Our news section dedicated to cybersecurity advice is regularly updated with news about the latest online threats and most recently-discovered security vulnerabilities – and advice on how to deal with them.
MSPs will particularly find our cybersecurity advice security of value, as it addresses many of the online security issues that clients may have heard about and developed concerns about their own cybersecurity defenses.
MSPs can reassure clients that the risk of systems and networks being infected by an online threat – or security vulnerabilities in their software being exploited by a hacker – can be nullified with a web filtering solution from TitanHQ.
Over the past 12 months the number of successful ransomware attacks has increased sharply. Many attacks have been headline news due to the disruption they have caused and the high cost of remediation. The healthcare industry in the United States has been targeted, with the attacks disrupting patient care and putting patient safety at risk. Recently there was an attack on Colonial Pipeline that resulted in the shutdown of a main fuel pipeline serving the East Coast of the United States, while JBS suffered an attack that threatened food production at its U.S. plants.
Ransom payments have also increased and threat actors are stealing data prior to encrypting files to increase the pressure on victims to pay up. Regardless of whether the ransom is paid, the recovery process is slow. Many victims have suffered disruption to business operations for several months and businesses have been forced to permanently close after an attack due to the high costs of recovery.
Ransomware gangs have conducted highly sophisticated attacks but in the most part they have exploited vulnerabilities in security defenses that should not have existed. Most attacks exploit weaknesses that could have been easily addressed had network security best practices been followed. So what mistakes are businesses making that leaves them vulnerable to ransomware attacks?
Security Mistakes That Make Life Easy for Ransomware Gangs
In order for ransomware gangs to conduct a successful attack they must first gain access to the business network by exploiting security vulnerabilities.
While there are many possible attack vectors, the most common is phishing. A phishing campaign is conducted with one of two aims: To steal credentials that allow perimeter defenses to be bypassed, or to install malware that gives the attackers persistent access to the network.
With credential theft, the aim is to obtain credentials of an individual with high-level privileges such as the CEO. With high privileges, an attacker can easily gain persistent access to the network and move laterally. Alternatively, campaigns can be conducted to target lower-level employees and trick them into installing malware.
Most businesses have implemented a spam filter to block malicious messages, but many rely on default Office 365 spam filters, which do not offer a high enough level of protection. Implementing an advanced AI-based spam filter with sandboxing will improve protection.
Stolen credentials allow an attacker to access network resources, but not if multi-factor authentication has been implemented. While not infallible, multi-factor authentication will prevent attackers from using stolen credentials to gain access to networks in the vast majority of cases.
Anti-spam solutions and multi-factor authentication will provide protection from email attacks, but ransomware and other malware is often downloaded via the internet. By implementing a web filtering solution, employees can be prevented from visiting malicious websites and malware downloads can be blocked. Many businesses fail to protect against the web-based component of attacks.
Security Awareness Training
Many businesses rely on technical measures to block threats and neglect the human element. Attacks often target employees, so it is important for security awareness training to be provided and for regular refresher sessions to be conducted to reinforce training. Without training, employees cannot be expected to recognize and avoid threats.
Patching and Software Updates
Vulnerabilities in software, firmware, and operating systems are often exploited. Prompt patching is therefore important. It can be difficult to stay on top of patches and security updates, so patching should be prioritized. Many ransomware attacks have succeeded by exploiting years-old vulnerabilities. If vulnerabilities are not addressed, it will only be a matter of time before they are exploited.
Brute force tactics to guess weak passwords are often effective. As well as creating password policies that require all default passwords to be changed and strong passwords to be set, those policies must be enforced. Provide employees with tools to make creating strong passwords easier, such as providing them with a password management solution.
In the event of an attack, it is vital that damage is limited. Network segmentation is important in this regard. If an attacker bypasses the perimeter defenses, they should not be able to access the entire network. Segmenting the network will limit the potential for lateral movement and minimize the damage that can be caused.
Incident Response Plan
Businesses that have prepared for the worst and have developed and tested an incident response plan will recover much faster and will be able to limit the harm caused. Importantly, the business will be able to continue to operate while the attack is remediated.
Many businesses mistakenly believe that having backups will allow them to recover quickly in the event of an attack when that is often not the case. Regular backups must be created, and those backups must be tested to make sure file recovery is possible and data have not been corrupted. One copy of a backup must also be stored on an isolated system or device that cannot be accessed from the network where the data resides.
By addressing these common security mistakes, ransomware gangs will find it much harder to breach defenses.
The best place to start is by speaking to TitanHQ’s security experts about implementing cybersecurity solutions to block the most common attack vectors. Give the TitanHQ team a call today and take the first step toward improving your security posture against ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks.
The pandemic forced businesses to adopt different working practices. Rather than having employees working from the office, restrictions introduced to combat COVID-19 meant businesses had to allow their employees to work from home. Protecting business networks when virtually all workers are accessing those networks remotely was a major challenge and it was inevitable that vulnerabilities would be introduced that could potentially be exploited by threat actors.
Those vulnerabilities were exploited, with cybercriminals and APT groups targeting at-home workers mostly by exploiting vulnerabilities in remote access systems and through phishing attacks to obtain credentials to allow networks to be accessed. While these attacks had many different goals, one of the most common was to encrypt files using ransomware to prevent them from being accessed, usually with data theft prior to file encryption.
According to Osterman Research, the three main priorities for cybersecurity in 2021 are protecting endpoints, educating users about ransomware and stopping them becoming victims of attacks, and protecting backups from ransomware. The fact that two of the three main priorities are related to ransomware show just how serious the threat has become.
Protecting endpoints requires a combination of cybersecurity solutions, one of the most important being an advanced email security solution. Email is the attack vector of choice in cyberattacks and is commonly the initial attack vector in ransomware attacks. Phishing campaigns are easy to conduct and they target the weakest link in cybersecurity – employees. Further, with many employees working from home, phishing has become even easier. Studies have shown at-home employees have been taking security shortcuts, with many also admitting to clicking links in phishing emails and opening potentially malicious email attachments. When errors such as this are made, many employees fail to report the matter to their IT department out of fear of reprisals.
Cybersecurity training is important to teach and reinforce cyber hygiene best practices and raise awareness of the threat from ransomware. If employees are not taught how to identify phishing emails and ransomware, they cannot be expected to avoid those threats. With training, susceptibility to phishing can be greatly reduced. However, even with training employees will make mistakes and will fail to recognize every threat.
A recent study conducted by Osterman Research and TitanHQ looked into the main cybersecurity threats faced by security professionals in 2021. The biggest threats were found to be business email compromise (BEC) attacks that tricked employees, phishing messages that result in malware infections, and phishing messages that result in account compromises. The latter is usually the first step in a BEC attack. 85% of interviewed organizations said they had experienced at least one security incident in the past 12 months, and while security professionals were aware of the dangers of phishing and ransomware attacks, only 37% rated their defenses as highly effective.
Due to the lack of confidence in defenses against phishing and ransomware attacks identified by the study, TitanHQ and Osterman Research are hosting a webinar in which attendees will discover the most effective mitigations against phishing and ransomware attacks and will learn best practices they need to adopt to avoid those threats.
Webinar attendees will also learn about the full findings of the in-depth cybersecurity study into the rising threat from phishing and ransomware and how risk can be reduced to a low and acceptable level.
The webinar will be taking place on June 30, 2021:
How to Reduce the Risk of Phishing and Ransomware Attacks
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. BST
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST
The webinar will be conducted by Michael Sampson, Senior Analyst at Osterman Research and Sean Morris, Chief Technology Officer at TitanHQ.
It has been a particularly bad year for ransomware attacks on businesses. Many of the attacked businesses have been unprepared for a ransomware attack and did not implement sufficient ransomware mitigations. Had proactive steps been taken, many of the attacks could have been prevented.
Recently, the DarkSide ransomware operation attacked a critical infrastructure firm and brought fuel delivery to the Eastern Seaboard in the United States to a halt. The fuel pipelines that delivered 45% of the fuel required by the U.S. East Coast were shut down for 5 days due to the attack. Better preparation and more extensive ransomware mitigations could have prevented the attack or at least hastened recovery. The company could also have avoided the $5 million ransom payment and major losses from disruption to operations.
The DarkSide ransomware gang had also attacked the second largest chemical distribution firm in the United States earlier in May, again causing major disruption to operations. In that case, a ransom of around $4.4 million was paid to the gang for the keys to unlock files and to prevent the release of sensitive business data stolen in the attack. The ransom payment was negotiated down from $7.5 million, and as part of that negotiation and payment process, the attacker provided details about how network access was gained. The attacker had purchased stolen credentials from another threat actor. The DarkSide ransomware affiliate also provided some useful advice – Improve your antivirus software and implement multi-factor authentication. These are two important ransomware mitigations that could well have stopped the attack dead.
These are just two examples of recent attacks by one ransomware gang. There are currently more than 17 ransomware gangs that steal data prior to encrypting files and many more that simply encrypt files and demand a ransom for the keys to unlock the encryption. The threat from ransomware also continues to grow. The Verizon 2021 Data Breach investigations Report shows ransomware attacks increased by 6% in 2020 an accounted for 10% of all data breaches.
Ransomware gangs, and their affiliates that conduct the attacks, use a range of different method to get the network access they need. Vulnerabilities in software and operating systems are exploited, and attacks are conducted on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and remote access solutions such as VPNs. Phishing is commonly used to steal credentials that provide access to accounts, malware such as remote access Trojans are used to gain access to networks, along with several other tactics. Consequently, there is no single cybersecurity measure that can be implemented to block these attacks. Multiple ransomware mitigations are required to block each of the attack vectors.
Ransomware Mitigations to Prevent Attacks and Ensure a Fast Recovery
There are several ransomware mitigations that can be implemented to reduce the risk of ransomware attacks and limit the severity of an attack should a network be compromised.
Implement a robust spam filter – A robust spam filter will block phishing attacks and malware delivered via email. Phishing is one of the most common methods of gaining access to networks.
Implement multi-factor authentication – Stolen credentials, including those obtained in phishing attacks, allow ransomware actors to access networks. Multi-factor authentication is an effective measure for preventing stolen credentials from being used.
Conduct end user security awareness training – Ensure employees know how to identify phishing emails and are taught cybersecurity best practices and discourage risky behavior.
Filter network traffic with a web filter – Implement a web filter to block access to malicious websites and prevent communications with known malicious IP addresses.
Purchase top-grade AV software – Implement an advanced anti-virus solution, ensure it is set to update automatically, and conduct regular scans of all IT assets for malware.
Patch promptly and update software – Prompt patching is important to prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities. Prioritize patching to address the most critical vulnerabilities first. Most vulnerabilities exploited in attacks are months old, yet patches were not applied. Also ensure software and operating systems are updated regularly.
Restrict access to network resources – Apply the principle of least privilege and severely limit administrative access and the ability to install and execute programs.
Restrict or block Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) – Assess whether RDP is required and block if possible. If needed, ensure originating sources are restricted and implement multi-factor authentication.
Disable macro scripts in Office files – Disable Office macros on all computers unless there is a business need for allowing them. Open Office files sent via email using Office Viewer software rather than the full Office application.
Use application allowlisting – Only permit applications and systems to execute programs allowed by your security policy. Block the execution of programs from commonly used ransomware locations such as temporary folders and the LocalAppData folder.
Implement a strong backup policy – Ensure backups of critical data are regularly created and tested to ensure file recovery is possible. Store a copy of the backup in a secure offline location.
Implement network segmentation – In the event of an attack, it is important that the attackers cannot access all systems and networks. Use network segmentation to limit the harm that can be caused.
Block inbound connections from Cobalt Strike servers – Also block the use of other post-exploitation tools as far as is possible.
Block inbound connections from anonymization services – Block access from Tor and other anonymization services to IP addresses and ports where external connections are not expected or necessary.
The disruption to learning from a pandemic that has lasted more than a year is bad enough, but many schools have experienced even more disruption just as many have opened their gates and allowed students back into classrooms. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may have been brought under control thanks to lockdown measures and the rollout of vaccines, but another type of virus is proving to be a major threat – ransomware.
FBI Warns of Targeted Ransomware Attacks on K12 Schools and Higher Education
Ransomware attacks on schools have been stepped up in recent months and schools and higher education institutions are being actively targeted. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently issued an alert to the education sector warning about the threat of attacks involving Pysa ransomware. The threat actors behind this ransomware variant have been actively targeting K12 schools, higher education, and seminaries. Buffalo City Schools were forced to close their schools in March following a ransomware attack that crippled their IT systems, just before students were about to return to classrooms as part of a phased reopening of schools.
The ransomware is deployed manually after compromising the network. The attack often starts with a phishing email, which gives the attackers the foothold in the network they need. They then conduct reconnaissance, move laterally, and compromise entire networks before deploying their ransomware.
Prior to running the encryption routine that cripple IT systems, the attackers steal sensitive data. Files containing student information are obtained and threats are issued to publish or sell the stolen data if the ransom is not paid. The gang, like many others, has a leak site and routinely follows through on the threat.
Spike in Ransomware Attacks on UK Schools
Ransomware attacks on schools are not confined to the United States. The Pysa ransomware gang is also targeting schools in the United Kingdom and many other countries, and the Pysa gang is not alone. Many other ransomware operations have been attacking schools.
Following a rise in ransomware attacks on UK schools, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued an alert to educational institutions about the growing threat of attacks. NCSC has observed an increase in ransomware attacks on schools from late February 2021, which coincides with students returning to classrooms after an extensive period of school closures due to the pandemic.
The NCSC said there is no reason to believe that these attacks are being conducted by the same criminal group. This appears to be the work of multiple threat groups. These attacks have caused varying levels of disruption, including rendering entire networks inoperable, disabling email and websites, and hampering the ability of students to learn. In some cases, students have lost coursework as a result of the attacks, records of COVID-19 tests have been rendered inaccessible, and school financial records have been lost.
Unfortunately, even paying the ransom is no guarantee of being able to recover encrypted files. While the attackers claim they have the keys to unlock the encryption, they may not be provided. There is also no guarantee that stolen data will be deleted when the ransom is paid. There have been many cases when further ransom demands have been issued after payment has been made.
Adopt a Defense in Depth Strategy to Block Ransomware Attacks
The Department for Education (DfE) has recently urged UK schools to review their cybersecurity defenses and take the necessary steps to harden their defenses against cyberattacks. The NCSC explained that there is no single cybersecurity solution that will provide protection against these attacks. What is required is a defense in depth approach to security.
Defense in depth means implementing multiple overlapping layers of security. If one layer fails to block an attack, others are in place to block the attack.
In practice this means good patch management – applying updates to software, firmware, and operating systems promptly. Antivirus software must be installed on all devices and be kept up to date. Spam filtering solutions should be implemented to block the phishing emails that give the attackers access to the network. These filters can also be used to block email attachments that are not typically received.
