Why startups and small businessess are prime targets for cyberattacks?

Why startups and small businesses are prime targets for cyberattacks?

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for businesses of all sizes. However, it’s alarming to note that startups and small businesses are increasingly becoming the primary targets for cyberattacks. According to a report by CyberPeace Foundation, a staggering 43% of cyberattacks are directed at these smaller enterprises. But why are startups and small businesses so vulnerable, and what can they do to protect themselves? Let’s delve into the reasons behind this growing trend. 

Why startups and small businessess are prime targets for cyberattacks

1. Limited Resources

One of the primary reasons startups and small businesses are targeted is their limited resources. Unlike large corporations, smaller businesses often lack the financial and human resources necessary to implement robust cybersecurity measures. They might not have dedicated IT departments or the budget to invest in advanced security solutions, making them easier prey for cybercriminals. 

2. Perception of Lower Security

Cybercriminals often perceive startups and small businesses as soft targets. The assumption is that these organizations may not prioritize cybersecurity as much as larger companies do. This perception, unfortunately, is often accurate. Many small businesses operate under the false belief that they are too small to be noticed by cybercriminals, which leads to complacency and inadequate security practices. 

3. Valuable Data

Despite their size, startups and small businesses hold valuable data. This includes customer information, payment details, and intellectual property. Cybercriminals know that stealing such data can be highly profitable. Additionally, these businesses often work with larger companies, and breaching their systems can serve as a stepping stone to access more significant targets. 

4. Inadequate Training and Awareness

Employees in small businesses and startups are often not adequately trained in cybersecurity best practices. Phishing attacks, for instance, rely heavily on human error. If employees are not aware of how to recognize and respond to suspicious emails, they are more likely to fall victim to these attacks. A lack of training and awareness can significantly increase the vulnerability of these organizations. 

5. Rapid Growth and Expansion

Startups, by nature, aim for rapid growth and expansion. In the rush to scale up operations, cybersecurity can sometimes take a back seat. New systems are integrated, and new employees are onboarded without proper security vetting and training, creating numerous vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit. 

6. Third-Party Vulnerabilities

Many startups and small businesses rely on third-party vendors and services to manage various aspects of their operations. These third-party providers can introduce additional security risks. If these vendors are compromised, the startup or small business using their services can also be exposed to cyber threats. 

Why startups and small businessess are prime targets for cyberattacks - Mitigation startegies

Mitigation Strategies

While the threat landscape may seem daunting, there are several steps startups and small businesses can take to bolster their cybersecurity defences: 

1. Invest in Basic Security Measures:

Implementing firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption can provide a basic level of protection. While these measures are not foolproof, they can deter less sophisticated attacks. 

2. Employee Training:

Regularly training employees on cybersecurity best practices and how to recognize phishing attempts can reduce the risk of human error leading to a breach. 

3. Regular Updates and Patches:

Ensuring that all software and systems are regularly updated can close vulnerabilities that cybercriminals might exploit. 

4. Data Backup:

Regularly backing up data can ensure that a business can recover quickly in the event of a ransomware attack or data breach. 

5. Access Controls:

Limiting access to sensitive data to only those employees who need it for their work can reduce the risk of internal breaches. 

6. Incident Response Plan:

Having a plan in place to respond to a cyberattack can minimize damage and downtime. This should include steps for identifying the breach, containing the damage, eradicating the threat, and recovering operations. 

Why startups and small businessess are prime targets for cyberattacks - Compliance considerations.

Compliance Considerations

Understanding and adhering to compliance requirements is crucial for protecting your business and data. Here are some key considerations based on industry: 

1. Healthcare (HIPAA)

  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Ensures the protection of patient health information. Compliance includes implementing physical, network, and process security measures. 
  • Steps to Compliance: Conduct regular risk assessments, train employees on HIPAA requirements, and ensure all patient data is encrypted. 

2. Finance (PCI DSS, GLBA)

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Protects cardholder data by requiring businesses to maintain a secure environment. 
  • Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA): Protects consumers’ personal financial information held by financial institutions. 
  • Steps to Compliance: Regularly update security software, monitor and test networks, and establish information security policies. 

4. Retail (PCI DSS)

  • Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS): Like finance, retail businesses must protect customer payment information. 
  • Steps to Compliance: Use strong access control measures, regularly monitor and test networks, and maintain an information security policy. 

4. Technology (GDPR, CCPA)

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Protects personal data and privacy of individuals within the European Union (EU). 
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Provides California residents with the right to know what personal data is being collected and how it is used. 
  • Steps to Compliance: Obtain explicit consent for data collection, allow consumers to opt-out of data sharing, and provide access to collected data upon request. 

5. Education

  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): Protects the privacy of student education records. 
  • Steps to Compliance: Implement access controls, ensure data is encrypted, and provide training on FERPA requirements. 


Startups and small businesses are undeniably attractive targets for cybercriminals due to their limited resources, perceived lower security, and valuable data. However, by understanding the reasons behind these attacks and implementing basic cybersecurity measures, these organizations can significantly reduce their risk. In today’s interconnected world, prioritizing cybersecurity is not just an option; it’s a necessity for survival and growth. 

Take Action Now! Implement strong cybersecurity measures, train your employees, invest in essential security tools, and develop a robust incident response plan. Protect your business, customers, and future.  

Challenges in Cloud Security

Challenges in Cloud security

Cloud computing is one of the most widely adopted technologies, with around 39% of companies hosting over half of their workloads on cloud platforms. A 2023 Cloud security report by cybersecurity insiders predicts that within the next 12 to 18 months, about 58% of companies will run 50% of their workloads on cloud platforms. Given the importance of data stored in the cloud, security is a top priority for most companies. In this blog, we’ll explore the meaning of cloud computing, delve into cloud security, and address its challenges. 

What is cloud computing?

What is Cloud Computing?

Cloud computing is on-demand availability of digital resources, especially data storage and computing power without any direct active management by the user. One of the main reasons why users use cloud is because of its convenience and reliability. 

What is cloud security?

