Dragonblood

WPA3 flaws may let attackers steal Wi-Fi passwords

The new wireless security protocol contains multiple design flaws that hackers could exploit for attacks on Wi-Fi passwords

WPA3, a new Wi-Fi security protocol launched in June 2018, suffers from vulnerabilities that make it possible for an adversary to recover the password of a wireless network via “efficient and low cost” attacks, according to a new academic paper and a website dedicated to the flaws.

As a reminder, the third iteration of the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) protocol is designed to enhance wireless security, including by making it well-nigh impossible to breach a WiFi network using password-guessing attacks. This safeguard – which is courtesy of WPA3’s ‘Simultaneous Authentication of Equals’ (SAE) handshake, popularly known as Dragonfly – could even ‘save people from themselves’, i.e. in the far-too-common scenario when they choose easy-to-break passwords.

Not so fast, according to Mathy Vanhoef of New York University Abu Dhabi and Eyal Ronen of Tel Aviv University & KU Leuven. Their research found that the passwords may not be beyond reach for hackers after all, as the protocol contains two main types of design flaws that can be exploited for attacks.

“Unfortunately, we found that even with WPA3, an attacker within range of a victim can still recover the password of the Wi-Fi network,” they write, noting that, in the absence of further precautions, this could in some cases pave the way for thefts of sensitive information such as credit card details. The vulnerabilities – which were identified only in WPA3’s Personal, not Enterprise, implementation – are collectively dubbed ‘Dragonblood’.


‘Dragonblood’ logo

One type of attack, called the ‘downgrade attack’, targets WPA3’s transition mode, where a network can simultaneously support WPA2 and WPA3 for backward compatibility.

“[I]f a client and AP [access point] both support WPA2 and WPA3, an adversary can set up a rogue AP that only supports WPA2. This causes the client (i.e. victim) to connect using WPA2’s 4-way handshake. Although the client detects the downgrade-to-WPA2 during the 4-way handshake, this is too late,” according to the researchers.

This is because the 4-way handshake messages that were exchanged before the downgrade was detected provide enough information to launch an offline dictionary attack against the Wi-Fi password. The attacker ‘only’ needs to know the network’s name, aka Service Set Identifier (SSID), and be close enough to broadcast the rogue AP.

Meanwhile, the ‘side-channel attack’ targets Dragonfly’s password-encoding method, called the ‘hunting and pecking’ algorithm. This attack comes in two flavors: cache- and timing-based.

“The cache-based attack exploits Dragonflys’s hash-to-curve algorithm, and our timing-based attack exploits the hash-to-group algorithm. The information that is leaked in these attacks can be used to perform a password partitioning attack, which is similar to a dictionary attack,” said Vanhoef and Ronen, who also shared scripts intended to test some of the vulnerabilities they found.

“The resulting attacks are efficient and low cost. For example, to brute-force all 8-character lowercase passwords, we require less than 40 handshakes and 125$ worth of Amazon EC2 instances,” they wrote.

Additionally, the two researchers also found that WPA3’s built-in protections against denial-of-service (DoS) attacks can be trivially bypassed and an attacker can overload an AP by initiating a large number of handshakes.

All’s not lost

Vanhoef and Ronen said that they collaborated with the Wi-Fi Alliance and the US CERT Coordination Center (CERT/CC) to notify all affected vendors in a coordinated manner.

The Wi-Fi Alliance acknowledged the vulnerabilities and said that it is providing implementation guidance to affected vendors. “The small number of device manufacturers that are affected have already started deploying patches to resolve the issue”, according to the certification body for Wi-Fi compatible devices.

Meanwhile, Vanhoef and Ronen noted that “our attacks could have been avoided if the Wi-Fi Alliance created the WPA3 certification in a more open manner”. For all its flaws, however, WPA3 is an improvement over WPA2, they concluded.

Notably, Vanhoef was one of the researchers who in 2017 disclosed a security loophole in WPA2 known as ‘Key Reinstallation AttaCK’ (KRACK).


This article was supplied by our service partner : Eset.com

vmware expert

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2

VMware just released a new vCenter Server version: 6.7 Update 2, 6.7.0.30000, build 13010631. In this article I will cover some of the new features and resolved issues. I will also demonstrate how easy is to update from a previous version of vCenter Server 6.7 to VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2.

In case you are looking for a plain installation of vCenter Server 6.7, you can check my other article: How to Install VCSA 6.7 (VMware vCenter Server Appliance).

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 New Features

vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 introduces Virtual Hardware Version 15 which adds support for creating virtual machines with up to 256 virtual CPUs.

There are few changes in vCenter backups: you can use NFS v3 (Network File System) and SMB2 (Server Message Block) protocols for file-based backup and restore operations. Also it adds version details to the “Enter backup details” page that help you to pick the correct build to restore the backup file. You can create alarm definitions to monitor the backup status of your system (using email, SNMP traps or scripts as actions).

vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 introduces the Developer Center with two new features: API Explorer and Code Capture. This update brings API Explorer (formerly accessible via https://<vCSA-FQDN>/apiexplorer) into the vSphere Client, thus removing the extra steps to authenticate prior to interacting with the REST APIs. If you ever played with the old Onyx flings, you will enjoy Code Capture. Just enable recording, do something in vSphere Client, then end recording and see the equivalent PowerCLI code generated.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Code Capture

You can now publish your VM templates managed by Content Library from a published library to multiple subscribers. You can trigger this action from the published library, which gives greater control over the distribution of VM templates.

vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 Resolved Issues

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 resolves plenty of issues with vMotion, backup, auto deploy, VMware tools, storage, management of VMs, and networking.

