Our network security news section contains a range of articles relating to securing networks and blocking cyberattacks, ransomware and malware downloads. This section also features articles on recent network security breaches, alerting organizations to the latest attack trends being used by cybercriminals.
Layered cybersecurity defenses are essential given the increase in hacking incidents and the explosion in ransomware and malware variants over the past two years. Organizations can tackle the threat by investing in new security defenses such as next generation firewalls, end point protection systems, web filtering solutions and advanced anti-malware and antivirus defenses.
While much investment goes on tried and tested solutions that have been highly effective in the past, many cybersecurity solutions – antivirus software – are not as effective as they once were. In order to maintain pace with hackers and cybercriminals and get ahead of the curve, organizations should consider implementing a wide range of new cybersecurity solutions to block network intrusions, prevent data breaches and improve protection against the latest malware and ransomware threats.
This category contains information and advice on alternative network security solutions that can be adopted to improve network security and ensure networks are not infiltrated by hackers and infected with malicious software.
When it comes to cybersecurity and home working, CIOs and IT teams have a challenge – How to ensure the same level of protection is provided for remote workers as they get when they are in the office. To help we have compiled a set of cybersecurity best practices for home workers to help IT teams prepare for a massive increase in telecommuting
The cybersecurity protections at home will not be nearly as good for home workers as protections in the office, which are much easier to implement and maintain. IT departments will therefore need to teach telecommuting workers cybersecurity best practices for home working and their devices will need to be configured to access applications and work resources securely. With so many workers having to telecommute, this will be a major challenge.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses to rapidly expand the number of telecommuting workers and having to increase capacity in such a short space of time increases the potential for mistakes. Further, testing may not be nearly as stringent as necessary given the time pressure IT workers are under. Their teams too are likely to be depleted due to self-isolating workers.
One area where standards are likely to slip is staff training on IT. Many employees will be working from home for the first time and will have to use new methods and applications they will not be familiar with. The lack of familiarity can easily lead to mistakes being made. It is important that even though resources are limited you still teach cybersecurity best practices for home workers. Do not assume that telecommuting workers will be aware of the steps they must take to work securely away from the office.
Steps for IT Teams to Take to Improve Cybersecurity for Home Workers
Listed below are some of the key steps that IT teams need to take to improve security for employees that must now work from home.
Ensure VPNs are Provided and Updated
Telecommuting workers should not be able to access their work environment unless they use a VPN. A VPN will ensure that all traffic is encrypted, and data cannot be intercepted in transit. Enterprise-grade VPNs should be used as they are more robust and provide greater security. Ensure there are sufficient licenses for all workers, and you have sufficient bandwidth available. You must also make sure that the VPN is running the latest software version and patches are applied, even if this means some downtime to perform the updates. VPN vulnerabilities are under active attack.
Set up Firewalls for Remote Workers
You will have a firewall in place at the office and remote workers must have similar protections in place. Software firewalls should be implemented to protect remote workers’ devices. Home routers may have inbuilt firewalls. Talk employees through activating hardware firewalls if they have them on their home routers and ensure that passwords are set to prevent unauthorized individuals from connecting to their home Wi-Fi network.
Apply the Rule of Least Privilege
Remote workers introduce new risks, and with large sections of the workforce telecommuting, that risk is considerable. Remote workers are being targeted by cybercriminals and through web- and email-based attacks. In the event of a malware infection or credential theft, damage can be limited by ensuring workers only have access to resources absolutely necessary for them to perform their work duties. If possible, restrict access to sensitive systems and data.
Ensure Strong Passwords are Being Set
To protect against brute force attacks, ensure good password practices are being followed. Consider using a password manager to help employees remember their passwords. The use of complex passwords should be enforced.
Implement Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication should be implemented on all applications that are accessed by remote workers. This measure will ensure that if credentials are compromised, system access is not granted unless a second factor is provided.
Ensure Remote Workers’ Devices Have Antivirus Software installed
Antivirus software must be installed on all devices that are allowed to connect to work networks and the solutions must be set to update automatically.
Set Windows Updates to Automatic
Working remotely makes it harder to monitor user devices and perform updates. Ensure that Windows updates are set to occur automatically outside of office hours. Instruct workers to leave their devices on to allow updates to take place.
Use Cloud-Based Backup Solutions
To prevent accidental data loss and to protect against ransomware attacks, all data must be backed up. By using cloud-based backups, in the event of data loss, data can be restored from the cloud-backup service.
Teach Cybersecurity Best Practices for Home Workers
All telecommuting workers must be shown how they need to access their work environment securely when working away from the office. Reinforce IT best practices with home workers, provide training on the use of VPNs, provide training on cybersecurity dos and don’ts when working remotely, and explain procedures for reporting problems.
Define Procedures for Dealing with a Security Incident
Members of the IT team are also likely to be working remotely so it is essential that everyone is aware of their role and responsibilities. In the event of a security incident, workers should have clear procedures to follow to ensure the incident is resolved quickly and efficiently.
Implement a Web Filter
A web filter will help to protect against web-based malware attacks by blocking access to malicious websites and will help to prevent malware downloads and the installation of shadow IT. Also consider applying content controls to limit employee activities on corporate-owned devices. Drive-by malware attacks have increased and the number of malicious domains registered in the past few weeks has skyrocketed.
Use Encrypted Communication Channels
When you need to communicate with telecommuting workers, ensure you have secure communications channels to use where sensitive information cannot be intercepted. Use encryption for email and secure text message communications, such as Telegram or WhatsApp.
Ensure Your Email Security Controls are Sufficient
One of the most important cybersecurity best practices for home workers is to take extra care when opening emails. Phishing and email-based malware attacks have increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic. Ensure training is provided to help employees identify phishing emails and other email threats.
Consider augmenting email security to ensure more threats are blocked. If you use Office 365, a third-party email security solution layered on top will provide much better protection. Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is unlikely to provide the level of protection you need against phishing and zero-day malware threats. Consider an email security solutions with data loss protection functions to protect against insider threats.
Monitor for Unauthorized Access
More devices connecting to work environments makes it much easier for threat actors to hide malicious activity. Make sure monitoring is stepped up. An intrusion detection system that can identify anomalous user behavior would be a wide investment.
For further information on enhancing email security and web filtering to protect remote workers during the coronavirus pandemic, contact TitanHQ today.
The first California Consumer Privacy Act lawsuit has been filed over an alleged failure to adequately protect consumer data. The lawsuit has been filed against Hanna Andersson, a children’s clothing company, and its ecommerce platform provider, Salesforce.com.
The California Consumer Privacy Act took effect on January 1, 2020. Under Civil Code 1798.100 – 1798.199, consumers could start exercising their new rights under CCPA from the compliance date. One of those rights is being able to take legal action against companies for privacy violations, such as the theft of personal data in a data breach.
The California Consumer Privacy Act lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of a victim of a 2019 data breach. The lawsuit alleges negligence and a failure to implement reasonable safeguards to protect consumer data, and that the data breach occurred as a direct result of the alleged negligence. A claim for damages has not been stated, although the right has been reserved to seek damages and relief at a later date.
The breach in question was announced by Hanna Andersson on January 15, 2020. Hackers had gained access to its systems and downloaded malware, which allowed the attackers to steal information such as names, personal information, and payment card data. That information was subsequently listed for sale on the dark web.
The California Consumer Privacy Act allows Californians to file for damages of up to $750 per data breach, so a class action California Consumer Privacy Act lawsuit arising from a sizeable data breach could prove extremely costly for a company. In this case, the data breach affected approximately 10,000 California residents, so damages up to $7,500,000 could potentially be claimed.
Enforcement of CCPA
Enforcement of compliance by the California Attorney General has been delayed and will start 6 months after the publication of the final regulations or July 1, 2020, whichever comes sooner. Since the final regulations have yet to be published, the enforcement date will be July 1, 2020. California Attorney General Xavier Bercerra has already stated that he will make an example of businesses that fail to comply with CCPA.
It should be noted that there is nothing in CCPA that prevents the state attorney general from issuing notices of noncompliance before that date and consumers can already file lawsuits to claim damages. It is therefore essential for all entities covered by CCPA to ensure that they are honoring the new consumer rights and have implemented safeguards to protect consumer data.
How TitanHQ Can Help with CCPA Compliance
TitanHQ offers two powerful security solutions that can help covered entities ensure the data of consumers is protected and data breaches are prevented. These two cybersecurity solutions protect against the two most common attack vectors – Email and the internet.
SpamTitan is a powerful anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-phishing solution that protects email systems from phishing and spear phishing attacks, known and zero-day malware threats, and email-based ransomware attacks.
WebTitan is a companion solution that blocks the web-based element of phishing attacks, exploit kits, and drive-by malware downloads over the internet, while also controlling the content that employees can access on wired and wireless networks.
TitanHQ can also help covered entities comply with the right to know and right to delete consumer rights afforded by CCPA through ArcTitan. ArcTitan is an email archiving solution that allows organizations to meet state and federal email data retention requirements and quickly find emails containing consumer data. If a California resident exercises their right to know what data is held on them by a company, or requests all of their personal data is deleted, that information can quickly be found in the archive. ArcTitan will also allow you to quickly find email data for eDiscovery in the event of any legal disputes.
For further information on these solutions, to schedule a product demonstration, or to arrange a free trial of the full solutions (with full customer support), give the TitanHQ team a call today.
TitanHQ has announced a new partnership with Pax8. The partnership means Pax8 partners now have access to TitanHQ’s cloud-based email security solution – SpamTitan – and its DNS filtering solution, WebTitan.
Pax8 is the leader in cloud distribution. The company simplifies the cloud buying process and empowers businesses to achieve more with the cloud. The company has been named Best in Show for two consecutive years at the Next Gen and XChange conferences and is positioned at number 60 in the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies.
Pax8 carefully selects the vendors it works with and only offers market-leading channel friendly solutions to its partners. When searching for further cybersecurity solutions for its partners, TitanHQ was determined to be the perfect fit. TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) serving the SMB marketplace and its cybersecurity solutions are much loved by users. This was clearly shown in the 2019 G2 Crowd Report on Email Security Gateways where SpamTitan was named leader, having achieved 4- or 5-star ratings by 97% of its users, with 92% saying they would recommend the solution to other businesses.
Phishing, malware, and ransomware attacks have all increased in the past year and the cost of mitigating those attacks continues to rise. By implementing SpamTitan and WebTitan, SMBs and MSPs can secure their email environments and block web-based threats and keep their networks secure.
SpamTitan provides excellent protection for Office 365 environments. The solution detects and blocks phishing and email impersonation attacks and prevents known and zero-day malware and ransomware threats from reaching inboxes. The WebTitan Cloud DNS filtering solution blocks the web-based component of cyberattacks by preventing end users from visiting malicious websites, such as those harboring malware and phishing kits.
Both solutions are quick and easy to implement, can be seamlessly integrated into MSPs service stacks and cloud-management platforms, and Pax8 partners benefit from highly competitive and transparent pricing, centralized billing, and leading customer support.
“I am delighted to partner with the Pax8 team,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “Their focus and dedication to the MSP community are completely aligned with ours at TitanHQ, and we look forward to delivering our integrated solutions to their partners and customers.”
The Travelex ransomware attack that started around December 31, 2019 is one of several recent ransomware attacks where threat actors have upped the ante by threatening to publish data stolen from victims prior to the deployment of ransomware.
A New Trend in Ransomware Attacks
Most ransomware attacks, especially those conducted by affiliates using ransomware-as-a-service, see ransomware deployed instantly. An employee receives a ransomware attachment via email, opens the attachment, and the encryption process is started. Now, several threat actors have taken steps to increase the probability of their ransom demand being paid.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has recently issued warnings about changing ransomware tactics, which now involve data theft prior to file encryption. This tactic is nothing new, as several threat actors have been conducting these types of attacks for some time, attacks of this nature have been increasing.
to the network is gained, the attackers then move laterally and gain access to as many devices as possible. Data is stolen and when the attackers have stolen as much as they want, ransomware is deployed. In these types of attacks, the time between the initial compromise and deployment of ransomware is typically several months.
Data may be stolen and sold online with the ransomware deployed as a coup de grace after a long-term compromise to extort money from the company. Now it is increasingly common for a threat to be issued along with the ransom demand that the stolen data will be published or sold if the ransom is not paid.
This tactic has been adopted by the threat actors behind Maze ransomware and they have gone ahead and published stolen data when the ransom was not paid. The threat actors using MegaCortex ransomware and LockerGoga ransomware have similarly issued threats.
Now the gang behind Sodinikibi (REvil) ransomware have also changed tactics and have started issuing threats to publish stolen data. The Sodinokibi gang have made several threats to sell on or publish stolen data but it was only recently that they did just that. The gang attacked Artech Information Systems, one of the largest IT staffing companies in the U.S. When the ransom demand was not paid, 337MB of stolen data was published on a Russian hacking and malware forum. The Travelex ransomware attack is one of the latest Sodinokibi ransomware attacks, and a threat to publish stolen data was similarly issued.
The Travelex Ransomware Attack
On New Year’s Eve, Travelex took its systems offline to contain the infection and limit the damage caused. More than two weeks on, Travelex systems are still offline although the company is now starting to restore some of its systems. The number of branches affected by the attack, and banks and other companies that rely on its currency exchange services, makes this one of the most serious and damaging ransomware attacks ever.
With its systems offline, Travelex has been unable to provide its currency services to banks such as HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, First Direct, Barclays and Lloyds, all of which rely on Travelex for providing their currency services. Many other companies, such as the supermarket chains Sainsbury’s and Tesco, have also had to stop providing online currency services to their customers. Travelex has been forced to provide services manually using pen and paper for over the counter currency exchanges in its branches. More than 70 countries in which Travelex operates were affected by the attack.
Travelex has only released a limited amount of information about the attack, but the attackers have been in contact with several media outlets. Initial reports suggested a payment of $3 million was required for the keys to unlock the encryption, although the demand doubled to $6 million when payment was not received within the stipulated 2 days. The attackers also threatened to publish data stolen in the attack if the payment was not made within 7 days.
Travelex issued a statement saying no customer data was breached and that the infection was contained, a position that has been maintained since the attack, even though the Sodinokibi gang has threatened to publish customer data.
The Sodinokibi ransomware gang, through a spokesperson, said the gang had stolen 5GB of customer data including customers’ names, dates of birth, credit card information, Social Security numbers, and National Insurance numbers. The gang claimed that all stolen data would be deleted and would not be used if the ransom demand was paid, but that the data would be sold if payment was not received. The gang also said access to Travelex systems was gained 6 months before the ransomware was deployed.
How Was Travelex Attacked?
It is not known at this stage exactly how ransomware was installed on its network, but there have been several security researchers that have offered some clues. According to BleepingComputer, Travelex was using insecure services prior to the attack. Security researcher Kevin Beaumont found Travelex had AWS Windows servers that did not have Network Level Authentication enabled, which could have given the attackers the opportunity they needed to launch an attack.
A critical vulnerability in the Pulse Secure VPN enterprise solution for secure communications – CVE-2019-11510 – was identified and was patched by Pulse Secure on April 24, 2019, but many companies were slow to apply the patch, despite receiving multiple warnings from Pulse Secure. An exploit for the vulnerability was made public on August 21, 2019.
Troy Mursch, chief research officer at Bad Packets, found that Travelex had not applied the patch by the time the exploit was released. The Sodinokibi ransomware gang said they compromised Travelex 6 months prior to the deployment of ransomware. This could have been the vulnerability that was exploited.