What is Cloud Security?

As with any technology with vast amount of data, security is a paramount concern in the cloud. Cloud security encompasses a set of policies, controls, procedures, and technologies that work together to protect cloudbased systems, data, and infrastructure. It addresses both cyber threats and physical security, ensuring that data is safely stored and handled 

Challenges in Cloud Security

Challenges in Cloud Security:

Despite having various benefits, it’s very important to understand the challenges of Cloud security as well. There are 5 major challenges, which compromises the integrity of cloud security:  

1. Data Breaches and Loss:  

The cloud’s very nature, being accessible from anywhere, makes it lucrative target for cybercriminals. Data breaches can lead to the loss of sensitive information, impacting businesses and individuals alike.  These data breaches can cause severe financial and reputational loss to the companies.  

2. Insufficient Identity, credential, and access Management:  

Weak credentials and poor access management can allow unauthorized access to sensitive data stored to cloud. This leads to data breaches which compromises their data and leads to major loss.  

3. Insecure Interfaces and APIs:  

Cloud services are accessed through interfaces and APIs. If they are insecure, they can be exploited to compromise the security of the cloud services. Which leads to data loss, DDoS attacks etc.  

4. Lack of Visibility and Control: 

In the cloud, data can reside in different locations worldwide. This lack of visibility and control over where data is stored and who is accessing it can complicate security efforts. This will increase the chances of vulnerability, ineffective incident response and risk management.  

5. Compliance Challenges:  

With varying regulations across regions, ensuring that cloud services comply with all relevant laws and standard can be a daunting task. If failed to comply, the companies will have to face legal consequences.  

Best Cloud Practices

Best Cloud Practices:

To mitigate these challenges, adopting best practices in cloud security is crucial:  

1. Implement strong access control: 

Use multi-factor authentication and least privilege access policies to minimize the risk of unauthorized access.  

2. Encrypt Data:  

Encrypt data both in transit and at rest to protect it from unauthorised access.  

3. Regularly monitor and audit cloud resources:  

Keep track of who is accessing your data and what they’re doing.  

4. Ensure Compliance with regulations:  

Stay informed about the latest regulations and ensure your cloud services are in compliance.  

5. Choose a reputable cloud service provider:  

It’s very crucial to choose a good reputable cloud service provider who has robust security measures in place.   

6. Regular security audits:  

Conduct regular security audits and assessments to identify potential vulnerabilities, gaps in security controls, and areas for improvement in cloud infrastructure and applications.  

Final Thoughts:

Cloud computing has undeniably transformed how we store, manage, and process data. However, its benefits come with a set of security challenges that need to be carefully managed. By understanding these challenges and implementing best practices, business and individuals can significantly mitigate the risks associated with cloud computing, making the most of this powerful technology while ensuring their data remains secure.  Explore how our expert solutions can help you maximize cloud benefits securely. Contact us to navigate cloud security with confidence.


6 Red flags to look out for in vulnerability assessment

In the realm of cybersecurity, vulnerability assessment plays a pivotal role in fortifying digital defences. However, not all assessments are foolproof. In this blog, we’ll explore six critical red flags that if overlooked, can compromise the effectiveness of your vulnerability assessment. Whether you’re a cybersecurity professional or a vigilant individual, recognizing these warning signs is essential for staying ahead of potential threats in our interconnected digital landscape. Before we dive into the nuances of vulnerability assessment, let’s look at what the 6 red flags are. 


While specific red flags in vulnerability assessments may vary based on the context and tools used, here are the six general warning signs to look out for: 

  1. Incomplete Coverage. 
  2. Outdated Software and tools. 
  3. False Positives/Negatives. 
  4. Lack of Involvement from a Third-Party Auditor. 
  5. Absence of threat Intelligence. 
  6. Inadequate Remediation Guidance. 

Let’s dive deep into what they are, why they matter, and how to respond to them. 

1. Incomplete Coverage:

  • Red Flag: The assessment does not comprehensively cover all aspects of your system, leaving potential vulnerabilities uncovered.  
  • Why it matters: Incomplete assessment may miss critical areas, providing a false sense of security.  
  • How to Respond: Have a right process in line for the assessment and expand the scope of your assessments to ensure comprehensive coverage. Regularly update and adapt assessment methodologies to encompass all critical areas.

2. Outdated Software and Tools:

  • Red Flag: The assessment tools or methodologies are outdated, lacking the capability to identify vulnerabilities in the latest software and systems.  
  • Why it matters: Cyber threats evolve rapidly, and using obsolete tools puts your organization at risk of overlooking current vulnerabilities.  
  • How to Respond: Invest in up-to-date cybersecurity tools and methodologies. Ensure that your team is trained on the latest technologies.  

3. False Positives/Negatives:

  • Red Flag: The assessment generates a significant number of false positives that identify a vulnerability that doesn’t exist or, worse, false negatives that fail to identify real vulnerabilities.  
  • Why it matters: False positives can lead to wasted resources addressing non-existent issues, while false negatives pose a severe risk by overlooking actual vulnerabilities.  
  • How to Respond: Fine-tune your assessment tools to reduce false positives and negatives. Regularly validate findings to confirm the accuracy of identified vulnerabilities.  

4. Lack of Involvement from a Third-Party Auditor:

  • Red Flag: The assessment is conducted solely by internal teams without the involvement of an external, third-party auditor.  
  • Why it matters: The internal team may unintentionally overlook blind spots or may be influenced by organizational dynamics. The absence of an external perspective can limit the thoroughness and objectivity of the assessment, potentially leading to undetected vulnerabilities.  
  • How to Respond: Consider engaging a third-party auditor with expertise in cybersecurity. Their external perspective can provide valuable insights, enhance objectivity, and ensure a more thorough evaluation of your security measures.  

5. Absence of Threat Intelligence:

  • Red Flag: The assessment doesn’t incorporate up-to-date threat intelligence, making it difficult to prioritize and address the most critical Vulnerabilities.  
  • Why it matters: Without understanding the current threat landscape, organizations may not allocate resources effectively to mitigate the most imminent risks. 
  • How to Respond: Integrate threat intelligence feeds into your assessment process. Stay informed about the latest cyber threats and adjust your security measures accordingly.  