Web filters should be used to block access to malicious websites. These filters inspect the content of websites to determine if it is malicious. They also categorize web content, and the filters allow schools to carefully control the types of content that students and staff can access to reduce risk.
Multi factor authentication should be implemented on all remote access points and email accounts, remote access ports that are not being used should be blocked, and a VPN should be used for remote access. The rule of least privilege should be applied for remote access and all staff and student accounts.
It is also recommended to prevent all non-administrator accounts from being able to install software, office macros should be disabled, as should autorun on portable devices.
It is also vital that all files are backed up daily and backups tested to make sure file recovery is possible. Backups should be stored on non-networked devices and must not be accessible from the systems where the data resides. Ideally, multiple backup copies should be created with at least one stored on an air-gaped device.
CLOP Ransomware is a fairly new ransomware variant that first emerged in early 2019, when it started to be used in attacks on large enterprises in the United States, Germany, Mexico, India, and Turkey. The number of attacks has been steadily increasing, with a major increase in attacks identified in October 2020. Since then, the ransomware has been used in many attacks on large enterprises and the ransom demands are often huge. An attack on the software company Software AG saw a ransom demand issued for $20 million.
As is the case with well over a dozen of the most prolific ransomware operations, the CLOP ransomware gang exfiltrates data prior to encrypting files. If victims have a valid backup and try to recover their encrypted files without paying the ransom, the group will leak stolen data on the darkweb making it available to other cybercriminal operations. The media are tipped off to the data dumps, and the subsequent coverage can result in companies suffering serious reputational damage. In recent months there have been many class action lawsuits filed following ransomware attacks where stolen data has been leaked online.
CLOP ransomware is believed to be operated by a threat group known as FIN11, which is an arm of a prolific Russian cybercriminal organization known as TA505. FIN11 has targeted many different industries, although recently manufacturing, healthcare and retail have been a major focus. When attacks are conducted on organizations and companies in these sectors, the losses from downtime can be considerable, which increases the likelihood of victims paying the ransom. One attack on the South Korean retailer E-Land saw 23 of its stores close when they were unable to access their IT systems. An attack on the German manufacturer Symrise AG rendered more than 1,000 computers inoperable, causing huge losses as manufacturing was halted. Attacks on the healthcare industry mean patient records cannot be accessed, which places patient safety at risk.
Many ransomware gangs have exploited weaknesses in Remote Desktop Protocol, VPN solutions, and vulnerabilities in software and operating systems to gain they access they need to internal networks to deploy ransomware. However, the initial attack vector in CLOP ransomware attacks (and also many other ransomware variants) is spam email. Large scale spam campaigns are conducted, often targeting certain industry sectors or geographical locations. These are referred to as “spray and pray” campaigns. The aim is to gain access to as many networks as possible. The ransomware gang can then pick and choose which companies are worthwhile attacking with ransomware.
Once CLOP ransomware is installed, detection can be difficult as the threat group has programmed the ransomware to disable antivirus software such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. The key to blocking attacks is to stop the initial infection, which means preventing the spam emails from reaching inboxes where they can be opened by employees.
Blocking the attacks requires an advanced spam filtering solution with robust antivirus protections. SpamTitan, for instance, uses dual antivirus engines to catch known malware variants and sandboxing to identify malicious attachments containing previously unknown malware, ransomware, or malicious scripts. Machine learning techniques are also employed to identify emerging threats in real time.
The spam emails used in these campaigns try to obtain credentials such Office 365 logins and passwords or get users to download malware downloaders. Additional protection against this phase of the attack can be provided by a web filter such as WebTitan. WebTitan blocks the phishing component of these attacks by preventing these malicious URLs from being accessed by employees, as well as blocking downloads of malware from the Internet.
Staff training is also important to help employees recognize phishing emails and multi-factor authentication should be implemented to prevent stolen credentials from being used to access email accounts and cloud apps.
If you want to improve your security defenses against ransomware, malware and phishing attacks, give the TitanHQ team a call and ask about SpamTitan and WebTitan. Both solutions are available on a free trial to allow you to see for yourself how effective they are at blocking threats and how easy the are to implement and use.
The COVID-19 pandemic created many new opportunities for cybercriminals who were all too happy to take advantage. In 2020, businesses had to rapidly change their working practices to deal with national lockdowns and changed to a more distributed, remote workforce. In response, cybercriminals stepped up phishing attacks to obtain credentials to email accounts, VPNs, and remote access solutions.
The increase in email threats and phishing activity was recently highlighted by the Anti-Phishing Working Group which has been gathering data on phishing attacks from its member organizations throughout the year. Its latest report shows phishing attacks doubled in 2020, peaking in October 2020 when previous records were shattered. In October, 225,304 new phishing sites were detected, compared with under 100,000 in January 2020. From August to December 2020, more than 200,000 new phishing sites were detected each month.
Links to these phishing websites are sent in large scale phishing campaigns and many of the messages land in inboxes where they attract a click. The pandemic made that much easier for cybercriminals who expertly exploited the thirst for knowledge about COVID-19 to conduct their scams. As the year progressed other COVID-19 themed lures were used including COVID-19 relief payments for businesses, offers of early vaccines, small business loans, tax deadline extensions, and many more.
Cybercriminals often use compromised websites for hosting their phishing forms, but it is now much more common for the attackers to purchase their own domains that are tailored for each phishing campaign. These lookalike domains can easily fool individuals into believing they are on a legitimate website.
Cybercriminals have also been using encryption to hide their phishing URLs and fool employees. Hosting phishing URLs on HTTPS sites can fool employees into believing the web content is genuine, and many security solutions do not examine encrypted content which makes the URLs hard to identify and block. In Q4, 2020, 84% of phishing URLs used SSL encryption.
The increase in use of SSL encryption is a concern, as many people mistakenly believe that a site starting with HTTPS is secure when that is not the case. SSL inspection means the connection between the browser and the website is secure, which means users are protected against the interception of sensitive information, but a cybercriminal may own or control that website. The secure connection just means other cybercriminals will not be able to intercept login credentials as they are entered on a phishing site.
The problem for businesses has been how to block these threats as they grow in number and sophistication. Many businesses have previously relied on Office 365 anti-spam protections for blocking spam and phishing threats, but large volumes of these malicious emails are delivered to Office 365 inboxes. When that happens and a malicious link is clicked, they have no way of stopping employees from disclosing sensitive information.
One way that businesses can better protect against these phishing attacks is by implementing a web filtering solution with SSL inspection. WebTitan for instance can decrypt websites, inspect the content, and then re-encrypt which means malicious websites are not hidden and can be identified and blocked.
WebTitan also incorporates multiple threat intelligent feeds to ensure that as soon as a phishing URL is detected, all WebTitan users will be immediately protected. WebTitan ensures that protection is provided against emerging phishing URLs and zero-minute threats. When combined with an advanced spam filtering solution such as SpamTitan to block phishing emails at source and ensure they do not reach inboxes, businesses will be well protected against phishing attacks.
Cybercriminals use many tactics to obtain credentials that they then use to remotely access corporate accounts, cloud services, and gain access to business networks. Phishing is the most common method, which is most commonly conducted via email. Attackers craft emails using a variety of lures to trick the recipient into visiting a malicious website where they are required to enter their credentials that are captured and used by the attackers to remotely access the accounts.
Businesses are now realizing the benefits of implementing an advanced spam filtering solution to block these phishing emails at source and ensure they do not reach inboxes. Advanced antispam and anti-phishing solutions will block virtually all phishing attempts, so if you have yet to implement such a solution or you are relying on Microsoft Office 365 protections, we urge you to get in touch and give SpamTitan a trial.
Phishing is not only performed via email. Rather than using email to deliver the hook, many threat groups use SMS or instant messaging platforms and increasing numbers of phishing campaigns are now being conducted by telephone and these types of phishing attack are harder to block.
Smishing for Credentials
When phishing occurs through SMS messages it is known as Smishing. Rather than an email, an SMS message is sent with a link that users are instructed to click. Instant messaging platforms such as WhatsApp are also used. Many different lures are used, but it is common for security alerts to be sent that warn the recipient about a fraudulent transaction or other security threat that requires them to login to their account.
Recently, Allied Irish Bank (AIB) customers in Ireland were targeted with such as smishing campaign. The SMS message advises the recipient that there has been a suspected fraudulent transaction which they are required to review by clicking a link and logging in. Their credentials are harvested, and they are instructed to provide codes from their card reader or one-time passwords as part of the security check. Doing so will allow the scammers to access the account and make fraudulent transactions. A variation on this theme involves the user being told they have been locked out of their account.
In this campaign the scammers use a URL on the domain secureonlineservicepayeeroi.com, although these domains frequently change. Many campaigns mask the destination URL using URL shortening services, and one recent campaign conducted by an Iranian threat group used a seemingly legitimate google.com URL and several redirects before the user landed on the phishing page. Smishing is also often used in PayPal phishing attacks using messages warning about the closure of an account.
Vishing Attacks on Businesses Spike
In December 2019, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified a campaign where cybercriminals were conducting phishing over the telephone – termed vishing. Since then, the number of cases of vishing attacks has increased, prompting the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to issue a joint alert in the summer about a campaign targeting remote workers. This month, the FBI has issued a further alert following a spike in vishing attacks on businesses.
Cybercriminals often target users with high levels of privileges, but not always. There has been a growing trend for cybercriminals to target all credentials, so all users are at risk. Once one set of credentials is obtained, attempts are made to elevate privileges and reconnaissance is performed to identify targets in the company with the level of permissions they need – I.e. permissions to perform email changes.
The scammers make VoIP calls to employees and convince them to visit a webpage where they need to login. In one attack, an employee of the company was found in the company’s chatroom, and was contacted and convinced to login to their company’s VPN on a fake VPN page. Credentials were obtained and used to perform reconnaissance. Another target was identified that likely had advanced permissions, and that individual was contacted and scammed into revealing their credentials.
How to Block Smishing and Vishing Attacks
Blocking these types of phishing attacks requires a combination of measures. In contrast to email phishing, these threats cannot be easily blocked at source. It is therefore important to cover these threats in security awareness training sessions as well as warning about the risks of email phishing.
A web filtering solution is recommended to block attempts to visit the malicious domains where the phishing pages are hosted. Web filters such as WebTitan can be used to control the websites that employees can access on their corporate-issued phones and mobile devices and will provide protection no matter where an employee accesses the Internet.
It is also important to set up multifactor authentication to prevent any stolen credentials from being used by attackers to remotely access accounts. The FBI also recommends granting network access using the rule of least privilege: ensuring users are only given access to the resources they need to complete their jobs. The FBI also recommends regularly scanning and auditing user access rights given and monitoring for any changes in permissions.
COVID-19 has made 2020 a terrible year for many businesses, bringing unprecedented challenges that many have struggled to overcome. The year was made worse by cybercriminals stepping up their attacks, with ransomware used to pile even more misery during extremely challenging times.
Ransomware is nothing new of course. It has been used since the early 2000s to extort money from individuals and businesses. Ransomware grew in popularity in the mid-2010s when encryption methods were adopted that were tough to crack, and the past couple of years have seen ransomware grow into the biggest cyber threat for businesses, and 2020 has been especially bad.
In Q3, 2020, ransomware attacks increased by 40% according to data from Kroll. Almost 200 million attacks occurred in the quarter, and attacks continued to increase as the year progressed. Not only are more businesses now being attacked, the amount demanded by the attackers has also dramatically increased. A report from Coveware, a firm that assists companies recovering from ransomware attacks, indicates ransom demands doubled in Q4, 2019 and there has been another doubling of demands in 2020. A recent H1 2020 Cyber Insurance Claims Report from Coalition indicates 87% of all cyber-related insurance claims are the result of ransomware attacks.
Ransomware gangs have also adopted a new tactic to increase the likelihood of their ransom demand being paid. In 2019, the Maze ransomware gang started stealing data prior to encrypting files and using double extortion tactics. In addition to paying to recover data, victims had to pay to prevent the public release of their stolen data. Since then, at least 17 ransomware gangs have adopted this tactic and threaten to publish or sell stolen data if the ransom is not paid.
The healthcare industry was hit particularly hard by ransomware in 2020, especially in the latter half of the year. Healthcare systems and hospitals have been battling with the pandemic and during these extremely challenging times they have been targeted by ransomware gangs. There was a major spike in attacks on hospitals in September and the attacks have continued at high levels since.
The pandemic has given ransomware gangs new opportunities to conduct attacks, as more remote workers introduced vulnerabilities that are easy for the gangs to exploit. Vulnerabilities in new VPN and remote access solutions are exploited, emails spreading ransomware have targeted remote workers, and ransomware has been delivered via drive-by downloads masquerading as free online collaboration tools. COVID-19 has also been exploited in lures that deliver ransomware, first offering advice on the new virus, then possible cures, and latterly vaccine related lures.
The large increase in attacks toward the end of 2020 does not bode well for 2021, and there are no signs that ransomware activity will fall in 2021. In fact, the situation may even get worse before it gets better. As long as ransomware attacks continue to be profitable, the attacks will continue. What businesses need to do is make sure they take steps to block attacks, identify them quickly when they do occur, and make sure they have a plan in place to help them recover quickly should disaster strike.
Some of the important steps to take to prevent, detect, and limit the severity of an attack are summarized below:
With so many methods of deploying ransomware, there is no single solution that will prevent all attacks. You should therefore consider the following:
Implement an advanced spam filter with best of breed protection against malware and ransomware, that uses signature-based detection to block known ransomware variants and sandboxing to identify new threats.
Ensure patches are applied promptly and software is updated quickly to the latest version.
Train your staff how to recognize email-based threats and provide general security training to eliminate risky behaviors.
Stay up to date on the latest threat intelligence and take proactive steps to address threats.
Use a web filtering solution to block access to risky and malicious websites to prevent downloads of ransomware from the Internet.
Enforce the use of strong passwords to prevent brute force attacks.
If you can detect unauthorized accessing of your systems in real time, you may be able to block an attack before ransomware is deployed. Many threat actors spend time moving laterally to identify as many devices as possible before conducting an attack and they will attempt to find and exfiltrate data, which provides a window to detect and block the attack. You should implement a monitoring system in place that generates alerts when suspicious activity is detected and, ideally, one that can automatically remediate attacks when they are detected. Many attacks occur at the weekend and public holidays when monitoring by IT teams is likely to be reduced so consider the mechanisms you have in place when staffing levels are lower.
You may not be able to block an attack, but you can prepare and limit the damage caused. First and foremost, backup your data as you do not want to be at the mercy of the attackers. Ensure a backup is stored in a location that cannot be accessed from the network where the data resides, store a copy of a backup on a non-networked device, and ensure backups are performed regularly and are checked to make sure data can be recovered.