Recovery Now Well Underway
On January 13, 2020, more than 2 weeks after the ransomware attack was experienced, Travelex issued a statement confirming that the recovery process was well underway, although the firm’s website was still offline. The company had started restoring its currency services to banks and its own network. Internal order processing has been restored and customer-facing systems are slowly being brought back online. What Travelex has not confirmed is whether the ransom was paid. No Travelex data appears to have been published online so it is possible that a ransom payment has been negotiated with the attackers.
Cost of the Travelex Ransomware Attack
The ransom payment is considerable but is likely to be several orders of magnitude less than the costs of downtime and disruption to its services.
No customer data appears to have been misused, but Travelex could still face a barrage of lawsuits from customers and the Information Commissioner’s Office and other data protection authorities my choose to fine Travelex over the data breach, either for the exposure of data or for the failure to report under GDPR.
GDPR requires data breaches to be reported to data protection authorities within 72 hours and it appears that did not happen. The maximum financial penalty for a GDPR violation is €20 million or 4% of a company’s global annual turnover, whichever is greater. Travelex’s global annual turnover in 2018 was $947.86 million. A fine of $189.57 million could therefore be issued. It should be noted that even if data was not stolen by the attackers and was just made inaccessible, it still counts as a reportable data breach under GDPR.
A payment of $6 million to the attackers would only be a tiny proportion of the total losses from downtime, lost business, lawsuits, and regulatory fines.
Cyberattacks on managed service providers have been increasing over the past few months and they are now a key target for hackers. If a hacker can gain access to the systems of a managed service provider, their remote administration tools can be used to launch attacks on their clients.
There have been several major cyberattacks on managed services providers in the past few weeks, with nation state-backed hacking groups targeting MSPs serving enterprises and ransomware gangs are conducting attacks on MSPs serving small and medium sized businesses.
Three major cyberattacks on managed service providers serving healthcare organizations in the United States have been reported in the past two months. All three have affected more than 100 healthcare clients and one impacted 400.
In late November, the Milwaukee-based managed IT service provider, Virtual Care Provider Inc., was attacked with Ryuk ransomware. The attack started on November 17, 2019 and affected all of its clients’ data. Around 110 nursing homes and acute care facilities were prevented them from accessing their patients’ medical records. The consequences for its clients were dire. Assisted living facilities and nursing homes were prevented from billing for Medicaid, which meant essential funding was not provided and nursing homes were prevented from ordering essential drugs for patients. Virtual Care Provider was issued with a $14 million ransom demand, which the company could not afford to pay. The managed service provider had around 20% of its services affected and had to rebuild around 100 servers.
The ransomware was deployed as a secondary payload by the TrickBot Trojan. TrickBot had been installed on its network 14 months previously via a malicious email attachment.
A few weeks later, a Colorado-based managed service provider serving dental practices was attacked with ransomware. Complete Technology Solutions was infected with a ransomware variant called Sodinokibi. First the MSP was attacked, then its remote administration tools were used deploy ransomware on the networks of more than 100 dental practices. A ransom demand of $700,000 was issued, which the MSP refused to pay. Its clients are now having to pay the attackers for the keys to decrypt their files. Only a few that had backups stored off the network were able to recover without paying the ransom.
This is the second such attack to affect a company serving the dental industry. The dental record backup service provider, PerCSoft, was also attacked with Sodinokibi ransomware. That attack affected approximately 400 dental practices. CyrusOne was also attacked with Sodinokibi ransomware and its managed services division and six of its clients were affected.
It is not only ransomware that is being used in the attacks. Nation-state threat groups such as APT10 are also targeting MSPs. Their aims are different. The attacks are being conducted to gain access to the intellectual property of their enterprise customers.
As cyberattacks on managed service providers increase, MSPs must ensure that they have adequate defenses in place to keep the hackers at bay. This is an area where TitanHQ can help. TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for managed service providers that serve the SMB market.
TitanHQ offers a trio of solutions for MSPs under the TitanShield program. SpamTitan email security is a powerful cloud-based solution that keeps inboxes free of spam, phishing emails, and malware. SpamTitan incorporates SFP and DMARC to block email impersonation attacks, uses dual antivirus engines to detect known malware threats, and heuristics and sandboxing to identify and block zero-day threats.
WebTitan Cloud is a 100% cloud-based DNS filtering solution that works seamlessly with SpamTitan to block web-based phishing attacks and malware downloads. The solution allows you to monitor and identify malicious threats in real time, and includes AI-driven protection against active and emerging phishing URLs, including zero-minute threats.
The third solution is ArcTitan, a cloud-based email archiving solution that provides protection against data loss and helps MSPs and their clients meet their compliance obligations. ArcTitan serves as a black box flight recorder for email.
These solutions are not only an ideal for improving the security posture of MSP clients, they can help to ensure that MSP systems are protected from attack. All TitanHQ solutions are quick and easy to implement, have a low management overhead, and are API-driven so they can easily be incorporated into MSP’s remote management and monitoring systems.
To find out more about the TitanShield program for managed service providers and to discover how TitanHQ’s cybersecurity solutions can improve yours and your clients’ security posture, give the TitanHQ channel team a call today.
Cybercriminals are inventive and their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. To help ensure you are prepared and can defend your business against these attacks, we have listed the top 10 cybersecurity threats your business is likely to face, along with some tips to help you prevent a costly data breach.
Cybercriminals are not just trying to attack large enterprises. Sure, a cyberattack on a large healthcare system or blue-chip company can be incredibly rewarding, but the defenses they have in place make attacks very difficult. SMBs on the other hand have far fewer resources to devote to cybersecurity and as a result they are easier to attack. The potential rewards may not be as great, but attacks are more likely to succeed which means a better return on effort. That is why so many SMBs are now being attacked.
There is a myriad of ways that a company can be attacked, and the tactics, techniques and procedures used by cybercriminals are constantly changing. The top 10 cybersecurity threats listed below include the main attack vectors that need to be blocked and will serve as a good starting point on which you can build a robust cybersecurity program.
Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats Faced by SMBs
We have listed the top 10 cybersecurity threats that SMBs need to defend against. All the threats listed below need to be addressed as any one of them could easily result in a costly data breach, data loss, or could cripple your business. Some of the threats listed below will be harder to address than others, and it will take time for your cybersecurity defenses to mature. The important thing is to start the ball rolling and address as many of these areas as soon as possible.
Human Error and Insider Threats
We have listed human error first, as it doesn’t matter what hardware and software solutions you implement, human error can easily undo much of your good work. Mistakes will be made by employees on occasion. What you need to do is reduce the potential for errors and limit the harm that can be caused.
Developing robust policies and procedures and providing training will help to ensure that your employees know how to act and more importantly, how not to.
Mistakes are not the only thing you need to take steps to try to prevent. There may also be individuals on your payroll who will take advantage of poor security for personal gain. You will also need to tackle the problem of insider threats and make it harder for rogue employees to cause harm and steal data. The measures listed below will help address threats from within and reduce risk.
Enforce the use of strong passwords but make it easier for your employees to remember them so they don’t try to circumvent your password policy or, heaven forbid, write their passwords down. Implement a password manager to store their passwords so they only have one password or pass phrase to remember.
Rule of Least Privilege
It is obvious, but often overlooked. Don’t give employees access to resources they do not need for their day-to-day work duties. If their credentials are compromised, this will limit the harm caused. It will also limit the harm that can be caused by rogue employees.
Block the Use of USB Devices
USB devices make it easy for rogue employees to steal data and for malware to be accidentally or deliberately be introduced. Implement technical controls to prevent USB devices from being connected, and if they are required for work purposes only give permission to certain individuals to use them. Ideally, use more secure methods of transferring or storing data.
Monitor Employee Activity
If rogue employees are stealing data, you are only likely to find out if you are monitoring their computer activity. Similarly, if credentials are compromised, system logs will highlight any suspicious activity. Make sure logs are created and monitored. Consider using a security information and event management (SIEM) solution to automate this as much as possible.
Terminate Access at Point of Termination
Terminating an employee? Terminate their access to your systems at the point of termination. It is surprising how often employee access rights are not terminated for days, weeks, or even months after an employee has left the company.
We will cover some more important safeguards to implement to protect against user error in the following 9 SMB cybersecurity threats.
Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks
Phishing is arguably the biggest cybersecurity threat faced by SMBs. Phishing is the use of social engineering techniques to persuade people to divulge sensitive information or take an action such as installing malware or ransomware. This is most commonly achieved via email, but can also occur via text messages, social media websites, or over the telephone.
Do not assume that your employees have common sense and know not to open email attachments from unknown individuals or respond to enticing offers from legal representatives of Nigerian princes. You must train your employees and teach cybersecurity best practices and show them how to identify phishing emails. Refresher training should be provided at regular intervals and you should conduct phishing simulation exercises (which can largely be automated) to find out who has taken the training on board and who is a liability that needs further training.
Employees are the last line of defense. You need a layer of security above your employees to make sure their security awareness training is never required. That means an advanced anti-spam/anti-phishing solution needs to be in place to block threats before they reach inboxes. If you use Office 365, you should still implement an antispam solution. A recent study by Avanan revealed 25% of phishing emails bypass Office 365 antispam defenses.
Another layer of protection should also be implemented to protect against phishing: Multi-factor authentication. This is the use of an additional authentication factor that will kick into action if an attempt is made to use credentials from an untrusted device or location. If credentials are compromised in a phishing attack, multi-factor authentication should stop them from being used to gain access to email accounts, computers, or network resources.
Malware and Ransomware
Malware, viruses, ransomware, spyware, Trojans, worms, botnets, and cryptocurrency miners are all serious threats that you must take steps to block. It goes without saying, but we will say it none the less, you need to have antivirus software installed on all endpoints and your servers.
Malware can be installed in many ways. As previously mentioned, blocking USB devices is important and spam filtering software with sandboxing will protect you from email-based attacks. Most malware infections now occur via the internet, so a web filtering solution is also important. This will also add an extra layer to your phishing defenses. A web filter will block drive-by malware downloads, prevent employees from visiting malicious sites (including phishing websites) and also allows you to enforce your internet usage policies. A DNS filtering solution is the best choice. All filtering takes place in the cloud before any content is downloaded and it will not add to your patching burden.
Shadow IT – The term given for any hardware or software in use that has not been authorized by your IT department. This could be a portable storage device such as a zip drive, a VPN client to bypass your web filter, an application to help with work tasks, or all manner of other software. It is surprising to find exactly how many of these programs are installed on users’ devices when IT support staff are called upon to sort out a problem!
So, what is the problem? Anything installed without authorization is a potential security and compliance risk. Your security team has no control over patching, and vulnerabilities in those applications could easily go addressed for months and give hackers an easy entry point into your network. Fake applications could be downloaded that are really malware, software packages often include a host of potentially unwanted programs and spyware, and any data stored in these applications could be transmitted to unsecure locations. Those applications and data contained therein are also unlikely to be backed up by the IT department. If anything happens, data can easily be lost.
The importance of prompt patching cannot be understated. Vulnerabilities exist in all software solutions. Sooner or later those vulnerabilities will be found, and exploits will be developed to take advantage. Security researchers are constantly looking for flaws that could potentially be exploited by threat actors to gain access to sensitive information, install malware, or remotely execute code. When these flaws are identified and patches are released, they need to be applied promptly. Oftentimes, vulnerabilities are being actively exploited by the time a patch is released. It is essential for these vulnerabilities to be addressed as soon as possible and for all software to be kept up to date.
When software or operating systems are approaching end of life, you must upgrade. When patches stop being issued and software is unsupported, any vulnerabilities will remain unaddressed and can easily be exploited.
Out of Date Hardware
Not all vulnerabilities come from out of date software. The hardware you use can also introduce risks. You must keep an inventory of all your hardware, so nothing slips through the cracks. Firmware updates should be applied as soon as it is made available and you should monitor for any devices that are approaching end of life. If your devices do not support the latest operating systems, then it is time to replace your hardware. This will naturally come at a cost, but so do cyberattacks and data breaches.
Unsecured IoT Devices
The Internet-of-Things offers convenience but IoT devices are a potential liability. IoT devices can send, store or transmit data so they must be be secured.
Unfortunately, in the hurry to connect everything to the internet device manufacturers often overlook security as do users of these devices. Take security cameras for instance. You may be able to access your cameras remotely, but you may not be the only person who can. If your security cameras are hacked, thieves could see what you have, where it is located, and where and when security is lax. There have been cases of security cameras being hacked due to the failure to change default credentials for remote management.
Ensure you change the default credentials on the devices and use strong passwords. Keep the devices up to date, and if the devices need to connect the network, make sure they are isolated from other resources. Cybercriminals can also take advantage of flaws in the applications to which these IoT devices connect. They must also be kept up to date.
Man-in-the-Middle Attacks and Public Wi-Fi
A man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack is an attack scenario where communications between two individuals (or one individual and a website or network) are intercepted and potentially altered. An employee may believe they are communicating securely, when everything they are saying or doing is being seen or recorded. An attacker could even control the conversation between two people and be communicating with each separately while both individuals believe they are communicating with each other. This method of attack most commonly occurs through unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots or evil twin hotspots – Fake Wi-Fi hotspots set up in coffee shops, airports, and any other location where free Wi-Fi is offered.
If you have remote workers, you need to take steps to ensure that all communications are kept private. This can be achieved in two main ways. By making sure employees use a secure VPN that encrypts their communications over public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks and also by implementing a DNS filtering solution. The DNS filtering solution provides the same protection for remote workers as it does for on-premises workers and will prevent malware downloads and employees from accessing malicious websites.
Mobile Security Threats
There is no denying the convenience of mobile devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones). They allow workers to be instantly contacted and lets them work from any location. Mobile devices improve employee mobility, can lead to greater employee satisfaction, and will help you to boost productivity. However, the devices also introduce new risks. Whether you supply these devices or operate a BYOD policy, you need to implement a range of security controls to ensure those risks are managed.
You need to make sure you know of every device that you allow to connect to the network. A mobile device security solution can help you gain visibility into mobile device use and allow you to control your applications and data.
You should ensure the devices have security controls applied, can only access your network via secure channels (VPN), ensure the devices are covered by a DNS filtering solution, and any work data stored on the devices needs to be encrypted.
Remote Desktop Protocol
Remote desktop protocol (RDP) allows employees remotely connect to your computers and servers when they are not in the office and lets your managed service provider quickly sort out your problems and maintain your systems without having to pay a visit. RDP also gives hackers an easy way to gain access your computers, servers, and steal data or install malware. Do you need RDP enabled? If not, disable it. Does it need to be used internally only? Make sure that RDP is not exposed to the internet.
If you do need RDP, then you need to exercise extreme caution. Make sure that users can only connect via a VPN or set firewall rules. Limit the individuals who have permissions to use RDP, ensure strong passwords are set, and that rate limiting is implemented to protect against brute force attacks. Also use multi-factor authentication.
Stolen RDP credentials are often used by hackers to gain access to systems, brute force attempts are often conducted, and vulnerabilities in RDP that have not been patched are frequently exploited. This is one of the main ways that ransomware is installed.
These are just the top 10 cybersecurity threats faced by SMBs. There are many more risks that need to be identified and mitigated to ensure you are protected. However, by addressing the above issues you will have already made it much harder for hackers and cybercriminals to do your business harm.
TitanHQ is Here to Help!
TitanHQ can assist by providing you with advanced cybersecurity solutions to protect against several of the above listed top 10 cybersecurity threats and will the two most commonly used attack vectors – email and the web-based attacks. These solutions – SpamTitan and WebTitan – are 100% cloud based, easy to implement and maintain, and will provide superior protection against malware, ransomware, viruses, botnets, and phishing attacks.