  • vSphere vMotion operations for encrypted virtual machines might fail after a restart of the vCenter Sever system
  • Power-on or vSphere vMotion operations with virtual machines might fail with an infinite loop error
  • Migrating a virtual machine might fail due to inability to access the parent disk
  • Migrating a virtual machine might fail due to inability to access the parent disk
  • VMware vSphere Auto Deploy Discovered Hosts tab might display an error after creating or editing a deployment rule
  • Customization of virtual machines by using Microsoft Sysprep on vSphere 6.7 might fail and virtual machines stay in customization state
  • The c:\sysprep directory might not be deleted after Windows guest customization
  • You might not see the configured CPU shares when exporting a virtual machine to OVF
  • vCenter Server might stop responding when adding a fault message in the vSphere Storage DRS
  • The vpxd service might fail when the vSphere Storage DRS provides an initial placement operation
  • ESXi hosts with visibility to RDM LUNs might take a long time to start or experience delays during LUN rescans
  • Expanding the disk of a virtual machine by using VMware vRealize Automation might fail with an error for insufficient disk space on a datastore
  • Provisioning of virtual machines might fail if the same replication group is used for some or all virtual machine files and disks
  • You cannot add permissions for a user or group beyond the first 200 security principals in an Active Directory domain by using the vSphere Client
  • User login and logout events might not contain the IP address of the user
  • The vCenter Server daemon service vpxd might fail to start with an error for invalid descriptor index
  • Cloning a virtual machine from a snapshot of a template might fail with a “missing vmsn file” error
  • An internal error might occur in alarm definitions of the vSphere Web Client
  • Attempts to log in to a vCenter Server system after an upgrade to vCenter Server 6.7 might fail with a credentials validation error
  • Migration of vCenter Server for Windows to vCenter Server Appliance might stop at 75% if system time is not synchronized with an NTP server
  • Upgrading vCenter Server for Windows to 6.7 Update 2 from earlier versions of the 6.7 line might fail
  • vCenter Server upgrades might fail due to compatibility issue between VMware Tools version 10.2 and later, and ESXi version 6.0 and earlier
  • You might see a message that an upgrade of VMware vSphere Distributed Switch is running even after the upgrade is complete
  • You cannnot migrate virtual machines by using vSphere vMotion between ESXi hosts with NSX managed virtual distributed switches (N-VDS) and vSphere Standard Switches

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 also updates some of the internal packages used.

  • VMware Postgres is updated to version 9.6.11
  • Oracle (Sun) JRE is updated to version 1.8.202.
  • Apache httpd is updated to version 2.4.37
  • The OpenSSL package is updated to version openssl-1.0.2q.
  • The ESXi userworld libxml2 library is updated to version 2.9.8.
  • The OpenSSH is updated to version 7.4p1-7.

For full list of resolved issues you can check the Release Notes.

How to Update to vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2

I will demonstrate an online update from vCenter Appliance Management console. I logged in to https://<vCSA-FQDN>:5480/ using the root appliance password, then I navigated to Update menu. After a short check, I can see my current version is 6.7.0.20000 and I have an available update to 6.7.0.30000 (which is vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2). I will click on “Stage and install” link.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Check Update Availability

Next step is to accept the end user license agreement (EULA). Check the “I accept…” checkbox and click on “Next”.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - End User License Agreement

The installer will run pre-update checks now. For example, if your root password has expired, you will receive a notice and you will not be able to proceed further before fixing the problem. If everything is allright, the wizard will jump to the next screen. You can see a downtime estimation (which proved to be waaay overestimated in my case). Confirm you have a backup of vCenter Server and click on “Finish”.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Backup Server

We can sit down and relax now while the vCenter Server is upgraded.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Installation in Progress
VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Stopping Services
VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Installing Packages

After some time we will be logged out from the appliance. Wait few minutes and then you can log back in.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Appliance Management Login

Installation is now completed!

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Installation Completed

Going on the Summary page of the Appliance Management console, you can see the new version: 6.7.0.30000, build 13010631.

VMware vCenter Server 6.7 Update 2 - Status

This article was provided by our service partner : vmware.com

Digital Identity

Lock Down Your Digital Identity

The last decade has been one of digital revolution, leading to the rapid adoption of new technology standards, often without the consideration of privacy ramifications. This has left many of us with a less-than-secure trail of digital breadcrumbs—something cybercriminals are more than aware of. Identity theft is by no means a new problem, but the technology revolution has created what some are calling a “global epidemic.”

What is a Digital Identity?

The first step in locking down your digital identity is understanding what it is. A digital identity is the combination of any and all identifying information that can connect a digital persona to an actual person. Digital identities are largely comprised of information freely shared by the user, with social media accounts generally providing the largest amount of data. Other online services like Etsy and eBay, as well as your email and online banking accounts, also contribute to your digital identity. Realistically, any information that can be linked back to you, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, is part of your digital identity.

Digital Identity Theft

Digital identity theft occurs in several ways. A common tactic is social media fraud, where a hacker will impersonate a user by compromising an existing social media account, often messaging friends and family of the user requesting money or additional account information. If unable to gain full control of a genuine social media account, identity thieves will often set up a dummy social media account and impersonate the user using it.

A less widely-known form of digital identity fraud is internet-of-things (IoT) identity theft, where an attacker gains access to an IoT device with weak security protocols and exploits it to gain access to a higher priority device connected to the same network. Another growing threat is “SIM swapping”— an attack that involves tricking a mobile provider into swapping a legitimate phone number over to an illegitimate SIM card, granting the attacker access to SMS-enabled two-factor authentication (2FA) efforts.

Even those who don’t consider themselves targets should be aware of these tactics and take steps to lock down their digital identities.

Locking it Down

Reviewing your social media accounts’ privacy settings is one of the easiest things you can do to cut opportunistic identity thieves off from the start. Set your share settings to friends only, and scrub any identifying information that could be used for security clearance — things like your high school, hometown, or pets’ names. Only add people you personally know and if someone sends you a suspicious link, don’t click it! Phishing, through email or social media messages, remains one of the most prevalent causes of digital identity theft in the world. But your digital identity can be compromised in the physical world as well — old computers that haven’t been properly wiped provide an easy opportunity hackers won’t pass up. Always take your outdated devices to a local computer hardware store to have them wiped before recycling or donating them.