6. Inadequate Remediation Guidance:

  • Red Flag: The assessment identifies vulnerabilities but lacks clear guidance on how to remediate or mitigate the risks.  
  • Why it matters: Without actionable steps for addressing vulnerabilities, organizations may struggle to implement effective solutions, leaving their systems exposed.  
  • How to Respond: Enhance your reporting process to include clear, actionable steps for remediation. Collaborate with relevant teams to ensure a coordinated response to identified vulnerabilities.  

The above red Flags serve as a guide to assess the effectiveness of your vulnerability assessment process. Regularly reviewing and refining your approach ensures a proactive and resilient cybersecurity posture.  

Final Thoughts

Safeguarding our digital spaces means actively looking out for vulnerabilities. Red flags, such as incomplete coverage or overlooking third-party audits, signal potential weaknesses that demand attention. Regular assessments, bringing in external expertise, and quick responses to issues are vital for robust defences. In a dynamic world of cyber threats, staying alert, acting swiftly, and continuously refining our cybersecurity strategies are essential to keep pace with evolving challenges.   

Network Penetration Testing

Importance Of Network Penetration Testing


Network Penetration testing became a crucial element in ensuring the security of networks and systems in today’s digitalized world. It became essential for businesses and organizations to keep cyber threats away from them by performing regular network penetration testing to identify and discover possible vulnerabilities in their system before they turn into an open gate to malicious actors that would help them exploit the vulnerabilities. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the importance of network penetration testing, a few of the benefits it provides, and types of network penetration tests and we will also discuss the best practices you can implement to conduct an effective test. Without further ado, let’s get into it.



Network penetration testing is a method used to test the security of a computer system, network or web application. It involves simulating a real-world cyber-attack to identify vulnerabilities and exploit them in a controlled environment. The primary purpose of network penetration testing is to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization’s security controls and identify areas where improvements can be made.



According to IBM 2022 Cost of a Data Breach Report, “83% of organizations have had more than one breach”. This signifies the importance of Network Penetration testing. Network Penetration testing is essential for organizations to strengthen their security posture by identifying and addressing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers. By conducting regular network penetration testing, organizations can reduce the risk of data breaches, avoid financial losses, maintain compliance with industry regulations, and protect their reputation.



A lot of benefits are associated with network penetration testing. The most notable benefits are as follows:

1. Helps in identifying potential security threats

Network penetration testing helps organizations identify and address vulnerabilities by simulating real-world cyberattacks. One of the perks of conducting a network penetration test Is it will allow a security professional to identify the vulnerabilities, and weaknesses in their network infrastructure and their application before the attacker can exploit them. Identifying the vulnerabilities help organisations to implement a plan or take necessary steps to prevent future attacks.

2. Helps in Preventing Data Breaches and Losses

The average cost of a data breach is $ 4.35 million. The cost of recovery from data breaches is expensive. Network penetration test helps to prevent data breaches and the cost associated with them. The impact of a data breach on an organization is very daunting as it leads to financial losses, legal repercussions, and reputational damage. By conducting a test, organizations can prevent data breaches and protect sensitive data.

3. Helps in Compliance with Industry Standards and Regulations

Many industries and organizations are subject to standards and regulations that require regular network penetration testing to maintain compliance. Conducting these tests will let organizations ensure that they’re meeting regulatory requirements and avoid potential fines and legal repercussions.



The types of Network penetration testing are White Box testing, Black Box Testing, and Grey Box Testing.

1. White Box Testing

White Box Testing is a method of testing where the tester has complete knowledge of the system being tested. This type of testing is typically used by internal security teams who have full access to the network infrastructure and applications being tested. White box testing allows testers to identify vulnerabilities that may not be visible to external attackers.

2. Black Box Testing

Black box testing is a method of testing where the tester has no prior knowledge of the system being tested. This type of testing is typically used by external security teams, such as third-party vendors, to test the security of a network or application. Black box testing simulates a real-world attack, where the attacker has no prior knowledge of the target system.

3. Grey Box Testing

Grey box testing is a method of testing that lies somewhere between white box testing and black box testing. In grey box testing, the tester has some knowledge of the system being tested but does not have complete access to it. This type of testing is often used to simulate an attack by a trusted insider who has limited access to the network or application. 


1. Define Objectives

The first step is to define the objectives of the network penetration testing. You should identify what you want to achieve from the testing process, such as identifying vulnerabilities or testing the effectiveness of your security controls.

2. Identify Scope

It’s crucial to identify the scope of the testing, including the systems and networks that will be tested, and any other relevant details. This helps to ensure that the testing process is focused, efficient and effective in achieving the objectives.

3. Develop a Budget Plan

Developing a budget plan is crucial to ensure the success of your cybersecurity efforts. The price of the test completely depends on what kind of test you’re conducting (White box, black box, and grey box testing), the value of your assets, and if you’re going for In-house testing or an external service provider.

4. Choose a right Network Penetration Testing Provider

Choosing the right penetration testing provider depends on what objectives you’ve set. For example, if you’re looking for a Network security assessment, then look no further. Choosing the right network penetration testing provider is a crucial decision for any organization to secure its digital assets and it can be a challenging task. Here are some of the criteria you can consider when evaluating potential providers:

  • Evaluating Credentials and Experience.
  • Assessing Methodologies and tools used.
  • Review customer feedback and References.
5. Prioritize the outcome

It is very crucial to prioritize the outcome of your test. It would help you understand your network posture. Documenting results will help you in understanding the vulnerabilities and recommendations given for securing your systems and networks. It is also important to implement the recommendations made by the penetration testing team to ensure that your systems and networks are secure.


It takes 30 minutes to 10 days for a hacker to breach a network Perimeter. 63% of companies’ internal networks can be accessed in no more than two steps. The statics are terrifying and calls for a need to perform a network penetration test. Network penetration testing is done to strengthen the in-place network security. It helps organisations to understand their network better. By Conducting this test, the companies can establish strong security measures and reduce the risk of falling prey to data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.