Further, these powerful solutions are affordable for SMBs. You are likely to be surprised to find out how little these enterprise-grade security solutions will cost. If you are a managed service provider that services the SMB market, you should also get in touch. SpamTitan and WebTitan have been developed by MSPs for MSPs. There is a host of reasons why TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions to MSPs that service the SMB market!
Contact our friendly (and non-pushy) sales team today to find out more, book a product demo, and register for a free trial.
Q3, 2019 has seen TitanHQ register record-breaking growth in the MSP market with its busiest ever quarter for MSP sales. TitanHQ now has more than 2,200 MSP partners and its cloud-based email security, web security, and email archiving platforms are now used by more than 8,200 businesses around the world.
Many great success stories start from humble beginnings, and TitanHQ is no exception. The company started life as Copperfasten Technologies in 1999 and sold anti-spam appliances to local businesses from its Galway, Ireland base. The company then developed its own cybersecurity solutions, starting with the anti-spam and anti-phishing solution, SpamTitan.
The product portfolio grew to include WebTitan web filtering, a powerful DNS-based web security solution to protect businesses from the full range of internet threats. That was followed by the launch of ArcTitan, a cloud-based email archiving solution for businesses that eases their email storage and compliance burden.
That trio of core TitanHQ products has proven to be a massive hit with managed service providers, although not by accident. Many companies have developed innovative solutions for SMBs but have only realized the importance of the MSP market later on. Additional features are then added to appeal to MSPs. TitanHQ took a different approach. Its solutions were developed by MSPs for MSPs and MSPs were considered at every stage of product development. The result is a suite of security solutions tailor-made for MSPs.
This approach, along with cutting-edge technology and industry-leading customer support, has seen the company go from strength to strength and become the gold standard in email and web security and the leading global provider of cloud-based security solutions for MSPs servicing the SMB market.
Phishing attacks on businesses are soaring, new malware variants are being released at record levels, and the current ransomware epidemic is threatening to derail businesses. Many SMBs lack the internal resources to block these threats and turn to MSPs to provide the security they need.
To cope with the increased demand, MSPs need solutions with 100% cloud-based architecture that seamlessly integrate into their existing centralized management systems and are easy to implement, use, and maintain. Ideally, those solutions need to be flexible, have a range of hosting options, be available in white-label form to take MSP branding, and also include generous margins. That is a big ask, and many solutions only tick a few of those boxes. However, TitanHQ’s suite of solutions include all those features and more.
TitanHQ also offers extensive sales enablement and marketing support, world-class customer service, and each MSP has a dedicated account manager, engineers, and a support team to help them maximize their sales opportunities and really grow their businesses.
As part of the celebration of the Q3, 2019 MSP growth, TitanHQ has launched a new initiative to ensure Q4 will be an even bigger success.
On October 22, TitanHQ announced a new disruptive price package for a SpamTitan Email Security and WebTitan DNS filtering bundle at an exclusive once-in-a-lifetime price. The initiative has been called Margin Maker for MSPs and is intended to ensure MSPs build profitability instantly in Q4, 2019.
The two solutions are provided in two private clouds, customized to meet MSPs email and web security needs, and secure the most common attack vectors – email and the web. The package includes advanced protection for email, including Office 365 environments, complimented by WebTitan DNS filtering to block web-based threats and implement content control for on-premises and remote workers. These solutions are naturally provided with extensive sales enablement and marketing support.
The aim is to make TitanHQ’s email and web security platforms even more appealing to MSPs and to encourage MSPs to offer both SpamTitan email security and WebTitan web filtering to their clients and maximize revenues.
One MSP that is already boosting its profits and achieving increased, reliable recurring monthly revenues is UK-based OpalIT. The MSP has bases in Newcastle and Edinburgh and a 6,000+ customer base. Prior to joining the TitanShield program, OpalIT was offering its clients firewall filtering and email filtering with Barracuda and Vade. The company has now switched to TitanHQ’s cybersecurity bundle and is pushing SpamTitan Email Security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving to its clients and is reaping the rewards.
“Opal IT moved to TitanHQ because of our MSP focused solutions, ease of deployments, extensive APIs functionality and the increased margin they’re now making. Our cybersecurity bundle solutions allow MSPs to provide their downstream customers with a layered defense approach” said Rocco Donnino, EVP Strategic Alliances, TitanHQ.
If you are a managed service provider, now is the perfect time to sign up with TitanHQ. Come and meet the TitanHQ channel team at the following MSP events to find out more about the TitanShield program for MSPs, OEMs, and service providers, and take advantage of the amazing new MSP package.
If you are unable to attend any of these events, be sure to give the TitanHQ team a call to find out more and take advantage of this exciting new and exclusive offer.
IT Nation Connect 2019, the ConnectWise conference for the IT professional community, will be taking place on October 30, 31, and November 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida.
The event is the leading conference for companies that sell, support, and service technology and is focused on helping attendees build a strong business and achieve long-term success. Attendees will gain practical advice from experts in the IT Nation community and will have the opportunity to build meaningful business connections and learn how to work on their businesses.
This year’s topics for the session tracks are mergers & acquisitions, growth & scalability, talent development & leadership, service delivery & customer success, sales & marketing, and security.
Security is a key focus of IT Nation Connect 2019. The event will provide opportunities to discover how security frameworks and IT solutions can help you bulletproof your business and protect your clients’ networks from cyberattacks. Attendees will also gain deep insights into the current state of security in the MSP space.
Leading security experts will be discussing the steps that the government is taking to combat cyber threats, the lessons the government and private firms have learned, and how security experts see the threat landscape evolving over the coming year.
Founders and CEOs of the most successful MSPs and IT firms will explain what it is like to be a trailblazer, how they achieved their successes, the mistakes they made on the way, and what the future holds for the IT Nation community.
More than 80 thought leaders, ConnectWise partners, and ConnectWise colleagues will taking over 130 educational, networking and panel sessions and will be sharing success stories, best practices, and the lessons they have learned to help attendees succeed and grow their businesses.
The conference offers an exceptional opportunity for learning, networking, and discovering technology solutions that can save you time, money, and boost the profitability of your business. Such an important event for the IT community is not to be missed.
TitanHQ will be attending the event to explain why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs servicing the SMB market, the advantages of doing business with TitanHQ, and how TitanHQ solutions can help you better protect your environment and those of your clients from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.
TitanHQ Marketing Director Dryden Geary, Sales Director Conor Madden, and Inside Sales Executive Peter Cooke will explain the benefits of the TitanShield program for MSPs, OEMs, technology partners, and Wi-Fi providers and show you just how easy it is to incorporate SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving into your security stacks.
If you are attending the event, be sure to make time to meet with TitanHQ and feel free to reach out in advance of the event if you have any questions.
The 2019 Canalys Cybersecurity Forum will be taking place in Barcelona on October 16-17, 2019. The event is the only independent conference dedicated to the cybersecurity channel and is one of the most important events of the year for managed service providers (MSPs).
The event provides an incredible opportunity for MSPs looking to enhance their security stacks, provide greater value, and better protect their clients from increasingly sophisticated security threats. Attendees will have the opportunity to have 1:1 meetings with more than 700 established and new partners and discover best practices to adopt to get the most out of their cybersecurity solutions.
The event is also a must for MSPs who have yet to start offering managed security services as it will allow them to form new partnerships with Europe’s best cybersecurity solution partners who will help them grow their businesses significantly over the coming year.
Leading cybersecurity vendors will be taking thought-crunching sessions and sharing their knowledge to help partners succeed. Attendees will be able to engage in intense debates and interact with some of the brightest minds in the field of cybersecurity. Questions can be posed in multi-vendor theatre panels to get the answers from the leading cybersecurity solution providers in the EMEA region.
Highlights of this year’s event include panels, theatre and keynotes exploring the re-imaging of the idea of solutions, generalist vs. specialist in the cybersecurity channel, the next catalyst that will drive security sales, and how the role of the CSO is evolving in the hybrid IT world.
Canalys analysts will also be providing keynote speeches and sharing their insights into the current threat landscape and some of the burning issues of the moment. The event will also see Canalys name the new Threat Fighter and MSSP winners in the Canalys Channel Partner Awards.
TitanHQ Sales Director, Conor Madden
The event provides an amazing opportunity for networking with more than 200 channel partner delegates in attendance. New alliances can be formed and along with the knowledge gained, attendees will be able to make important decisions that will have a major positive impact on growth for the coming year.
TitanHQ is a proud sponsor of the 2019 Canalys Cybersecurity Forum and the team will be on hand to answer questions and explain why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market.
TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager, Marc Ludden
At the event you will be able to discover the considerable benefits of using SpamTItan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving to solve your clients security issues, better protect them from cybersecurity threats, and help them achieve their compliance objectives… and how easy TitanHQ makes this for MSPs.
TitanHQ Sales Director Conor Madden will be a panelist at the event and will be answering questions from attendees on email security, web security, email archiving and how to get the most out of TitanHQ’s cybersecurity solutions for MSPS and SMBs.
Marc Ludden, TitanHQ’s Strategic Alliance Manager, will also be attending and meeting with enterprise-level clients and major MSPs and ISPs to help them push TitanHQ products downstream to their customers, grow their businesses, and improve their bottom lines.
You can find out more about this one in a year opportunity here – Canalys Cybersecurity Forum 2019 – and feel free to reach out to TitanHQ in advance of the event.
If you are unable to attend this year’s Canalys event, TitanHQ will be on the road throughout October and November. Be sure to connect at one of the other fall 2019 events below:
If you are looking for a Cisco Umbrella alternative you are certainly not alone. TitanHQ has helped hundreds of businesses change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan Cloud. In most cases, the main reason why businesses seek a Cisco Umbrella alternative is to save money.
The cost of Cisco Umbrella is hard to justify for many SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs). The cost per user is considerably higher than many other solutions on the market. In fact, you may be surprised at just how much money can be saved by changing your web filter provider.
How Much Does Cisco Umbrella Cost?
For a business with 100 users, the cost of Cisco Umbrella in 2019 is $2.20 per user, per month. That is certainly a reasonable price given the level of protection provided by Cisco Umbrella, but there are Cisco Umbrella alternatives that are available for a fraction of the cost that provide an equivalent level of protection against web-based threats and allow careful control of the types of content that can be accessed by end users.
If you have 100 users, you will be spending $220 a month on Cisco Umbrella, which is $2,640 per year. The Cisco Umbrella price is reasonable if you compare it to the cost of a malware infection, ransomware attack, data breach, or phishing attack, but it is possible to have the same level of protection at a third of that price if you change from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan Cloud.
How much can be saved by switching from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan Cloud? The cost of WebTitan Cloud is $0.90 per user, per month. That adds up to a monthly cost of $90, which is $1,080 per year. Just making this simple change will save your business $1,560 per year!
An Ideal Cisco Umbrella Alternative
Cost is not the only consideration when looking for a Cisco Umbrella alternative. If you are changing solution provider you will need to make sure that the new product has all the features you need. Since WebTitan Cloud and Cisco Umbrella are built around the same core principles, in many respects the solutions are equivalent, but there are several features of WebTitan Cloud that are not available with Cisco Umbrella and some important benefits for SMBs and MSPs.
TitanHQ has a perfectly transparent pricing policy. You pay one price and you get all the features of the solution. There are no optional extras that bump up the cost and no premium packages to give you extra protection. Every user receives the same high level of protection. TitanHQ is also happy to negotiate with businesses and MSPs and enters into commercial arrangements that suit all parties.
One of the features of WebTitan Cloud that is particularly attractive to MSPs is the ability to host the solution locally within their own environment. Most businesses will choose to host WebTitan Cloud with TitanHQ, but the option is available if this suits you better. You can also be supplied with WebTitan Cloud in white label form. TitanHQ branding can be removed from the solution to allow you to add your own branding if you so wish.
There may be times when you need to bypass filtering controls. To make this as easy as possible, we developed cloud keys. These can be used to bypass some or all of your filtering controls rather than having to change policies for a user and change back again when a particular task has been performed. Cloud keys can be set to expire after a certain number of uses or after a certain period of time.
We have developed WebTitan Cloud to be easy to configure, use, and maintain, but there will naturally be times when things don’t go according to plan. In the event of a problem, all users benefit from world class support. Our skilled engineers and customer service staff are on hand to get you back on track quickly and painlessly. That applies to all users, even those on the free product trial. Support is not an optional extra that will cost you more money.
WebTitan Cloud Benefits for MSPs
How do Users Rate WebTitan vs Cisco Umbrella
Not all web filtering solutions provide the same level of protection and many fail to live up to expectations one they are installed. In the case of WebTitan Cloud, not only can you save a considerable amount of money, our DNS filtering solution is easy to set up, use and maintain. Plus, if you ever experience any problems or need help, you benefit from industry-leading customer service.
Naturally we will sing the praises of WebTitan Cloud as we are trying to sell our product, but most users of WebTitan agree with us and love using the product. This can be seen on review sites such as G2 Crowd.
G2 Crowd is an independent business software review site that is trusted by business leaders to provide information on the best software solutions on the market. The site has more than 650,000 user reviews from verified users and gives you insights into products to let you know if they perform as well as vendors say they do.
Web filtering solutions are rated on whether they meet requirements, ease of use, ease of setup, ease of admin, quality of support, and ease of doing business with the company. WebTitan Cloud consistently ranks higher than Cisco Umbrella in all 6 categories.
If you have any questions about WebTitan Cloud, would like information on how you can switch from Cisco Umbrella, would like a product demonstration or to sign up for the free trial, give us a call today and we will be happy to help. The sooner you get in touch, the sooner you can start saving money on web filtering!
The cost of a ransomware attack can be considerable. Several attacks in the United States have seen payments of hundreds of thousands of dollars made for the keys to unlock the encryption. While those payments are certainly high, they are a fraction of the total cost of a ransomware attack which are usually several times the cost of any ransom payment.
Recovery without paying a ransom can be considerably more. The ransomware attack on the city of Baltimore saw a ransom demand of around $76,000 issued. Baltimore refused to pay. The attack is estimated to have cost the city at least $18.2 million.
The cost of that ransomware attack is high, but nowhere the cost of a suspected September 2019 ransomware attack on the Danish hearing aid manufacturer Demant. The firm experienced the attack on or around September 3, 2019. One month on and the firm still hasn’t recovered. In a recent message to its investors, the firm said the cyberattack would cost an estimated $80 million to $95 million, even though the company held a cyber insurance policy. Without that policy the bill would have been $14.6 million higher.
According to a notice on the firm’s website, it experienced “a critical incident” when its “IT infrastructure was hit by cyber-crime.” Ransomware was not mentioned by the firm although it has been reported as a ransomware attack by the Danish media.
The attack impacted its Polish production and distribution facilities, French cochlear implants production sites, Mexican production and service sites, its amplifier production site in Denmark, its entire Asia-Pacific network, and its enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
The firm is recovering its IT infrastructure and believes it will take a further two weeks for systems to be restored and business operations to approach normality. However, the effects of the attack are expected to be long-lasting.
The inability to access its systems across all these areas has caused major disruption to the company. The firm has been unable to supply its products, receive and process orders, and clinics in its network have had difficulty servicing end users.
Due to the limited information released it is unclear whether the company refused to pay a ransom, if the attackers could not supply valid keys to unlock the encryption, of if this was a sabotage attack akin to the NotPetya wiper malware attacks of 2017.
If this was a ransomware attack, the losses far exceed those of the Norwegian aluminum and energy company Norsk Hydro, whose ransomware attack cost the firm around $70 million, although it is a fraction of the cost of the NotPetya attacks on the shipping firm Maersk and FedEx, both of which caused losses of around $300 million.