The Right Tools for the Job

This is just the start of a proper digital identity lock-down. Given the sensitive nature of these hacks, we asked Webroot Security Analyst Tyler Moffitt his thoughts on how consumers can protect their digital identities.

“Two-factor authentication in combination with a trusted virtual private network, or VPN, is the crown jewel of privacy lock-down,” Tyler said. “Especially if you use an authenticator app for codes instead of SMS authentication. A VPN is definitely a must… but you can still fall for phishing attempts using a VPN. Using two-factor authentication on all your accounts while using VPN is about as secure as you can get.”

2FA provides an additional level of security to your accounts, proactively verifying that you are actually the one attempting to access the account. 2FA often uses predetermined, secure codes and geolocation data to determine a user’s identity.

Because 2FA acts as a trusted gatekeeper, do your research before you commit to a solution. You’ll find some offerings that bundle 2FA with a secure password manager, making the commitment to cybersecurity a little bit easier. When making your choice, remember that using SMS-enabled 2FA could leave you vulnerable to SIM swapping, so though it is more secure than not using 2FA at all, it is among the least secure of 2FA strategies.

VPNs wrap your data in a cocoon of encryption, keeping it out of sight of prying eyes. This is particularly important when using public WiFi networks, since that’s when your data is at its most vulnerable. Many VPNs are available online, including some free options, but this is yet another instance of getting what you pay for. Many free VPNs are not truly private, with some selling your data to the highest bidder. Keeping your family secure behind a VPN means finding a solution that provides you with the type of comfort that only comes with trust.


This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com

cloud security

How Threats Have Evolved & Why You Need to Do Something About It

Whether you realize it or not, the
cybersecurity threat landscape has changed dramatically in the last few years—and recent security issues prove it.

Everywhere you turn, conversations about cyber issues today are happening. The media coverage on massive breaches continues to grow by the day. But since most of the high profile cases people read about are large companies (Equifax, Apple, Target, etc.), many small business owners you work with have it in their mind that large companies are the targets and they’re immune or safe from new threats.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Attacks on SMBs, as well as MSPs, are on the rise, and you both must be vigilant as a result. According to the Ponemon Institute: 2017 State of Cybersecurity in Small & Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB) study, the average cost due to damage or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $879,582 to $1,027,053. The average cost due to disruption of normal operations increased from $955,429 to $1,207,965.

Attacks and breaches 1
So, What’s Changed?

Security was a modest part of the services you’ve provided—until now. It’s made its way to the forefront of business IT needs so you can protect against the top cybersecurity threats out there. Endpoint protection, firewall protection, and email protection were staples of the managed services business, but they’re simply not enough anymore. Failure to address these increases the chance of a serious security event, and reduces the chance to avoid downtime, a work stoppage, or worse.

For years, MSPs have provided a successful security strategy that has provided their customers excellent uptime and productivity. Cybercriminals are getting more sophisticated and targeting small to medium businesses. Ransomware, data breaches, and phishing attacks are examples of tactics that eclipse the solutions that we’ve relied on thus far. You’ll want to make sure they’re safeguarded against these more sophisticated attacks, and mitigate as much risk as possible. Cyber issues today don’t just impact your customers, but their customers, suppliers, etc. If someone were to breach your customer, it could give them access to all of their critical systems and data. If an incident happens in a regulated industry, the cause goes beyond their loss of business. It would compromise your patient’s protected data and be in breach of HIPAA requirements. Aside from financial implications due to a work stoppage, breaches in industries that are regulated (financial, healthcare, industrial, government, etc.) are also subject to investigations, digital forensics teams, and litigation.

As an MSP, more times than not you’ll be questioned and have to participate in those investigations. If the customer has cyber insurance, the insurance company will do their investigation before paying out. In a breach today where data is compromised, the financial impact is a whopping $148 per record. It’s not just downtime that can render a business in trouble after a breach, because the lingering effects are crippling to most companies.

What Can You Do About It?

Several things. First, realize that this is not a problem you can throw a bunch of tools at to fix. People and process is a key component of a strong security posture. As you can see in the chart “What’s Behind the Trends: Root Cause”, 54% of data breaches were a result of negligent employees or contractors. That correlates to nearly half of all attacks being executed through phishing or social engineering. Implementing security awareness training through Customer Security Programs is a good way to expand your service offering and reduce your customers risk that doesn’t involve adding another tool to your stack.

Attacks and breaches : root cause

Second, leverage a proven framework as a benchmark to measure your customers’ businesses (and your own). We believe the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF) is the most comprehensive and easiest framework for MSPs to adopt. We’ve built a risk assessment based on that framework that includes strengths and weaknesses for your customer, plus an actionable report and an attestation letter that protects you against recommendations your customer doesn’t wish to add. With this, you can walk into a customer’s office and say, “In order to make sure you’re as protected as you can be, I went ahead and did a risk assessment of your business to help determine your security posture. The assessment is based on the Cybersecurity Framework created by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and it’s the benchmark we use to grade all companies—regardless of size or industry. It’s also the same assessment I perform regularly on my own company.”


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com

WiFi Security

The Hidden Costs of ‘Free’ WiFi

The True Cost of Free WiFi

Ease-of-access is a true double-edged sword. Like all powerful technologies, WiFi (public WiFi in particular) can be easily exploited. You may have read about attacks on publicly accessible WiFi networks, yet studies show that more than 70% of participants admit to accessing their personal email through public WiFi. WiFi vulnerabilities aren’t going away anytime soon—in 2017, the WPA2 security protocol used by essentially all modern WiFi networks was found to have a critical security flaw that allowed attackers to intercept passwords, e-mails and other data.

So what are the most commonly seen attacks via free WiFi, and how can we protect ourselves and our families? We turned to Tyler Moffitt, Webroot’s Sr. Threat Research Analyst, for answers.

