cryptomining

A Miner Decline: The Surprising Slowdown of Cryptomining

In Webroot’s 2018 mid-term threat report, we outlined how cryptomining, and particularly cryptojacking, had become popular criminal tactics over the first six months of last year. This relatively novel method of cybercrime gained favour for being less resource-intensive and overtly criminal when compared to tactics involving ransomware. But mining cases and instances of mining malware seem to have dropped off significantly in the six months since this report, both anecdotally and in terms of calls to our support queue. 

The crytpo world has gone through significant turmoil in this time, so it’s possible the reduced use of malicious cryptojacking scripts is the result of tanking cryptocurrency values. It’s also possible users are benefitting from heightened awareness of the threat and taking measures to prevent their use, such as browser extensions purpose-built to stop these scripts from running. 

Setting aside the question of why for a moment, let’s take a look at some stats illustrating that decline during that time period.

Cryptojacking URLs seen by Webroot over six months beginning 1 July through 31 December, 2018, Webroot SecureAnywhere client data. 


Webroot endpoints detected URLs associated with over 17,000 cryptojacking instances over the last year.

New miner malware seen by Webroot 

Data from six months beginning 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, Webroot data, units logarithmic.


Portable executable mining malware seen by Webroot threat intelligence. Data from hundreds of millions of Webroot sensors.

Monero mining profitability ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July – 9 Jan, 2019, Bit Info Charts, units logarithmic


We chose Monero as the currency to analyse here because of its popularityamong crooks operating miners or cryptojacking sites. However, results for Bitcoin over the same time period are similar.

Monero price ($)

Data covering six months from 12 July through 9 Jan, 2019, World Coin Index

Interpreting the data

None of the graphs are identical, but without too much statistical comparison, I think a broad trend can be seen: malicious mining is on the decline alongside a general decline in coin value and coin mining profitability. 

Profitability affecting criminal tactics is of course not surprising. The flexibility of exploit kits and modern malware campaigns like Emotet mean that cybercriminals can change tactics and payloads quickly when they feel their malware isn’t netting as much as it should.

Thanks to the dark web, criminal code has never been easier to buy or rent than in recent years, and cryptocurrencies themselves make it easy to swap infection tactics while keeping the cash flowing. Buying or renting malicious code and malware delivery services online is easy, so the next time the threat landscape changes, expect criminals to quickly change with it. 

Should I still care about miners?

Yes, absolutely. 

Cryptocurrency, cryptomining, and malicious cryptomining aren’t disappearing. Even with this dip, 2018 was definitely a year of overall cryptocrime growth. Our advanced malware removals teams often spot miner malware on machines infected by other malware, and it can be an indication of security holes in need of patching. And any illegal mining is still capable of constantly driving up power bills and frustrating users.

Where are cybercriminals focused now?

Information theftis the current criminal undertaking of choice, a scary development with potentially long-lasting consequences for its victims that are sometimes unpredictable even to thieves. The theft, trade, and use for extortion of personal data will be the focus of our next report.

What can I do?

Cryptojacking may only be on the decline because defences against them have improved. To up your chances of turning aside this particular threat, consider doing the following:

  • Update everything. Even routers can be affected by cryptojacking, so patch/update everything you can.
  • Is your browser using up lots of processor? Even after a reset/reinstall? This could be a sign of cryptojacking.
  • Are you seeing weird spikes in your processor? You may want to scan for miner infections.
  • Don’t ignore repeated miner detections. Get onto your antivirus’ support team for assistance. This could be only the tip of the iceberg.
  • Secure your RDP.

What can Webroot do?

Webroot SecureAnywhere®antivirus products detect and remove miner infections, and the web threat shield blocks malicious cryptojacking sites from springing their code on home office users. For businesses, however, the single best way to stop cryptojacking, is with DNS-level protection. DNS is particularly good at blocking cryptojacking services, no matter how many sites they try to hide behind.

Persistent mining detections might point to other security issues, such as out-of-date software or advanced persistence methods, that will need extra work to fix. Webroot’s support is quick and easy to reach.

In the end, cryptomining and cryptojacking aren’t making the same stir in the cybersecurity community they were some months ago. But they’ve far from disappeared. More users than ever are aware of the threat they pose, and developers are reacting. Fluctuations in cryptocurrency value have perhaps aided the decline, but as long as these currencies have any value cryprojackers will be worth the limited effort they require from criminals.

Watch for the use of cryptominers to be closely related to the value of various cryptocurrencies and remain on the lookout for suspicious or inexplicable CPU usage, as these may be signs that you’re being targeted by these threats. 