These incidents all demonstrate just how damaging cyberattacks can be and the massive costs of recovery. As is typical, the cost of recovering its IT systems accounted for a small proportion of the total cost – around $7.3 million. The bulk of the losses were due to lost sales and the inability to process orders, which the company says make up around half of the estimated losses.
In a press release, the firm said in addition to the lost sales, “the incident has prevented us from executing our ambitious growth activities in some of the most important months of the year – particularly in the US, which is our biggest market.”
Malware, ransomware and wiper malware are most commonly delivered via a small number of attack vectors. All too often they start with a phishing email, exploitation of RDP, drive-by malware download, or the exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities. The cost of preventative measures to block these attack vectors is pocket change by comparison to the cost of recovery from an attack.
TitanHQ cannot help businesses with securing RDP and patching promptly, but we can help businesses secure the email system and protect against drive-by malware downloads and other web-based attacks.
To find out more about how you can improve security against email- and web-based attacks, from a cost of as little as 90 cents per user per month, give our sales team a call.
The sales team will be happy to explain the ins and outs of our web and email security solutions, schedule product demonstrations, and help set you up for a free trial of our SpamTitan email security and WebTitan web security solutions and greatly improve your defenses against phishing, ransomware, malware, and wiper attacks.
The dangers of ransomware attacks have been made abundantly clear to more than 5,000 patients in California whose medical records have been permanently lost as a result of a ransomware attack on their healthcare provider.
Simi Valley, CA-based Wood Ranch Medical experienced the attack on August 10, 2019 which saw ransomware deployed and executed on its servers which contained the medical records of 5,835 patients. The attack caused permanent damage to computer systems, and since backup copies of patient records were also encrypted, those records have been permanently lost. It is unclear how much the attackers demanded as payment for the keys and whether those keys would have worked had the ransom been paid.
Without patient records and faced with the prospect of having to totally rebuild the medical practice from scratch, the decision was taken to permanently close the business. Patients have been forced to find alternative healthcare providers and no longer have access to their medical records.
This is the second healthcare provider in the United States that has been forced out of business due to a ransomware attack. Brookside ENT and Hearing Center in Battle Creek, Michigan also closed its practice this year as a result of a ransomware attack. In that case, the practice owners refused to pay the ransom demand and patient records were permanently encrypted. The practice owners decided it was not possible to rebuild the practice from scratch and announced their early retirement.
It is unclear exactly how the ransomware was installed in each of these incidents, so it is not possible to determine what defenses could have been improved to prevent the attacks. However, in both cases, recovery of files from backups was not possible.
The purpose of a backup is to ensure that in the event of disaster, data will be recoverable. File recovery may be time consuming and downtime due to the attack likely to be expensive, but data will not be permanently lost.
In order to ensure file recovery is possible, backups must be tested. Files may be corrupted during the backup process and data restoration may not be possible. If backups are not tested to make sure files can be recovered, it will not be possible to guarantee file recovery in the event of disaster.
These incidents also highlight another fundamental rule of backing up. NEVER store the only copy of a backup on a networked or internet-connected computer.
In the event of ransomware attack, it is highly likely that backup copies on networked devices will be encrypted along with shadow volume copies. Ransomware encrypts these files to make sure the only way of recovering data is paying the ransom.
Even paying a ransom comes with no guarantee that data will be recoverable. Files may be corrupted through the encryption/decryption process – some data loss is inevitable – and the attackers may not be able to supply valid keys to decrypt files.
A good backup approach to adopt to prevent disasters such as these is a 3-2-1 strategy. 3 backups should be created, which should be stored on 2 different media, with 1 copy stored securely off site on a device that is not networked or connected to the internet.
After a quiet summer, the Emotet botnet is back in action. The threat actors behind Emotet are sending hundreds of thousands of malicious spam emails spreading the Emotet Trojan via malicious Word documents.
Emotet first appeared in 2014 and was initially a banking Trojan used to obtain credentials to online bank accounts. The stolen credentials are used to make fraudulent wire transfers and empty business accounts. Over the years the Trojan has evolved considerably, with new modules being added to give the malware a host of new features. Emotet is also polymorphic, which means it can change itself each time it is downloaded to avoid being detected by signature-based anti-malware solutions. Up until the start of 2019, more than 750 variants of Emotet had been detected.
The latest iteration of Emotet is capable of stealing banking credentials and other types of information. It is also capable of downloading other malware variants, which has led to security researchers naming it ‘triple-threat malware,’ as it has been used recently to download the TrickBot Trojan and Ryuk ransomware. These three malware threats along with the scale of the operation make Emotet one of the most dangerous threats faced by businesses. It is arguably the costliest and most destructive botnet ever seen.
Last summer, Emotet activity was so high and the threat so severe that the Department of Homeland Security issued an alert to all businesses in July 2018 warning them of the threat. That warning was mirrored by the UK National Cyber Security Center which published its own warning about the malware in September 2018. Activity remained high well into 2019, but suddenly stopped at the start of June when command and control server activity fell to next to nothing.
The hiatus in activity was only brief. Researchers at Cofense Labs discovered its command and control servers had been activated again in late August and a massive spamming campaign commenced on September 16 using bots in Germany. The campaign was initially focused on businesses in the United States, Germany, and United Kingdom but the campaign has now spread to Austria, Italy, Poland, Spain, and Switzerland.
After being downloaded, Emotet spreads laterally and infects as many devices as possible on the network. Email accounts on infected machines are hijacked and used to send further spam emails to all contacts in the account. Finally the malware downloader module is used to a secondary and often tertiary malware variant.
The latest campaign uses Word documents containing malicious macros, which launch PowerShell scripts that fetch the Emotet Trojan from a variety of different compromised websites, many of which are running the WordPress CMS.
The campaign uses a variety of lures including invoices, payment remittance advice, and statements, the details of which are contained in Word documents that require content to be enabled to view the document content.
Upon opening the document, the user is requested to accept the Office 365 license agreement. Failure to enable content, so the document claims, will result in Microsoft Word features being disabled.
This campaign includes personalized subject lines including the recipients name to increase the likelihood of a user taking the requested action. Genuine email thread are also hijacked to make it appear that the user has already been communicating with the sender of the email. Around a quarter of attacks use hijacked email threads. Data from Cofense indicates emails are being sent from 3,362 hijacked email accounts from 1,875 domains.
It is currently unclear whether Ryuk ransomware is being distributed in this campaign. Several researchers have confirmed that TrickBot is being downloaded as a secondary payload.
The key to blocking attacks with polymorphic malware is to implement layered defenses, including an advanced spam filtering solution, anti-virus software, and web filter. It is also important to ensure that the staff is made aware of the threat of attack and the types of email that are being used to spread the Trojan.
This fall, TitanHQ will be attending several Managed Service Provider (MSP) events and trade shows throughout Europe and the United States.
TitanHQ has been developing innovative cybersecurity solutions for MSPs for more than two decades and all solutions have been created with MSPs firmly in mind. By involving MSPs in the design process, TitanHQ has been able to ensure that its products incorporate features to make life easier for MSPs, such as easy integration into MSPs management systems through the use of APIs to features rarely found in cybersecurity products – such as full white label versions ready for MSP branding and the ability to host the solutions within MSPs own environments.
Trade shows give the TitanHQ team the opportunity to meet face to face with prospective clients to discuss their email and web security needs and get face to face feedback from current customers that have already integrated TitanHQ products into their technology stacks.
The TitanHQ team kicked off the fall schedule of trade shows on September 12 at the Taylor Business Group BIG 2019 Conference at the Westin Hotel in Chicago, where members got to meet the TitanHQ team to discuss the new TitanShield program and discover how TitanHQ products can improve security for their clients while saving MSPs time and money.
At the same time, TitanHQ was at the CloudSec Europe 2019 Conference in London demonstrating WebTitan Cloud, SpamTitan Cloud, and ArcTitan to MSPs and cloud service providers.
If you were unable to attend either of these two events or did not get the chance to meet with the team, all is not lost. The fall schedule has only just commenced and there are still plenty of opportunities to meet the team to discuss your requirements and find out how TitanHQ products can meet and exceed your expectations.
Trade Events Attended by TitanHQ – Autumn, 2019
September 17, 2019
September 18, 2019
October 6-10, 2019
October 7-8, 2019
CompTIA EMEA Show
October 16-17, 2019
Canalys Cybersecurity Forum
October 21-23, 2019
October 30, 2019
MSH Summit North
October 30, 2019
IT Nation Evolve (HTG 4)
October 30, 2019
IT Nation Connect
November 5-7, 2019
If you plan on attending any of the above events this fall, be sure to come and visit the TitanHQ team and feel free to reach out ahead of the events for further information.
Rocco Donnino, Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, LinkedIn
Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Dryden Geary, Marketing Director
TitanHQ has announced it has entered not a new partnership with one of the United Kingdom’s leading Managed Service Providers (MSPs), OneStopIT.
For more than 16 years, OneStopIT has been helping small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) implement enterprise-class technology solutions. The Edinburgh-based MSP is focused on providing process-driven IT solutions to growing organizations at an affordable price.
Through the company’s dealing with UK businesses it has become clear that one of the biggest problem areas is phishing. Phishing attacks on UK businesses are now occurring at record pace and those attacks are costing businesses dearly.
UK businesses need advanced, enterprise-level cybersecurity solutions, but at an affordable SMB-friendly price. To improve protection against phishing and malware attacks, OneStopIT turned to TitanHQ.
TitanHQ has developed powerful cloud-based solutions for the SMB marketplace that incorporate enterprise-grade security features, but at a price that is affordable for even the smallest business. These solutions have been developed to be delivered by MSPs and can be easily incorporated into MSP auto-provisioning, billing, and management systems.
Under the new partnership, OneStopIT will be offering its customers SpamTItan-powered advanced email security and anti-phishing protection, WebTitan-powered DNS-based web filtering, and an ArcTitan-powered email archiving service.
All three solutions have been seamlessly integrated into OneStopIT’s security stack and are now being used to better protect its customers from today’s advanced and sophisticated cyber threats.
“ The proliferation of phishing threats across Office 365 is a real problem for SME’s in the UK and we’re partnering with a key vendor in this space to protect our customers and also give them the OneStopIT premium service they are used to,” said Ally Hollins-Kirk, CEO of OneStopIT.
The largest managed service provider conference of 2019 will be taking place in San Diego on 17-19 June.
DattoCon is the premier conference for MSPs, bringing together a plethora of vendors and industry experts to help MSPs learn business building secrets, gain invaluable product insights, and learn technical best practices. The networking and learning opportunities at DattoCon are second to none. DattoCon19 is certainly an event not to be missed.
TitanHQ is a Datto Select Vendor and a proud sponsor of DattoCon19. TitanHQ has developed cybersecurity solutions to exactly meet the needs of MSPs. All solutions area easy to implement and maintain and can be integrated into MSP’s existing systems via a suite of APIs. TitanHQ provides the web security layer to Datto DNA and D200 boxes and is the only third-party security company trusted to work with Datto.
The TitanHQ team will be on hand at the conference to discuss your email and web security needs and will offer practical advice to help you better serve the needs of your customers and get the very most out of TitanHQ solutions.
Visitors to the TitanHQ stand (booth 23) will have the opportunity to learn about TitanHQ’s exclusive TitanShield Program for MSPs. Through the TitanShield program, members have access to SpamTitan email security and phishing protection; the WebTitan DNS filter; and the ArcTitan email archiving solution. Around 2,000 MSPs have already signed up to the program and are using TitanHQ solutions to protect their clients.
If you currently use Cisco Umbrella to provide web and malware protection, you may be paying far more for security than is necessary and could well be struggling with product support. Be sure to speak to the team about the savings from switching and the support provided by TitanHQ. A visit will also be useful for MSPs that are currently supporting Office 365, as the team will explain how spam, phishing and malware protection can be enhanced.
TitanHQ Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, Rocco Donnino, will be on the panel for the new, Datto Select Avendors event on Monday. The event runs from 3PM to 4PM and brings together experts from several select companies who will help solve some of the epic problems faced by MSPs today.
Additional Benefits at DattoCon19
New TitanHQ customers benefit from special show pricing.
A daily raffle for a free bottle of vintage Irish whiskey.
Two DattoCon19 parties: TitanHQ and BVOIP are sponsoring a GasLamp District Takeover on Monday 6/17 and Wed, 6/19.
DattoCon19 will be taking place in San Diego, California on June 17-19, 2019
If you are not yet registered for the event you can do so here.
TitanHQ will be at booth 23
The global user review website, G2, is the go-to place to find reviews of business software and services. Unlike many other review websites, G2 gives users of the software and services the opportunity to provide their feedback on how the products perform. Millions of businesses use the website to make smarter buying decisions and select the best products and services to meet their needs.
This year, for the first time, G2 has launched a new Best Software Companies in EMEA list. To produce the list, G2 used the reviews of more than 66,000 users of the products of more than 900 companies. To be selected as one of the best companies is only possible if users of products and services have given their endorsement.
“G2’s ever-expanding breadth and depth of product, review, and traffic coverage provide over 5 million data points to help buyers navigate the complex world of digital transformation”, said G2 CEO Godard Abel. “In our Best Software Companies in EMEA list, we leverage this data to identify the companies our users tell us are best helping them reach their potential”.
TitanHQ has developed a suite of advanced cybersecurity solutions to keep businesses protected from email and web-based threats and help MSPs serving that market effortlessly provide managed cybersecurity services to their clients.
“TitanHQ earned its place on the list thanks to the value our customers place on the uncompromised security and real-time threat detection we provide,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from on G2 Crowd is indicative of our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of customer success.”
The use of ransomware to attack businesses continued to decline throughout 2018 after extensive use of the file-encrypting malware by cybercriminals in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, ransomware fell out of favor with cybercriminals, who turned to other forms of cybercrime to make money.
However, ransomware is seeing something of a resurgence in 2019. The latest Breach Insights Report from Beazley Breach Response Services shows ransomware attacks are increasing once again. In the first quarter of 2019, ransomware attack notifications from its clients increased by 105% from Q1, 2018. Ransom demands are also increasing.
The rise in attacks has continued in Q2. Attacks using MegaCortex ransomware surged in late April. The ransomware variant was first identified in January and was only used in a handful of attacks in the following three months, but in the last week in April, 47 confirmed attacks were reported.
Dharma ransomware attacks have similarly increased. According to Malwarebytes, the past two months have seen a 148% increase in attacks. The threat actors behind Dharma ransomware are now using a variety of methods to distribute their ransomware payload.
The most common method of distribution is phishing emails. Emails contain embedded hyperlinks that direct users to a malicious website where the ransomware payload is downloaded. Email attachments containing malicious scripts are also used to download the ransomware payload.
Attacks are also taking place via remote desktop protocol over TCP port 3389. Brute force attacks are conducted to gain access to a device then ransomware is deployed. Dharma ransomware has also been identified in fake antivirus software programs which are pushed via a variety of websites. Users are tricked into downloading fake AV software after receiving a fake alert about a malware infection that has been detected on the user’s device.
Ransomware has also been used in conjunction with other malware such as Emotet. Emotet was once a banking Trojan but has since morphed into a botnet, capable of stealing login credentials, propagating itself via email on an infected device, and is capable of downloading other malware payloads. Emotet has been used to distribute Ryuk ransomware.
There have been upticks in attacks using other ransomware variants and the popularity of ransomware continues to grow, with some industries targeted more than others. Healthcare organizations are an attractive target as access to patient data is critical for providing medical services. There is a higher probability of ransom demands being paid due to reliance on patient data.
A recent report from Recorded Future has confirmed that attacks on towns, cities, and local government systems are soaring. Its study confirmed that there were 169 attacks on county, city, or state government systems and police and sheriffs’ offices since 2013. There were 38 ransomware attacks in 2017, 53 in 2018, and 22 attacks have already occurred in 2019 and the year is not yet halfway through.