Common Public WiFi Threats

“Criminals are either taking over a free WiFi hotspot at the router level, or creating a fake WiFi hotspot that’s meant to look like the legitimate one,” explained Moffitt. “The purpose of these man-in-the-middle attacks is to allow attackers to see and copy all of the traffic from the devices connected to the WiFi they control.”

Basic security protocols often aren’t enough to protect users’ data.

“Even with HTTPS sites where some data is encrypted, much of it is still readable,” Moffitt said. “Beyond just seeing where you surf and all the login credentials, criminals also have access to your device and can drop malicious payloads like ransomware.”

We are now seeing these attacks evolve, with cryptojacking becoming a particularly lucrative exploitation model for public WiFi networks. Cryptojacking is seen as a “low risk” attack as an attacker siphons a victim’s computer processing power, something far less likely to be detected and tracked than a traditional malware or ransomware attack. This was particularly notable in a 2017 cryptojacking attack that targeted Starbucks customers, which went uncorrected until Noah Dinkin—a tech company CEO—noticed a delay when connecting to the shop’s WiFi. Dinkin took it upon himself to investigate

It’s not just coffee shops that are being targeted. Airports, hotels, and convention centers are particularly prime targets due to their high  traffic. To demonstrate the power of a targeted attack in a conference setting, a security experiment was conducted at the 2017 RSA Conference. Surprisingly, even at an IT security conference, white hat hackers were able to trick 4,499 attendees into connecting to their rogue WiFi access point. The targeting of high-traffic, travel-focused locations means that many frequent travelers will leave themselves exposed at some point by connecting to public WiFi options—even though they may know better.

How to Detect the Threat

What are the telltale signs of a compromised system?

“With cryptomining, you will definitely notice that your machine will start acting slow, the fans will kick on full blast, and the CPU will increase to 100 percent, usually the browser being the culprit,” Moffitt said. “But there are few signs of a man-in-the-middle attack, where wireless network traffic is spied on for credentials and financial information. You won’t notice a thing, as your computer is just connecting to the router like normal. All information is being observed by someone in control of the router.”

With one recent attack in 2018 alone affecting 500,000 WiFi routers, the need for WiFi security has never been stronger.

Protecting Yourself on the Go

You can take steps to keep your data secure; the first of which is being sure that you have a VPN installed and protecting your devices. Nothing else will as effectively encrypt and shield your traffic on a public network.

“Using a VPN is the most impactful way to combat the dangers of free WiFi,” Moffitt said. “Think of VPN as a tunnel that shelters all of your information going in and out of your device. The traffic is encrypted so there is no way that criminals can read the information you are sending.”

“I use a VPN on my phone when I’m on the go,” he continued. “It’s really easy to use and you make sure all your data is private and not visible to prying eyes.”

But be sure to research any VPN before you commit to ensure it is trustworthy. It’s important to review the vendor’s privacy policy to make sure the VPN does not monitor or retain logs of your activities. Remember that, with security software and apps, you generally get what you pay for.

While free VPN apps will shield your data from the router you are connecting to, they may still spy on you and sell your information,” Moffitt said.

What does this all mean for you? If there is no such thing as free lunch, then there is definitely no such thing as free WiFi. The true cost just might be your online security and privacy.

Stay vigilant, secure all of your web traffic behind a trusted VPN, and check back here often for the latest in cybersecurity updates


This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com

ransomware secuirty

The Ransomware Threat isn’t Over. It’s Evolving.

Ransomware is any malware that holds your data ransom. These days it usually involves encrypting a victim’s data before asking for cash (typically cryptocurrency) to decrypt it. Ransomware ruled the malware world since late 2013, but finally saw a decline last year. The general drop in malware numbers, along with defensive improvements by the IT world in general (such as more widespread backup adoption), were factors, but have also led this threat to become more targeted and ruthless.

Delivery methods

When ransomware first appeared, it was typically distributed via huge email and exploit kit campaigns. Consumer and business users alike were struck without much discretion. 

Today, many ransomware criminals prefer to select their targets to maximise their payouts. There’s a cost to doing business when it comes to infecting people, and the larger the group of people you are trying to hit, the more it costs. 

Exploit kits

Simply visiting some websites can get you infected, even if you don’t try to download anything. This is usually done by exploiting weaknesses in the software used to browse the web such as your browser, Java, or Flash. Content management and development tools like WordPress and Microsoft Silverlight, respectively, are also common sources of vulnerabilities. But there’s a lot of software and web trickery involved in delivering infections this way, so the bulk of this work is packaged into an exploit kit which can be rented out to criminals to help them spread their malware. 

Renting an exploit kit can cost $1,000 a month, so this method of delivery isn’t for everyone. Only those cybercriminals who’re sufficiently motivated and funded. 

“Because the cost of exploitation has risen so dramatically over the course of the last decade, we’ll continue to see a drop in the use of 0-days in the wild (as well as associated private exploit leaks). Without a doubt, state actors will continue to hoard these for use on the highest-value targets, but expect to see a stop to Shadowbrokers-esque occurrences. The mentioned leaks probably served as a powerful wake-up call internally with regards to who has access to these utilities (or, perhaps, where they’re left behind).” – Eric Klonowski, Webroot Principal Threat Research Analyst

Exploits for use in both malware and web threats are harder to come by these days and, accordingly, we are seeing a drop in the number of exploit kits and a rise in the cost of exploits in the wild. This threat isn’t going anywhere, but it is declining.

Figure 1. Still plenty of exploit kits out there. Source: Execute Malware

Email campaigns

Spam emails are a great way of spreading malware. They’re advantageous for criminals, as they can hit millions of victims at a time. Beating email filters, creating a convincing phishing message, crafting a dropper, and beating security in general is tough to do on a large scale, however. Running these big campaigns requires work and expertise so, much like an exploit kit, they are expensive to rent. 