How Has Ransomware Evolved Over Time?

Overall, there is 53% increase in Ransomware incidents reported in 2022 Year over Year.

               -CERTIN(India Ransomware reports)

Ransomware has become one of the most significant cybersecurity threats facing individuals, businesses, and organizations around the world. It is a type of malware that encrypts data and demands payment in exchange for a decryption key. While ransomware attacks have been around for decades, they have evolved significantly over time, becoming more sophisticated and prevalent. In this article, we will explore the history and evolution of ransomware, from its humble beginnings to the modern era, and examine the impact it has on individuals and organizations. We will also discuss strategies for preventing and responding to ransomware attacks and look at what the future may hold for this dangerous threat.

Introduction To Ransomware

Ransomware has become a popular tool for cybercriminals seeking financial gain, as victims often feel compelled to pay a ransom in order to regain access to their data.

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What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware that takes control of a victim’s computer system and demands payment in exchange for releasing the data. It can be delivered through malicious email attachments, infected software downloads, or compromised websites. There are two main types of Ransomware: locker ransomware, which locks the user out of their system or certain files; and crypto-ransomware, which encrypts the victim’s files.

How Ransomware Works

Once the ransomware has infected the victim’s system, it will typically display a message demanding payment in exchange for restoring access to the encrypted files. This message will often include a countdown timer, adding a sense of urgency to the situation. Payment is typically demanded in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, making it difficult to trace the identity of the cybercriminals.

Early Forms of Ransomware


The First Recorded Ransomware Attack

Message Displayed After Activation of AIDS (Source: Wikipedia)

The first recorded instance of ransomware was the “AIDS Trojan” in 1989, which was distributed via floppy disks and targeted AIDS researchers. The malicious code targeted filenames instead of the contents of the files as we know today causing major disruptions and downtime. This proves that even simple encryption can have disastrous consequences.

Example of Early Ransomware

Other early forms of ransomware examples included the “Gpcode” ransomware in 2004, which used weak RSA encryption that was subsequently cracked by security researchers. And “Archiveus” trojan encrypted the entire files in the “My Documents” folder.

Both of these early examples utilized simple encryption methods and were relatively easy to decrypt without paying a ransom. However, they laid the groundwork for more sophisticated attacks that we see today. The evolution of ransomware has made it increasingly complex, using advanced encryption algorithms and bypassing traditional security measures to extort money from victims by exploiting their data as leverage to achieve financial gain.

Evolution Of Ransomware Tactics

2005-2009: Early Ransomware Tactics


Early ransomware attacks were relatively simple, displaying a message that would prevent the user from accessing their system until a ransom was paid. These attacks were often easy to circumvent, and victims could restore their systems by removing the infected files or using anti-malware software.

2009-2016: Encryption-based Ransomware Tactics


Encryption-based ransomware is the most common type of ransomware seen today. It uses advanced encryption algorithms to lock files on a system, making them inaccessible to the user. This type of ransomware has become increasingly sophisticated, with some variants even encrypting the filenames themselves. In recent times, Ransomware builders are focusing on speed and performance. Instead of encrypting the whole file, a portion of a file is being targeted for encryption to save time. Multithreading is getting leveraged for faster encryption. A few notable attacks include “Vundo”, and “WinLock”.

2016-2018: Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS)


Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) is a model in which cybercriminals create and distribute ransomware to other criminals, who then use it to target victims. The original creators of the ransomware typically take a percentage of the profits earned by the secondary criminals. The emergence of RaaS has made it easier than ever for cybercriminals to launch ransomware attacks, leading to a proliferation of providers offering these services on the dark web. Some of the most notorious RaaS providers include “Hive” and “Darkside”. As ransomware continues to evolve, it remains a potent threat to individuals and businesses alike.

2019-2022: Double Extortion


Double extortion is a tactic some ransomware groups use to increase the pressure on their victims to pay the ransom. In addition to encrypting files, they also exfiltrate sensitive data and threaten to publish it unless the ransom is paid. This tactic has become increasingly popular in recent years, with several high-profile attacks leveraging this technique.

Today’s Ransomware Landscape:

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Common Ransomware Delivery Methods

In today’s landscape, common ransomware delivery methods include phishing emails, malvertising, and exploit kits. Phishing emails trick victims into clicking on a malicious link or attachment to an email, while malvertising involves planting malicious code in online advertisements. Exploit kits take advantage of software vulnerabilities to infect the victim’s device without their knowledge.

Ransomware Targeted Industries and Sectors

Ransomware is now a global problem affecting individuals, businesses, and even government entities. Any organization that relies on computers to carry out its operations is at risk of a ransomware attack. However, some sectors, such as healthcare, finance, and education, are particularly vulnerable due to the sensitive nature of their data.

Impact of Ransomware on Business and Individuals

The impact of ransomware can be devastating for both businesses and individuals alike.

The Financial Cost of Ransomware


A report Published by IBM states that “The average cost of a ransomware attack, not including the cost of the ransom is $4.54 million“. However, The financial cost of ransomware extends beyond the ransom payment. It can include lost revenue due to system downtime, data recovery costs, legal fees, and damage to the organization’s reputation. In some cases, victims may choose to pay the ransom to avoid these costs altogether.

Psychological Effects of Ransomware


Ransomware can also have psychological effects on victims. The fear and uncertainty caused by the attack can lead to stress, anxiety, and even depression. Individuals feel violated, and businesses experience a loss of trust from their customers and employees.

Strategies for Preventing and Responding to Ransomware Attacks

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Prevention and response are the keys to minimizing the impact of ransomware attacks.

Preventing Ransomware Attacks

Preventing ransomware attacks involves implementing security best practices such as penetration testing, regularly backing up data, keeping software up-to-date, using antivirus software, and training employees to identify and avoid phishing emails.