Akron, OH; Albany, NY; Jackson County and Cartersville, GA; and Lynn, MA, have all been attacked this year and the city of Baltimore, MA, has been struggling to recover from its attack for the past two weeks with many city services still disrupted.
The rise in attacks is understandable. The potential rewards from a successful attack are high, many victims have no alternative but to pay, and thanks to ransomware-as-a-service, attacks are easy to pull off and require little in the way of skill.
As long as the attacks continue to be profitable, they will continue. What businesses need to do is to make it much harder for the attacks to succeed and to ensure that if disaster does strike, recovery is possible without having to pay a ransom.
Recovery depends on viable backups of all critical files being available. That means regular backups must be made, those backups need to be tested to make sure files can be restored, and copies need to be stored securely where they cannot also be encrypted.
Remote Desktop Protocol is a weak point that is commonly exploited. If RDP is not required, it should be disabled. If disabling RDP is not an option, strong, complex passwords should be used and access should only be possible using a VPN.
To block web-based attacks, consider implementing a web filtering solution such as WebTitan which prevents users from visiting known malicious websites and downloading executable files types.
One of the primary methods of delivering ransomware is spam and phishing emails. An advanced spam filtering solution should be implemented to block malicious emails and ensure they are not delivered to end users’ inboxes. SpamTitan now incorporates a sandbox, which allows suspicious files to be executed in a secure environment where activities of the files can be safely analyzed for malicious actions. SpamTitan also scans outgoing mail for signs of infection with Emotet.
While these technical controls are important, you should not forget end users. By providing security awareness training and teaching end users how to recognize potential threats, they can be turned into a strong last line of defense.
Fortunately, with layered defenses you can make it much harder for ransomware attacks to succeed and can avoid becoming yet another ransomware statistic.
Shade ransomware was first identified by security researchers in 2014, when it was primarily being used in attacks on Russian businesses; however the threat actors behind this ransomware variant have broadened their horizons and attacks are now being conducted around the world. The United States is now the most attacked country followed by Japan, India, Thailand, and Canada. Russia has now fallen from top spot to seventh.
Shade ransomware, like many ransomware variants, is primarily spread via email. Emails are sent to businesses which appear at first glance to be invoices or bills. The emails contain links to websites hosting malicious files which are downloaded to the user’s device. A variant of this method uses a PDF attachment which contains a link inside which must be clicked to download a fake invoice or bill.
An analysis of the latest campaigns was recently conducted by Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 team. That analysis revealed the attackers are concentrating their attacks on high-tech companies, retailers, wholesalers, telecommunications, and educational institutions and the threat actors behind the campaigns have been highly active in 2019.
Since Shade ransomware is most commonly spread via spam email, to reduce the risk of an attack, businesses should implement an advanced email gateway solution that is capable of identifying and blocking the malspam emails that ultimately deliver Shade ransomware.
SpamTitan protects businesses from Shade ransomware and other email-based malware attacks. SpamTitan includes dual antivirus engines to detect malicious files attached to emails and scans the content of messages and subjects them to a Bayesian analysis and heuristics to identify signatures of spam and malicious messages.
The solution now incorporates a Bitdefender-powered sandbox feature which allows files to be opened in a safe and secure environment where they can be analyzed for malicious activity. The solution also allows users to block attachments commonly used to deliver malware, such as zip files and executable files such as .exe and .js.
These and other protection mechanisms help to ensure that only legitimate emails are delivered and malicious messages are prevented from being delivered to end users’ inboxes.
If you want to protect your business against ransomware and malware attacks, contact TitanHQ today to find out more about SpamTitan and take the first step towards improving your security posture.
A critical Windows vulnerability has been identified which could be exploited in a WannaCry-style malware attack. The vulnerability is pre-authentication and requires no user interaction to exploit, as such it is wormable. A patch was issued by Microsoft on May 14, 2019 to correct the flaw. The patch should be applied immediately to prevent the flaw from being exploited.
A remote attacker could exploit the flaw to deliver malware to a vulnerable device and, by incorporating the exploit into the malware, move laterally and infect all vulnerable devices on the network.
The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2019-0708, is in Remote Desktop Services (previously called Terminal Services) and requires a relatively low level of skill to exploit. To exploit the flaw, an attacker would need to send a specially crafted request to the Remote Desktop Service on a targeted device via RDP. Once exploited, an attacker could download malware and install other programs, view, change, or delete data, create new user accounts with admin privileges, and take full control of a vulnerable device. The vulnerability has been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 9.8 out of 10.
Microsoft has incorporated security protections into the latest Windows versions, so Windows 8 and Windows 10 users are unaffected. However, earlier versions of Windows contain the vulnerability.
Patches have been released for all vulnerable Windows versions, including Windows XP and Windows 2003, both of which have reached end of life and are no longer supported, as was the case with the Windows Server Message Block (SMB) vulnerability that was exploited by WannaCry.
Affected Windows versions are:
Windows Server 2008 R2
Windows Server 2008
Businesses running machines with the above operating systems should test the patch and apply it as soon as possible. In the meantime, a workaround should be implemented to prevent the flaw from being exploited.
The workaround requires TCP port 3389 to be blocked on the firewall and for Network Level Authentication (NLA) to be enabled on all systems running vulnerable Windows versions. If NLA is enabled, before the flaw can be exploited, an attacker would first need to authenticate to remote Desktop Services using a valid account. While the workaround will reduce the risk of exploitation of the vulnerability, it is not a replacement for the patch, which should still be applied as soon as possible. Businesses should also disable Remote Desktop Services if they are not essential and RDP should not be exposed to the internet.
Microsoft has warned that the failure to mitigate the vulnerability, either by applying the patch or using the workaround, could result in another global attack on the scale of WannaCry. Such an attack is extremely likely. When patches are released to address critical flaws, it doesn’t take long for them to be reverse engineered and for exploits to be crafted. Such a high severity flaw is likely to be exploited quickly. It may only take a few days before the first attacks are conducted.
TitanHQ, the leading provider of spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions to SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs) has announced a new partner program has been launched: TitanShield.
The aim of the TitanShield Partner Program is to provide MSPs, cloud distributors, OEM partners, Wi-Fi providers, and Technology Alliance partners with all the tools and support they need to start offering TitanHQ solutions to their clients and to provide continued support.
The launch of the new program coincides with TitanHQ’s 20-year anniversary. For the past two decades, TitanHQ has been developing innovative cybersecurity solutions for SMBs and MSPs that serve the SMB market. The company started by developing anti-spam technologies for businesses in Ireland and has since grown into an award-winning global provider of cybersecurity solutions.
Over the course of the past year, TitanHQ has been working closely with partners to make it as easy as possible for them to sell, onboard, deliver, and managed advanced network security solutions directly to their client base. In fact, in the past 9 months, as a result of those efforts, TitanHQ has increased its partner base by 40%.
In addition to providing cutting edge cybersecurity solutions to protect against email and web-based attacks and meet compliance requirements, TitanHQ offers partners flexible pricing models, competitive margins, and a wealth of sales and technical resources to drive revenue growth.
Under the new partner program, all qualified partners will be assigned a dedicated account manager, a support team, and engineers. Partners also benefit from a full range of APIs that will enable them to incorporate TitanHQ products into their backend provisioning and management systems and will be provided with extensive sales enablement and marketing support, including lead generation resources.
“Our new TitanShield partner program allows us to separate partners into their specific areas so that we can make sure they are receiving best practices, simple pricing models and focused information for the markets and customers they serve,” explained TitanHQ Executive VP of Strategic Alliances, Rocco Donnino “Our program takes a unique and strategic approach for our partners and can be customized to fit all business models.”
MSPs and cloud providers who have not yet started offering TitanHQ solutions to their clients can find out more about the TitanShield program by emailing the team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday April 15 is Tax Day in the United States – the deadline for submitting 2018 tax returns. Each year in the run up to Tax Day, cybercriminals step up their efforts to obtain users’ tax credentials. In the past few weeks, many tax-related phishing scams have been detected which attempt to install information stealing malware.
One of the main aims of these campaigns is to obtain tax credentials. These are subsequently used to file fraudulent tax returns with the IRS. Tax is refunded to accounts controlled by the attackers, checks are redirected, and a range of other methods are used to obtain the payments.
Attacks on tax professionals are commonplace. If access can be gained to a tax professional’s computer, the tax credentials of clients can be stolen, and fraudulent tax returns can be filed in their names. A single successful attack on a tax professional can see the attacker obtain many thousands of dollars in tax rebates.
There has been the usual high level of tax-related phishing scams during the 2019 tax season and businesses of all types have been targeted. It is not only tax credentials that cybercriminals are after. Many tax-themed phishing scams have been conducted which attempt to install malware and ransomware such as the TrickBot banking Trojan.
The TrickBot banking Trojan is a powerful malware variant which, once installed, can give an attacker full control of an infected computer. The malware is primarily an information stealer. A successful installation on one business computer can allow the attackers to move laterally and spread the malware across the whole network.
The primary purpose of the TrickBot trojan is to steal banking credentials which can be used to make fraudulent wire transfers: however, TrickBot is regularly updated with new features. In addition to stealing banking credentials, the malware can steal VNC. RDP, and PuTTY credentials.
The threat actors behind TrickBot are highly organized and well resourced. More than 2,400 command and control servers are used by the cybercriminal gang and that number continues to grow.
The three new TrickBot malware campaigns were detected since late January by IBM X-Force researchers. Spam email messages are carefully crafted to appear legitimate and look innocuous to business users and appear to have been sent by well-known accounting and payroll firms such as ADP and Paychex.
Spoofed email addresses are commonly used, although in these campaigns, the attackers have used domain squatting. They have registered domains that are very similar to those used by the accounting firms. The domains have transposed letters and slight misspellings to make the email appear to have been sent from a legitimate source. The domains can be highly convincing and, in some cases, are extremely difficult to identify as fake.
The emails are well written and claim to include tax billing records, which are included as attached spreadsheets. The spreadsheets contain malicious macros which, if allowed to run, will download the TrickBot Trojan.
To prevent attacks, several steps should be taken. Macros should be disabled by default on all devices. Prompt patching is required to keep all software and operating systems up to date to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited.
End users should receive security awareness training and should be taught cybersecurity best practices and how to identify phishing emails. An advanced spam and anti-phishing solution should also be implemented to ensure phishing emails are identified and prevented from reaching end users inboxes. Further, all IoCs and IPs known to be associated with the threat actors should be blocked through spam filtering solutions, firewalls, and web gateways.
The latter is made easy with SpamTitan and WebTitan – TitanHQ’s anti-phishing and web filtering solutions for SMBs.
Current users of the SpamTitan email security solution and SMBs and MSPs that are considering implementing SpamTitan or offering it to their clients are invited to join a webinar in which TitanHQ will explains the exciting new features that have recently been incorporated into the anti-phishing and anti-spam solution.
SpamTitan has recently received a major update that has seen the incorporation of DMARC email authentication to better protect users from email impersonation attacks and the addition of a new Bitdefender-powered sandbox. The sandbox allows users to safely assess email attachments for malicious actions, to better protect them against zero-day malware and other malicious software delivered via email.
The webinar will explain these and other features of SpamTitan in detail and the benefits they offer to customers, including how they better protect SMBs and SMEs from phishing, spear phishing, spoofing, ransomware, malware, and zero-day attacks.
The webinar will also explain why SpamTitan is the leading email security solution for managed service providers serving the SMB and SME market and how the solution can help to enhance security for their clients and can easily be slotted into their service stacks.
The webinar will be taking place on Thursday April 4, 2019 at 12pm, EST and will last approximately 30 minutes.
This week, TitanHQ has rolled out two new features for its award-winning email security solution SpamTitan: Sandboxing and DMARC email authentication.
TitanHQ developed the technology behind its email security solution more than 20 years ago and over the past two decades SpamTitan has received many updates to improve features for end users and increase detection rates.
SpamTitan already blocks more than 99.9% of spam and malicious emails to prevent threats from reaching end users’ inboxes. The level of protection SpamTitan provides against email attacks has made it the gold standard in email security for the SMB market and managed service providers serving SMBs.
In order to provide even greater protection against increasingly sophisticated email threats, TitanHQ added a new sandboxing feature. The next-generation sandboxing feature, powered by Bitdefender, provides SpamTitan customers with a safe environment to run in-depth analyses of suspicious programs and files that have been delivered via email.
New SpamTitan Sandboxing Service
The sandbox is a powerful virtual environment totally separate from other systems. When programs are run in the sandbox, they behave as they would on an ordinary endpoint and can be assessed for suspicious behavior and malicious actions without causing harm.
Prior to being sent to the sandbox, files are first analyzed using SpamTitan’s anti-malware technologies. Only files that require further analysis make it to the sandbox where they are safely detonated. Tactics used by malware to evade detection and avoid analysis are logged and flagged. Purpose-built, advanced machine learning algorithms they assess the files and check their actions against an extensive array of known threats from a range on online repositories in a matter of minutes.
If the file is confirmed as benign, it can be released. If the file is determined to be malicious, the sandboxing service automatically sends a report to the Bitdefender’s Global Protective Network and all further instances of the threat will then be blocked globally to ensure the file does not need to be analysed again.
The sandbox provides advanced protection against zero-day exploits, polymorphic threats, APTs, malicious URLs, new malware samples that have yet to be identified as malicious, and new threats that have been developed for undetectable targeted attacks.
Incorporation of this feature into SpamTitan gives customers advanced emulation-based malware analysis capabilities without having to purchase a separate sandboxing solution and ensures customers are protected against rapidly evolving advanced threats.
DMARC Email Authentication Added to SpamTitan
Email spoofing is the term given to the use of a forged sender address. Email spoofing is used to increase the likelihood of an email being delivered and opened by an end user. The email address of a known contact, well known company, or government organization is usually spoofed to abuse trust in that individual, brand, or organization.
DMARC authentication is now essential for all businesses and is a powerful control to prevent spoofing attacks. DMARC is used to check email headers to provide further information about the true sender of an email. Through DMARC, the message is authenticated as having been sent from the organization that owns the domain. If authentication fails, the message is rejected.
While SPF provides a certain degree of protection against email spoofing, DMARC is far more dependable. SpamTitan now incorporates DMARC authentication to provide even greater protection against email spoofing attacks.
Both of these new features have been added in the latest update to SpamTitan and are available to users at no extra cost.
“We have listened to requests from customers to have new features added to SpamTitan, and by far the most requested improvements are anti-spoofing technology and sandboxing,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “I’m delighted to say that both of these new features have now been added to provide enhanced security for customers at no extra cost.”
It doesn’t take long after the release of a patch for hackers to take advantage, especially when the vulnerability potentially impacts 500 million users. It is therefore not surprising that at least one hacker is taking advantage of a recently disclosed WinRAR vulnerability.
Oftentimes, vulnerabilities are found in certain versions of software, but this vulnerability affects all WinRAR users and dates back 19 years. The WinRAR vulnerability was identified by researchers at Check Point. WinRAR was alerted and confirmed the vulnerability existed, and promptly issued an updated version of the file compression tool with the vulnerability removed. Details of the vulnerability were disclosed in a Check Point blog post on February 20, 2019.
The WinRAR vulnerability in question was present in a third-party DLL file which was included in WinRAR to allow ACE archive files to be uncompressed. The researchers found that by renaming a .rar archive to make it appear that the compressed file was an ACE archive, it was possible to extract a malicious file into the startup folder unbeknown to the user. That file would then run on boot, potentially giving an attacker full control of the device. The malicious file would continue to load on startup until discovered and removed.