Figure 2. Shade ransomware delivered from a recent spam email campaign Source: InfoSec Handlers Diary Blog

Targeted attacks

The likelihood of a target paying a ransom and how much that ransom is likely to be is subject to a number of factors, including:

  • The country of the victim. The GDP of the victim’s home nation is correlated to a campaign’s success, as victims in richer countries are more likely to shell out for ransoms 
  • The importance of the data encrypted
  • The costs associated with downtime
  • The operating system in use. Windows 7 users are twice as likely to be hit by malware as those with Windows 10, according to Webroot data
  • Whether the target is a business or a private citizen. Business customers are more likely to pay, and pay big

Since the probability of success varies based on the target’s circumstances, it’s important to note that there are ways of narrowing target selection using exploit kits or email campaigns, but they are more scattershot than other, more targeted attacks.

RDP

Remote Desktop Protocol, or RDP, is a popular Microsoft system used mainly by admins to connect remotely to servers and other endpoints. When enabled by poor setups and poor password policies, cybercriminals can easily hack them. RDP breaches are nothing new, but sadly the business world (and particularly the small business sector) has been ignoring the threat for years. Recently, government agencies in the U.S. and UK have issued warnings about this completely preventable attack. Less sophisticated cybercriminals can buy RDP access to already hacked machines on the dark web. Access to machines in major airports has been spotted on dark web marketplaces for just a few dollars.

Figure 3. Servers for sales on underground forums. Source: Fujitsu

Spear phishing

If you know your target, you can tailor an email specifically to fool them. This is known as spear phishing, and it’s an extremely effective technique that’s used in a lot of headline ransomware cases.

Modular malware

Modular malware attacks a system in different stages. After running on a machine, some reconnaissance is done before the malware reinitiates its communications with its base and additional payloads are downloaded. 

Trickbot

The modular banking Trojan Trickbot has also been seen dropping ransomware like Bitpaymer onto machines. Recently it’s been used to test a company’s worth before allowing attackers to deploy remote access tools and Ryuk(ransomware) to encrypt the most valuable information they have. The actors behind this Trickbot/Ryuk campaign only pursue large, lucrative targets they know they can cripple.

Trickbot itself is often dropped by another piece of modular malware, Emotet

What are the current trends?

As we’ve noted, ransomware use may be on the decline due to heightened defences and greater awareness of the threat, but the broader, more noteworthy trend is to pursue more carefully selected targets. RDP breaches have been the largest source of ransomware calls to our support teams in the last 2 years. They are totally devastating to those hit, so ransoms are often paid.

Figure 4. A slight dip but a consistently high amount of RDP malware seen by us last year.

Modular malware involves researching a target before deciding if or how to execute and, as noted in our last blog on information stealers,they have been surging as a threat for the last six months. 

Automation

When we talk about selecting targets, you might be inclined to assume that there is a human involved. But, wherever practical, the attack will be coded to free up manpower. Malware routinely will decide not to run if it is in a virtualised environment or if there are analysis tools installed on machines. Slick automation is used by Trickbot and Emotet to keep botnets running and to spread using stolen credentials. RDP breaches are easier than ever due to automated processes scouring the internet for targets to exploit. Expect more and more intelligent automation from ransomware and other malware in future.

What can I do?

  • Secure your RDP
  • Use proper password policy. This ties in with RDP ransomware threats and especially applies to admins.
  • Update everything
  • Back up everything. Is this backup physically connected to your environment (as in USB storage)? If so, it can easily be encrypted by malware and malicious actors. Make sure to air gap backups or back up to the cloud.
  • If you feel you have been the victim of a breach, it’s possible there are decryption tools available. Despite the brilliant efforts of the researchers in decryption, this is only the case in some instances.

This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com

CyberSecurity

A Cybersecurity Checklist for Modern SMBs

The landscape of digital security is rapidly shifting, and even the largest tech giants are scrambling to keep up with new data regulations and cybersecurity threats. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often left out of these important conversations, leaving themselves — and their users — vulnerable. In an effort to combat this trend, Webroot conducted a survey of more than 500 SMB IT leaders in the UK, revealing common blind spots in SMB cybersecurity practices. As businesses around the globe grapple with similar change, our Size Does Matter: Small Businesses and Cybersecurity report offers insight and guidance for companies regardless of geography. 

The biggest takeaway? We turned to Webroot’s Senior Director of Product Strategy Paul Barnes for his thoughts.

“The damage from data loss or downtime often means substantial financial and reputational losses, sometimes even leading to a business no longer being viable. A key learning for all small businesses should be to stop hiding behind your size. Instead, become educated in the risks and make your security posture a differentiator and business driver.”

When you’re putting together a cybersecurity checklist, you’ll need to do one thing first: check your preconceived notions about SMB cybersecurity at the door. Your business is not too small to be targeted. The data you collect is both valuable and likely vulnerable, and a costly data breach could shutter your business. More than 70% of cyberattackstarget small businesses, with 60% of those going out of business within six months following their breach. With both the threat of hackers and the looming possibility of increased GDPR-style data regulatory fines, your small business cannot afford to be underprepared.

The first step to a fully realized cybersecurity program? An unflinching look at your company’s resources and risk factors.

“Understand what you have, from a technology and people perspective, and the risks associated with loss of data or operations, whether through externally initiated attacks or inside threats,” advised Barnes. “This will allow you to plan and prioritise next steps for protecting your business from attack.”

For established SMBs, this type of internal review may seem overwhelming; with so many employees already wearing so many hats, who should champion this type of effort? Any small business that is preparing to modernize its cybersecurity protocols should consider bringing in a managed service provider (MSP) to do an internal audit of its systems and to report on the company’s weaknesses and strengths. This audit should serve as the backbone of your cybersecurity reform efforts and — depending on the MSP — may even give you a security certificate that can be used for marketing purposes to differentiate your brand from competitors.