You should also create a disaster recovery plan that can kick into action as soon as an attack occurs to make sure your business can continue to function until the attack is fully mitigated.
Cybercriminals are using an increasing range of tactics, techniques and procedures to fool the unwary into disclosing their credentials or installing malware, which is making it hard for end users to distinguish between genuine and malicious messages.
It is common for cybercriminals to purchase lookalike domains for use in phishing scams and for distributing malware. Oftentimes the domains purchased are very similar to the domains they impersonate, aside from one or two changed letters.
For instance, the letters v v could be used in place of a w for a domain spoofing Wal-Mart – e.g. VVal-Mart. In internationalized domain name (IDN) homograph attacks, aka script spoofing, Greek, Latin, and Cyrillic letters are used in domains instead of standard letters. This can lead to domains being almost indistinguishable from the domains they are spoofing, especially since the web pages hosted on those domains include the logos and color schemes used on the official websites.
FBI Warns of Use of Spoofed FBI Domains
Recently the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning following the discovery that many FBI-related domain names have been purchased that closely resemble official FBI websites. While these domains are not believed to have been used for malicious purposes to date, it is probable that the individuals registering these domains were intending to use them in phishing attacks, for distributing malware, or for disinformation campaigns. The domains include fbidefense.com, fbimaryland, fbi-ny, fib.ca, fbi-intel.com, fbi.systems, and fbi.health.
These domains can be used to host phishing kits or exploit kits, but the domains can be used to create official-looking email addresses. An email from one of these domains, that has the FBI in the name, could easily scare someone into taking an action demand in the email, such as disclosing their login credentials or opening a malicious email attachment.
Legitimate Cloud Services Leveraged in Sophisticated Phishing Attacks
There have also been phishing campaigns detected in recent weeks that use legitimate cloud services to mask the malicious nature of the emails. Campaigns have been detected that use links to Google Forms, Google Docs, Dropbox, and cloud services from Amazon and Oracle. Emails are sent that include fake notifications with links to these cloud services; however, once the link is clicked, the user is taken through a series of redirects to a malicious website hosting fake Office 365 login prompts that steal credentials.
Several of these campaigns involved checks to make sure the recipient is a real person, with automated responses directed to official domains to prevent analysis. Phishers are also continuing to use typosquatting – the name given to the use of domains with natural typographical errors – to catch out careless typists.
Sophisticated Campaigns Call for Sophisticated Cybersecurity Defenses
The sophisticated nature of today’s phishing and malware campaigns, together with cybercriminals’ constantly changing tactics, techniques, and procedures, mean it is becoming harder for end users to distinguish between genuine and malicious emails. End user security awareness training is still important, but it has never been more important to have effective technical solutions in place to ensure that these threats are identified and blocked before any harm is caused.
The first line of defense against phishing is an email security gateway solution through which all emails need to pass before they reach inboxes. These solutions need to use a range of advanced mechanisms for identifying malicious and suspicious emails, so should one mechanism fail to identify a malicious email, others are in place to provide protection.
SpamTitan from TitanHQ is one such solution that incorporates many layers of protection to detect and block phishing and malware attacks via email. Checks are performed on the message headers, content is analyzed, and machine learning is incorporated to identify never before seen threats, in addition to blacklisting of known malicious email addresses and domains. To block malware threats, SpamTitan uses dual anti-virus engines to block known threats and sandboxing to identify and block zero-day malware threats. Working seamlessly together, these mechanisms will block 99.97% of malicious messages.
An additional anti-phishing solution that you may not have considered is a web filtering solution. Web filters are important for blocking the web-based component of phishing attacks and preventing individuals from visiting sites used for malware delivery. A web filter can also block redirects to malicious websites that hide behind links to legitimate cloud services.
WebTitan from TitanHQ is a smart, DNS-based web filtering solution that uses automation and advanced analytics to block emerging phishing and other malicious URLs, not just those that have been already used in attacks and have been added to blacklists. Through the use of AI-based technology, WebTitan can provide protection from zero-minute threats.
Advanced cybersecurity defenses do not need to be complicated for end users to use. Both SpamTitan and WebTitan have been developed to be easy to implement, use, and maintain. While they incorporate all the required protections and allow advanced users to drill down and analyze threats, they can also easily be used to protect networks and devices by users with little technical skill. The ease of implementation, use, and maintenance together with the superb threat protection are why the solutions are consistently rated so highly on review sites such as Capterra, GetApp, Software Advice, and on Google Reviews.
To improve your defenses against cybersecurity threats delivered via email and via the web, give the TitanHQ a team a call today and find out more about SpamTitan Email Security and WebTitan DNS filtering.
The first known ransomware attack occurred in 1989, but in the years since this form of malware has not proven popular with cybercriminals. That started to change in 2013 with Cryptolocker and the number of attacks – and ransomware threats as continued to grow ever since.
Today, ransomware is one of the biggest malware threats faced by businesses. Ransomware attacks are no longer relatively small campaigns conducted by ransomware developers. Rather than conduct their own attacks, it is now common for ransomware developers to leave the distribution of the ransomware to a network of affiliates. Under the ransomware-as-a-service model, more attacks can be conducted and more ransoms will be paid as a result. Most ransomware operations now operate under this RaaS model and there is no shortage of affiliates willing to distribute the ransomware for a cut of the profits.
While ransomware was once used simply to encrypt files and prevent them from being accessed by businesses unless a ransom was paid for the keys to decrypt files, the Maze ransomware operators started stealing data in 2019 prior to file encryption to add an extra incentive for victims to pay up. Many other ransomware operations followed suit and either threatened to publish the stolen data or sell it on to other cybercriminals if the ransom is not paid.
Data theft prior to file encryption is fast becoming the norm. Coveware, a company that works with ransomware victims to resolve ransomware attacks (often entering into negotiations with the attackers on behalf of its clients), recently published a report that shows half of all ransomware attacks now involve data theft prior to file encryption. It may be possible to recover encrypted data from backups, but that will not prevent the publication or misuse of stolen data.
This tactic has proven to be effective for the ransomware gangs, but there have been many cases where payment of the ransom has not resulted in the deletion of stolen data. In the United States, several victims in the healthcare industry have paid the ransom demand only to receive a second demand for a payment to prevent stolen data from being released.
According to Coveware, the Sodinokibi ransomware gang is known to issue further demands after the initial payment is made, and it has been a similar case with Netwalker and Mespinoza ransomware. The operators of Conti ransomware provide proof that files are deleted after the ransom is paid, but that proof is faked.
Ransom demands are also increasing. The average ransom demand in Q3, 2020 was $234,000, up 31% from the previous quarter according to the Coveware Quarterly Ransomware Report.
The healthcare industry has been extensively targeted by ransomware gangs and attacks have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare industry is heavily reliant on data and attacks aim to encrypt patient data and steal medical records prior to encryption. If the ransom is not paid, the data has a high value and can be sold on easily.
Recently, a joint warning was issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in conjunction with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services, warning of an increased and imminent threat of targeted ransomware attacks on the healthcare and public health sectors. A few days after the alert was issued, 6 healthcare providers were attacked with Ryuk ransomware in a single day.
Ransomware attacks are here to stay for the foreseeable future. They will only start to decline when they are no longer profitable. With attacks at record levels and no guarantee that stolen data will be returned even I the ransom is paid, it is more important than ever for businesses and healthcare organizations to ensure their defenses are hardened against ransomware attacks.
Ransomware can be delivered using a variety of techniques. Vulnerabilities in software and operating systems are commonly exploited to gain access to networks, so vulnerability scanning is important for identifying exploitable vulnerabilities to ensure they are promptly addressed before they can be exploited.
Email remains one of the most common attack vectors, not only for delivering ransomware, but delivering ransomware downloaders. Emotet and TrickBot are two Trojans commonly used to deliver ransomware as a secondary payload, and both are primarily delivered via email, as is BazarLoader, which has been used to deliver ransomware in many recent attacks.
To block this attack vector, an advanced AI-powered spam filter is required – one that is capable of not only detecting known malware threats, but zero-day malware and email attacks that have not been seen before. SpamTitan uses AI and machine learning techniques to identify these email threats at source and prevent them from being delivered to inboxes where employees unwittingly provide the attackers with access to their networks. In addition to dual anti-virus engines, SpamTitan has a sandboxing feature for identifying zero-day malware threats and SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to detect and block email impersonation attacks.
Ransomware, ransomware droppers, and other malware threats are often delivered via the Internet, so cybersecurity measures are needed to block this attack vector. WebTitan similarly uses AI and machine learning techniques to provide protection from websites used to deliver malware threats. The solution uses automation and advanced analytics to search through billions of URLs/IPs and phishing sites that could comprise a company and ensure those threats are blocked.
By implementing layered defenses, it is possible to block the majority of threats, but it is still important to ensure that your data is protected in the event that an attack succeeds. You should make sure that come what may, your data is secured.
A good approach to adopt is the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which involves making three backups, storing the copies on 2 different media (tape, disc, or cloud for instance), and ensuring one copy is stored securely off site. Should an attack succeed, you will not be at the mercy of the attackers and will at least be able to recover your data without paying the ransom.
If you want to improve your defenses against ransomware, give the TitanHQ team a call today for information and advice on the steps you can take to harden your defenses.
Phishers are constantly coming up with new scams that abuse trust. People tend to trust their favorite brands and when email communications are sent by those companies there is a tendency for the emails to be trusted. The same is true when emails are sent from email contacts such as work colleagues and friends. Cybercriminals take advantage of trust to get users to take a specific action, such as clicking on an embedded hyperlink in an email or opening an email attachment.
Many businesses now provide security awareness training to employees and try to teach them to always be vigilant and never to trust emails implicitly, even if they have been sent by known contacts. Just because an email has been sent from a known and trusted email account does not mean the message is genuine. Email accounts are often compromised and used to send phishing emails. The Emotet Trojan hijacks email accounts and uses them to send copies of itself to the victim’s contacts, and several other malware variants do the same. Email addresses are also spoofed. The display name may be correct or believable, but the actual email account used to send the message is anything but.
Another tactic is now being used by at least one cybercriminal group than similarly abuses trust, albeit in a new way. A phishing campaign, which was first detected on September 21, 2020, uses the challenge-response test CAPTCHA to simultaneously make the campaign believable and also to reduce the probability of the scam being detected by email security solutions.
Internet users will be familiar with CAPTCHA, although maybe not by name. The CAPTCHA system is used by many websites as a way to determine if a website visitor is a human or a bot, most commonly on forms.
Google uses CAPTCHA and requires users to pass a pictorial challenge where it is necessary to select all the images in a group that featuring a car, bicycle, bus, or traffic lights. If you pass the challenge you will be allowed to proceed, if you fail you will not. Other versions involve entering in a number or code word that has been heavily disguised in an image.
While these CAPTCHA challenges can be annoying, they are associated with security so if a website has one of these challenges, subconsciously people tend to feel more secure. However, as with a website starting with HTTPS, it does not mean the website is genuine.
In this new phishing campaign, users are likely to feel more secure when credentials are requested since they had to pass a CAPTCHA test, especially considering the page on which the challenge was set up looks just like the genuine login prompt for Office 365. The background is the same, as is the login prompt. The only difference between the genuine login page and the fake version is the URL.
Security teams face a challenge detecting and blocking these phishing pages as email security solutions, despite having AI-based detection mechanisms, are essentially bots and, as such, cannot pass a CAPTCHA challenge.
A second tactic is also used to evade detection. The scammers have set up their campaign so that only a specific set of IP addresses will be presented with the CAPTCHA test on the fraudulent domain. If any IP address outside a specific range attempts to visit the link– the IP range used by the targeted company – a redirection will occur to the genuine Microsoft login page.
While these scams help to ensure that malicious emails are delivered to inboxes, organizations do not need to be totally reliant on their employees recognizing the scams and taking appropriate action (reporting the email to the IT security team).
With a web filtering solution in place, attempts to visit known malicious websites will be blocked. When malicious domains are detected they are automatically added to a web filter’s blacklist, and any attempts to visit malicious domains will be blocked.
WebTitan is a low maintenance security solution that can be set up in about 5 minutes and will protect against the web-based component of phishing attacks and will block malware downloads from malicious websites. WebTitan works in tandem email security solutions to provide greater protection against malware and phishing attacks. The solution can also be used to control the content that employees and guest network users can access over the internet, whether they are on the network or working remotely.
If you have not implemented a web filter or are unhappy with your current solution, give the WebTitan team a call to find out more. A product demonstration can be arranged, you can have a free trial of the solution, and assistance can be provided to help you get the most out of WebTitan during your trial.
Managed Service Providers are an attractive target for cybercriminals. If a threat actor succeeds in gaining access to an MSP’s network, they can use the same remote management tools that MSPs use to conduct attacks on the MSPs clients.
Many companies are now turning to MSPs for IT support and management services. This is often the most cost-effective solution, especially when companies lack the in-house IT expertise to manage their networks, applications, and security. An MSP will typically provide IT management services for many different companies. A successful cyberattack on the MSP can therefore give a threat actor access to the networks of all the MSPs clients, which makes the attack extremely profitable.
There was a marked increase in cyberattacks on managed service providers in 2019, in particular by ransomware gangs using GandCrab, Sodinokibi BitPaymer and Ryuk ransomware. The MSPs were attacked in a variety of ways, including phishing, brute force attacks on RDP, and exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities.
Once access has been gained to an MSP’s network, hackers search for remote management tools such as Webroot SecureAnywhere and ConnectWise which the MSP uses to access its clients’ networks to provide IT services. Several 2019 ransomware attacks on MSPs used these tools to access clients’ networks and deploy ransomware. MSPs such as PerCSoft, TrialWorks, BillTrust, MetroList, CloudJumper, and IT by Design were all attacked in 2019 and ransomware was deployed on their and their clients’ networks.
Kyle Hanslovan, CEO at Huntress Labs, told ZDNet in a recent telephone interview that his company had provided support to 63 MSPs that had been attacked in 2019 but believes the total number of attacks was likely to be more than 100. However, the number of MSPs that have been attacked is likely to be substantially higher. It is likely that many cyberattacks on MSPs are not even detected.
The attacks have shown no sign of slowing. Recently the U.S. Secret Service issued a TLP Green alert warning MSPs of an increase in targeted cyberattacks. Compromised MSPs have been used to conduct business email compromise (BEC) attacks to get payments sent to attacker-controlled accounts. Attacks have been conducted on point-of-sale (POS) systems and malware has been deployed that intercepts and exfiltrates credit card data, and there have been many successful ransomware attacks.