All an attacker would need to do to exploit the WinRAR vulnerability is to convince a user to open a specially crafted .rar archive file attached to an email. Compressed files are often used in malspam campaigns to hide malicious executable files. Since .rar and .zip files are commonly used by businesses to send large files via email, they are likely to be recognized and may be opened by end users.
In this case, if the archive contents are extracted, the user would likely be unaware that anything untoward had happened, as the executable is loaded into the startup folder without giving any indication the file has been extracted. Due to the location of extraction, no further actions are required by the user.
In this case, the executable installs a backdoor, although only if the user has User Account Control (UAC) disabled. That said, this is unlikely to be the only campaign exploiting the WinRAR vulnerability. Other threat actors may develop a way to exploit the vulnerability for all users that have yet to update to the latest WinRAR version.
Many users will have WinRAR installed on their computer but will rarely use the program, so may not be aware that there is an update available. It is possible that a large percentage of users with the program installed have yet to update to the latest version and are vulnerable to attack.
This campaign illustrates just how important it is to patch promptly. As soon as a patch is released for a popular software program it is only a matter of time before that vulnerability is exploited, even just a few days.
Patching all devices in use in an organization can take time. It is therefore important to make sure that all employees receive security awareness training and are taught email security best practices and how to identify potentially malicious emails.
Unfortunately, social engineering techniques can be highly convincing, and many users may be fooled into opening email attachments, especially when the attacker spoofs the sender’s email address and the email appears to come from a known individual. It is therefore essential to have an advanced spam filtering solution in place that is capable of detecting malicious attachments at source, including malicious files hidden inside compressed files, and stop the messages from being delivered to inboxes.
A year-old vulnerability in the Connectwise plugin for Kaseya VSA has been exploited in a series of MSP ransomware attacks over the past two weeks. The latest campaign is one of several cyberattacks targeting MSPs in recent months that abuse trusted relationships between MSPs and their clients. The aim of the attacks is to gain access to MSP systems in order to attack their clients.
MSPs are trusted by SMBs to improve security, identify and correct vulnerabilities, and prevent costly cyberattacks. However, if MSPs do not follow cybersecurity best practices such as ensuring patches and software updates are applied on their own systems, they place their clients at risk.
MSP ransomware attacks such as these have potential to cause considerable damage to an MSP’s reputation, could easily result in loss of clients, and also possible legal action.
On MSP Reddit poster explained that cybercriminals recently exploited a vulnerability to gain access to clients’ systems and had installed ransomware on approximately 80% of client machines. Other attacks have also succeeded in encrypting files on client networks.
It is not always possible to update plugins, apply patches, and perform software updates instantly, but in this case the vulnerability was identified in November 2017. A proof of concept exploit was published, and an updated plugin was rapidly released by Connectwise to correct the flaw. Despite this, 126 MSPs are still using the out of date and vulnerable plugin according to a recent Kaseya security warning.
The Connectwise plugin for Kaseya VSA contained a flaw – CVE-2017-18362 – that allowed commands to be run on a Kaseya VSA server without the need for authentication due to an error within the Connectwise API. By exploiting the vulnerability, an attacker would be able to gain access to the Kaseya VSA server and conduct attacks on MSP clients. In this case, GandCrab ransomware was installed.
The group behind this campaign may not be the only criminal gang to attempt to exploit the vulnerability. It is possible that some MSPs who failed to update the plugin may have also had their server compromised and less conspicuous malware may have been installed.
All MSPs that use Connectwise and have the plugin installed on their on-premise server should ensure the latest version of the plugin is installed. Connectwise has made a tool available to users that will conduct a scan to determine if the vulnerable plugin is in use. It is also recommended to disconnect the VSA server from the internet and to perform an audit to determine if the server has been compromised.
Thanks to advanced cybersecurity defenses, many of which are provided by MSPs to their clients, it is becoming harder for cybercriminals to use standard tactics such as mass spam emails to gain access to business networks. As the past few months have shown, cybercriminals are now targeting MSPs to gain access to their clients’ systems. It is therefore essentials that MSPs ensure they scan for vulnerabilities on their own systems to identify potential weaknesses before they are exploited by hackers.
The 2019 Cybersecurity Survey conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has highlighted healthcare email security weaknesses and the seriousness of the threat of phishing attacks.
HIMSS conducts the survey each year to identify attack trends, security weaknesses, and areas where healthcare organizations need to improve their cybersecurity defenses. This year’s survey confirmed that phishing remains the number one threat faced by healthcare organizations and the extent that email is involved in healthcare data breaches.
This year’s study was conducted on 166 healthcare IT leaders between November and December 2018. Respondents were asked questions about data breaches and security incidents they had experienced in the past 12 months, the causes of those breaches, and other cybersecurity matters.
Phishing attacks are pervasive in healthcare and a universal problem for healthcare providers and health plans of all sizes. 69% of significant security incidents at hospitals in the past 12 months used email as the initial point of compromise. Overall, across all healthcare organizations, email was involved in 59% of significant security incidents.
The email incidents include phishing attacks, spear phishing, whaling, business email compromise, and other email impersonation attacks. Those attacks resulted in network breaches, data theft, email account compromises, malware infections, and fraudulent wire transfers.
When asked about the categories of threat actors behind the attacks, 28% named ‘online scam artists’ and 20% negligence by insiders. Online scam artists include phishers who send hyperlinks to malicious websites via email. It was a similar story the previous year when the survey was last conducted.
Given the number of email-related breaches it is clear that anti-phishing defenses in healthcare need to be improved. HIPAA requires all healthcare employees to receive security awareness training, part of which should include training on how to identify phishing attacks. While this is a requirement for compliance, a significant percentage (18%) of healthcare organizations do not take this further and are not conducting phishing simulations, even though they have been shown to improve resilience against phishing attacks by reinforcing training and identifying weaknesses in training programs.
The continued use of out of date and unsupported software was also a major concern. Software such as Windows Server and Windows XP are still extensively used in healthcare, despite the number of vulnerabilities they contain. 69% of respondents admitted still using legacy software on at least some machines. When end users visit websites containing exploit kits, vulnerabilities on those devices can easily be exploited to download malware.
It may take some time to phase out those legacy systems, but improving healthcare email security is a quick and easy win. HIMSS recommends improving training for all employees on the threat from phishing with the aim of decreasing click rates on phishing emails. That is best achieved through training, phishing simulations, and better monitoring of responses to phishing emails to identify repeat offenders.
At TitanHQ, we can offer two further solutions to improve healthcare email security. The first is an advanced spam filtering solution that blocks phishing emails and prevents them from being delivered to inboxes. The second is a solution that prevents employees from visiting phishing and other malicious websites such as online scams.
SpamTitan is an advanced anti-phishing solution that scans all incoming emails using a wide range of methods to identify malicious messages. The solution has a catch rate in excess of 99.9% with a false positive rate of just 0.03%. The solution also scans outbound messages for spam signatures to help identify compromised email accounts.
WebTitan Cloud is a cloud-based web filtering solution that blocks attempts by employees to visit malicious websites, either through web surfing or responses to phishing emails. Should an employee click on a link to a known malicious site, the action will be blocked before any harm is caused. WebTitan also scans websites for malicious content to identify and block previously known phishing websites and other online scams. Alongside robust security awareness training programs, these two solutions can help to significantly improve healthcare email security.
For further information on TitanHQ’s healthcare email security and anti-phishing solutions, contact TitanHQ today.
A new Office 365 phishing scam has been detected that attempts to get users to part with their Office 365 credentials with a request for collaboration via SharePoint.
The campaign was first detected in the summer of 2018 by researchers at cybersecurity firm Avanan. The Office 365 phishing scam is ongoing and has proven to be highly effective. According to Kaspersky Lab, the phishing campaign has been used in targeted attacks on at least 10% of companies that use Office 365.
This Office 365 phishing scam abuses trust in SharePoint services that are often used by employees. An email is sent to an Office 365 user that contains a link to a document stored in OneDrive for Business. In contrast to many phishing campaigns that spoof links and fool users into visiting a website other than the one indicated by the link text, this link actually does direct the user to an access request document on OneDrive.
A link in the document then directs users to a third-party website where they are presented with a Microsoft Office 365 login page that is a perfect copy of the official Office 365 login page. If login credentials are entered, they are given to the scammers. Once obtained, it is possible for the scammers to gain access to the Office 365 account of the user, including email and cloud storage.
The email accounts can be used for further phishing campaigns on the user’s contacts. Since those messages come from within the organization, they are more likely to be trusted. Email accounts can also contain a wealth of sensitive information which is of great value to competitors. In healthcare, email accounts can contain patient information, including data that can be used to steal identities. The attackers can also use the compromised credentials to spread malware. Employees may know not to open attachments from unknown individuals, but when they are sent from a colleague, they are more likely to be opened.
Businesses that use Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection (APT) service may mistakenly believe they are protected from phishing attacks such as this. However, since the links in the email are genuine OneDrive links, they are not identified as malicious. It is only the link in those documents that is malicious, but once the document is opened, Microsoft’s APT protection has already been bypassed.
Finding Office 365 users is not difficult. According to a 2017 Spiceworks survey, 83% of enterprises use Office 365 and figures from 2018 suggest 56% of organizations globally have adopted Office 365. However, a basic check can easily identify Office 365 users as it is broadcast on public DNS MX records. If one user can be found in an organization, it is highly likely that every other user will be using Office 365.
Businesses can take steps to avoid Office 365 phishing scams such as this.
Ensure that all employees are made aware of the threat from phishing, and specifically this Office 365 phishing scam. They should be told to exercise caution with offers to collaborate that have not been preceded by a conversation.
Conduct phishing email simulations to test defenses against phishing and identify individuals that require further security awareness training.
Activate multifactor authentication to prevent stolen credentials from being used to access Office 365 accounts from unknown locations/devices.
Change from APT anti-phishing controls to a third-party spam filter such as SpamTitan. This will not only improve catch rates, it will also not broadcast that the organization uses Office 365.
Use an endpoint protection solution that is capable of detecting phishing attacks.
Implement a web filter to prevent users from visiting known phishing websites and other malicious web pages.
The French engineering firm Altran Technologies has been grappling with a malware infection that hit the firm on January 24, 2019.
Immediately following the malware attack, Altran shut down its network and applications to prevent the spread of the infection and to protect its clients. Technical and computer forensics experts are now assisting with the investigation. The Altran cyberattack has affected operations in some European countries and the firm is currently working through its recovery plan.
A public announcement has been made about the attack although the malware involved has not been officially confirmed. Some cybersecurity experts believe the attack involved a new ransomware variant named LockerGoga which emerged in the past few days.
LockerGoga ransomware was first identified on January 24 in Romania and subsequently in the Netherlands. It was named by MalwareHunterTeam, based on the path used for compiling the source code into an executable.
LockerGoga ransomware does not appear to be a particularly sophisticated malware variant. Security researcher Valthek, who analyzed the malware, claimed the code was ‘sloppy’, the encryption process was slow, and little effort appears to have been made to evade detection. The ransomware appends encrypted files with the .locked file extension.
The ransomware note suggests that companies are being targeted although it is currently unclear how the ransomware is being distributed.
LockerGoga ransomware encrypts a wide range of file types and, depending on the command line argument, may target all files. Since the encryption process is slow, fast detection and remediation will limit the damage caused. Failure to detect the ransomware and take prompt action to mitigate the attack could prove costly. The ransomware can spread laterally through network connections and network shares, resulting in widespread file encryption.
The ransomware had a valid certificate that was issued to a UK firm by Comodo Certificate Authority. The certificate has since been revoked.
LockerGoga ransomware is currently being detected as malicious by 46/69 AV engines on VirusTotal, including Bitdefender, the primary AV engine used by SpamTitan.
The massive Allscripts EHR breach in January 2018 resulted in massive disruption for the company and its clients. Clients were locked out of their electronic health records for several days while the company battled to recover from the attack. Around 1,500 of the company’s clients were affected.
The cost of mitigating the ransomware attack was considerable, and in addition to those costs, the Allscripts EHR breach prompted many clients to take legal action. The costs continue to mount.
The Allscripts EHR breach involved SamSam ransomware, which has plagued the healthcare industry over the past couple of years. The threat actors behind the attacks typically gain access to healthcare networks through RDP vulnerabilities and deploy the ransomware manually after scouting the network. This way, maximum damage can be inflicted, which increases the probability of the ransom being paid.
The Allscripts EHR breach certain stands out as one of the most damaging ransomware attacks of 2018, although it was just one of many healthcare ransomware attacks in 2018 involving many ransomware variants.
According to Beazley Breach Response Services, ransomware attacks more than doubled in September. Many cybercriminals have switched to cryptocurrency mining malware, but the ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations are continuing and show no sign of slowing.
In recent months, there has been a growing trend of combining malware variants to maximize the profitability of attacks. Ransomware is a quick and easy way for cybercriminals to earn money but combining ransomware with other malware variants is much more profitable. Further, if files are recovered from backups and no ransom is paid, cybercriminals can still profit from the attacks.
Several campaigns have been detected recently that combine Trojans such as AZORult, Emotet and Trickbot with ransomware. Attacks with these Trojans have increased by 132% since 2017 according to Malwarebytes. The Trojans steal sensitive information through keylogging, are capable lateral movement within a network, and also serve as downloaders for other malware such as Ryuk and GandCrab ransomware. Once information has been stolen, the ransomware payload is deployed.
The Allscripts EHR breach was somewhat atypical. It is far more common for ransomware to be delivered via email than brute force attacks on RDP. The campaigns combining Emotet, Trickbot, and AZORult with ransomware are primarily delivered by email.
In addition to ransomware attacks, phishing attacks are rife in healthcare. Email was the most common location of exposed protected health information in 2018. Email security is a weak point in healthcare defenses.
The number of successful ransomware and phishing attacks in healthcare make it clear that email security needs to improve. An advanced spam filter to block malicious emails, improved end user training is required to teach employees how to recognize email threats, intrusion detection systems need to be deployed, along with powerful anti-virus solutions. Only by implementing layered defenses to block email attacks and other attack vectors will healthcare organizations be able to reduce the risk of ransomware attacks.
A new Ursnif Trojan campaign has been detected that uses a new variant of the malware which uses fileless techniques to avoid detection. In addition to the banking Trojan, GandCrab ransomware is also downloaded.
Increase in Banking Trojan and Ransomware Combination Attacks
Ransomware attacks can cause considerable disruption to businesses, although a good backup strategy can allow businesses to recover quickly in the event of a successful attack without having to pay the ransom demand.
However, there has been a significant increase in phishing attacks that deliver not one but two malware variants – ransomware to extort money from companies but also an information stealer to obtain sensitive information such as login and banking credentials. Malware variants used in these attacks also have the capability to download other malware variants and gather system data and process information for use in further attacks.
These phishing campaigns allow hackers to maximize the profitability of attacks and make the attack profitable even if the business does not pay the ransom.
There have been several examples of these attacks in recent months. Earlier in January, warnings were issued about the combination of Ryuk ransomware with the Trickbot and Emotet Trojans – Two malware variants that are used in wire fraud attacks. Ryuk ransomware has been extensively used in attacks on U.S. healthcare providers. The combination with the banking Trojans makes the attacks far more damaging.
Now another campaign has been detected using different malware variants – The Ursnif Trojan and the latest version of GandCrab ransomware.
What Does the Ursnif Trojan Do?
The Ursnif Trojan is one of the most active banking Trojans currently in use. The main functions of the malware is to steal system information and bank account credentials from browsers. The latest variants of the Ursnif Trojan have also been used to deploy other malware variants such as GandCrab ransomware.
