer’s primary tool used to cheat you. Being aware is your best defense.