Spear phishing attacks continue to increase in popularity among cybercriminals, and businesses must take steps to protect against them or risk seeing sensitive information stolen, according to a Tuesday report from Barracuda.

These highly personalized email attacks involve a hacker researching their target and creating a message often designed to impersonate a trusted colleague or business to steal sensitive information, which is then used to commit crimes like fraud and identity theft, the report noted.

Spear phishing attacks are particularly dangerous because they are designed to get around traditional email security like spam filters, the report found. They typically do not include malicious links or attachments, but instead use spoofing techniques and zero-day links that, combined with social engineering tactics, are unlikely to be blocked.

Of the 360,000 spear phishing email attacks examined by the report over a three-month period, the most common type of attack by far was brand impersonation (83%). Brand impersonation attacks attempt to impersonate a well-known company to gain a target’s credentials and take over their account. These attacks have also been used to steal personally identifiable information like credit card and Social Security numbers. Microsoft and Apple are the most commonly impersonated brands used in these attacks, the report found.

Read the full article here: https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-prevent-spear-phishing-attacks-8-tips-for-your-business

Jay Gehringer spent 27 years as a high school band director before making the transition into cybersecurity education. He knows firsthand the value that comes from being well-rounded and having expertise in multiple areas.

As a cyber coach and mentor at North Hollywood High School, he passes that lesson onto his students as they prepare for college and the working world. Cybersecurity impacts every part of the economy, and cybersecurity professionals need to be experts in technology and their industry.

“If you want someone to do cybersecurity for your oil refinery, you want them to be a petroleum engineer, but you also want them to be interested in their cybersecurity,” Gehringer said. “You need content knowledge in whatever area you’re working in, not just knowledge about cybersecurity.”

Gehringer encourages his students to consider double majors in college and reiterates that they don’t have to give up their passion for another field just because they are interested in cybersecurity.

His own career path mirrors some of these same ideas. He majored in music but took programming courses during college. He continued to learn about computers as a side project while he was a band director and eventually made the transition into teaching technology full-time.

Gehringer heard about CyberPatriot through a school district press release and thought he might be able to help out. He began coaching in 2011.His experience shows that anyone can become a cyber coach, regardless of their background or experience.

“99 percent of what I know about teaching cybersecurity, I didn’t know when I started,” Gehringer said. “I took Cisco courses, did a lot of research online, talked to kids who had figured things out and got some help from other instructors along the way.”

Gehringer’s students are three-time CyberPatriot National Champions, winning in the Open Division in 2014, 2017, and 2018.  As a coach, he’s careful not to overemphasize the success and helps his students keep their performance in perspective.

“Kids naturally like to do things well and at a high level,” Gehringer said. “With the support I’m able to give my students, they’re instantly one of the better teams in the country. I’m always reminding them that, while winning is important, it’s not the only reason to participate in these competitions.”

North Hollywood High School’s CyberPatriot teams are run as part of the Beyond the Bell after-school program. Gehringer said this approach helps him reach students who might not have room in the school day for cybersecurity education.

“It gives me access to kids who are taking a very heavy academic schedule,” Gehringer said. “Kids who are interested in cyber generally are not doing sports or performing arts. When mom was trying to get them to go out and play, they wanted to sit inside on the computer. CyberPatriot gives them an opportunity to work as part of a team.”

As his teams continue to achieve success, Gehringer uses that notoriety to spread the word about the potential cybersecurity offers as a career path. Once parents understand what it is, he says, they instantly see what he’s known for years.

“I like cybersecurity as a career because it’s not a job that’s going to get exported overseas or taken over by a robot,” Gehringer said. “A lot of parents are stuck on their kids being a doctor or lawyer, but that changes pretty quickly when you start talking about their kids coming out of college with multiple job offers before they graduate.”

Gehringer’s students will defend their national title at the CyberPatriot XI National Championship in Baltimore April 8-10.

The California Mayors Cyber Cup competition is over, but the work of Team California to educate the next generation of cybersecurity professionals is just beginning.

Over the next year, parents, educators, employers, employees, and leaders from business and government will work together to create 1000 new middle and high school cyber competition teams by 2020. It’s an ambitious goal but one that can be achieved through statewide cooperation.

The momentum for Team California began at the California Mayors Cyber Cup, which was held February 23 in 12 regions across the state. California is already a leader in cybersecurity competitions, but there’s the potential to do so much more.

Cybersecurity jobs provide a pathway to a secure and high-paying career that can’t outsourced. The goal of the Team California initiative is to bring cybersecurity awareness and education into communities across the state in the same way youth soccer or little league baseball became common generations ago.

“It is important to remember that little things, like stepping up to support a team or volunteering at competitions, can change the trajectory of a young person’s life. This has the potential to influence our future in ways we cannot imagine,” said Scott Young, director of the California Cyberhub, which organizes the California Mayors Cyber Cup and related efforts. “We are serving our communities and our youth by providing them with the tools they need to be successful. Everyone is important and every little thing they do does matter!”