According to security researchers at Carbon Black, who identified the latest campaign, the Ursnif Trojan now uses fileless execution mechanisms to make detection more difficult. Instead of downloading and writing files to the hard drive – which can be detected – a PowerShell script downloads a payload and executes it in the memory. That payload then downloads a further file and injects it into the PowerShell process, ultimately resulting in the downloading of the ransomware.
When code is loaded in the memory, it often does not survive a reboot, although the latest variant of Ursnif has persistence. This is achieved by storing an encoded PowerShell command inside a registry key and subsequently launching the command via the Windows Management Instrumentation Command-line (WMIC).
Once information has been collected from an infected system, it is packaged inside a CAB file and sent back to the attackers C2 via encrypted HTTPS. This makes data exfiltration difficult to detect.
The Ursnif Trojan campaign uses email as the attack vector with infection occurring via a Word document attachment that contains a VBA macro. If the attachment is opened and macros are enabled (automatically or manually), the infection process will be triggered.
How Businesses can Protect Against Attacks
Due to the difficulty detecting the malware attack once it has started, the best way to protect against this attack is by improving anti-phishing defenses. It is important to prevent the malicious emails from being delivered to inboxes and to ensure that employees are trained how to identify the messages if they make it past email defenses. The former can be achieved with a powerful spam filtering solution such as SpamTitan.
Along with security awareness training for employees to condition them not to open emails from unknown senders or open attachments and enable macros, businesses can mount an effective defense against the attack.
SMB cybersecurity protections do not need to be advanced as those of large enterprises, but improvements need to be made to ensure smaller businesses are protected. The risk of a cyberattack is not theoretical. While large businesses are having their defenses regularly tested, small to medium sized businesses are also being attacked. And alarmingly often.
Large businesses may store much higher volumes of valuable data, but they also tend to invest heavily in the latest cybersecurity technologies and have dedicated teams to oversee security. Cyberattacks are therefore much harder to pull off. SMBs are much easier targets. Cyberattacks may be less profitable, but they are easier and require less effort.
SMB Cyberattacks are Increasing
A 2017 SCORE study confirmed the extent to which hackers are attacking SMBs. Its study of macro-based malware showed there had been at least 113,000 attacks on SMBs in 2017 and 43% of those attacks were on SMBs. SMBs suffered at least 54,000 ransomware attacks in 2017 and online banking attacks were highly prevalent in the SMB sector.
The 2018 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium Size Businesses study, conducted by the Ponemon Institute, painted an even bleaker picture for SMBs. The study suggests SMBs face the same cybersecurity risks as larger businesses and are being attacked almost as often. In its study, 67% of SMB respondents reported having experienced a cyberattack in the past 12 months and 58 had suffered a data breach. Alarmingly, almost half of respondents (47%) said they had little or no understanding about how SMB cyberattacks could be prevented.
The study revealed 60% of successful cyberattacks were the result of employee negligence, hackers were behind 37% of breaches, and for 32% of cyberattacks the cause could not be established.
The high number of successful cyberattacks makes it clear that SMB cybersecurity needs to be improved. Unfortunately, many SMBs simply don’t have the budget to pay for expensive cybersecurity solutions and a lack of skilled staff is also an issue. So, given these restraints, where should SMBs start?
Where to Start with SMB Cybersecurity
Improving SMB cybersecurity does not necessarily mean hiring skilled cybersecurity staff and spending heavily on state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions. The best place to start is by ensuring basic cybersecurity best practices are adopted. Highly sophisticated cyberattacks are becoming more common, but many successful attacks are the result of basic cybersecurity failures.
These include the failure to implement password policies that enforce the use of strong passwords, not changing all default passwords, or not using a unique password for each account. Implementing 2-factor authentication is a quick way to improve security, as is the setting of rate limiting to lock accounts after a set number of failed login attempts.
Many successful cyberattacks start with a phishing email. An advanced spam filtering solution is therefore essential. This will ensure virtually all malicious messages are blocked and are not delivered to end users. A web filter also offers protection against phishing by preventing employees from visiting phishing websites. It will also block web-based attacks and malware downloads. Both of these SMB cybersecurity solutions can be implemented at a low cost. It costs just a few dollars per year, per employee, to implement SpamTitan and WebTitan.
A little training goes a long way. Employees should be provided with cybersecurity training and should be taught how to identify email and web-based threats. There are plenty of free and low-cost resources for SMBs to help them train their employees. US-CERT is a good place to start.
Good backup policies are an essential part of SMB cybersecurity. In the event of a cyberattack or ransomware attack, this will prevent catastrophic data loss. A good strategy to adopt is the 3-2-1 approach. Three copies of backups, on two different types of media, with one copy stored securely off-site. Also make sure backups are tested to ensure file recovery is possible.
Once the basics have been covered, it is important to conduct a security audit to discover just how secure your network and systems are. Many managed service providers can assist with security audits and assessments if you do not have sufficiently skilled staff to perform an audit inhouse.
Improvements to SMB cybersecurity will carry a cost but bear in mind that an ounce of security is worth a pound of protection and investment in cybersecurity will prove to be much less expensive than having to deal with a successful cyberattack.
To protect their clients from phishing attacks, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) need to provide a comprehensive range of cybersecurity solutions. This post explores the risks from phishing and suggests some easy to implement anti-phishing solutions for MSPs to add to their security offerings.
Phishing is the Number One Cyber Threat Faced by SMBs
Phishing is the number one cyber threat faced by businesses and one of the hardest to defend against. All it takes is for an employee to respond to a single phishing email for a costly data breach to occur. The consequences for the company can be severe.
Email accounts contain a wide range of sensitive information. A phishing attack on a UnityPoint Health hospital in Des Moines, IA, in 2018 saw the protected health information of 1.4 million patients compromised. Also in 2018, a phishing attack on the Boys Town National Research Hospital saw one account compromised that contained the information of more than 105,300 patients. Phishing emails are also used to introduce malware and ransomware. These attacks can be even more damaging and costly to mitigate.
The healthcare industry is extensively targeted by phishers due to the high value of healthcare data, although all industry sectors are at risk. In response to the high number of cyberattacks and the current threat levels, the Trump administration recently launched the “Know the Risk, Raise your Shield” campaign. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the threat from phishing and other attack methods and encourage private businesses to do more to improve their defenses.
Phishing will continue to be a major threat to businesses for the foreseeable future. Attacks will continue because they require relatively little skill to conduct, phishing is highly effective, and attacks can be extremely lucrative.
Easy to Implement Anti-Phishing Solutions for MSPs
There is no single solution that will provide total protection against phishing attacks. Businesses need layered defenses, which provides an opportunity for MSPs. SMBs can struggle to implement effective defenses against phishing on their own and look to MSPs for assistance.
MSPs that can provide a comprehensive anti-phishing package will be able to protect their clients, prevent costly phishing attacks, and generate more business. Effective anti-phishing controls are also an easy sell. Given the cost of mitigating attacks, the package is likely to pay for itself. But what solutions should be included in MSPs anti-phishing offerings?
Listed below are three easy-to-implement anti-phishing solutions for MSPs to offer to their clients, either individually or part of an anti-phishing security package.
Advanced Spam Filtering
Advanced spam filtering solutions are essential. They block phishing emails on the server before they can be delivered to inboxes or employees’ spam folders. An advanced spam filter will block in excess of 99.9% of spam and malicious emails and by itself, is the single most important solution to implement.
SpamTitan is an ideal anti-phishing solution for MSPs. This cloud-based solution supports an unlimited number of domains, all of which can be protected through an easy to use interface. The solution supports per domain administrators, with each able to implement elements of their own email such as searches and release of messages from quarantine. Reports can be generated per domain and those reports can be automatically sent to clients. The solution can be fully rebranded to take MSP logos and color schemes, and the solution can be hosted in a private cloud.
Security Awareness Training and Testing
While the majority of malicious emails will be blocked at source, a very small percentage may slip through the net. It is therefore essential for employees to be aware of the risks from phishing and to have the skills to identify potential phishing emails. MSPs can help their clients by providing a staff training program. Many security awareness training companies offer MSP programs to help manage training for clients and a platform to conduct phishing simulation exercises to test security awareness.
DNS-Based Web Filtering
Even with training, some employees may be fooled by phishing emails. This is to be expected, since many phishing campaigns use messages which are highly realistic and virtually indistinguishable from genuine emails. Spam filters will block malicious attachments, but a web filter offers protection from malicious hyperlinks that direct users to phishing websites.
A DNS-based web filter blocks attempts by employees to access phishing websites at the DNS-level, before any content is downloaded. When an employee clicks on a phishing email, they will be directed to a block screen rather than the phishing website. Being DNS-based, web filters are easy to implement and no appliances are required.
WebTitan is an ideal web filtering solution for MSPs. WebTitan can be configured in just a couple of minutes and can protect all clients from web-based phishing attacks, with the solution managed and controlled through a single easy-to-use interface. Reports can be automatically scheduled and sent to clients, and the solution is available in full white-label form ready for MSPs branding. A choice of hosting solutions is also offered, and the solution can connect with deployment, billing and management tools through APIs.
For further information on TitanHQ’s anti-phishing solutions for MSPs, contact the TitanHQ team today and enquire about joining the TitanHQ Alliance program.
2-factor authentication is an important safeguard to prevent unauthorized account access, but does 2-factor authentication stop phishing attacks?
What is 2-Factor Authentication?
2-Factor authentication is commonly used as an additional protection measure to prevent accounts from being accessed by unauthorized individuals in the event that a password is compromised.
If a password is disclosed in a phishing attack or has otherwise been obtained or guessed, a second authentication method is required before the account can be accessed.
Two-factor authentication uses a combination of two different methods of authentication, commonly something a person owns (device/bank card), something a person knows knows (a password or PIN), and/or something a person has (fingerprint, iris scan, voice pattern, or a token).
The second factor control is triggered if an individual, authorized or otherwise, attempts to login from an unfamiliar location or from a device that has not previously been used to access the account.
For instance, a person uses their laptop to connect from a known network and enters their password. No second factor is required. The same person uses the same device and password from an unfamiliar location and a second factor must be supplied. If the login credentials are used from an unfamiliar device, by a hacker for instance that has obtained a username and password in a phishing attack, the second factor is also required.
A token or code is often used to verify identity, which is sent to a mobile phone. In such cases, in addition to a password, an attacker would also need to have the user’s phone.
Does 2-Factor Authentication Stop Phishing Attacks?
So, does 2-factor authentication stop phishing attacks from succeeding? In many cases, it does, but 2-factor authentication is not infallible. While it was once thought to be highly effective at stopping unauthorized account access, opinion is now changing. It is certainly an important additional, low-cost layer of security that is worthwhile implementing, but 2-factor authentication alone will not prevent all phishing attacks from succeeding.
There are various methods that can be used to bypass 2-factor authentication, for instance, if a user is directed to a phishing page and enters their credentials, the hacker can then use those details in real-time to login to the legitimate site. A 2FA code is sent to the user’s device, the user then enters that code into the phishing page. The attacker then uses the code on the legitimate site.
This 2-factor authentication bypass is somewhat cumbersome, but this week a phishing tool has been released that automates this process. The penetration testing tool was created by a Polish researcher named Piotr Duszynski, and it allows 2FA to be bypassed with ease.
The tool, named Modlishka, is a reverse proxy that has been modified for handling login page traffic. The tool sits between the user and the target website on a phishing domain. When the user connects to the phishing page hosting this tool, the tool serves content from the legitimate site – Gmail for instance – but all traffic passes through the tool and is recorded, including the 2FA code.
The user supplies their credentials, a 2-factor code is sent to their phone, and that code is entered, giving the attacker account access.
It is an automated version of the above bypass that only requires a hacker to have a domain to use, a valid TLS certificate for the domain, and a copy of the tool. No website phishing templates need to be created as they are served from the genuine site. Since the tool has been made available on Github, the 2FA bypass could easily be used by hackers.
Additional Controls to Stop Phishing Attacks
To protect against phishing, a variety of methods must be used. First, an advanced spam filter is required to prevent phishing emails from reaching inboxes. SpamTitan, for instance, blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails.
Fewer than 0.1% of emails may make it past the spam filter, but any one could result in an account compromise. Security awareness training should therefore be provided to employees to help them identify suspicious emails.
Unfortunately, people do make mistakes and phishing emails can be highly realistic, so it is wise to also implement a web filter.
A web filter will block attempts to connect to known phishing sites and can assess sites in real time to help determine their authenticity. If the checks fail, the user will be prevented from accessing the site.
These anti-phishing controls are now essential cybersecurity measures for businesses to protect against phishing attacks, and are all the more important since 2FA cannot be relied upon to protect against unauthorized access once a password has been compromised.
You can find out more about SpamTitan and WebTitan by contacting TitanHQ.
The last weekend of 2018 has seen a major newspaper cyberattack in the United States that has disrupted production of several newspapers produced by Tribune Publishing.
The attacks were malware-related and affected the Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others. The malware attack occurred on Thursday, December 27, and caused major problems throughout Friday.
All of the affected newspapers shared the same production platform, which was disrupted by the malware infection. While the type of malware used in the attack has not been publicly confirmed, several insiders at the Tribune have reported that the attack involved Ryuk ransomware.
Ransomware is a form of malware that encrypts critical files preventing them from being accessed. The primary goal of attackers is usually to obtain ransom payments in exchange for the keys to decrypt the encrypted files. It is also common for ransomware to be deployed after network access has been gained and sensitive information has been stolen, either to mask a data breach or in an attempt to make an attack even more profitable. It is also not unknown for ransomware attacks to be conducted to cause disruption. It is suspected that this newspaper cyberattack was conducted primarily to disable infrastructure.
The type of ransomware used in an attack is usually easy to identify. After encrypting files, ransomware changes file extensions to an (often) unique extension. In the case of Ryuk ransomware, extensions are changed to .ryk.
The Los Angeles Times has attributed it to threat actors based outside the United States, although it is unclear which group was behind the cyberattacks. If the attack was conducted to disable infrastructure it is probable that this was a nation-state sponsored attack.
The first Ryuk ransomware cyberattacks occurred in August. Three U.S. companies were attacked, and the attackers were paid at least $640,000 for the keys to unlock the data. An analysis of the ransomware revealed it shared code with Hermes malware, which had previously been linked to the Lazarus Group – An APT group with links to North Korea.
While many ransomware campaigns used mass spamming tactics to distribute the ransomware and infect as many end users as possible, the Ryuk ransomware attacks were much more targeted and involved considerable reconnaissance and extensive network mapping before the ransomware is finally deployed. As is the case with SamSam ransomware attacks, the campaign is conducted manually.
Several methods are used to gain access to networks, although earlier this year a warning about Ryuk ransomware was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services claiming email to be one of the main attack vectors, highlighting the importance of email security and end user training to help employees recognize email-based threats.
There are many costs associated with cyberattacks and data breaches, but one of the hardest to quantify is damage to a brand. Brand damage following a data breach is one of the most serious issues, and one that money cannot easily resolve.
Businesses can invest in cybersecurity solutions to prevent further security breaches, but when customers lose trust in a brand, they will simply take their business elsewhere. Winning customers back can be a long process. In many cases, once trust in a brand is lost, customers will leave and never return.
Consumers Expect Businesses to Protect Their Personal Data
If a company asks consumers to provide them with personal data, it is essential that steps are taken to ensure that information remains private and confidential. Consumers believe that any company that collects personal data has an obligation to protect it. A Ponemon Institute study in 2017 confirmed that to be the case. 71% of consumers believed companies that collect personal data have a responsibility to protect it. When a cyberattack occurs that results in the exposure or theft of personal data, consumers are naturally angry at a company for failing to take sufficient precautions to keep their data private.