This article was provided by our service partner : Webroot

Vulnerability Management

6 Fundamental Best Practices of Vulnerability Management

Any security leader must be able to provide a standard for due care and help to build a comprehensive security program that is good for the entire business. This is no easy feat. With increased threats and security breaches becoming more sophisticated and pressured to be compliant, it comes as no surprise that security is today’s top buzzword. With all the security buzz on the minds of business leaders, we see an increase in demand for security initiatives. However, as leaders at small to medium-sized businesses look to their in-house staff to implement, they are discovering a lack of skills and resources to build the proper IT infrastructure to keep them secure. With the ease and greater benefits of outsourcing today, it’s creating more opportunities for their trusted managed service provider (MSP) to fill the demand with an as-a-service offering. It’s no surprise that managed security is growing at the highest rate of all Technology-as-a-Service, at a compound annual growth rate of 17%.

Often, we hear that MSP clients assume security is included as part of the standard of services already provided to them. We have also uncovered through interviews that organizations and MSPs alike often have a hard time getting their users to adopt better security practices, even simple ones to implement, like multi-factor authentication and password policies. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they want to be better at security.

Let’s start by stating that achieving ‘better security’ is all about the layers of security that can be established to protect the organization, its users, and most of all, its data. We also conclude that there is no ‘security bliss’ where all levels have been laid, and there is no longer any risk.

Security can best be established as a framework for users and the data they share. When we break down security into manageable layers, we can create the following categories. Each category has its own standards and processes to be documented and carried out by a security leader or a team of security leaders.

  • Governance
  • Policy Management
  • Awareness & Education
  • Identity & Access Management
  • Vulnerability Management

Each topic can be quite involved, so our focus for this article will be vulnerability management, as it becomes the foundational layer of the organization’s threat defense strategy.

Most MSPs are already offering services for managing vulnerabilities through patching operating systems and third-party products. Vulnerability management is just one part of the security process in identifying, assessing, and resolving security weaknesses in the organization. Often there is a focus on the technical infrastructure, like updating endpoints, managing components of a network, or the configuration of firewalls.

Let’s take a closer look at the process and practice of vulnerability management in these six steps:

  1. Policy — Your first step should include defining the desired state for device configurations. This also includes understanding the users and their minimum access to data sources in the organization. This policy discovery process should consider any compliance measures like PCI, HIPPA, or GDPR that may exist. Document your policy and your users’ access.
  2. Standardize — Next, standardize devices and operating environments to identify any existing vulnerabilities properly and to meet compliance needs noted during the policy discovery process. When you standardize all your devices, you also streamline the remediation process. If users are all operating on the same type of hardware/software setup, steps three through six have the propensity to be more effective and make the process more efficient.
  3. Prioritize — During remediation of a threat, any activities conducted must be properly prioritized based on the threat itself, the organization’s internal security posture, and how important the data residing on the asset is. Having a full understanding of your assets and the roles they play in the organization will play a critical role when prioritizing active threats. Document and classify your assets so you can easily prioritize when there is a threat.
  4. Quarantine — Have a plan in place to circumvent or shield the asset from being a bigger threat to the organization once compromised.
  5. Mitigate — Identify root cause and close the security vulnerability.
  6. Maintain — It is important to continually monitor the environment for anomalies or changes to policy, patch for known threats, and use antivirus and malware tools to help identify new vulnerabilities.

Vulnerability management is an essential operational function that requires coordination and cooperation with the business as a whole. Having the entire business buy into better security is paramount to the success of the program. The team must also have a set of supporting tools with underlying technologies that enable the security team’s success. Operational functions include vulnerability scanning, penetration testing, incident response, and orchestration. Remedial action can take many different forms: Application of an operating system patch, a network configuration change, a change to a custom-built application, a simple change in process, awareness and education for users who consume and share organizational data. Tools can range from RMM to SEIM, to simple antivirus/malware and backup toolsets.

At ConnectWise, we aim to promote security consciousness in everyday IT practices and help our partners elevate their value by offering Security-as-a-Service. With ConnectWise Automate®, you can perform multiple vulnerability management functions such as identification and management of assets, utilize the computer management screen to help quarantine and mitigate vulnerabilities, and patch Windows® operating systems, as well as third-party applications on a mass scale. You can also utilize monitoring and patching policies within ConnectWise Automate and bring automation to your vulnerability management process. Incorporate auto-approval and installation of critical and security updates once they are released from Microsoft®. When you implement automation into the workflow, you help to reduce human error and save valuable time.


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

Managed Security Services

Managed Security Services—the Opportunity, the Risk, and the Challenge

Worldwide SMBs are projected to grow their spending on remote managed security to an estimated $21.2 billion by 2021, making it the highest growth area in the managed services market. Yet many IT service providers are shying away from this services goldmine because they don’t possess the people, process, or technology to address increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. Ironically, your customers believe you are handling ‘all things’ security related, which begs the question; is there a way to have a common language to communicate and mitigate the ambiguity of ‘who owns the risk?’

