Authored by: Morey Haber, CTO, BeyondTrust
People blow off steam all the time. They vent to their coworkers, exercise, or play games online during work hours to ease stress and tension. In truth, it is nearly humanly impossible to work 8-hour days, every day, without a break in between. It is not good for your focus and not good for your productivity. With the advent of social media sites, many employers do not fuss if an employee surfs the web from time to time to take a break or even blow off some steam. This includes playing a game or two. Unfortunately, there has been a growing trend to use these sites, and the games that may be hosted on these platforms, to attempt to compromise your computer. Take a look at the screenshot below:
While playing a simple game on a social media site, this web page automatically redirected me through a malicious banner ad that was injected into the site. It was a clever piece of malware that tried to leverage Adobe Flash first and then displayed this auto refreshing page second after a drive-by attack failed. In addition, however it was coded, it would not allow me to close Safari on my Mac. It required a Force Quit to terminate. Insidious at best and potentially a real threat if I had a vulnerable version of Flash installed or recklessly followed the instructions.
For any organisation that allows employees to blow off steam by playing games and does not have a sound vulnerability management and patch management procedure, this simple activity could have been a foothold for a much larger attack. An anti-malware solution or an advanced endpoint protection platform may have stopped the exploit, but that is not the point. The Internet is full of threats and even sites we potentially deem as safe could have malicious banners, flash applications, and content that are completely out of our control and just waiting to attempt to exploit our resources.
If you think the scope of this will not impact your business, consider a recent hack that compromised nearly two thousand WordPress websites for example.. The malicious activity did not target your assets directly (unless you where one of the ones infected) but rather captured keystrokes and used your assets to help mine for cryptocurrencies. Ingenious and insidious; you were helping the threat actors actually make money.
Therefore, for every business that allows employees to blow off steam, consider what games, sites, and social media your team members are using. Ensure the latest security patches are applied to every resource – from the operating system to third party applications to plugins.