The same survey revealed that following a data breach, two thirds of consumers lost trust in the breached company and almost a third of consumers said they had terminated their relationship with a brand following a data breach. Companies that were surveyed reported customer churn rates increased up to 7% following a breach. Another study suggests customer loss is more severe and up to 20% of customers have switched brands after their personal information was stolen from a company they did business with. A 2017 study by Gemalto suggests those figures are very conservative. The Gemalto study suggested 70% of customers would switch brands following a data breach.
Loss of Trust in a Brand can have Catastrophic Consequences
Large businesses may be able to weather the storm and regain customer trust over time, but smaller businesses can really struggle. On top of the considerable costs of mitigating a data breach, a loss of anywhere between 20% and 70% of customers would likely be the final nail in the coffin. Loss of customer trust is part of the reason why 60% of SMBs fold within 6 months of a data breach (National Cyber Security Alliance).
Blocking cyberattacks and preventing data breaches requires investment in cybersecurity solutions. Naturally, an advanced firewall is required, and solutions should be introduced to block the most common attack vectors – email for instance – but one area of cybersecurity that is often overlooked is WiFi filtering. WiFi filtering and protecting your brand go hand in hand.
WiFi Filtering and Protecting your Brand
The importance of WiFi Filtering for protecting your brand should not be underestimated. Implementing a web filtering solution shows your customers that you care about security and want to ensure they are protected when they access the Internet through your WiFi network. By implementing a WiFi filter you can prevent customers from downloading malware and ransomware and stop them from connecting to phishing websites.
A WiFi filter can also prevent users from accessing illegal content on your WiFi network. There have been cases of businesses having Internet access terminated by their ISPs over illegal online activity by users – the accessing of banned web content or copyright infringing downloads for instance.
One of the most important uses of a WiFi filter is to prevent users from accessing unacceptable content such as pornography. There is growing pressure on businesses to prevent adult content from being accessed on WiFi networks that are used by customers. McDonalds decided to implement a WiFi filter in 2016 following campaigns by consumers to make its access points family-friendly and in 2018 Starbucks was pressured into doing the same. The coffee shop chain will finally start filtering the internet on its WiFi networks in 2019.
A WiFi filter will also prevent employees from visiting malicious websites and downloading malware that gives criminals access to your internal networks and customer data, thus preventing costly, reputation damaging data breaches.
Businesses that fail to block web-based attacks are taking a major risk, and an unnecessary one considering the low cost of WiFi filtering.
For further information on WiFi Filtering and protecting your brand, contact the TitanHQ team today. Our cybersecurity experts will explain how WebTitan can protect your business and will be happy to schedule a product demonstration and help you set up a free trial of WebTitan to evaluate the solution in your own environment.
A major San Diego School District phishing attack has been discovered. The phishing attack stands out from the many similar phishing attacks on schools due to the extent of accounts that were compromised, the amount of data that was potentially obtained, and the length of time it took for the data breach to be detected.
According to a recent breach announcement, the login credentials of around 50 district employees were obtained by the attacker. It is not unusual for multiple accounts to be breached in school phishing attacks. Once access is gained to one account, it can be used to send internal phishing emails to other staff members. Since those emails come from within, they are more likely to be trusted and less likely to be detected. Investigations into similar phishing attacks often reveal many more email accounts have been compromised than was initially thought, although 50 sets of compromised credentials is particularly high.
Those accounts were compromised over a period of 11 months. The San Diego School District phishing attack was first detected in October 2018 after staff alerted the district’s IT department to phishing emails that had been received. Multiple reports tipped off the IT department that an ongoing cyberattack was occurring and there may have been a data breach.
The investigation revealed the credentials obtained by the attacker provided access to the district’s network services, which included access to the district’s database of staff and student records. The school district is the second largest in California and serves over 121,000 students each year. The database contained records going back to the 2008/2009 school year. In total, the records of more than 500,000 individuals were potentially obtained by the hacker. Given the length of time that the hacker had access to the network, data theft is highly probable.
The data potentially obtained was considerable. Student information compromised included names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, email addresses, enrollment and attendance information, discipline incident information, health data, legal notices on file, state student ID numbers, emergency contact information, and Social Security numbers. Compromised staff information also included salary information, health benefits data, paychecks and pay advices, tax data, and details of bank accounts used for direct deposits.
Data could be accessed from January 2018 to November 2018. While it is typical for unauthorized access to be immediately blocked upon discovery of a breach, in this case the investigation into the breach was conducted prior to shutting down access. This allowed the identity of the suspected hacker to be determined without tipping off the hacker that the breach had been detected. The investigation into the breach is ongoing, although access has now been blocked and affected individuals have been notified. Additional cybersecurity controls have now been implemented to block future attacks.
School district phishing attacks are commonplace. School districts often lack the resources of large businesses to devote to cybersecurity. Consequently, cyberattacks on school districts are much easier to pull off. Schools also store large volumes of sensitive data of staff and students, which can be used for a wide range of malicious purposes. The relative ease of attacks and a potential big payday for hackers and phishers make schools an attractive target.
The San Diego School District phishing attack is just one of many such attacks that have been reported this year. During tax season at the start of 2018, many school districts were targeted by phishers seeking the W-2 forms of employees. It is a similar story every year, although the threat actors behind these W-2 phishing attacks have been more active in the past two years.
In December this year, Cape Cod Community College suffered a different type of phishing attack. The aim of that attack was to convince staff to make fraudulent wire transfers. At least $800,000 was transferred to the attackers’ accounts in that attack.
These attacks clearly demonstrate the seriousness of the threat of phishing attacks on school districts and highlights the importance of implementing robust cybersecurity protections to protect against phishing.
If you want to improve your defenses against phishing, contact the TitanHQ team today for further information on anti-phishing solutions for schools.
According to a recent Irish phishing study, as many as 185,000 office workers in the country have fallen victim to phishing scams.
Phishing is a method used by cybercriminals to obtain sensitive information such as login credentials, financial information, and other sensitive data. While phishing can take place over the phone, via messaging platforms or by text message, email is most commonly used.
Messages are sent in bulk in the hope that some individuals will respond, or campaigns can be much more targeted. The latter is referred to as spear phishing. With spear phishing attacks, cybercriminals often research their victims and tailor messages to maximize the probability of them eliciting a response.
A successful phishing attack on employees can see them disclose their email credentials which allows their accounts to be accessed. Then the attackers can search emails accounts for sensitive information or use the accounts to conduct further phishing attacks on other employees. When financial information is disclosed, business bank accounts can be emptied.
Businesses can suffer major financial losses as a result of employees responding to phishing emails, the reputation of the business can be damaged, customers can be lost, and there is also a risk of major regulatory fines.
Irish Phishing Study Findings
The Irish phishing study was conducted on 500 Irish office workers by the survey consultancy firm Censuswide. Respondents to the Irish phishing study were asked questions about phishing, whether they had fallen for a phishing scam in the past, and how they rated their ability to identify phishing attacks.
In line with findings from surveys conducted in other countries, 14% of respondents said they had been a victim of a phishing attack. There were also marked differences between different age groups. Censuswide analyzed three age groups: Millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. The latter two age groups were fairly resistant to phishing attempts. Gen X were the most phishing-savvy, with just 6% of respondents in the age group admitting to having been fooled by phishing emails in the past, closely followed by the baby boomer generation on 7%. However, 17% of millennials admitted having fallen for a phishing scam – The generation that should, in theory, be the most tech-savvy.
Interestingly, millennials were also the most confident in their ability to recognize phishing attempts. 14% of millennials said they would not be certain that they could detect fraud, compared to 17% of Gen X, and 26% of baby boomers.
It is easy to be confident about one’s ability to spot standard phishing attempts, but phishing attacks are becoming much more sophisticated and very realistic. Complacency can be very dangerous.
Phishing Protection for Businesses
The results of the Irish phishing study make it clear that businesses need to do more to protect themselves from phishing attacks. Naturally, an advanced spam filtering solution is required to ensure that employees do not have their phishing email identification skills put to the test constantly. SpamTitan, for instance, blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails, thus reducing reliance on employees’ ability to identify scam emails.
The Irish phishing study also highlights the importance of providing security awareness training to employees. The study revealed 44% of the over 54 age group had opened an attachment or clicked on a link in an email from an unknown sender, as had 34% of millennials and 26% of the Gen X age group. Alarmingly, one in five respondents said that their employer had not provided any security awareness training whatsoever.
Employees need to learn how to identify scams, so security awareness training must be provided. Since cybercriminals’ tactics are constantly evolving, training needs to be continuous. Annual or biannual training sessions should be provided, along with shorter refresher training sessions. Businesses should also consider conducting phishing email simulations to test resilience to phishing attacks and highlight weak links.
To be effective, anti-phishing training needs to be provided to all employees and requires buy-in from all departments. Unless that happens, it will be difficult to develop a culture of security awareness.
In this post we offer four simple steps to take to improve Office 365 security and make it harder for hackers and phishers to gain access to users’ accounts.
Hackers are Targeting Office 365 Accounts
It should come as no surprise to hear that hackers are targeting Office 365 accounts. Any software package that has 155 million global users is going to be a target for hackers, and with the number of users growing by an astonishing 3 million a month, Office 365 accounts are likely to be attacked even more frequently.
One study this year has confirmed that to be the case. There has been a 13% increase in attempts to hack into Office 365 email accounts this year, and many of those attacks succeed. You should therefore take steps to improve Office 365 security.
Hackers themselves are paying for Office 365 and are probing its security protections to find vulnerabilities that can be exploited. They also test their phishing emails on real office 365 accounts to find out which ones bypass Microsoft’s anti-phishing protections.
When emails have been developed that bypass Microsoft’s anti-phishing protections, mass email campaigns are launched on Office 365 users. Businesses using Office 365 can easily be found and targeted because it is made clear that they use Office 365 through public DNS MX records.
So how can you improve office 365 security and make it harder for hackers? If you take the four steps below, you will be able to greatly improve Office 365 security and thwart more attacks.
Enforce the Use of Strong Passwords
Hackers often conduct brute force attacks on Office 365 email accounts so you need to develop a strong password policy and prevent users from setting passwords that are easy to brute force. You should not allow dictionary words or any commonly used weak passwords, that otherwise meet your password policy requirements – Password1! for instance.
The minimum length for a password should be 8 characters but consider increasing that minimum. A password of between 12 and 15 characters is recommended. Make sure you do not set a too restrictive maximum number of characters to encourage the use of longer passphrases. Passphrases are harder to crack than 8-digit passwords and easier for users to remember. To make it even easier for your users, consider using a password manager.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
Even with strong passwords, some users’ passwords may be guessed, or users may respond to phishing emails and disclose their password to a scammer. An additional login control is therefore required to prevent compromised passwords from being used to access Office 365 accounts.
Multi-factor authentication is not infallible, but it will help you improve Office 365 security. With MFA, in addition to a password, another method of authentication is required such as a token or a code sent to a mobile phone. If a password is obtained by a hacker, and an attempt is made to login from a new location or device, further authentication will be required to access the account.
Enable Mailbox Auditing in Office 365
Mailbox auditing in Office 365 is not turned on by default so it needs to be enabled. You can set various parameters for logging activity including successful login attempts and various mailbox activities. This can help you identify whether a mailbox has been compromised. You can also logs failed login attempts to help you identify when you are being attacked.
Improve Office 365 Security with a Third-Party Spam Filter
As previously mentioned, hackers can test their phishing emails to find out if they bypass Office 365 anti-phishing controls and your organization can be identified as using Office 365. To improve Office 365 security and reduce the number of phishing emails that are delivered to end users’ inboxes, consider implementing a third-party spam filter rather than relying on Microsoft’s anti-phishing controls. Dedicated email security vendors, such as TitanHQ, offer more effective and more flexible anti-spam and anti-phishing solutions than Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection at a lower cost.
A U.S. school system had Office 365 spam filtering controls in place and other cybersecurity solutions installed, but still experienced a costly 6-week malware infection. In this post we explore what went wrong and how you can improve security in your organization.
Multi-Layered Defenses Breached
If you want to mount a solid defense and prevent hackers from gaining access to your networks and data, multi-layered cybersecurity defenses are required, but for one Georgia school district that was not enough. On paper, their defenses looked sound. Office 365 spam filtering controls had been applied to protect the email system, the school district had a firewall appliance protecting the network, and a web filter had been installed to control what users could do online. Endpoint security had also been installed.
The school district was also updating its desktops to Windows 10 and its servers to Windows Server 2012 or later. Everything looked nice and secure.
However, the transportation department delayed the upgrades. The department was still sharing files on a local Windows 2003 server and some of the desktops were still running Windows XP, even though support for the OS had long since ended. The outdated software and lack of patching was exploited by the attackers.
How Was the Malware Installed?
The investigation has not yet determined exactly how the attack was initiated, but it is believed that it all started with an email. As a result of the actions of an end user, a chain of events was triggered that resulted in a 6-week struggle to mitigate the attack, the cost of which – in terms of time and resources – was considerable.
The attack is believed to have started on a Windows XP machine with SMBv1 enabled. That device had drives mapped to the Windows 2003 server. The malware that was installed was the Emotet Trojan, which used the EternalBlue exploit to spread across the network to other vulnerable devices. The attackers were able to gain control of those devices and installed cryptocurrency mining malware.
The cryptocurrency mining slowed the devices to such an extent that they were virtually unusable, causing many to continually crash and reboot. The network also slowed to a snail’s pace due to the streams of malicious traffic. While the upgraded Windows 10 machines were not affected initially, the attackers subsequently downloaded keyloggers onto the compromised devices and obtained the credentials of an IT support technician who had domain administration rights. The attackers then used those privileges to disable Windows Defender updates on desktops, servers, and domain controllers.
Over the course of a week, further Trojan modules were downloaded by creating scheduled tasks using the credentials of the IT support worker. A spam module was used to send malicious messages throughout the school district and several email accounts were compromised as a result and had malware downloaded. Other devices were infected through network shares. The TrickBot banking Trojan was downloaded and was used to attack the systems used by the finance department, although that Trojan was detected and blocked.
Remediation Took 6 Weeks
Remediating the attack was complicated. First the IT department disabled SMBv1 on all devices as it was not known what devices were vulnerable. Via a Windows Group Policy, the IT team then blocked the creation of scheduled tasks. Every device on the network had Windows Defender updates downloaded manually, and via autoruns for Windows, all processes and files run by the Trojan were deleted. The whole process of identifying, containing, and disabling the malware took 6 weeks.
The attack was made possible through an attack on a single user, although it was the continued use of unsupported operating systems and software that made the malware attack so severe.
The attack shows why it is crucial to ensure that IT best practices are followed and why patching is so important. For that to happen, the IT department needs to have a complete inventory of all devices and needs to make sure that each one is updated.
While Microsoft released a patch to correct the flaw in SMBv1 that was exploited through EternalBlue, the vulnerable Windows XP devices were not updated, even though Microsoft had released an update for the unsupported operating system in the spring of 2017.
Additional Protection is Required for Office 365 Inboxes
The attack also shows how the actions of a single user can have grave repercussions. By blocking malicious emails at source, attacks such as this will be much harder to pull off. While Office 365 spam filtering controls block many email-based threats, even with Microsoft’s Advanced Threat Protection many emails slip through and are delivered to inboxes.
Hackers can also see whether Office 365 is being used as it is broadcast through DNS MX records, which allows them to target Office 365 users and launch attacks.
Due to the additional cost of APT, the lack of flexibility, and the volume of malicious emails that are still delivered to inboxes, many businesses have chosen to implement a more powerful spam filtering solution on top of Office 365.
One such solution that has been developed to work seamlessly with Office 365 to improve protection against email threats is SpamTitan.