In addition to cybercriminals, nation state-sponsored hacking groups have also been conducting cyberattacks on MSPs, notably hacking groups linked to China. The National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC) issued an alert about the threat to MSPs from state-sponsored hacking groups in October 2019.
Best Practices for MSPs to Adopt to Improve Their Security Posture
There are several best practices that can be adopted by MSPs to improve security and block these attacks. MSPs may currently be incredibly busy helping their clients deal with IT issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but given the increase in targeted cyberattacks on MSPs, time should be spent improving their own security, not just security for their clients.
The U.S Secret Service recommends MSPs keep up to date on patching, especially patches for any remote administration tools they use. ConnectWise issued a security advisory last month and patched a flaw in the ConnectWise Automate solution. The API vulnerability could be exploited remotely by a threat actor to execute commands and/or modifications within an individual Automate instance. Vulnerabilities such as these are actively sought by cybercriminals.
The principle of least privilege should be adopted for access to resources to limit the harm caused in the event of a breach. It is also important to have well-defined security controls that are fully compliant with industry standards.
Annual data audits should be conducted along with regular scans to identify malware that may have been installed on systems. Logging should be enabled, and logs should be regularly checked to identify potentially malicious activity. MSPs should also ensure that their employees receive regular security awareness training to teach cybersecurity best practices and how to identify phishing and BEC scams.
Cybersecurity for remote workers has never been so important. At-home employees are being targeted by hackers who see them as low hanging fruit and an easy entry point into corporate networks.
The threat faced by businesses that have rapidly shifted to a largely at-home workforce should not be underestimated. With everyone working in the office, within the protection of the corporate firewall, IT departments could keep hackers at bay. Any employees that were authorized to work from home could be provided with a laptop that had security protections appropriate for the increased level of risk.
Moving the entire workforce from the office to attics, basements, kitchens, and spare rooms in a very short space of time has meant corners have had to be cut. Many SMBs have had to adapt quickly and have not had enough time to provide additional training to their at-home employees. The laptop computers now being used by their employees have had to be provisioned quickly and they lack the protection required for at home working. Some businesses are even allowing personal computers to be used out of necessity. Cybercriminals have been rubbing their hands with glee at the new opportunities and the ease at which they can attack businesses.
Lockdowns are now being lifted and people are being encouraged to go back to work, but further spikes in cases are likely as a result and with social distancing in the office problematic for many businesses, many employees will still need to work from home. To reduce the risk of those employees falling for a phishing scam or inadvertently downloading malware or ransomware, additional cybersecurity measures should be implemented.
You will more than likely have an email security solution to block the most common attack vector, but additional layers of security will greatly improve your security posture, one of the most important of which is a web filtering solution. A web filter stops your employees from visiting malicious websites, such as those used for phishing or malware distribution. When an attempt is made to visit a malicious website – through a link in a phishing email, a web redirect, or general web browsing – rather than being allowed to visit the website, employees will be directed to a local block page that explains the site cannot be accessed as it violates your internet usage policies.
A web filter can also be used to stop employees from using their work laptop for personal use by blocking websites by category, and as a control against shadow IT to prevent unauthorized software downloads.
WebTitan Cloud will allow you to improve cybersecurity for remote workers without requiring any software downloads and can be set up and protecting your office staff and remote workers in a matter of minutes.
Join us for our Webinar on Improving Cybersecurity for Remote Workers
If you are reading this before Thursday May 21, 2020, then you can find out more about how WebTitan Cloud can protect your employees and corporate network from attack by joining us on for our webinar.
Title: Keeping your Remote Workers TWICE as secure with SpamTitan & WebTitan
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Time: 11:00-11:30 CDT
If you missed the webinar, just give us a call and we will be happy to answer any questions you have, explain the benefits of WebTitan Cloud, arrange a product demonstration, and help get you filtering the internet and blocking web-based threats.
The 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption for many businesses, and while it is far from business as usual for many firms, work has been continuing by letting employees work from home but doing so opens a business up to new cybersecurity risks, some of the most important of which we have covered in our COVID-19 cybersecurity checklist.
Under normal circumstances, the risks from allowing workers to spend some of their working week at home can be effectively managed, but having virtually the entire workforce working remotely creates many cybersecurity challenges. Further, threat actors are exploiting the pandemic and are actively targeting remote workers.
COVID-19 Cybersecurity Checklist
To help you address the risks of remote working we have produced a quick reference COVID-19 cybersecurity checklist covering some of the most important aspects of cybersecurity that should be addressed, in light of the recent rise in cyberattacks on remote workers.
All remote employees should be using VPNs to access corporate systems, but VPNs can also introduce vulnerabilities. There has been an increase in attacks exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities in VPNs during the pandemic and scans are being performed to find vulnerable VPNs.
VPNs clients must be kept up to date and patches should be applied promptly. There have been several attacks reported recently that have exploited the Pulse Secure vulnerability CVE-2019-11510 to deliver ransomware, even though a patch was released to correct the flaw in April last year. Vulnerabilities in other VPNS have also been targeted.
You should also consider disabling split tunneling for VPN profiles to prevent employees from accessing the internet directly while they are connected to corporate information systems or should ensure all internet traffic is routed through the VPN. You should enable multi-factor authentication for VPNs and create a separate VPN zone in your firewall and apply security policies to protect incoming and outgoing traffic.
Remote Desktop Protocol
Many businesses rely on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to allow their employees to connect remotely, but If you do not use RDP, you should disable port 3389. There has been a growing number of brute force attacks on RDP. A recent Kaspersky report showed brute force attacks on RDP increased. There was a major increase between January and February, with global attacks rising to 93,102,836. In April, attacks had increased to a staggering 326,896,999.
If you use RDP, make sure strong passwords are set, enable multi-factor authentication, and ensure connections are only possible through your VPN – Do not allow RDP connections from outside.
Communication and Collaboration Platforms
You will need to use some form of communication and collaboration platform, such as a videoconferencing solution, to allow workers to easily get in touch with colleagues. There are many choices available, but the security capabilities of each can vary considerably. Some solutions that were considered to be secure, such as Zoom, have been shown to have vulnerabilities, some of which have been exploited in attacks. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has recently issued a useful checklist for selecting appropriate communication tools along with information on how they can be used securely.
With everyone at home, burglaries may be down, and lockdown have reduced the risk of loss and theft of mobile devices, but encryption is still important. All corporate owned mobile computing devices should have encryption enabled, which is straightforward for Windows devices by enabling BitLocker. You should also encrypt web applications and FTP to ensure any data that is uploaded or downloaded is encrypted.
Ensure Firewalls are Enabled
Your employees will be beyond the protection of the corporate firewall so they should have local firewalls enabled. The easiest and most cost-effective way of applying a local firewall is to use the Windows Defender firewall, which can be configured through your MDM solution or Group Policy.
The volume of phishing emails may not have increased by a very large degree during the COVID-19 lockdown, but there have been a large number of phishing related data breaches. Phishers have changed their campaigns and are now extensively using COVID-19 themed campaigns, which are proving to be very effective. People crave information about COVID-19 and are responding to COVID-19 themed phishing emails in large numbers. Many of the emails we have seen have been highly convincing, spoofing authorities such as WHO and the CDC.
You should consider adding an additional layer to your email defenses if you are only using Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection (EOP). Many phishing emails are bypassing Microsoft’s defenses and are being delivered to inboxes. SpamTitan can be layered on top of Office 365 protections and will greatly improve the detection of phishing emails and zero-day malware and ransomware threats.
Multi-factor authentication for email accounts should be set up. In the event that email credentials are compromised, multi-factor authentication should prevent those credentials from being used to access accounts.
You should also set up a system that allows employees to report any suspicious emails they receive to the security team, to allow action to be taken to remove all similar messages from the email system and to tweak email security controls to block the threats.
With email security improved, you should also take steps to block web-based attacks. Malicious websites can be accessed by employees through general web browsing, redirects via malvertising, malicious links on social media networks, and links in phishing emails. A DNS filtering solution such as WebTitan Cloud prevents employees from visiting known malicious websites and will block drive-by malware downloads. WebTitan Cloud will protect employees whether they are on or off the network. If you don’t have web filtering capabilities for remote workers, ensure that internet access is only possible through your VPN to ensure bad packets are filtered out.
Cybersecurity Alerts and Log Checking
You should have systems in place that generate cybersecurity alerts automatically and you should enable security logs and regularly check them for signs of compromise. Monitor the use of PowerShell and red team tools such as Mimikatz and Cobalt Strike. These tools are often used by manual ransomware attackers to move laterally once access to networks is gained.
There has been a massive rise in the number of telecommuting workers as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic and cybercriminals are taking advantage. Phishing and malware attacks have soared in the past few weeks and home workers are being targeted.
Individuals who regularly worked from home before the COVID-19 crisis will be used to taking precautions when connecting to virtual environments set up by their employers, but huge numbers of employees are now logging in remotely for the very first time and may not be aware of the telecommuting cybersecurity risks. IT and IT security departments have also had to set up the workforce for home working in a hurry, and the sheer number of employees that have been forced into telecommuting means corners have had to be cut which has created opportunities for cybercriminals.
Even if the transition to having the entire workforce telecommuting has been expertly managed, risk will have increased considerably. Cybersecurity is far harder to manage when the entire workforce is outside the protection of the corporate firewall and with most workers telecommuting, the attack surface has grown considerably.
Telecommuting workers are seen as low hanging fruit and cybercriminals are taking advantage of the ease at which attacks can be conducted. Since January there has been a massive increase in phishing attacks, malware attacks, and attacks over the internet targeting remote workers.
NASA Sees “Exponential Increase” in Malware Attacks
On April 6, 2020, NASA sent a memo to all personnel warning of a massive increase in targeted attacks on the agency. NASA explained in the memo that the number of phishing attempts on NASA employees has doubled in the past few days and its systems designed to block employees from accessing malicious websites has gone into overdrive. The number of malicious websites that are now being blocked has also doubled, which strongly suggests employees are clicking on links in phishing emails and are being fooled by these scams. NASA also reports that there has been an “exponential increase in malware attacks on NASA systems.”
Attacks are being conducted by a diverse range of threat actors, from small players to prolific advanced persistent threat (APT) groups and nation-state sponsored hackers. NASA has warned its employees that those attackers are targeting NASA employees’ work and personal devices and that the attacks are likely to continue to increase throughout the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
NASA is far from alone in experiencing a massive increase in attempted cyberattacks. Businesses of all sizes are now having to deal with unprecedented risks and are struggling to defend their networks from attack. They now have to defend a massively increased attack surface and the number of attacks has skyrocketed.
There are other factors that are making it difficult for employers. Employees crave information about the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 and cybercriminals are sending huge numbers of emails offering them just the information they seek. Huge numbers of websites are being set up that purport to offer advice on the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19. Check Point has reported that more than 16,000 domains related to coronavirus or COVID-19 have been registered since January and those domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered in the same period.
How to Protect Telecommuting Workers
There are three main ways that telecommuting workers are being attacked: Email, malicious websites, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.
To prevent the latter, it is essential for software and operating systems to be kept up to date. This can be a challenge for IT departments at the best of times, but much harder when everyone is working remotely. Despite the difficulty, prompt patching is essential. Vulnerabilities in VPNs are being targeted by cybercriminals and offer an easy way to gain access to corporate networks. Employees should be told to make sure their VPN clients are running the latest software version and businesses should ensure their VPN infrastructure is kept up to date, even if it means some downtime while updates are applied.
TitanHQ Can Help You Strengthen Email and Web Security
Advanced email security defenses are now required to protect against phishing and email-based malware threats. Some of the COVID-19 phishing campaigns that are now being conducted include some of the most sophisticated phishing threats we have ever seen.
You should not rely on one form of email security, such as Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection for Office 365 accounts. Layered defenses are essential. Office 365 email security can be significantly strengthened by layering SpamTitan on top of Microsoft’s EOP protections. SpamTitan does not replace Office 365 protections, it improves them.
SpamTitan is an advanced email security solution that incorporates powerful, real time updated AI-driven threat intelligence to block spam, phishing, malware, malicious links, and other email threats from incoming mail. SpamTitan sandboxing identifies threats that signature-based detection solutions miss and is effective at identifying and blocking zero-day malware threats.
Each day, the number of malicious websites related to COVID-19 grows. These websites are used to phish for sensitive information such as email and VPN credentials and for drive-by downloads of malware. To protect remote workers and prevent them from accessing these malicious websites, a web filtering solution is required.
WebTitan DNS Security offers protection against web-based threats and prevents employees from accessing known malicious websites. WebTitan DNS Security is seeing massively increased traffic demand for its scanning and web detection features, but the solution is cloud based and has been developed with scalability in mind. WebTitan DNS Security is blocking new threats as soon as they are identified to keep customers and their employees protected. The solution can be easily implemented to protect remote workers but inserting simple code into enterprise devices which points the DNS to WebTitan. That small change will ensure the internet is filtered for all employees, no matter where they are working.
TitanHQ is committed to providing safe and secure email and internet usage for our customers, partners and their users, now more than ever. Contact TitanHQ today for help improving security at your organization.
IT departments have been forced to address cybersecurity risks with remote workers in a hurry due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic that has seen large sections of the workforce forced into working from home.
The International Workplace Group conducted a study in 2019 and found that 50% of employees spend at least half of the week working remotely, and 70% of workers spend at least one day each week working from home. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has increased that percentage considerably. Many companies have all but closed down their offices and have told their employees they must work from home.
While this is an important strategy for ensuring the safety of the workforce, there are many cybersecurity risks with remote workers and IT departments will find it much harder to secure their systems, protect confidential data, and quickly respond to security incidents.
One of the biggest problems for IT departments is the speed at which changes had to be made to accommodate a massive increase in remote workers. There has been little time to prepare properly, provide training, and ensure the cybersecurity risks with remote workers are all addressed.
Cybercriminals are Targeting Remote Workers
The massive increase in remote workers due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has given cybercriminals easy targets to attack, and unsurprisingly remote workers are being targeted. Remote workers are seen as low hanging fruit and attacks are far easier than when workers are in the office.
Several phishing campaigns have been detected targeting home workers that attempt to obtain email and VPN credentials. These phishing attacks are likely to increase considerably over the coming weeks and months. Attacks on VPNs have also increased, with cybercriminals exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities to steal credentials and gain access to corporate networks.
Campaigns have been detected spoofing Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms. According to Check Point, there have been 1,700 new Zoom domains registered in 2020 and 25% of those have been registered in the past two weeks. Other videoconferencing and communication platforms are also being targeted.
Addressing Cybersecurity Risks with Remote Workers
The massive increase in the number of employees working from home has increased the attack surface dramatically. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets are remotely connecting to the network, often for the very first time. It is essential that al of those devices are secured and data is appropriately protected.