Why does your customer feel you are responsible for ‘all things’ security related? Have you ever said any of the following things to a prospect and/or customer? “We are your outsourced IT department. We reduce your risk and exposure. Our Virtual CIO (vCIO) meets with you quarterly to ensure your business and technology requirements are in alignment. You pay one monthly fee that is outcome driven. We do it all!” For more than ten years, our industry has preached managed services at every industry event and customer/prospect engagement. Our industry has prophesized managed services and therefore conditioned our customers that ‘we do it all!’

With today’s attacks becoming more sophisticated, the days of securing ourselves and our customers through a tools-based model (endpoint and firewall protection, email security/backup, and DNS) are not enough. Some managed service providers (MSPs) have started to add phishing services with security awareness training, which is an excellent step in meeting compliance for security awareness training.

To recalibrate our customer’s mindset, we need to be able to speak a common language about how the threat landscape has changed, and what has worked for years, won’t work in the future. A cybersecurity risk assessment is necessary to identify the gaps in your customer’s critical security controls and to determine actions to close those gaps. Learning how to perform a risk assessment, and more importantly, the art of having the conversation about ‘who owns the risk,’ are the critical next steps an MSP should be taking with their customers if they are not today. Vulnerability scanning and continuous monitoring would be critical next steps, post risk assessment.


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

Automation

5 Ways Your Business Benefits from Automation

1: Improved Organization

Automation tools distribute information seamlessly. For instance, when you automatically create a quote for a new project and can invoice it from the same system, all of the information regarding the project is in the same place. You don’t need to go looking for it across multiple systems.

Automation ensures that the information is automatically sent where you need it, keeping your information current, and preventing your team from spending a lot of time looking for it.

2: Reduced Time Spent on Redundant Tasks

One of the biggest benefits to IT automation is the amount of time your team will save on manual, repeatable tasks. Leveraging automation helps your team reduce the time spent on creating tickets and configuring applications, which adds up over time. Based on estimates, it takes 5 to 7 minutes for techs to open up new tickets due to manual steps like assigning companies and contact information, finding and adding configurations, and more.

With automatic ticket routing, you can reduce the time spent on tickets to just 30 seconds. For a tech that works on 20 tickets a day, that results in 90 minutes a day, or 7.5 hours a week, in additional productivity.

3: Well-Established Processes

The best way to leverage the most benefit from IT automation is to ensure you create workflows and processes that are set up in advance. Establishing these workflows will ensure that you create a set of standards everyone on your team can follow without having to do additional work. Once these workflow rules are established, these processes can help establish consistency and efficiency within your operations – and ensure you deliver a consistent experience to your customers, regardless of which tech handles their tickets.

Furthermore, the documented, repeatable processes can help you scale by making it easier to accomplish more in less time. Your team can focus on providing excellent customer service and doing a great job when they don’t need to waste time thinking about the process itself.

4: Multi-department Visibility

Maintaining separate spreadsheets, accounts, and processes makes it difficult to really see how well your company is doing. To see how many projects are completed a day or how quickly projects are delivered, you may need to gather information about each employee’s performance to view the company as a whole.

Automation tools increase visibility into your business’s operations by centralizing data in a way that makes it easy to figure out holistically how your company performs, in addition to the performance of each individual team member. You can even isolate the performance of one department.

5: Increased Accountability

With so many different systems in place, it can be difficult to know exactly what is happening at every moment. For instance, if an employee wanted to delete tasks they didn’t want to do, you’d need processes in place to know this went on. What if deleting something was an accident? How would you know something was accidentally deleted and have the opportunity to get the information back?

Automation reduces human errors by providing a digital trail for your entire operation in one place. It provides increased accountability for everybody’s actions across different systems, so issues like these aren’t a problem.

Automation is an easy way to develop the increased accountability, visibility, and centralized processes required for your company to grow and serve more clients. When selecting the right automation tools for your business, ensure that whatever solutions you’re evaluating helps in these key areas. Technology that help you manage workflows, automate redundant tasks, provide consistent experience to all your customers will help you provide superior levels of service to your customers – and help improve your bottom line.


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

Technical Support

Top Pitfalls of the Internal IT Team (and How to Avoid Them)

To handle the deluge of daily tasks, your internal IT team needs to run like a well-oiled machine. From managing security and ticket flow to conducting routine maintenance and proactive monitoring, your team requires expert efficiency to stay at the top of their game.