Responding to a Ransomware Attack

If a ransomware attack does occur, the organization should first isolate the infected devices, shut down the network if necessary, and contact law enforcement. They should also assess their backup data and determine if paying the ransom is the best course of action.

Future Of Ransomware: Predictions and Trends


As technology continues to evolve, so too does ransomware. Understanding future trends and potential threats is essential for organizations to stay ahead of the curve.

The Increasing Sophistication of Ransomware

Ransomware is becoming more sophisticated, with some variants now capable of evading detection and spreading laterally across networks. This makes it challenging for organizations to detect, prevent, and respond to ransomware attacks.

New and Emerging Ransomware Threats

Emerging ransomware threats include targeting industrial control systems (ICS), as well as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to enhance ransomware capabilities. As such threats continue to emerge, organizations must remain vigilant and proactive in protecting their critical data and assets.


Ransomware has undergone significant changes throughout its history, from early forms that were relatively simple to today’s sophisticated attacks. While the threat of ransomware is likely to continue to evolve and persist, there are steps that individuals and organizations can take to reduce the risk of falling victim to an attack. By staying vigilant, implementing best practices for cybersecurity, and preparing for the worst-case scenario, it is possible to mitigate the impact of ransomware and other types of malware.


Automating Sql Injection By Bypassing Client-Side Encryption

SQL injection (SQLi) is a web security vulnerability that allows an attacker to interfere with an application’s queries that makes to its database. It generally allows an attacker to view data that they are not normally able to retrieve. This might include data belonging to the other users, or any other data that the application itself can access. In many cases, an attacker can modify or delete this data causing persistent changes to the application’s content or behavior.

It is one of the most common vulnerabilities in web penetration testing. The tools that we used to exploit SQLi are SQLMap, Burp Suite, and online tools. Here, we tried to automated the injection and came across a few problems on the journey. Before addressing the problems, let’s look at the scenario.

About The Application:

The application that we are up against is a portal to deal with suppliers and vendors. Which has various functionalities such as details of suppliers/vendors. Additionally, the creation, modification, deletion, approval, and rejection of tickets generated by other users over an issue, they(supplier/vendors) face during the course of action.


This web application has a table displaying the issues raised by the other users and it has search functionality.

The first problem here is, all the request that is been sent to the server is encrypted. Hence, automating this becomes a problem as the request is encrypted. Note that it is sent without query-parameter format i.e: key=value.

The second problem is, to automate, even if we solve the 1st problem SQLMap will only accepts the query parameter format which is not present.

We begin with searching for the issues raised by a specific user’s SSOID that contains 175, and the issues raised by that particular user are returned. (Figure 1)

Figure 1

To test, we entered 175’ and it returned no result. With this behavior, we now suspect a possible SQL injection. As we know the request is sent in the encrypted format, we tried to balance the query through web interface only with a “- -” (double-dashed comment) i.e., 175’- –. Due to this, we successfully got the result of the user.

For further confirmation, we injected a Boolean-based payload. First, we injected a query that returns ‘FALSE’ i.e., 175’ AND 1=2–. The data is not returned as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2


Later, we injected a query that returns ‘TRUE’ i.e., 175’ AND 1=1–. hence, we got the result of the user. Out of all this, we identified that SQL injection is possible. (Figure 3).

Figure 3

To automate the exploitation, we will use SQLmap. As the request body is encrypted, we can’t just use SQLMAP as it is. To achieve this, we need to decrypt the encryption. As encryption is done on the client side, we looked for the key in the .js file and we found the key in the aes.js file. This was a manual process as we searched it through certain keywords. We observed that the developer must replicated the publicly available code from the internet and didn’t change the key. To make SQLmap work, we’ve added a parameter. (e.g., itest=QWERTYUIOP==)

As we now have the key. We decrypted the encryption using an online tool and we got the request body in plain text.


To get SQLmap working, we need a plaintext request which we decrypted manually through an online tool. The server only understands the encrypted data. Now to send the encrypted format to the server, we came up with an optimized solution! We created a tamper script that has a fix plaintext http body. Insert the payload, encrypt the entire http request body again and send it to the server.

We explicitly told SQLmap to use only Time-Based Queries to analyze the received data.

After SQLmap encrypts the request body it looks like this “itest=QWERTYUIOP==”. Since the server only understands this (“QWERTYUIOP==”) format, we made Burp Suite a middleman and removed “itest=” using its feature Match & Replace.

In the above scenario, the problems faced during the process are addressed below:

A. Request Body gets encrypted so we cannot use tools like SQLmap directly for the exploitation. Need to find the key as encryption is done on the client side.

To decrypt the encrypted data, a key is required. We analyzed all the .js files. We found out they are using AES with EBC cipher mode. We found the key but it was encoded in Base64 format. With the help of online tools or Burp suit’s Decoder, we’ve attained the cipher key.

B. Request format for SQLmap differs from the Server acceptance format.

The legitimate request body format for a server is (e.g., QMBCIIOJKLMNBVCZAQWER==). However, SQLmap only understands parameter value (e.g., Q=” Ownux”) to execute the SQL injection. Hence, we need to explicitly add “itest=” before the request body.

C. Need to Encrypt the data with a payload before sending it to the server.

Doing it manually as a POC was tedious. Also, instead of decrypting the response, we wrote a script that crafts the http request body with payload from an already decrypted text and then encrypted it using the SQLmap’s Tamper functionality. Now comes the data exfiltration which also requires decryption, instead we explicitly told the SQLmap to run only Time-Based queries.

D. Make the request in a server-acceptable format.

After the request data is encrypted using SQLmap the server still accepts encrypted data (e.g., QMBCIIOJKLMNBVCZAQWER==). To convert the request, we used Burp suite’s match & replace functionality and we defined the rule like this:

Find: “Q=

Replace: <none>

by this, the request sent from burp would look from this “Q=QMBCIIOJKLMNBVCZAQWER==” and will be change to this “QMBCIIOJKLMNBVCZAQWER==” which is in a server acceptable format.