Any device allowed to connect to the network remotely must have the best security software installed to protect against malware. Devices must be running the latest versions of operating systems and patches need to be applied promptly. Some studies suggest that it takes companies around 3 months on average to patch vulnerabilities. For remote workers, patching needs to be accelerated considerably and, ideally, software and operating systems should be configured to update automatically. Computers used by remote workers must also have firewalls enabled.
Ensure Home Routers are Secured
With many countries in lockdown and people being told not to leave the house, one of the biggest problem areas with remote working has been solved. The use of unsecured pubic Wi-Fi networks. When remote workers connect to unsecured public Wi-Wi networks, it is easy for cybercriminals to intercept sensitive corporate data, steal login credentials, and install malware. The Novel Coronavirus pandemic has seen remote workers abandon coffee shops and public Wi-Fi access points and stay at home; however, home Wi-Fi networks may be just as vulnerable.
Home workers will connect to the internet through consumer-grade routers, which will be far less secure than the office. Home Wi-Fi is often poorly secured and many devices that connect to Wi-Fi will have scant security controls in place. Remote workers must ensure that their home Wi-Fi network is protected with a strong password and that routers have WPA2 enabled.
Ensure Remote Workers Use a VPN and Establish a Secure Connection
It is essential for remote workers to establish a secure connection when accessing work resources and the easiest way to do this is with a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN client should be installed on all devices that you allow to remotely connect to the network.
Several vulnerabilities have been found in VPNs over the past year, and even months after patches have been released by VPN solution providers that patches have yet to be applied. Patching VPNs can be difficult when they are in use 24/7, but prompt patching is essential. There has been an increase in cyberattacks exploiting vulnerabilities in VPNs in recent weeks. In addition to ensuring the latest version of VPN clients are used and VPN solutions are patched quickly, training must be provided to remote workers to ensure they know how to use VPNs.
Ensure Multifactor Authentication Is Enabled
Strong passwords must be set to prevent brute force password guessing attempts from succeeding, but passwords alone do not provide sufficient protection for remote workers. You must ensure that multifactor authentication is enabled for all cloud services and for email accounts. If credentials are compromised in a phishing attack, it will not be possible for the credentials to be used to access accounts and sensitive data without another factor also being provided, such as a one-time code sent to an employee’s cellphone.
Security Awareness Training for Remote Workers
IT staff will be well aware that even the best security defenses can be breached as a result of the actions of employees. Employees are the weakest link in the security chain, but through security awareness training risk can be significantly reduced. Most companies will provide security awareness training to staff as part of the onboarding process, and often refresher training sessions will be provided on an annual basis. Consider increasing training for remote workers and conducting training sessions far more frequently.
The purpose of cybersecurity awareness training is to teach employees the skills they will need to recognize and avoid threats and to change the mindset of workers and create a culture of cybersecurity. Best practices for cybersecurity must be taught to prevent employees from falling prey to cyberattacks when working remotely. Employees need to be made aware of the cybersecurity risks with remote workers, which may not have been covered in training sessions when employees were only working in the office. Training remote staff should now be a priority. It is important to step up training to help remote workers identify phishing emails, spoofing, impersonation attacks, and also to teach remote workers about good IT hygiene.
Protect Against Web-Based Attacks
The dangers that come from the internet should be covered in security awareness training, but not all web-based threats are easy for remote workers to identify. Malicious adverts can be found on all manner of websites that direct users to phishing sites and websites where drive by malware downloads occur. To address cybersecurity risks for remote workers when accessing the internet, a web filtering solution should be deployed.
Cloud-based web filters are the most practical choice as they are easy to deploy, require no software downloads, and do not need to be patched or updated as that is handled by the solution provider. DNS-based filters are the best choice as they will involve no latency, which can be a major issue when bandwidth will be limited in workers’ homes.
WebTitan prevents remote workers from visiting or being redirected to known malicious websites and allows IT teams to control the types of websites that can be accessed on work devices to further reduce risk. Since WebTitan integrates with Active Directory and LDAP, IT teams can monitor the internet activity of all employees and can configure the solution to block malicious file downloads and the downloading unauthorized programs onto work devices.
It is fair to say that more people are now working from home than ever before and the number is growing rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here we explore some of the key cybersecurity challenges for remote working and suggest ways that CIOs and IT managers can reduce risk, keep their networks secure, and protect their workers.
COVID-19 and Remote Working
Even in the absence of a pandemic, an increasing number of people are working from home for at least part of the week. One study conducted by the International Workplace Group in 2018 suggests 50% of employees spend at least two and a half days a week working from home and 70% spend at least one day a week working from home.
The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing that. Governments around the world are recommending people work from home if they possibly can and many want to do so to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. With the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic likely to last for several months at the very least, that is unlikely to change any time soon. Businesses will come under increasing pressure to get their employees set up for working at home.
Cybersecurity Challenges for Remote Working
For many businesses, having to set up large number of employees to work from home in such a short space of time will have come as a major shock. Rather than being able to transition gradually, the quarantine measures and social distances demanded in response to the coronavirus pandemic has given businesses and their CIOs and IT teams little time to prepare and address the cybersecurity challenges for remote working.
Some employees will already be working from home some of the time, so they will be familiar with the steps they need to take to access work networks and applications securely from home, but for a great deal of workers this will be their first time. Those workers therefore need to be trained and made aware of the additional risks, they must learn how to access work systems remotely, and the steps they need to take to do so securely.
Measures need to be considered to reduce the harm that can be caused should devices be lost or stolen, as the risk of device theft increases considerably when IT equipment is taken out of the office. Even if workers are not venturing out of the house to coffee shops, home environments may not be as safe and secure as the office.
Cyberslacking is likely to increase considerably when workers are not being directly supervised due to working at home, so loss of productivity is a real issue. Productivity losses due to people working from home is a key business concern that should be addressed. Cyber risks also increase from internet access at home.
The risk of insider threats also increases with more remote workers. Steps should be taken to reduce the potential for fraud and data theft.
It is relatively easy for organizations to effectively manage risk when users are connected to internal networks when working in the office. Doing the same when most of the workforce is working remotely is a different matter entirely. As the attack surface increases, mitigating risks and protecting against cyberthreats becomes a major challenge.
There are also issues with authentication. A known individual may be attempting to connect to the network, but it becomes harder to determine is that person is who they claim to be. Authentication measures need to be stepped up a gear.
Many businesses will be faced with the problem of simply not having enough devices to allow workers to work remotely on company-issued devices, so the decision will need to be taken about whether to allow employees to use their personal devices. Personal devices are unlikely to have the same level of protection as company-owned devices and it is much harder to control what employees do on those devices and to protect against malware that could easily be transferred onto the work network.
There is also a greater risk of shadow IT when workers are home-based. The downloading of applications and use of non-authorized tools increases risk considerably. Vulnerabilities may be introduced that can easily be exploited by cybercriminals.
Then there is the problem of having so many people accessing work networks using VPNs. Systems may not be able to cope with the increased number, which means workers will not be able to connect and work from home. IT departments must ensure there is sufficient bandwidth and licenses for VPN solutions. Those VPNs also need to be updated and patched.
These are just some of the many cybersecurity challenges for home working. The list of security concerns is very long.
Cybercriminals are Taking Advantage of a Huge Opportunity
Cybercriminals are constantly changing tactics to attack businesses and the coronavirus pandemic offers them opportunities on a silver platter. It is unsurprising that they are taking advantage. In January, phishing campaigns were launched taking advantage of fear about coronavirus. Those campaigns have increased significantly as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are being used as phishing lures and to COVID-themed emails are being used to distribute malware. Cyberattacks exploiting vulnerabilities in VPNs are also increasing.
As the COVID-19 crisis worsens and lockdowns are enforced, businesses will be forced to have more workers working from home and cyberattacks are likely to continue to increase. Since shutting down the business temporarily or indefinitely simply isn’t an option for most businesses, addressing the cybersecurity challenges for remote working will soon become critical.
Addressing the Cybersecurity Challenges for Home Working
Addressing the cybersecurity challenges for home workers is likely to be difficult. Listed below are some of the steps that should be taken to prepare.
When creating new accounts for home workers, ensure strong passwords are set and use the principle of least privilege to reduce risk.
Enable two-factor authentication.
Ensure workers can connect through VPNs and there are sufficient licenses and bandwidth.
Make sure VPN software is patched and the latest version is installed. Ensure procedures are in place to keep the software updated.
Consider disabling USB ports to prevent the use of portable storage devices. This will reduce the risk of malware infections and the risk of data theft.
Ensure portable devices are protected with encryption. Use software solutions that lock devices in the event of theft or allow devices to be remotely wiped.
Ensure you set up communications channels to allow remote workers to collaborate, such as teleconferencing, chat facilities, document sharing platforms, and SaaS applications. Make sure employees are aware of what can and cannot be shared via chat apps such as Slack and Google Chat.
Ensure staff are trained on new applications, the use of VPNs, and are aware of the additional risks from remote working. Train remote workers on how to identify phishing and other cybersecurity threats.
Ensure policies and procedures are set up for reporting threats to IT security teams. Instruct employees on the correct course of action if they believe they have fallen for a scam.
Implement a DNS filter to prevent employees from accessing high risk websites on corporate-issued devices and block downloads of risky file types.
Ensure email security controls are implemented to block phishing attacks and detect and quarantine malware threats.
How TitanHQ Can Help Protecting Remote Workers and Their Devices
TitanHQ has developed two cybersecurity solutions that can help businesses protect their remote workers and their networks from email and web-based threats. Being 100% cloud-based, these solutions are just as effective when employees are working remotely as they are for office workers.
SpamTitan Cloud is a powerful email security solution that protects against the full range of email threats. SpamTitan has advanced threat detection capabilities to detect known and zero-day phishing, spear phishing, malware, botnet, and ransomware threats and ensure the threats never reach inboxes. SpamTitan Cloud also scans outbound email to detect spamming and malware distribution, as well as improving protection against insider threats through tags for sensitive data.
WebTitan Cloud is a DNS filtering solution that provides protection from web-based attacks for user working on and off the network. Being cloud based, there is no need to backhaul traffic to the office to apply filtering controls. Since the filter is DNS-based, clean, filtered internet access is provided with no latency. Controls can easily be applied to restrict access to certain types of websites to prevent cyberslacking and block cybersecurity threats and malware downloads.
Both of these solutions are easy to implement, require no local clients, and can be set up to protect your employees in minutes. They are also available on a free trial if you want to evaluate the solutions before committing to a purchase.
For further information on SpamTitan Cloud Email Security and WebTitan Cloud DNS filtering and to discover how these solutions can help to protect your business and remote workers at this extremely challenging time, give the TitanHQ team a call today.
There are many ways that ransomware can be downloaded onto business networks, but most commonly, ransomware attacks occur via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), drive-by downloads, or email.
Scans are performed to discover organizations with open RDP ports, which are then attacked using brute force tactics to guess weak passwords. Cybercriminals also add credentials from historic data breaches to their password lists.
The best way to defense against this method of ransomware delivery is to disable RDP entirely; however, RDP is often required for remote management or remote access to virtual desktops, so this may not be an option. If RDP cannot be disabled, there are steps that should be taken to make it as secure as possible.
Use of strong passwords is important to protect against brute force attempts to guess passwords. You should follow NIST advice on creating complex passwords. Passwords must be unique and not used on any other platform. Two-factor authentication should be implemented to prevent stolen credentials from being used.
You must make sure you are running the latest software versions for servers and clients. RDP connections to listening RDP ports should only be permitted through a secure VPN, and ideally, an RDP gateway should be used. You should also restrict who is permitted to login to remote desktop. Finally, you should use rate limiting to lock users out after a set number of failed attempts to enter the correct password.
Drive-By Ransomware Downloads
Drive-by downloads occur on websites controlled by hackers, either their own sites or insecure sites that have been compromised. Malicious scripts are added to the websites that download ransomware and other malware payloads onto a user’s device when they visit the malicious webpage. This method of attack does not require any user interaction, other than visiting the malicious website. That could occur by clicking a malicious link in an email, via a redirect, or even through general web browsing.
A web filter such as WebTitan is one of the best defenses against drive-by ransomware downloads. WebTitan is a DNS filtering solution that prevents end users from visiting websites known to be malicious. Rather than connecting to the website, the user will be directed to a local block page if they attempt to visit a known malicious website. WebTitan can also be configured to block downloads of risky file types such as executable files.
Ransomware is also commonly delivered via email. This could be via an embedded hyperlink to a website where a drive-by download occurs or via malicious scripts in file attachments. Protecting against email-based attacks requires a defense in depth approach, as no single solution will provide total protection against all email attacks.
An advanced email security solution such as SpamTitan should be implemented. SpamTitan scans all inbound and outbound emails and uses a variety of techniques, including machine learning, to identify and block potentially malicious emails. SpamTitan incorporates two antivirus engines that detect known malware variants and a sandbox to analyze suspicious files for malicious actions. Sandboxing protects against never-before-seen malware and ransomware variants.
End user training is also important to ensure that in the event of a malicious email reaching an end user’s inbox, it can be recognized as such. A web filtering solution will help to ensure that any attempt to visit a malicious website via a hyperlink in an email or email attachment is blocked before ransomware is downloaded.
Ransomware as a Secondary Payload
Several ransomware operators use commodity malware to deliver their ransomware payloads. The threat actors behind DoppelPaymer ransomware have been using the Dridex banking Trojan to deliver their malicious payload, while the Ryuk ransomware gang uses the TrickBot Trojan.
Even if these commodity malware infections are discovered and removed, the ransomware gangs may still have access to systems. These commodity malware infections are often viewed as relatively trivial and when these malware variants are discovered the attacks are not properly investigated. The Trojans are removed, but the ransomware operators continue to spread laterally before deploying their ransomware payloads.
In the case of TrickBot, once it is downloaded it gets to work harvesting data such as passwords files, cookies, and other sensitive information. Once the attackers have harvested all the data they can, a reverse shell is opened to the Ryuk ransomware operators who perform recon of the network and attempt to gain administrator credentials. They then use PSExec and other Windows tools to deploy ransomware on all devices connected to the network.
That is exactly what happened with the attack on the e-discovery firm, Epiq Global. The initial TrickBot infection occurred in December 2019. Access was provided to the Ryuk operators who deployed the ransomware on February 29, 2020. Prior to the deployment of ransomware, the Ryuk operators compromised computers in all 80 of Epiq’s global offices.
TrickBot and other Trojans are primarily delivered via phishing emails. SpamTitan will help to keep you protected against these Trojans and other ransomware downloaders.
On January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect, giving state residents greater control over the use and sale of their personal data and introduced. In this post we explore the CCPA data security requirements for businesses and the consequences of failing to adequately protect consumer data.