With a strong understanding of your company’s strengths and weaknesses, you can begin to implement an actionable cybersecurity checklist that will scale as you grow, keeping your business ahead of the data security curve. Each SMB’s checklist will be unique, but these best practices will be integrated into any successful cybersecurity strategy.

Continuous Education on the Latest Threats

A majority of small to medium-sized businesses rely on software systems that are constantly evolving, closing old security gaps while potentially opening new ones. With a tech landscape in constant flux, one-off security training will never be enough to truly protect your business. Comprehensive employee training that evolves alongside cybersecurity threats and data privacy regulations are your company’s first line of cybersecurity defense. Include phishing prevention practices in these trainings as well. Although seemingly old hat, phishing attacks are also evolving and remain one of the largest causes of data breaches globally. Continuous training of employees helps build a culture of security where they feel part of the team and its success. 

Regular Risk Assessment and Security Audits

Just as one-off training is not sufficient in keeping your staff informed, a one-off audit does nothing to continuously protect your company as it grows. Depending on your industry, these audits should take place at least annually, and are the best way to detect a security flaw before it is exploited. Factors such as the sensitivity of the data your business houses, and the likely impacts of a successful breach—your risk profile—should guide decisions regarding the frequency of these security audits.

Disaster Response Plan

Having a prepared disaster response plan is the most effective way to mitigate your losses during a data security breach. Backup and recovery tactics are critical components of this plan. It should also include a list of security consultants to contact in order to repair the breach, as well as a communications plan that notifies customers, staff, and the public in accordance with data protection regulations. An MSP can work with your company to provide a disaster response plan that is customized to your business’ specific needs.

Bring Your Own Device

Never scrimp on mobile security. Many companies now tolerate some degree of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, giving employees increased convenience and employer accessibility. But convenience is a compromise and, whether it be from everyday theft or a malicious app, mobile devices are a weak point in many company’s security. Including mobile security guidelines like automatic device lock requirements, strong password guidelines, and failsafe remote wipe access in your BYOD policies will save your company money, time, and heartache.

Layer Your Security

Finally, ensure your business has multiple layers of defense in place. Accounting for endpoint devices is no less critical than it’s always been, but businesses are increasingly learning that networks and users need protection, too. DNS-layer security can keep employees from inviting risky sites onto your network, and security awareness training will help your users recognize signs of an attack. No one solution is a panacea, but tiered defenses make a business more resilient against cybercrime.

Survey says: We don’t have time for this

One of the largest impediments to SMBs adopting these modern cybersecurity protocols is the perceived time cost, with two-fifths of IT leaders surveyed by Webroot stating they simply do not have the time or resources to fully understand cybersecurity threats. The uncomfortable truth is that, if you can’t find the time to protect your data, a hacker whodoes have the time is likely to find and exploit your security gaps. But there is a silver-lining, the smaller size of an SMB actually allows for a certain level of agility and adaptiveness when implementing cybersecurity policies that is inaccessible to tech giants.

“SMBs can no longer consider themselves too small to be targets. They need to use their nimble size to their advantage by quickly identifying risks and educating employees on risk mitigation, because people will always be the first line of defense,” said Barnes.

You’ll find additional benefits beyond the base-level protection a comprehensive cybersecurity plan provides. As 33% of SMBs surveyed by Webroot say they prefer not to think about cybersecurity at all, demonstrating that your company is ahead of the problem can be a powerful way to distinguish your business from its competitors. With consumer data privacy concerns at an all-time high, a modern cybersecurity checklist may be one of the best marketing tools available. The best way to stay ahead of cybersecurity threats is to stay informed. Read the entire Size Does Matter: Small Businesses and Cybersecurity report for an in-depth look at how your SMB contemporaries are handling data protection, and stay up-to-date with Webroot for additional cybersecurity reports and resources.


This article was provided by our service partner : webroot.com

remote access

Remote Access: What You Should Know

In the prehistoric age of computers, when they took up entire rooms in tall buildings, remote support was just a twinkle in the eyes of early engineers. Fast-forward several decades to the 1980s and the advent of the World Wide Web and voila! Remotely servicing machines was no longer a wishful thought, but an actual possibility.

Today, with billions of smart devices around the globe to support, managed service providers (MSPs) have come to rely on remote access tools to troubleshoot technology issues wherever the end user is in the world.

As remote access solutions become more sophisticated, there are fewer reasons to send technicians on site to support devices. This not only adds to an MSP’s bottom line, it also makes technicians and engineers more effective at their jobs.

What is Remote Access?

In its simplest form, remote access is a process where a technician is able to access a machine (it could be a computer, smart phone, or a server) from another location.

Can you think of an industry that doesn’t use smart devices (computers, phones, tablets, etc.)? Somewhere in the company’s infrastructure, there’s a machine – and those machines can malfunction. As glamorous as it would be to fly all over the globe to fix computers and phones in exotic locations, it’s not exactly cost-effective to send techs troubleshoot issues in person. So, when tech issues arise, it’s remote access to the rescue!

So, what’s the difference between remote access and remote support? Some in the IT community use those terms interchangeably. When you think about it, they’re not wrong. For the purposes of this article, the difference is this:

Remote access is the process where a technician remotely supports machines, mobile devices, servers, and systems that are unattended by the end-user.

Remote support is the same process essentially, with one key difference: the technician is assisting a person on the other end of the session while they address tech issues with the person’s device.

Choosing the Best Remote Access Software for Business

There are dozens of solutions on the market, ranging as broadly in complexity and capability as they do in price. Some cater to home users and others to enterprises. Some split up the remote access and support functionality into different tools. Others are all-inclusive (meaning one software offers the option to both support end users AND access unattended machines).

Narrowing the options down to the right one for your business can be tricky. It might even be tempting to opt for the cheapest one and hope for the best. But not all remote access solutions are created equal. Here’s what you should consider.