A few of the problems faced through the process are encryption of the request body which makes the process of exploiting SQLi harder, and so on. In a quest to find the solutions to the problems, we found out that SQL injection is possible and we could retrieved the data of the user. To automate this, we wrote a tamper script that is compatible with the application’s environment. And that’s how we were able to automate the SQL injection by bypassing client-side encryption.

Mobile Application Security

Here are the 8 Best Practices for Mobile Application Security in 2022

Mobile applications have been the biggest source of revenue for Businesses. Its revenue summed up to $133 billion in 2021 and is anticipated to reach $935 billion in 2023. However, this phenomenal surge has its price of cyber-attack threats. Due to this, mobile application security plays a pivotal role. According to the report produced by the check point research “mobile security report 2021”, 97% of organizations have experienced mobile app attacks, along with 46% of employees installing at least 1 malicious app. Business and user data security has been raised as a result of this interaction with brands for various purposes. With no proper security measures taken, they are exposing sensitive data to brands through applications. For that reason, it’s important to take preventive measures to evade data risks and protect the consumers. Below we have listed down the best ways that ensure mobile app security for your devices.

8 Best Practices for Your Mobile App Security in 2022

Data Encryptions

Utilization of mobile apps in the devices or the OS is growing tremendously. so, you need to make sure that the exchanged data do not get exposed in case the device or the OS enters into vulnerability. Data can be encrypted across applications as one way to accomplish this problem. During encryption, the data is scrambled so that hackers cannot read it. Data encryption can be done in two ways:
  • Symmetric encryption.
  • Asymmetric encryption.
Encryption and decryption of data using symmetric encryption uses the same security key. Asymmetric encryption, however, uses separate security keys to encrypt and decrypt data. For a good mobile app security assurance, it is always a good idea to follow secure coding practices to keep them more secure.

Secure Codes

Many pieces of code make up every application at its core. Due to this, it’s very important to have secure codes. As reported by NowSecure, “82 percent of Android devices were prone to at least one of the 25 vulnerabilities in the Android operating system”. As a result, a bug-free and vulnerability-free source code must be maintained. To ensure code security and that there are no vulnerabilities that the hackers are capable of exploiting, mobile application testing is essential.

User Authentications

User-generated content (UGC) is the most common type of contribution to mobile applications. UGC can be exposed to cyber-attacks because of no proper user authentication in the first place. A social engineering attack can be used by the hackers to access vital information about the users. Through UGC, malicious injection becomes very easy once they have access to the user accounts. Authentication processes such as multi-factor authentication can be used here. A one-time password, token, security key, or other additional layers of security is added over the traditional authentication process. Two-factor authentication, for example, involves receiving an OTP on the device to validate the user’s identity. Compliance is another important aspect of mobile application security.

Compliance & Integrity

For a mobile app to be launched, certain security requirements must be met. The app store may require the developers to follow a few specific security measures under the app store direction. An app could be downloaded and installed through this process. App stores are used in modern smartphones to distribute apps or software that needs to be code signed. Only pre-vetted applications are distributed through this process. In addition to confirming the developer’s identity and the security requirements of the app, the app store validates the app’s security requirements. The application is available for download if everything complies with the guidelines of the operating system. Several coding sign options are available in the market, so it doesn’t need to seem all daunting. A cheap code signing certificate ensures compliance and integrity of your application. It is considered to be cost-effective. It also signifies that it comes from the genuine publisher and that the code has never been tampered with before. Users are provided with a public key that is used to decrypt the information related to their identity, which is encrypted with the help of this certificate. An Application Programming Interface is another aspect of app security that is very essential to understand.

Secure APIs

Third-party APIs play an important role in integrating third-party services as well as improving functionality. It also facilitates the exchange of data among heterogeneous systems. However, for greater app security, APIs should be secured and data that is exchanged should not be exposed. Utilizing data access authorizations is one way to ensure APIs security. There are a few open source and Commercial tools available for automated API testing in the market. It is very crucial to understand the requirement and threats the app and its data might encounter, before opting for a security testing tool.

Security Triggers

If someone tampers with the source code of your application, you can use specific triggers to alert your systems. To detect malicious injections and tampering in cloud-native applications, AWS Lambda functions can be used.

Data Privileges

By identifying data privileges, you can also minimize the risk of malicious cyber-attacks against your application. Provide limited access to sensitive data to users according to the principle of least privilege. By doing so, sensitive information will not be accessible to someone without data access or with malicious intent.

Secure Containers

Security keys is the most crucial aspect of encryption. If you are encrypting data for your application, don’t store security keys in local data centers. In most organizations, sensitive information is stored in local data centers in hybrid clouds, where you can use secure containers to protect the keys. AES encryption and SHA-256 hashing, for example, can ensure the security of such keys with advanced security protocols.

Bottom Line

As the usage of various mobile applications by users grow on daily basis, the need to secure and protect the data grows too. Users must prioritize the security of their mobile applications. As hackers are turning more efficient at malicious injection attacks and many more that would provide them a backstreet to access the data very quickly. Hence, the user should focus on improving their security to secure their data that prevents the hackers to take control of the applications. We hope that the above tips have genuinely helped you and we also hope that you’ve learnt the cruciality of mobile application security.
Web Application Penetration Testing (1)

Web Application Penetration Testing: Steps, Methods, & Tools

Phishing attacks are responsible for 90% of security breaches in companies. The primary concern, however, is web application security.

But, what is web application security? It is the process of protecting websites, web applications, and web services from current and rising security threats that exploit weaknesses in the source code.

Making one small error in the web design or server and it can create a huge loss in the business revenue.

Read further to know how web application penetration testing or web app pen test is done and what are its tools, methods and steps.

Web Application Penetration Testing: Overview

Web app pen test refers to the method of simulating a real-life cyber attack against web services, web apps, or websites to determine potential danger. This technique is performed by the cyber security experts.

It is performed in an attempt to identify existing weak points that the criminals can easily deceive. Potential attacks can happen with the web servers hosted locally or on the cloud. So, they are at a substantial risk of would-be attacks from malicious sources.