What is the California Consumer Protection Act?
California already had some of the strictest privacy laws in the United States, but CCPA took consumer privacy a step further. CCPA has been likened to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as it gives California residents similar rights over the personal data collected and used by companies.
CCPA requires companies to inform California residents about the categories of data that are being collected, at or before the point of collection. There is a right to access all personal information held by a company and find out with whom personal data has been shared. Consumers have a right to opt out and prevent their personal data from being sold and can request that their personal data is deleted. Consumers also have a right to equal services and prices, and cannot be discriminated against, or denied goods or services or levels of services if they opt out of the sale of their personal data.
Who Must Comply with CCPA?
On January 1, 2020, CCPA applies to all companies that do business with California residents, regardless of where the company is based, if one of the following conditions is met:
The company generates revenues of at least $25 million each year; or
The company collects, purchases, sells, or shares the personal data of at least 50,000 people; or
The company generates at least 50% of its revenues from the sale of personal data
CCPA does not apply to insurance institutions, agents, and support organizations, which are covered by different state laws.
CCPA Data Security Requirements
CCPA does not specify what security measures need to be implemented to protect the personal data of California residents; however, businesses do have a duty to implement reasonable security measures based on the level of risk, in accordance with other state laws. Under CCPA, penalties can be applied for a “violation of the duty to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices.”
Since legal action can be taken against companies over a breach of personal data, it is important for companies to ensure appropriate measures are taken to protect data and prevent data breaches.
CCPA does not specify what controls need to be implemented nor what constitutes “reasonable security procedures and practices.” A 2016 Data Breach Report released by the California Attorney General acts as a good guide. It includes a list of 20 controls that the Center for Internet Security says are requirements to protect against known cyberattack vectors. These should therefore serve as guide to the CCPA data security requirements. They are:
How TitanHQ Can Help You Comply with CCPA Data Security Requirements
Email is the most common attack vector used for phishing and malware distribution, so safeguards need to be implemented to keep email systems secure. Phishing attacks often have a web-based component where credentials are harvested, and many malware downloads occur via the internet. Internet controls are therefore also essential to protect against cyberattacks and data breaches. Due to the risk of attack via email and the web, email and browser protections are listed as the first of the foundational Center for Internet Security controls.
This is an area where TitanHQ can help. We have developed two powerful cloud-based security solutions that can help you meet CCPA data protection requirements.
SpamTitan Email Security is a powerful spam filtering solution that keeps inboxes free from email-based threats. SpamTitan incorporates multiple layers of anti-spam and anti-phishing controls, including Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DMARC, SURBL’s, RBL’s Bayesian analysis and more. SpamTitan uses twin antivirus engines to block known malware threats and sandboxing to protect against breaches and data loss from zero-day threats.
WebTitan is a cloud-based DNS filtering solution that protects against the internet component of phishing attacks and stops wired and wireless network users from accessing malicious websites. These solutions will help you meet your email and web security responsibilities and protect your organization from phishing attacks, malware and ransomware downloads. Together they will help you prevent costly data breaches and avoid the resultant CCPA fines.
Penalties for Noncompliance with CCPA
Each intentional violation carries a maximum penalty of $7,500 per record. Unintentional violations carry a penalty of $2,500 per record.
There is also a private cause of action in CCPA. In the event of a data breach, victims of the breach can sue for a CCPA violation. Statutory damages of between $100 and $750 by each California resident affected by the breach. Alternatively claims can be made for actual damages, whichever is greater, along with other relief determined by the courts. Class action lawsuits are also permitted under CCPA. The California Attorney General can also take legal action against the company rather than permitting civil suits to be filed.
You will no doubt have heard of a man in the middle (MiTM) attack. Here we define this attack method, explain how a MiTM attack occurs, and show you how to prevent a man in the middle attack and keep your devices and networks secure.
What is a Man in the Middle Attack?
Man in the middle attacks are commonly cited as a threat, but what exactly is a man in the middle attack? As the name suggests, this is a scenario where a person inserts him or herself between two communicating systems and intercepts conversations or data sent between the two. It is the computer equivalent on eavesdropping on a phone call where neither party is aware that their conversation is not private and confidential.
With a phone call, eavesdropping would allow an attacker to gather a host of sensitive information, which is divulged verbally between both parties. In this scenario, the attacker does not influence the conversation. He/she must wait until a valuable nugget of information is disclosed by either party.
A MiTM attack is concerned with intercepting data transferred between two parties. This could be data sent between a smartphone app and a server, between two parties on a messaging app such as WhatsApp, or an email conversation between two parties. It could also be communication between a user’s browser and a website.
In contrast to the telephone call scenario, which is passive, in a MiTM attack the attacker can influence what is being said. In fact, with a MiTM attack, the two people or systems communicating are not really communicating with each other. Each is communicating with the attacker.
Take email for example. Person A initiates an email conversation with Person B and requests a wire transfer to pay for services rendered. Person A supplies the bank details, and Person B agrees to the wire transfer. Various details are discussed, and the transfer is eventually made. There could be 10 or more messages sent by each party in the conversation. Each message between the two is altered by the attacker, crucially including the bank account details for the transfer. Neither party has been communicating with each other, yet both parties would be convinced they are.
Types of Man in the Middle Attack
The goal of a MiTM is to intercept information, usually for financial gain, but there are different ways that this can be achieved. Generally speaking, there are four main ways that a MiTM attack occurs: Packet sniffing, packet injection, session hijacking, and SSL stripping
Packet sniffing is one of the most common MiTM attack methods and is a type of eavesdropping or wiretapping, except it is not phone conversations that are obtained. It is packets of data sent between the two systems. Packet sniffing is much easier when sensitive data is not encrypted, such when information is disclosed between a browser and a HTTP website, rather than HTTPS where the connection is encrypted.
The above email example is a type of packet injection. Data is intercepted, but additional packets are introduced, or data packets are altered. For instance, malware could be introduced.
Session hijacking is where an attacker hijacks a session, such as a session between a browser and a banking website where the user has logged in. In this example, the attacker is the one in control of the session. SSL stripping is where a HTTPS session, which should be secure as the session is encrypted, is stripped of the encryption, turned from HTTPS to HTTP, and data is identified. This latter example is utilized by web filtering solutions that feature SSL inspection. It allows businesses to check for threats in encrypted traffic.
How to Prevent a Man in the Middle Attack
Fortunately, MiTM attacks can be difficult to perform, so the potential for an attack is limited, but there are skilled hackers who can – and do – perform these attacks and gain access to sensitive data and empty bank accounts. One of the most common examples is a coffee shop scenario where an attacker creates an evil twin hotspot. When a user connects to this evil twin – a Wi-Fi network set up to look like the genuine coffee shop Wi-Fi hotspot – all data sent between their browser and the website is intercepted.
There are several steps you can take to prevent a Man in the Middle Attack.
Never disclose sensitive data when connected to an untrusted public Wi-Fi network. Only ever connect via a VPN, and ideally wait until you are on a trusted Wi-Fi network to access online bank accounts.
Ensure the website is protected by an SSL certificate (starts with HTTPS). Bear in mind that hackers also use SSL certificates, so HTTPS does not mean a website is genuine.
Do not use hyperlinks included in emails, always visit the website directly by typing the correct URL into your browser or finding the correct URL through a Google search.
Do not install unauthorized software, apps from third-party app stores, and do not download and use pirated software.
Businesses should implement a DNS filtering solution to protect their workers and prevent them from visiting malicious websites.
Make sure your networks are secured and have appropriate security tools installed.
Disable insecure SSL/TLS protocols on your website (Only TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 should be enabled) and implement HSTS.
At face value, SpamTitan and VadeSecure may appear to be equivalent products. In this post we offer a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure to help managed service providers (MSPs) differentiate between the two solutions.
SpamTitan and VadeSecure
SpamTitan and VadeSecure are two email security solutions that block productivity-draining spam emails, phishing emails, and malspam – spam emails that deliver malware or malware downloaders. These cloud-based solutions assess all incoming emails and determine whether they are genuine communications, unwanted spam, or malicious messages and deal with them accordingly to prevent employees from opening the messages.
TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs that serve the SMB market and has been providing email security for MSPs for more than 2 decades. SpamTitan is TitanHQ’s email security offering, which has been developed for SMBs and MSPs that serve the SMB market.
VadeSecure is a French company that has developed an email security solution for the SMB market. As is the case with SpamTitan, VadeSecure offers protection from email-based threats and provides an important extra layer of security, especially for Office 365 environments. The company is now venturing into the MSP market and has recently raised an additional $79 million in venture capital to help it make inroads into the MSP market. However, at present, the solution is primarily geared toward SMBs rather than MSPs that serve them.
Enhanced Phishing Protection for Office 365 Accounts
Office 365 is the most widely used cloud service by user count and 2019 figures show that Office 365 cloud services are used by 1 in 5 corporate employees, with Office 365 email being the most common. With so many businesses using Office 365 for email, it should come as no surprise that Office 365 email accounts are being heavily targeted by hackers and scammers.
Microsoft does have measures in place to block spam and phishing emails, but the level of protection provided by Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is not sufficient for many businesses. A large percentage of phishing emails manage to sneak past Microsoft’s defenses. According to research from Avanan, 25% of phishing emails are delivered to Office 365 inboxes.
Consequently, additional protection is required, and many businesses choose to implement an anti-phishing solution provided by third parties such as SpamTitan and VadeSecure. MSPs also offer third party solutions to block phishing attacks on Office 365 accounts, not only to better protect their customers, but also to reduce the amount of time they spend mitigating phishing attacks that have not been blocked by EOP.
SpamTitan and VadeSecure have been developed to work on top of Office 365 and add an important extra layer of protection for Office 365 email.
Here we will concentrate on a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure with a specific focus on the features and benefits for MSPs rather than SMBs.
Comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for MSPs Serving the SMB Market
Since VadeSecure has historically focused on the Telco market, the email security solution lacks many features to make MSP’s lives easier and does not provide the level of control, flexibility, or the management tools and reports that MSPs seek. SpamTitan has been developed by MSPs for MSPs, so important features for MSPs have always been offered. We will cover these features below, but initially it is useful to include an infographic that summarizes some of the basic features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for comparison purposes.
Basic Features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure
SpamTitan Features for MSPs Not Offered by VadeSecure
This comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure may seem a little one-sided, and that is because VadeSecure is very much focused on end users rather than MSPs. No doubt the solution will be updated to incorporate more MSP-friendly features over time as the company tries to move into the MSP market, but at present, the features below are provided by SpamTitan but are not offered by VadeSecure.
Configuration Flexibility and Customization Potential
One of the biggest bug bears with VadeSecure is the inability to configure the solution to suit the needs of MSPs. It is not possible to create custom rules for instance, and MSPs must therefore use the Exchange Admin functionality of Office 365.
With SpamTitan, MSPs can create rules based on their own requirements and the needs of each individual client, and those rules can be highly granular and can easily be applied to specific groups, users, and for specific domains. That level of granularity and the ease of customization allows MSPs to fine-tune filtering policies to maximize the detection of threats while minimizing false negatives. MSPs can easily select more permissible or more aggressive policies for each client, but with VadeSecure there is no option for customization for each customer.
SpamTitan includes a full multi-tenancy view of all customers, with multiple management roles. This allows MSPs to easily monitor their entire customer base and trial base, assess the health of the deployments, view activity volumes across all customers, and quickly identify issues that require attention. With VadeSecure, there is no possibility of integrating with PSAs and RMMs, and there is no customer-wide view of the entire system.
Highly Granular Reporting
MSPs can tell their clients how important it is to improve their security defenses, but they must also be able to demonstrate that the solutions are proving effective at blocking threats to ensure they can continue to provide those services and receive regular, repeating revenue.
With SpamTitan, MSPs have highly granular reports that give them full visibility into what is happening and a detailed view of system performance. Client reports can easily be generated to show them how effective the solution is and why it is important to keep it in place. Furthermore, this level of reporting – per domain, per group, and at the group domain level – gives MSPs the information they need to identify potential issues and obtain detailed information on spam emails. The solution also has the management capabilities to allow any issues to be quickly identified and corrected to ensure the solution remains effective over time. With VadeSecure, visibility and control options are lacking and there are no options for demonstrating how effective the solution is and to demonstrate that to clients.
High Margins and Significant Revenue Potential
As previously mentioned, the flexibility and scope for customization is a real benefit for MSPs as it allows them to add more value through superior management capabilities. That means MSPs can build solutions that really benefit their clients and it helps them become more of a strategic partner rather than an IT service provider. It is much harder for clients to change a strategic partner than switch IT service providers. VadeSecure lacks this customization which means it is not possible for MSPs to add value to generate reliable, recurring revenue.
Further, with VadeSecure you get one product, but TitanHQ offers a trio of solutions for MSPs to better protect their clients and add more recurring revenue streams. Through the TitanShield for Service Providers program, MSPs also have access to WebTitan DNS filtering and ArcTitan email archiving. This allows MSPs to maximize revenue from each client by cross-selling new services, while also offering a layered security package to protect clients from the full range of email- and web-based threats.
Fully Transparent Pricing
When it comes to pricing, VadeSecure (and many other email security solutions) lack transparency and the pricing model is complex and expensive. Several features are not included as standard with VadeSecure and come at an additional cost. This makes it hard to perform a SpamTitan and VadeSecure pricing comparison.
For instance, with VadeSecure the solution is priced per module, so the Greymail, Spam, and Virus Protection options are not provided as standard and have to be added onto the cost. Based on feedback we have received from MSPs the solution is expensive, which reduces MSP profits and makes the email security solution more difficult to sell to SMBs.
With VadeSecure, the total number of users is not aggregated, which shows a lack of experience of working with MSPs. An MSP with 100 x 10-seat licenses will have that pay at 10 seats each rather than 1,000 seats overall. As such, discounts will be far lower.
With SpamTitan there is just one price which includes all features, including sandboxing, full support, dual anti-virus protection, all security modules, and updates. Furthermore, the price is exceptionally competitive (less than $1 per user). The pricing model was created to incorporate the flexibility for dealing with fluctuating numbers of customers, which often happens when providing managed email services.
Effectiveness at Blocking Threats
Price, usability, and flexibility are all important for MSPs, but features and benefits are the icing on the cake. Email security solutions are used to protect against threats, so the effectiveness of a solution is critical. SpamTitan and VadeSecure are effective at blocking threats and will provide an important additional layer of security for Office 365 users, but feedback we have received from MSPs show there is a clear winner.
VadeSecure includes ‘time-of-click’ protection against embedded hyperlinks, which rewrites URLs and sends them to a scanner. However, MSPs have reported that it can take a long time for phishing emails to be detected, even after threats would be blocked by Chrome. That means that phishing emails are being delivered and there is a window during which a successful attack could occur. This URL click feature only appears to work in OWA or the Outlook client as it is an API integration with Office 365.
