Backdoor Access: Could cybercriminals be secretly accessing your data?

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Could cybercriminals be secretly gate crashing your data?

No one is keen to host an unwanted guest, but what if you are unaware that they are even there? Trusted global leader in encrypted hardware data storage solutions – iStorage Limited, dissect the idea of backdoor access and how this could affect your personal data.

Imagine you’re a thief, eyeing up a stunning four-bedroom property for your next job. With a Ring Doorbell and security sign in sight at the front of the house, you decide to hop over the fence and try your luck around the back. Once you reach the back door, you’re delighted to find that the door is unlocked, allowing you access to the property – how kind! With this backdoor access, you also have the sound knowledge of knowing that residents will be unaware that you have accessed this property, unless of course you leave the home completely ransacked. You also have the opportunity to burgle this home multiple times, at least whilst this backdoor is still accessible.

Now that you have pictured this scenario, how would you feel if we told you that your computer works in the exact same way? If you use software or hardware to house your data, there may still be a chance of your device being accessed without your consent, or even knowledge. In simple terms, this cybersecurity situation is known as ‘backdoor access’.

How do cyber criminals receive secret access to your device?

Cybercriminals will often search far and wide to find devices with vulnerabilities that may give them backdoor access. This backdoor access may be created by cybercriminals themselves through a backdoor malware or may even be automatically implemented into your software or encrypted hardware by the manufacturer. This may be for the reason of the developer accessing a drive if a customer accidentally locks themselves out or may be a government requirement such as in China.

Backdoor malware is commonly known as a Trojan virus, accurately named after the Trojan Horse in Greek Mythology; as much like the city of Troy, device users may also be in for a nasty surprise as a Trojan Virus will enter a device and implement malware, backdoors and will steal data.

What could be the implications of backdoor access?

An example of just how serious backdoor malware can be is found in the 2019 SolarWinds hacking scandal. In this circumstance, Russian criminals were able to implement a Trojan virus into the company’s software system named Orion. With 33,000 customers using Orion, SolarWinds unknowingly passed the virus to their customers whilst issuing an update for the software, spreading a malware virus to SolarWinds’ top clients. Victims of this malware attack included the Pentagon, the US Department of Homeland Security, Cisco, Microsoft, Deloitte and more. As this attack was carried out so stealthily, security experts stated that many victims may never know if they were even attacked.

How to minimise vulnerabilities within your network and devices:

The thought of unknowingly having your personal data accessed and stolen can be scary, but the good news is that it can be preventable. As the thought leaders and experts in encrypted hardware data storage solutions, we wanted to share with you our top advice on how you could prevent the possibility of a Trojan and backdoor access compromising your personal data.

The first ultimate tip on how to protect your data from backdoor access is simple. Use a complicated password. Although we have all heard this tip over a thousand times before, it still needs to be stressed. With the most common password in the UK still being ‘password’ or ‘1234’, you are automatically almost inviting criminals with open arms to take a look at your data, just as the homeowner left their door unlocked in the scenario above. A complicated password should be made up of a mix of a random characters, including numbers, capital letters and special characters. Apps like password manager can also be used to ensure you don’t forget these passwords, as complicated passwords can often be forgotten!

Secondly, a great tip to prevent backdoor or malware access is to carefully examine and monitor any suspicious behaviour on your device. This can vary from inspecting any suspicious emails that are received in your inbox to ensuring there are no random data spikes within your network activity. To make this process easier, invest in a suitable firewall for your device. A firewall will essentially carry out all of this work for you in the background whilst you carry out any tasks. It will alert you if anything suspicious is found on your device and will give you the option on how you want to deal with it.

The third and final essential tip we have is to invest in a sound and certified cybersecurity storage solution. Certifications such as Common Criteria, FIPS and NCSC CPA will examine just how easy it is to create a backdoor access within a device or software and will award solutions on the level of security they can provide to a customer. A product with no certifications may indicate that there may be a vulnerability within the solution, enabling backdoor access to be easily created. A popular backdoor access route within hardware devices may be BadUSB, a common vulnerability in hardware which allows hackers to implement malware viruses through a USB connector.

At iStorage, we take data security to the highest level, ensuring that none of our products have the potential of a backdoor implementation. Our range of products include our encrypted hardware diskAshur2 range which is the world’s first and only range of devices to be certified to FIPS 140-2 Level 2/3, NCSC CPA, NLNCSA BSPA and NATO Restricted, whilst also implementing a Common Criteria (EAL 5+) secure microprocessor that protects data at the very core. Our devices have also been tested against having any vulnerabilities regarding BadUSB. We are currently offering free 30-day trials for all of our products, to allow you to try out our devices and to personally experience the superior level of security they can provide for your data before committing to any financial obligations.