Cyber Security Experts conduct penetration testing to verify the extent of vulnerabilities, identify loopholes, and evaluate the effectiveness of the enterprise’s overall application security posture.

What Steps are Used to Perform a Web App Pen Test?

1. Pre engagement Activity
Distinguishing the scope of activities, organization’s targets, and its security goals.

At this phase, the tester takes into account the virtual and physical assets that the organization utilizes. Following that, they perform black box, white box, and gray box tests on the system.

2. Intelligence Gathering
In this phase, we analyze how the web application is set up. The intelligence gathering consists of the two types:
• Passive Phase

Here the tester collects information which are easily accessible on the internet without engaging directly with the application.

• Active Phase

Penetration testers probe target systems in the active phase in order to extract information that can be used to analyze the system further.

3. Vulnerability Scanning & Analysis
After comprehensive examination of critical control points in the system, pen testers can then make detailed examination of the possible attacks.

To identify security loopholes, Zed Attack Proxy (ZAP), Burp Suite Pro or Acunetix and other open source tools that are used to scan target applications for vulnerabilities.

In this state, the main task for the testers is to validate if the important company information is safe.

4. Exploitation Phase

In this phase the collected data are analyzed. It is essential to test the discrepancies along with maintaining the data while determining threats.

By performing various exploitation techniques against the vulnerabilities identified during the scanning phase, this step allows obtaining unauthorized access to the database, circumventing authorizations with brute force tools, and uploading malicious scripts to the application server to gain command-line shell access.

5. Enlisting Threats & Devising Remediation

Upon the completion of the assessment, a comprehensive report is generated that summarizes the results, the probable threats, the threat scorecard, and the expert advice provided by the pen tester.

In order to verify that the errors have been fixed and the vulnerability has been removed, a retest is conducted by the designated IT team.

Top Standards, Controls, and Methodologies Used for Identifying Threats Through Penetration Testing

Security testing methodologies listed below are used by all competent cybersecurity penetration experts.

OWASP – Open Web Application Security Project

There are 10 most critical threats a web application might face outlined in the OWASP Top 10 document, which is regularly updated.

By ranking the top 10 threats from highest to lowest, OWASP is working towards strengthening the software security system.

Specialists from around the world participate in OWASP, sharing knowledge on threats and attacks.

PCI DSS – Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard
Credit card information should be processed, stored, and transmitted in a secure environment as a result of these obligations.

In addition to improving customer trust, it prevents sensitive information from being compromised by unassuming breaches. Due to its connection to payment, this is of particular importance.

In order to protect payment information, organisations that follow this methodology are regarded as the gold standard worldwide.

OSSTMM – Open Source Security Testing Methodology Manual
Security testing done using open-source software is regularly updated every six months with the latest cyber threats.

It is a systematic and scientific method of correlating reliable penetration test reports, analysing vulnerabilities, and performing red-teaming exercises.

As part of the OSSTMM testing program the following are included:

• Human Security Testing
• Telecommunications Security Testing
• Wireless Security Testing
• Data Network Security Testing.
• Physical Security Testing

With OSSTMM, you can streamline your security testing protocol.

ISSAF – Information Systems Security Assessment Framework

It comprises nine steps that evaluate the security of the network, application control, and system monitoring.

As part of the ISSAF, information is gathered; the network is mapped; vulnerabilities are identified; penetrations are made; basic access privileges are obtained, and then elevated; access is maintained, remote users and remote sites are compromised, and the tester’s digital footprints are hidden.

In comparison to other more commonly used penetration testing methods, this type is rather complicated.

Web Application Penetration Testing Tools

In spite of the wide range of web application penetration testing tools available, their effectiveness depends on the type of tasks they are intended to handle. Open source tools for penetration testing web applications are listed below:

1. Zab Proxy
2. Nikto
3. Nuclie
4. Wfuzz
5. SQLMap
6. DirSsearch
7. Commix
8. XssHunter

Wrap Up!

Your organization’s sensitive data can be safeguarded with Web Application Penetration Testing Services.

In this blog, we attempt to summarize the important facets of web application penetration testing, but this only scratches the surface. Each day, technological and operational advancements bring better options to the field, which is quite vast and evolving rapidly.

We at Ownux can help you safeguard sensitive organisational data by conducting web application penetration testing.


Why Automated Security Scanners Fail?

Manual Assessments are the hackers’ best friend

What is a manual security assessment?

An assessment of IT assets executed manually, one by one is called manual assessment.

These assessments can be conducted on the cloud, mobile applications, web applications, networks, and devices.

We receive a lot of questions from students and blue team professionals asking why we need to have manual assessments when there are automated scanners doing the job. These scanners are too expensive and developed by giant companies with solid research and still why manual assessments are insisted on?

Legit. The concern is legit, however, scanners are great up to some extent. They cover most of the issues however, several high-severity bugs are missed.

Why Automated Security Scanners Fail?

To understand this, let’s dive deeper into how pen testing is done.

Penetration Testing includes 2 aspects: 1. Coverage. 2. Vulnerability Discovery. Automated scanners are not a complete solution in both scenarios.

Security Issues scanners miss:

– Less coverage
– Chances of high false-positives
– Miss the business logic issues
– Miss the Information Disclosure Vulnerabilities

Scenario 1:
Coverage includes finding every corner of the application and noting it down (in any form) to refer to later in the pen-testing stages. There will be some parts of the application that remain unassessed which be prone to attackers if not done with a proper strategy for that application.

Automated scanners can miss this and there are chances that some stones may remain unturned. Though a lot of parts are covered but missed too. Here’s where the manual assessment’s role takes place.

Scenario 2:
Vulnerability Discovery includes hunting for security issues in the target. Scanners do miss security issues. Yes, you heard that right, scanners do miss issues hunting for vulnerabilities. PS: We are not talking about false positives. This may lead to exploitation, of course.

Though automated scanners are good, however, if you really want to get the best out of scanners, you should know how to configure them properly and that is the reason we always say: “Scanning is an Art”.