SpamTitan includes more advanced detection methods to ensure that malicious URLs are detected and phishing emails are filtered out. SpamTitan includes SURBL filtering and other malicious URL detection mechanisms that complement the default mechanisms in Office 365 such as Recipient Verification Protocols, Sender Policy Frameworks, and Content Filter Agents. This means end users are better protected and there is a much lower probability of a phishing email evading detection.
Dual anti-virus protection is also provided and SpamTitan features a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be safely analyzed for malicious actions. This provides superior protection against malware, ransomware, and zero-day threats that are not detected by the two AV engines.
Any business that processes card payments is a target for cybercriminals, but restaurants in particular are favored by hackers. Over the past few weeks, cybercriminals have stepped up their efforts to attack these businesses and several restaurant chains have had their systems compromised. In all cases, malware has been installed on point-of-sale systems that steals payment card information when diners pay for their meals.
Many of the attacks have hit restaurant chains in the Midwest and East, with credit card data from diners recently having been listed for sale on the underground marketplace, Joker’s Stash. A batch of approximately 4 million credit and debit cards is being offered for sale, which comes from malware attacks at Moe’s, McAlister’s Deli, Krystal, and Schlotzsky’s.
The cyberattack on Krystal was detected in November, with the other three chains, all owned by Focus Brands, attacked in August. In total, the above chains have more than 1,750 restaurants and almost half of those locations, mostly in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina, were affected.
Catch Hospitality Group also announced in November that it had suffered a cyberattack which had seen malware installed on its point-of-sale system that scraped and exfiltrated payment card data as diners paid for their meals. The data breach affected customers of Catch NYC, Catch Roof, and Catch Steak restaurants. Fortunately, the devices used to process the majority of payments were unaffected. Malware was on the Catch NYC and Catch Roof devices between March 2019 and October 2019, with Catch Steak affected between September 2019 and October 2019.
Church’s Chicken restaurants were also attacked in a separate incident in October. The majority of its 1,000+ restaurants were not affected, but at least 160 restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas had malware installed on their POS system.
Other restaurant chains that have been attacked in 2019 include Checker’s Drive-In, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Huddle House, Applebee’s, Chilli’s, and Earl Enterprises (Buca di Beppo, Chicken Guy, Tequila Taqueria, Mixology, Planet Hollywood). Malware n the systems of Earl Enterprises had been present for almost a year before it was detected.
How to Improve Restaurant Cybersecurity
Restaurants process many thousands of card transactions which makes them an attractive target for hackers. Restaurants often use out-of-date operating systems, have vulnerability-ridden legacy hardware, and their cybersecurity solutions often leave a lot to be desired. Consequently, cyberattacks on restaurants are relatively easy to perform, at least compared to many other types of businesses.
In order to infect the POS system, the attackers will need network access. That is most commonly gained via phishing emails, drive-by malware downloads, or by abusing remote access tools. Direct attacks are also possible using techniques such as SQL injection and weak passwords can be easily guessed using brute force tactics.
The malware that sits on systems and exfiltrates data tends to have a very small footprint and is often stealthy as it needs to be present for long periods of time to collect payment card data. That can make it hard to detect when it has been installed. The key to security is therefore improving defenses to make sure the malware is not installed in the first place, which means preventing the attackers from gaining access to the network.
Listed below are some easy-to-implement steps that will help restaurants improve their security posture and block attacks. The key is defense in depth through layered security.
Use an enterprise-grade firewall –Ensure an enterprise-grade firewall is purchased. A firewall will prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your network resources.
Patch promptly and update all software and firmware – Ensure patches are applied promptly and software and firmware updates are implemented when they are released. That includes all systems and networked devices, not just your POS.
Upgrade hardware – When your hardware is approaching end of life it is time to upgrade. Unsupported hardware (and software) will no longer be updated and vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed.
Lockdown your POS: Use whitelisting or otherwise lock down POS systems to make it harder for malware to operate. Only allow trusted apps to run on your POS systems.
Install powerful antivirus software – Ensure all devices are protected by a powerful anti-virus solution and that it is set to update virus definitions automatically. Regularly scan the network for malware, especially your POS.
Implement an intrusion detection system – These systems monitor the network for unusual activity that could indicate a malware infection, attackers searching the network for the POS system, and unusual traffic that could indicate data exfiltration.
Change all default passwords and set strong passwords – To protect against brute force attacks, ensure strong passwords are set on all systems and all default passwords are changed. Also implement rate limiting to block attempts to access a system or device after a set number of failed password attempts.
Implement a powerful spam filtering solution – A powerful email security solution, such as SpamTitan, is required to prevent spam and malicious emails from being delivered to end users. Even if you have Office 365, you will need a third-party email security solution to block email-based threats.
Restrict Internet access with a DNS filter – A DNS filter such as WebTitan provides protection against drive-by malware downloads and web-based phishing attacks. WebTitan will block all known malicious websites and those with a low trust score. The solution can also be configured to prevent employees from accessing categories of websites where malware downloads are more likely.
Disable Remote Access if Possible – Disable Remote Desktop Protocol and all remote access tools. If remote access tools are required to allow essential maintenance work to be completed, ensure they can only used via a VPN and restrict the people who can use those tools.
Black Friday phishing scam are rife this year. With almost a week to go before the big discounts are offered by online retailers, scammers are stepping up their efforts to defraud consumers.
Spam email campaigns started well ahead of Black Friday this year and the scams have been plentiful and diverse. Black Friday phishing emails are being sent that link to newly created websites that have been set up with the sole purpose of defrauding consumers or spreading malware and ransomware. It may be a great time of year to pick up a bargain, but it is also the time of year to be scammed and be infected with malware.
A wide range of spam emails and scam websites have been detected over the past few weeks, all of which prey on shoppers keen to pick up a bargain. This year has seen the usual collection of almost too-good-to-be-true offers on top brands and the hottest products, free gift cards, money off coupons, and naturally there are plenty of prize draws.
Anyone heading online over the next few days to kick start their holiday shopping spree needs to beware. The scammers are ready and waiting to take advantage. With legitimate offers from retailers, speed is of the essence. There is a limited supply of products available at a discount and shoppers are well aware that they need to act fast to secure a bargain. The scammers are playing the same game and are offering limited time deals to get email recipients to act quickly without thinking, to avoid missing out on an exceptional deal.
This time of year always sees a major uptick in spam and scams, but this year has seen much more sophisticated scams conducted than in previous years. Not only are the scammers insisting on a quick response, several campaigns have been identified that get users to help snag more victims. In order to qualify for special offers or get more deals, the scammers require users to forward messages and share social media posts with their friends and contacts. This tactic is highly effective, as people are more likely to respond to a message or post from a friend.
So how active are the scammers in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday? According to an analysis by Check Point, the number of e-commerce phishing URLs has increased by 233% in November. Those URLs are being sent out in mass spam campaigns to direct people fake e-commerce sites that impersonate big name brands. Those sites are virtual carbon copies of the legitimate sites, with the exception of the URL.
While consumers must be wary of Black Friday phishing scams and potential malware and ransomware downloads, businesses should also be on high alert. With genuine offers coming and going at great speed, employees are likely to be venturing online during working hours to bag a bargain. That could easily result in a costly malware or ransomware infection.
The scams are not limited to the run up to Black Friday. Cyber Monday scams can be expected and as holiday season fast approaches, cybercriminals remain highly active. It’s a time of year when it pays to increase your spam protections, monitor your reports more carefully, and alert your employees to the threats. A warning email to employees about the risks of holiday season phishing scams and malicious websites could well help to prevent a costly data breach or malware infection.
Its also a time of year when a web filtering solution can pay dividends. Web filters prevent employees from visiting websites hosting exploit kits, phishing kits, and other known malicious sites. They can also be configured to block downloads of malicious files. A web filter is an important extra layer to add to your phishing defenses and protect against web-based attacks.
If you have yet to implement a web filter, now is the ideal time. TitanHQ is offering a free trial of WebTitan to let you see just how effective it I at blocking web-based threats. What’s more, you can implement the solution in a matter of minutes and get near instant protection from web-based phishing attacks and holiday season malware infections.
According to research from Channel Futures, security is the fastest growing service for 73% of managed service providers (MSPs). If you have yet to start offering security services to your clients, you are missing out on a steady income stream that could really boost your profits. But where should you start? What services should you be offering? In this post we will be exploring the ideal security stack for MSPs and the essential services that should form the core of your security offering.
Why is Managed Security is so Important?
As an MSP, you should be aware of the importance of security. Companies are being targeted by cybercriminals and data breaches are occurring at an alarming rate. It is no longer a case of whether a business will be attacked, it is a case of when and how often.
Many SMBs do not have sufficiently skilled staff to handle IT and it is far easier, and often more cost effective, to outsource their IT to MSPs. The same is true for security, but even more so due to the difficulty finding sufficiently skilled cybersecurity staff. With so many positions available and a national shortage of cybersecurity staff, cybersecurity professionals can afford to pick and choose there they work. SMBs must ensure they are well protected against cyberattacks, so they look to MSPs to provide security-as-a-service either as a stop gap measure while they try to fill internal positions or so they can forget about security and let an MSP look after that side of the business.
If you are not providing security services to your clients, they will most likely search for another MSP that can protect their business from threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, botnets, and prevent costly data breaches.
What do SMBs Want?
SMBs may be aware of the need for security, but they may not be so clued up about the solutions they need to protect them from cyber threats. You may need to explain to them exactly what they need and why. What is vital when explaining cybersecurity to SMBs is to emphasize the need for layered security. No single solution will provide protection against all threats and you will need to educate your clients about this.
Layered security is essential for protecting against ever increasing cybersecurity threats. No single solution will provide total protection. You need overlapping layers so that if one layer is bypassed, others are there to block the attack.
You should certainly be initiating conversations with your clients about security. Many SMBs only look for security services after they experience a costly data breach. By being proactive and approaching your clients and offering security services, you will not only have a much greater opportunity for increasing sales quickly, you will help them avoid a costly data breach and will not have to clear up the mess that such a breach causes.
What is the Ideal Security Stack for MSPs?
The best place to start is with a cybersecurity package that includes the core security services that all businesses need to protect them from a broad range of threats. Different packages can be offered based on the level of protection your clients need and their level of risk tolerance. Extra services can always be provided as add-ons.
There are four key security services you should be offering to your clients to give them enterprise-grade protection to secure their networks and protect against the main attack vectors. The ideal security stack for MSPs will differ from company to company, depending on the kind of clients that each MSP has. It may take some time to find the ideal security stack, but a good place to start is with core security services that every business will need.
Core Security Services for MSPs
Firewalls are essential for securing the network perimeter and separating trusted from untrusted networks. They will protect network resources and infrastructure against unauthorized access. It may even be necessary to implement multiple firewalls.
Email security is essential as this is the most common attack vector. Without email security, malware and phishing emails will hit inboxes and employees’ security awareness will be regularly put to the test. The threat of email attacks cannot be understated.
Email security must be explained to clients to ensure they understand its importance and why standard email security such as that provided by Microsoft through Office 365 simply doesn’t cut in anymore. Too many threats bypass Office 365 defenses. A study by Avanan showed that 25% of phishing emails bypass Office 365 security and are delivered to inboxes.
DNS filtering is also a requirement to protect against web-based attacks such as malvertising, drive-by downloads, and exploit kits. Even the best email security solutions will not block all phishing threats. DNS filtering provides an additional layer of security to protect against phishing attacks. While email was once the primary method of delivering malware, now malware is most commonly delivered via web-based attacks. The average business user now encounters three malicious links per day and 80% of malware is downloaded via the internet. Further, with more and more employees spending at least some of the week working remotely, protection is needed for public Wi-Fi hotspots. DNS filtering provides that protection when they are off the network.
Endpoint security solutions add another layer to the security stack. If any of the above solutions fail and malware is downloaded, endpoint security solutions will provide extra protection. This can include basic protection such as antivirus software or more advanced solutions such as intrusion detection systems.
When choosing solutions for your security stack, it is important to make sure they work seamlessly together. This can be difficult if you purchase security solutions from a lot of different vendors.
Additional Services to Add to your Security Stack.
The above security services should form the core of your security offering, but there are many additional services you can easily provide to ensure your clients are better protected. These can be offered as addons or as part of more comprehensive security packages.
Data loss protection
Email archiving and backup services
Vulnerability scanning and patch management
Security policy management
Security information and event management (SIEM)
Incident response and remediation
Security awareness training and phishing email simulations
How TitanHQ Can Help
TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market. TitanHQ products are consistently rated highly by MSPs for the level of protection, ease of use, ease of admin, and the level of support provided.
The TitanHQ portfolio of cybersecurity products consists of three core solutions:
SpamTitan Email Security
WebTitan DNS Filtering
ArcTitan Email Archiving
Each of these solutions has a 100% cloud-based architecture and has been developed for MSPs to easily incorporate into their security stacks. TitanHQ offers seamless deployments and easy incorporation into MSP’s management portals via RESTful API.
The above solutions can be supplied with multiple hosting options. You can host with TitanHQ, on your existing infrastructure or in the cloud with AWS, Azure or any other system.
SMBs want to know they are protected, but many don’t care about what solutions are used. This gives you an opportunity to reinforce your brand. This is easily achieved with TitanHQ as the above solutions can be provided in white label form, ready for you to add your own branding. You can even customize the user interface and only include the features that you need to reduce complexity.
Need reports for your clients? No problem. TitanHQ has an extensive range of pre-configured reports that can be scheduled to ease your admin burden, including board-level reports with scope to create your own reports to meet you and your clients’ needs.
Other key features for MSPs include:
Automated policy management
Full visibility of usage
Flexible, affordable, and transparent pricing with monthly billing
Set and forget solutions to ease the admin burden
World-class customer support included with all solutions
Generous margins for MSPs
Competitive pricing with monthly billing
Excellent MSP program – TitanShield – with dedicated account managers, assigned sales engineers, scalable pre-sales and technical support, and sales and technical training
TitanHQ has made it as easy as possible for MSPs to start offering security services to their clients. These solutions will also help established security-as-a-service providers ease their management burden and improve their margins.
To find out more about the TitanShield program and for further information on any or all of TitanHQ’s security solutions for MSPs, get in touch with the channel team today. Product demonstrations can be arranged and free 14-day trials are available to allow you to see for yourself why TitanHQ is the leading provider of email and web security solutions for MSPs.