Kimberly Pease, who was named Cybersecurity Professional of the Year by the Los Angeles Business Journal, said she sees programs like the California Mayors Cyber Cup as a way to strengthen the bonds that are needed for Team California to thrive.

She plans to keep her company, Citadel Information Group at the forefront of cybersecurity education moving forward.

“I am inspired by the dedication and enthusiasm to support cybersecurity and our future cyber guardians,” Pease said. “I was in awe of the teachers who devote their lives to our kids, students, and young adults to make the world a better place, especially as it relates to cyber. And most of all, I was inspired by the engaging students. They hopefully will find their passion somewhere inside a cyber security career and be phenomenal cyber citizens”

At the high school level, teachers spend countless hours preparing students for cyber competitions in addition to their full day of teaching. Districts like the Los Angeles Unified School District also provide computers for students to use and arrange transportation to and from competitions.

“LAUSD provided some laptops to students so that every member of the team could have a machine either to play or do research, said Carey Peck of LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell program. “We provided transportation for about 75 percent of our students who participated.

But, it’s not enough to have cybersecurity education in schools. In order to truly make a difference in students’ lives and meet the workforce demand, the community needs to be involved. Many of the new cyber competition teams created in the next year will be in partnership with the Girl Scouts of California and Boys and Girls Clubs after school programs.

“Building support for cybersecurity competition at the community level embeds awareness of cybersecurity hygiene in the community culture,” Young said. “We have millions of parents in California who can make great coaches. Given the chance, kids participating in cyber team competitions will teach themselves and their coaches about cybersecurity.”

Some of the top CyberPatriot teams in the nation are coached by a former band director Northrup Grumman engineer and dedicated high school teacher none of whom are experienced cybersecurity professionals.

“99 percent of what I know about teaching cybersecurity, I didn’t know when I started,” said Jay Gehringer, coach of the award-winning cyber teams at North Hollywood high school. “I took Cisco courses, did a lot of research online, talked to kids who had figured things out and got some help from other instructors along the way.”

Allen Stubblefield, a cyber coach at Troy High School, said California already has the resources necessary to become an even stronger cyber powerhouse and a model that the rest of the country can follow.

“Every state has great students, but California has many schools with the right combination of computer resources, passionate coaches and supportive administrators,” Stubblefield said. “New students are welcomed, and we try hard not to say ‘no’ to students who want to try this for the first time.”

Team California can only grow if students can teach each other along the way, freeing up coaches to work on bringing new students into the cyber world. This model is already well underway among the CyberAegis group in San Diego, according to coach Paul Johnson.

“I’m very fortunate to have such a sharp, determined group of high achievers,” Johnson said. “Every year all of the thousands of teams get better, and there are some teams who have been competing for many years. We keep improving our training and trying to stay on the leading edge of where vulnerabilities will be hidden next.”
In the end, teamwork across communities, industries and organizations will drive Team California’s success and make the goal of adding 1000 cyber teams across the state a reality.

“The technology community is one community,” said Amy Tong, California’s Chief Technology Officer and Director of the California Department of Technology. “You do not need to have the title of a public servant to help protect the public’s assets.”

For more information on the California Cyberhub and the Team California project, visit ca-cyberhub.org

About California Cyberhub

The California Cyberhub is an initiative hosted at SynED, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on bringing innovation to education and workforce development. The California Cyberhub initiative is made possible by a collaborative effort of volunteers and funding from California public education, government and business. Supporters include the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office, Community College Regional Consortiums, the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, the California Department of Education and countless volunteers and champions across the state. For more information about the California Cyberhub, visit ca-cyberhub.org.

About Beyond the Bell

The mission of the Beyond the Bell Branch is to ensure that all children and youth in LAUSD have access to high quality, safe, and supervised academic, enrichment, and recreation programs that inspire learning and achievement beyond the regular school day. Every child and youth should have a safe place to be in the presence of a responsible, caring adult with engaging activities that support achievement and promote social, emotional, physical development beyond the regular school day.

About Citadel Information Group

Citadel Information Group, based in Los Angeles, California, provides information security management services to businesses and the not-for-profit community. Citadel’s commitment to excellence has been documented time after time. Our people are exceptionally talented. We are creative problem-solvers. We play well with others. And client-service is our absolute number one priority

About the California Department of Technology

The California Department of Technology is committed to partnering with state, local government and educational entities to deliver digital services, develop innovative and responsive solutions for business needs, and provide quality assurance for state government Information Technology (IT) projects and services. The Department’s “Vision 2020” Strategic plan is to create one digital government delivered securely by a dynamic workforce.

RSA Speaker Highlights

This year’s theme is, to put it simply, Better. Which means working hard to find better solutions. Making better connections with peers from around the world. And keeping the digital world safe so everyone can get on with making the real world a better place. Read more about Better.

RSA Conference is about bringing all cybersecurity professionals together and empowering the collective “we” in the industry. We feel passionately about ensuring diversity and inclusivity (D&I) in every aspect of our events. Be the change we want to see and learn more about our 4 Guiding Principles.

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