Scenario 3:

Logical issues are fairly missed by the scanners. Each application is different and varies according to the business requirement. A business logic vulnerability is a flaw in the design and implementation of an application that allows an attacker to cause unintended behaviour. This could allow an attacker to manipulate legitimate functionality to achieve malicious goals. These flaws are usually due to the fact that abnormal application conditions that may arise are not anticipated and, as a result, are not safely handled.

Scenario 4:

Scanners often miss information disclosure vulnerabilities. We did a security assessment for one of the Hong-Kong based organization where we were able to find hardcoded sensitive information in the website javascript where we were able to log in to the application without having any username and password. It is impossible to have such findings from a

For all the above reasons, we believe manual pen testing and automated scanning conducted parallelly give the best engagement results. Ownux does this for you. adopts an abridged version of the PMBOK concept to standardize the management practices for all our Penetration Testing projects.


In conclusion, while automated scanners offer valuable advantages in pentesting, they should not be considered a silver bullet. Their limitations can leave your organization exposed to significant security risks.

A hybrid approach that combines the power of automation with the depth and expertise of manual testing provides a comprehensive and nuanced assessment of your security posture.

By embracing a hybrid approach, you can gain a clearer understanding of your security posture, mitigate real threats, and build a more secure future for your organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about how a hybrid pentesting approach can benefit your organization, click on the link and contact us today. We’re here to help you achieve your security goals.

Cyber security

Top 6 Reasons For Cyber Security Training: A Key Takeaway For Business Professionals

Small business owners are in a misbelief that cybersecurity training is an essential thing for large corporations only – they are more susceptible to risks and dangers as they have a lot at their disposal.

Actually, among small business proprietors, 60% of them believe that it’s unlikely that cyber-criminals will target them. This suggests that small businesses are more vulnerable to threats than large enterprises.

Why so? Large enterprises possess the resources to protect and secure their valuable data assets.

The below reasons justify why small businesses are the major source of target for cybercriminals:

  • Insufficient cybersecurity specialists in the team.
  • Insufficient cyber security training
  • Not updating the security solutions from time to time.
  • Loose endpoints
  • Inadequate awareness

Additionally, with the increase in the work-from-home policy, the number of security breaches is getting much higher. To elaborate, more than 40% of WFH employees committed mistakes that resulted in cybersecurity reverberations for the organizations. Hence, small firms with mobile employees are vulnerable.

Considering these factors, let us now look at what cybersecurity training has in store for business professionals.

An Overview Of Cybersecurity Training

Giving and spreading awareness related to cybersecurity and information security of the business is called cybersecurity training. All the training related to cybersecurity threats is given to the employees and how to mitigate the risk by utilizing an assortment of techniques and learning methods.

The training corresponds to all the employees irrespective of their designation and number of experience. Additionally, the training makes sure that all the employees possess specific skills required to detect attacks. Before expecting the employees to keep your data secure, they must receive a relevant training program including informative and engaging sessions.

Principal Reasons To Inculcate Cybersecurity Training In Your Business

It is important for business office employees as well as IT professionals to receive cybersecurity training that is specific and actionable. Your employees, your business, and you can all benefit from cybersecurity training.

1. Attracts Talent

It might be complex for small business owners to draw skillful talent. A lot of specialists currently comprehend the significance of digital security. The employees’ data must be kept safe and if they find that it is risking their data, they might not be willing to work with your enterprise. 

Moreover, cybersecurity is one of the most crucial aspects of the business world that employers look for in candidates. An Internet-based business is a norm for most companies today. Technology-minded professionals may be attracted to cybersecurity training.

2. Saves Your Business Money

An incident related to cyberspace can be detrimental to your business and cost you a fortune. It is common for small businesses to pay between $84,000 and $148,000 when they experience a cyberattack. The cost of a data breach is outweighed by the investment in cybersecurity. Other potential repercussions of a cyberattack include:

  • Damaged reputation
  • Revenue loss
  • Theft of personal data and intellectual property
  • Client losses
  • When you invest in cybersecurity training, you invest in your company’s future.

3. Ensures Your Business Is Compliant

In recent years, regulators have become more strict about requiring industries to implement cybersecurity training. Compliance is more costly for non-compliant businesses than compliant businesses targeted by cybercriminals, regardless of their scale.

Cybersecurity solutions are essential for compliance. The technology, data, and people of small businesses can all become targets of cybercrime, just like those of large corporations.

4. Builds Up Technological Defenses

In order to prevent breaches, technological defenses are invaluable. Firewalls, acknowledgement of security threats, and software updates will ensure you’re assimilating tech defences.

Currently, there are extremely few businesses that work on technological defences. They are cognizant of the threats. Still, their technological defences won’t be enough to fulfil the potential without the use of cybersecurity training. 

An unprotected network is inherently vulnerable to attack because attackers see it as an easy target.

5. Builds Trust Among Customers

Knowledgeable customers are substantially cognizant of cyber threats. Your customers won’t trust your business if it’s not safe and secure. Consequently, if you suffer a cyberattack, it can lead to a loss of trust from clients and ultimately business losses.

Business leaders who want to gain customer loyalty will improve their cybersecurity. An example of an unsafe security practice would be a company that fails to follow safe procedures. You may be seen as a liability if your customers notice this.

6. Builds Cybersecurity Culture

Despite cybersecurity and data protection regulations, many members of your association may not be aware of their implications. Using a creative password is not enough to conceal sensitive information. Information can be accessed by hackers in more ways as technology advances. Employees can have clear expectations regarding security when they are provided with a comprehensive security plan.

Cyber security education can help your staff recognize and prevent attacks, prevent cyber-related incidents, and respond in the event of a cyber-attack. By taking this protection, business leaders can guarantee the secrecy of susceptible data.

Safeguard Your Business, Employees and Customers

All sizes of companies are targets of cyberattacks on an exponential scale. It is possible that you will lose customer relationships, data, and sales. By enforcing the most promising cybersecurity practices and training your employees, you can ensure the security of your enterprise and confidential information. Contact the industry experts now!