But all too often, common pitfalls can complicate your to-do list, creating extra work for your team. Recognizing these time traps is the first step to avoiding them—the second step is developing a fool-proof plan to avoid them in the future.

Pitfall #1: Windows 10 and the Perils of Patching

Consider this: When a new patch is released, hackers immediately swoop in to compare the update to the preexisting operating system. This helps them identify where the security loophole is—then use the information to exploit end users and corporations that are slow to patch the breach. In 2018, attackers exploited patch updates to steal valuable personal data on users and payment information. While these instances only account for 6% of the year’s total breaches, the negative consequences for those attacked are profound.

For years, Patch Tuesday helped IT teams keep track of the Microsoft® software updates. But with Windows 10, system fixes are no longer released on such a predictable schedule. That doesn’t mean patching stops being a top priority though. Managing patching is essential to safeguarding your software and machines against external threats.

The best way to avoid this common pitfall is to standardize your team’s policy for automatic Windows 10 patching. Set up alerts to update your team as soon as a patch is released—and enable broad discovery capabilities that cover your company’s entire inventory of production systems. Remember: It only takes one vulnerable computer to put your entire network at risk.

Pitfall #2: Incorrect Ticket Routing

Your internal IT team may field countless help desk tickets a day, and to maintain your high level of customer service, the pressure is on to correctly route each ticket to an expert technician. But with manual routing, there are endless opportunities for mistakes. What’s more, if your team isn’t routing tickets based on knowledgeable resources, you’re creating delays that can throw off the entire routing process—which is bad for business.

To avoid the obstacles that come with ticket routing, consider ditching manual in favor of an automatic ticket routing program. Workflow automation is quickly becoming an industry standard. As more IT teams make the switch, it’s becoming increasingly important that you do the same.

Pitfall #3: The Flaws of Manual Processes

Try as you may, human error is impossible to avoid. And in a complex IT environment, manual processes create the potential for errors that can put your entire workflow—and your system’s security—at risk.

What if a real emergency hits and your team needs to respond quickly? In this instance, the small, day-to-day IT tasks should be set aside in order to deal with the bigger problem. But if these tasks still follow a manual process, forgetting them is out of the question.

The best way to avoid this scenario is by nixing manual processes in favor of automation, whenever possible. For cases where manual is still essential, make sure the process is formalized—and that your team is fully trained to follow protocol.

Pitfall #4: Maintaining an Inventory of Assets

It’s up to you to keep your team’s project on track—but when information is owned by multiple managers and dispersed across countless spreadsheets and documents, project management can be next to impossible. And the more complex the project, the larger your inventory of assets. Talk about an organizational pitfall.

To avoid asset chaos, you need to find a solution that allows key documents, data, and configurations to be readily available to the team members that need it most. This will cut down on the time you spend pinging John for that report or chasing down Sarah for that serial number.

There are a number of solutions that allow for easy asset inventories. Many companies opt for free options, like Google Drive, to cut down on costs. But in doing so, you often lose out on optimal information security. More advanced options at a price are designed to expertly guard and intuitively aggregate assets—meaning everything is kept organized and safe.

Pitfall #5: Repetitive Admin Tasks

There are some things in life we, unfortunately, can’t avoid. Admin tasks often fall into that category. But these day-to-day to-do items, like tracking time, aren’t just tedious—they take valuable time away from other, more vital tasks. When this happens, either the admin tasks aren’t completed, or the more important responsibilities aren’t completed up to par—a no-win situation.

Ask yourself a question: Is your time really best spent making sure your techs are entering their time or tracking down that rogue endpoint? No, probably not. In lieu of hiring a full-time administrative assistant, try using a program that can consistently complete admin tasks. This way, you can focus your attention on bigger, more important projects while the tedious—but necessary—tasks get done.

Pitfall #6: More Reactive Than Proactive

As an expert IT professional, you can spend a lot of time putting out fires. System bugs, holes in security—whatever the issue, once you fall into the habit of taking a reactive approach to problems, you’re already losing efficiency. And when you’re inefficient, the end users’ productivity is plummeting.

A proactive approach to solving internal infrastructure issues is far superior, allowing you to fix infrastructure issues before they happen. The right software can help make this process that much easier; but before choosing one, consider these two key components of proactive IT problem-solving.

First, you need the ability to easily monitor and remotely control sessions. This will give you valuable insight into your team’s workflow and efficiency. Second, search for a program that facilitates system response monitoring. This will help improve your overall response time, so you’ll spend less time putting fires out. Renewed speed will also impress your end users, earning your team a reputation for efficiency.

With the right product and processes in place, your team will gain a firmer grip on proactive operations—and be more prepared to tackle reactive situations.


This article was provided by our service partner Connectwise.com