Security

Security is at the top of the feature list. Remote access without proper security exposes business data to cybercriminals. When data breaches happen, MSPs lose not only credibility, but money. MSPs can incur fines associated with data breaches, not to mention lost revenue due to poor reputation, lost clients, and remediation.

Look for a comprehensive security feature set that includes:

  • Role-based permissions
  • Password management
  • SSL
  • Alerts
  • Multiple authentication methods

MSPs that support industries like healthcare may require you to have specific security measures in place to comply with legal and ethical guidelines like PCI, DSS, and HIPAA. If these apply to you, make sure your choices include additional security features like:

  • On-premises options
  • Video auditing and recording

Reliable Connectivity

Another ding on an MSP’s credibility is slow, unreliable connectivity. Shaky remote access tools are bad for technician morale and can also leave your customers with a bad impression of your IT services. A remote access tool worth should let a technician connect to the device in seconds, temporarily install software for non-managed machines or break/fix scenarios, and will include options to install permanent agents as needed.

Cross-Platform Compatibility & Mobile Support

Companies that MSPs support will usually rely on an array of devices – both mobile and stationary – to run their day to day business functions. The thing is, many of these devices run off of different platforms, tasking MSPs with supporting Microsoft® Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and Chrome. Likewise, it’s important for technicians to be able to access machines while they’re away from their desktops.

Integrations

Disparate systems are no good – that’s not a new idea. So, it’s crucial that the solution you choose integrates with the other systems you use (ticketing, billing, and business management). Otherwise, you could be creating more problems than you’re solving. When you’re researching remote access tools, ask yourself these questions:

Does this integrate with the solutions I already use?

Does this offer extensions and apps for enhanced capabilities?

How often are new solutions added to the integration roster?

Online Collaboration

A strong tech support team relies on collaboration to get the job done quickly and accurately. If your remote support solution doesn’t also offer remote meeting capabilities, you’re missing out on an easy way to promote team collaboration, and to share information quickly with your customers through screen-sharing and simple document sharing.

The right remote access solution allows your techs to help each other or request help easily, and gives them the capability to chat with end users, share screens with customers, and set up meetings to help explain issues quickly and directly.

Customization

White labeling is key for brand recognition and building trust. Remember that remote access can be daunting for end users. The more your customers see your MSP’s logo, colors, and messaging, the easier it’ll be to build your brand equity.

Beyond logos, colors, and custom URLs, consider which customizations would most benefit your team. The best remote access software will offer an array of editable settings, languages, designs, and workflows.

Setup & Implementation

Something to find out about before choosing a remote access tool is how much time and education is required before you’re up and running with your new solution. With some solutions, it’s a very simple process that involves installing an access point onto the machine(s) or “endpoint” you want to support. Be careful to consider things like compatibility – if your endpoints run on Windows OS, for instance, you should check to make sure the remote access tool support it.

The Future of Remote Access

Cloud information management has drastically changed how companies share resources. The cloud has made it possible for even the smallest companies to distribute information and resources around the world, making it crucial for MSPs to be able to administer cloud management and monitoring.

An MSP’s systems need to be able to weather the storm of a constantly changing industry. A robust remote access solution—allowing you to work in multiple environments and continue to support new tools—is key to building a successful business. Evaluate your selections for remote access tools by considering which solutions offer the development support you’ll need for scalability.

A Remote Access Solution that Checks All the Boxes

Every MSP and help desk needs a reliable and secure remote access tool that scales as the workforce needs change.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com

The Rise of Information Stealers

As noted in a previous blog post, mining malware is on a decline, partly due to turmoil affecting cryptocurrencies. Ransomware is also on a decline (albeit a slower one). These dips are at least partly the result of the current criminal focus on information theft.

Banking Trojans, hacks, leaks, and data-dealing are huge criminal enterprises. In addition to suffering a breach, companies might now be contravening regulations like GDPR if they didn’t take the proper precautions to secure their data. The ways in which stolen data is being used is seeing constant innovation. 

Motivations for data theft

Currency

The most obvious way to profit from data theft is by stealing data directly related to money. Examples of malware that accomplishes this could include:

  • Banking Trojans. These steal online banking credentials, cryptocurrency private keys, credit card details, etc. Originally for bank theft specialists, this malware group now encompasses all manner of data theft. Current examples include Trickbot, Ursnif, Dridex.
  • Point of Sale (POS). These attacks scrape or skim card information from sales terminals and devices.
  • Information stealing malware for hijacking other valuables including Steam keysmicrotransactional or in-game items

Trade

Data that isn’t instantly lucrative to a thief can be fenced on the dark web and elsewhere. Medical records can be worth ten times more than credit cards on dark web marketplaces. A credit card can be cancelled and changed, but that’s not so easy with identity. Examples of currently traded information include:

  • Credit cards. When cards are skimmed or stolen, they’re usually taken by the thousands. It’s easier to sell these on at a reduced cost and leave the actual fraud to other crooks.
  • Personal information. It can be used for identity theft or extortion, including credentialschildren’s data, social security information, passport details, medical records that can be used to order drugs and for identity theft, and sensitive government (or police) data

Espionage

Classified trade, research, military, and political information are constant targets of hacks and malware, for obvious reasons. The criminal, political, and intelligence worlds sometimes collide in clandestine ways in cybercrime. 

As a means of attack

While gold and gemstones are worth money, the codes to a safe or blueprints to a jewellery store are also worth a lot, despite not having much intrinsic value. Similarly, malware can be used to case an organisation and identify weaknesses in its security setup. This is usually the first step in an attack, before the real damage is done by malware or other means. 

“In late 2013, an A.T.M. in Kiev started dispensing cash at seemingly random times of day. No one had put in a card or touched a button. Cameras showed that the piles of money had been swept up by customers who appeared lucky to be there at the right moment.” –From a story that appeared in the New York Times

Just another day in the Cobalt/Carbanak Heists 

Some examples of “reconnaissance” malware include:

  • Carbanak. This was the spear-tip of an attack in an infamous campaign that stole over €1 billion ($1.24 billion) from European banks, particularly in Eastern Europe. The Trojan was emailed to hundreds of bank employees. Once executed, it used keylogging and data theft to learn passwords, personnel details, and bank procedures before the main attacks were carried out, often using remote access tools. ATMs were hacked to spill out cash to waiting gang members and money was transferred to fraudulent accounts.
  • Mimikatz, PsExec, and other tools. These tools are freely available and can help admins with legitimate issues like missing product keys or passwords. They can also indicate that a hacker has been on your network snooping. These software capabilities can be baked into other malware.
  • Emotet. Probably the most successful botnet malware campaign of the last few years, this modular Trojan steals information to help it spread before dropping other malware. It usually arrives by phishing email before spreading like wildfire through an organisation with stolen/brute-forced credentials and exploits. Once it has delivered its payload (often banking Trojans), it uses stolen email credentials to mail itself to another victim. It’s been exfiltrating the actual contents of millions of emails for unknown purposes, and has been dropping Trickbot recently, but the crew behind the campaign can change the payload depending what’s most profitable. 

“Emotet is an advanced, modular banking Trojan that primarily functions as a downloader or dropper of other banking Trojans. Emotet continues to be among the most costly and destructive malware affecting state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments, and the private and public sectors.”- An August 2018 warning from the American DHS

  • Trickbot/Ryuk. Trickbot is a banking Trojan capable of stealing a huge array of data. In addition to banking details and cryptocurrency, it also steals data that enables other attacks, including detailed information about infected devices and networks, saved online account passwords, cookies, and web histories, and login credentials. Trickbot has been seen dropping ransomware like Bitpaymer onto machines, but recently its stolen data is used to test a company’s worth before allowing attackers to deploy remote access tools and Ryuk(ransomware) to encrypt the most valuable information they have. The people behind this Trickbot/Ryuk campaign are only going after big lucrative targets that they know they can cripple.

What are the current trends?

Emotet is hammering the business world and, according to our data, has surged in the last six months of 2018:

Data recorded between 1 July and December 31, 2018. Webroot SecureAnywhere client data.

Detection of related malware surged alongside these detections. Almost 20% of Webroot support cases since the start of December have been related to this “family” of infections (Emotet, Dridex, Ursnif, Trickbot, Ryuk, Icedid).

What can I do?

  • Update everything! The success of infections such as WannaMine proved that updates to many operating systems still lag years behind. Emotet abuses similar SMB exploits to WannMine, which updates can eliminate.
  • Make sure all users, and especially admins, adhere to proper password practices.
  • Disable autoruns and admin shares, and limit privileges where possible.
  • Don’t keep sensitive information in plain text.

This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

How RMM Solves Break/Fix Problems

Despite the rise of managed service providers (MSPs), many IT companies still operate on a break/fix model. But the proactive managed services model is far easier and more cost-effective—and helps you provide a much stronger level of service to your clients. If you’re still providing services on a break/fix basis, a remote monitoring and management (RMM) tool can help you make the transition to managed services.

Not sure of the benefits an RMM tool offers? Here are a few.

Cash Flow

In a break/fix model, clients only pay for your services when they need something fixed. As a result, cash flow is inconsistent and unpredictable. By contrast, MSPs charge a uniform monthly fee in exchange for constant, proactive monitoring of a client’s systems. RMM tools proactively monitor a client’s devices and networks, allowing you to charge a monthly fee for your always-on service.

Complex IT Issues

In a break/fix model, you don’t hear about an IT issue until it’s grown large enough for a client to notice. This usually means the problem has become widespread and complicated—whereas a problem in the early stages can be simpler and quicker to resolve. RMM software can detect IT issues before the client notices them, enabling you to fix them proactively before they cause widespread problems.

Wasted Time

Time spent to and from client sites can represent a large part of a break/fix technician’s day—and eats up resources that could be better spent elsewhere. It also takes additional time to analyze a client’s devices and gather basic information about the infrastructure and issue. Every second spent traveling or collecting background information hinders your company’s growth by reducing productivity. But with RMM, you can gather information automatically and solve issues remotely, reducing costs and making every second count.

Client Mistrust

If you operate on a break/fix model, you may fix a client’s issue only to have them call you the next day with the same issue or a related one. The more problems a client experiences, the less they’ll trust you. If you’ve supposedly already fixed the issue, they’ll wonder, why does it keep happening? That’s a problem you can avoid with the help of an RMM tool. Constant monitoring means you’ll always know what’s going on, and if you discover a potential issue, you can fix it quickly. Give the client a well-performing infrastructure, and you’ll deepen their trust in your services.

Limited Manpower

Break/fix models can keep your technicians constantly busy as they dash off to fix one client issue after another. If they’re overworked, they may miss incoming work. An RMM tool automates tasks to ease up the strain on your team and help them handle clients more efficiently.

Outdated Systems

Outdated systems can be a strain on break/fix companies. If a client experiences problems with outdated software or devices, they may budget for upgrades rather than for the IT services you provide—costing you potential business. RMM keeps your clients’ systems up to date with the latest tools and software.

Negative Associations

The break/fix business model may cultivate an unhealthy relationship between providers and clients. You make money only when your client’s system is failing. This creates a negative association in your client’s mind, and they may put off calling you until it’s absolutely necessary. At that point, of course, the problem is much more difficult to resolve. With RMM, you keep everything running as it should, building satisfaction rather than resentment.

Loss of Business

If you don’t offer managed services, someone else will—and it’s only a matter of time before your client finds them. Transitioning to an MSP with the help of an RMM tool means better service for your clients and more business for you.

By adding an RMM tool to your solution toolkit, you’ll be able to proactively detect problems before your client notices, allowing you to offer a better quality of service. In addition, your staff will experience an increase in productivity that will help your company’s bottom line.


This article was provided by our service partner : connectwise.com