Feedback from TitanShield Program Members
TitanHQ solutions are consistently rated highly by users with the solutions praised for the protection they provide, value for money, and ease of set up and use. The solutions have achieved top marks on independent review sites such as G2 Crowd, Expert Insights, with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Capterra, Spiceworks, Gartner Peer Insights, Software Advice, and Google Reviews.
Here’s what some of our MSP customers are saying about TitanHQ solutions they have implemented to protect their clients and increase their bottom lines.
“By reducing malware-related security incidents, you’re reducing your number one uncontrollable expense: the people on your IT operations team, like your help desk techs.” – MSP, Washington, US
“It’s baked into our fees as well, and our Crypto calls dropped to 0” – MSP, London, UK
“Web filtering is one of the, if not the greatest bang for your buck services. It’s built in anti malware has protected our clients, saving us thousands of hours of repair time I am absolutely certain.” – MSP, New York, US
“I don’t remember the last time one of our customers got Cryptolocker. I bundle it with our offering so that they get it no matter what just to make my life easier on virus removal or data problems.” – MSP, Seattle, US
“a key part of our security stack as we’ve scaled to over 6,000 managed endpoints, while decreasing virus and malware related tickets by 70%.” – MSP, Boston, US
“It has paid for itself many times over by reducing malware calls.” – MSP, Toronto, Canada
The event will be attended by thousands of IT professionals, business owners, and industry leaders who will be discussing the IT industry, recent advances in information technology, and the latest trends affecting MSPs. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for learning, networking, and collaboration and boasts an extensive program of interactive sessions, keynotes, and in-depth training sessions. The event also showcases the latest IT solutions and provides tips and tricks to ensure every ounce of value is squeezed from those tools.
This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, thanks to an all-star cast of thought leaders and industry professionals who will provide practical advice to help you improve every aspect of your business.
Connect IT Europe covers the entire Kaseya universe and the diverse ecosystem of solutions that serve IT professionals. The conference will help attendees find new revenue streams, increase their profit margins, and simplify IT management through educational presentations, workshops, roundtables, and interactive challenges.
As the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs serving the SMB market, TitanHQ is proud to be a Silver sponsor of the event. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover why TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs servicing the SMB marketplace and the features and benefits of SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving that make the solutions such a hit with MSPs and IT professionals.
The event will be attended by TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager Marc Ludden and Alliances/MSP Partner Manager Eddie Monaghan. Marc and Eddie will be explaining the recently launched TitanShield program for MSPs and how TitanHQ solutions can help MSPs improve efficiency, profitability, and security of their operations and enhance their customers’ security postures.
If you would like further information on TitanHQ products, feel free to reach out to Marc and Eddie ahead of the event:
Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
TitanHQ is proud to be a platinum sponsor of DattCon19, Paris – The leading event for MSPs looking to keep up to date on the latest industry trends, learn best practices, form new and profitable partnerships, and obtain invaluable advice that will help them grow their business and become more successful.
The event gives the TitanHQ team an opportunity to meet with leading MSPs, MSSPs, and ISPs and explain why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market.
The team will be available to explain the benefits of the TitanShield MSP program and show just how easy it is to integrate TitanHQ products into your service stacks and start rolling out spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving to your customers… and the best way to sell those services, reduce the time you spend on providing support, and improve the profitability of your business.
The event will be attended by Rocco Donnino, TitanHQ VP of Strategic Partnerships, Marc Ludden, TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager, and Eddie Monaghan. Alliances/MSP Partner Manager.
On Tuesday October 22 between 11:15am and 11:35am, Rocco Donnino will be explaining Email & Web Security for the SMB Market. Rocco will talk about the trends TitanHQ are seeing in the email and web security for SMB markets globally, drawing on the experience from working with over 2,200 MSP customers worldwide.
Marc Ludden and Eddie Monaghan will be on hand to meet with MSPs and ISPs to explain the benefits of joining the TitanShield MSP Program and how best to take advantage of TitanHQ’s proven technology and deliver our advanced network security solutions directly to their client base. The pair will be helping MSP partners push TitanHQ products downstream to their customers and grow their businesses.
The event will be attended by more than 1000 MSPs, ITSPs, and industry leaders. Over the three days of the conference, attendees will get to hear from the most successful MSPs and MSSPs and discover what they are doing differently and how they are driving growth.
The sessions, keynotes, and networking opportunities will help you get better at running your business with Datto Solutions and discover how the addition of key products such as SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving can improve profitability and add greater value.
The keynotes will be bigger and better than ever before and will be taken by 80 of the best and brightest business tycoons, MSPs, and Datto executives, who will share valuable real-world insights and best practices.
The Peer Forums are more intimate small-group roundtable sessions that provide high-value networking on key topics. These sessions are driven by attendees who will share pain points, success stories, and best practices that have been proven to help MSPs grow their business. This year’s Peer Forums are on the following topics:
Service Delivery: Driving Efficiency & Automation
Selling Networking as a Managed Service
Women in Tech
French Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
Service Delivery: Service Desk & Professional Services
M&A: How Do I Acquire or Be Acquired?
Security: Securing Your MSP First
German Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
Service Delivery: Client Engagement & vCIO
Add to that the networking opportunities and the stunning location and you have an invaluable event that is not to be missed.
DattoCon19 Paris will be taking place on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd at the Palais des congrès de Paris, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris, France.
In Idaho, library content filtering is now mandatory. H.B.194, which was signed into law in April, requires llibraries in Idaho to implement a content filtering system by July 2020 that is capable of preventing minors from accessing objectionable content. Not only does that content filtering system need to prevent library computers from being used to access undesirable content, the content filter must also cover library WiFi networks.
The law change was introduced in to prevent children from accessing pornography on library computers, which various studies have shown can cause considerable harm. Without filters in place, children could access adult content or inadvertently see adult content on other users’ screens. There have been many reports in the media and on internet forums of library patrons catching glimpses of pornography being accessed in plain sight of others.
Some library directors and library boards are unhappy with the law change for two main reasons. The first concerns a potential violation of First Amendments rights. The American Civil Liberties Union has voiced its concerns, stating “Ultimately, blocking software prevents users from accessing a wide range of valuable information, including such topics as art, literature, women’s health, politics, religion and free speech, which is in direct violation of our First Amendment rights.”
The view that filtering means other content will also be blocked is outdated. While the overblocking of internet content was once a concern, modern internet content filters for libraries are much more advanced and allow highly granular control of internet content. Modern filters are also much better at categorizing content than they once were. Further, easy-to-use interfaces reduce the potential for user error setting the content controls.
The filters also prevent malware downloads and block access to phishing forms, which further enhances protection for users and protects library networks from malware and ransomware attacks.
The other main issue is one of cost. While libraries can obtain discounts under the e-rate program if they implement content filters to comply with the the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), Idaho libraries otherwise have to cover the cost of the filtering controls themselves. No additional money has been made available.
Implementing Library Content Filtering for WiFi Networks is Easy
Little guidance has been provided on how libraries should implement the filters and there is confusion over how the filters can be applied to wired and WiFi networks.
Traditional filters require an appliance to be purchased which is costly. The appliance sits between the user and the internet and all traffic passes through that device and content controls are applied. This is problematic, especially when library devices are supplied for use off-site as all traffic must be hauled back to the appliance and then back to the device, which can result in significant latency (slow internet speeds).
A more cost-effective and trouble-free solution is a DNS-based filter. DNS-based filters apply filtering controls at the DNS level. No appliance needs to be purchased – which means a significant cost saving – and there is no latency. All the filtering takes place on the service provider’s server, not locally on an appliance device.
This system also allows filtering to take place on WiFi networks. Any device that connects to the WiFi network will only be able to access the filtered Internet service. Blocks can also be placed on anonymizer services to prevent filtering controls from being bypassed and DNS filtering can also be used to protect mobile devices, even those used off site.
TitanHQ’s content filtering solution for libraries – WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – not only incorporate highly granular controls to prevent overblocking of internet content, the solution requires no technical skill to operate, no hardware purchases are required, and no software downloads are necessary. WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are also low-cost content filtering solutions for libraries. Typical licensing costs are less than $1 per user per month.
If you are struggling to find a content filtering solution for your library, give the TitanHQ team a call. You will be able to have your questions answered about how to implement the solution, you can schedule a product demonstration to see how easy the solution is to operate, and can also take advantage of a free trial to see for yourself how precise the filtering controls are.
Benefits of WebTitan Cloud for Libraries
Create a family-friendly, safe and secure web browsing environment.
Block access to illegal content and pornography without blocking educational material
Block malicious websites and malware downloads
Accurately filter web content through 53 pre-set categories and up to 10 custom categories.
Filter by keyword and keyword score.
Inspect encrypted websites.
Filter content in 200 languages.
Apply time-based filtering controls.
Control bandwidth use.
Filter the Internet across multiple WiFi hotspots.
Manage access points through a single web-based administration panel.
Delegate management of access points.
Schedule and run reports on demand with real time-views of Internet activity and extensive drill down reporting.
Exploit kit activity may be at a fraction of the level of 2016 when peak activity was reached, but the threat has not gone away. In fact, the mid-year cybersecurity roundup from Trend Micro shows exploit kit activity is now triple the level of mid-2018. Websites hosting exploit kits still pose a significant threat to businesses.
Exploit kits are toolkits that contain exploits for vulnerabilities in popular software applications, such as Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash Player. When a user lands on a web page that hosts an exploit kit, it will scan the user’s browser for vulnerabilities. If an exploitable flaw is identified, malware is automatically downloaded and executed on the user’s device. In many cases, the downloading of a Trojan, ransomware, or other form of malware is not identified by the user.
Traffic is sent to exploit kits through malvertising – malicious advert – on high traffic websites. User’s can be directed to malicious websites through phishing emails, and it is also common for hackers to hijack high traffic websites and use them to host their exploit kit. That means users could visit a malicious website just through general web browsing.
There are several exploit kits currently in use such as Magnitude, Underminer, Fallout, Green Flash/Sundown, Rig, GrandSoft, and Lord. These exploit kits are pushing cryptocurrency miners and botnet loaders, although ransomware and banking Trojans are the most common payloads.
Many of the exploits used by these toolkits are for old vulnerabilities, but since businesses are often slow to apply patches, they still pose a major threat. Exploit kits such as GrandSoft and Rig are regularly updated and now host exploits for much more recently disclosed vulnerabilities.
One of the most recently identified campaigns has seen the threat actors behind Nemty ransomware team up with the operators of RIG to push their ransomware on businesses still using old, vulnerable versions of Internet Explorer.
A new exploit kit named Lord is being used to infect users with Eris ransomware. In this case, traffic is being directed to the exploit kit through malvertising on the PopCash ad network. The EK primarily uses exploits for flaws in Adobe Flash Player such as CVE-2018-15982.
Protecting against exploit kits is straightforward on paper. Businesses need to ensure that vulnerabilities are identified and patched promptly. If there are no vulnerabilities to exploit, no malware can be downloaded. Unfortunately, in practice things are not quite so simple. Many businesses are slow to patch or fail to apply patches on all devices in use.
Anti-spam software can help to reduce risk by blocking phishing emails containing links to exploit kits, but most of the traffic comes from search engines and malvertising, which anti-spam software will do nothing to block. To improve your defenses against exploit kits, drive-by downloads, and phishing websites, one of the best cybersecurity solutions to deploy is a DNS filtering solution.
A DNS filter allows businesses to carefully control the websites that employees can access when connected to the business’s wired and wireless networks. Controls can be set to block different types of web content such as gambling, gaming, and adult websites but crucially, the DNS filter also blocks all known malicious websites. DNS filters use blacklists of known malicious websites such as those hosting exploit kits or phishing forms. If a web site or web page is included in the blacklist, it will automatically be blocked. Websites are also scanned in real time to identify malicious content.
Since all filtering takes place at the DNS level, access to malicious or undesirable content is blocked without any content being downloaded. Setting up the solution is also quick and easy, as it only requires a change to the DNS record to point it to the service provider. No hardware is required and there is no need to download any software.
If you want to improve your defenses against malware, ransomware, botnets, and phishing and are not yet controlling the web content that your employees can access, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan. Alternatively, sign up for a free trial of the solution by clicking the image below.
The year 2018 saw a reduction in ransomware attacks on businesses as cybercriminals opted for alternative means to make money. Major ransomware attacks were still occurring, just at a slightly lower rate than in 2017.
Some reports were released that suggested ransomware was no longer such a massive threat as it was in 2016 and 2017, but the number of reported attacks in 2019 have shown that is definitely not the case. Any business that has not implemented defenses to protect against ransomware attacks could well be the next victim and have to pay millions to recover from an attack.
Make no mistake. Ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats faced by businesses. If ransomware is installed on the network, all files, including backups, could be encrypted. That could prove catastrophic, as one small Michigan medical practice discovered.
The two-doctor practice in Battle Creek, MI suffered an attack that resulted in the encryption of all patient data. A ransom demand was issued by the attackers, but as there was no guarantee that files could be recovered after the ransom was paid, the decision was taken not to pay up. The hackers then deleted all the encrypted files. Faced with having to rebuild the practice from scratch, the doctors decided to call it quits and took early retirement.
Ransomware attacks on healthcare providers are now being reported at an alarming rate and government entities, cities, and municipalities are being extensively targeted. The city of Baltimore suffered a major attack in May involving a ransomware variant called RobbinHood. The attack brought down the city’s servers and systems, causing major disruption across the city. A ransom of $6 million was paid for the keys to regain access to the encrypted files.
Two small cities in Florida also suffered major attacks. Lake City was forced to pay a ransom of $460,000 and Riviera Beach paid a ransom of $600,000, while Jackson County in Georgia paid $400,000 after its court system was attacked.
As the year has progressed, the attacks have increased. A report from Malwarebytes indicates there was a 195% increase in ransomware attacks in Q1, 2019. Figures from Kaspersky Lab show ransomware attacks almost doubled in Q2, 2019, with 46% more attacks reported than the corresponding period in 2018.
The increase in attacks means businesses need to be prepared and have the necessary security tools in place to make it difficult for the attacks to succeed.
There is no one cybersecurity solution that can be implemented to eliminate the threat of attack, as hackers are using a variety of methods to gain access to networks and download their malicious payloads. Layered defenses are key to repelling an attack.
Email is the primary method of delivering ransomware. All it takes if for a malicious email to arrive in an inbox and for an employee to be fooled into opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a hyperlink for ransomware to be installed. An advanced email filtering solution such as SpamTitan Cloud is therefore needed to block malicious emails and ensure they do not reach employees’ inboxes.
SpamTItan includes Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to block email impersonation attacks and a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be executed in safety and studied for malicious activity. Sandboxing is essential as it allows zero-day ransomware threats to be identified and blocked.
Not all attacks occur via email. Attacks over the Internet are also common. A web filtering solution should therefore be implemented to block these web-based attacks. A web filter will prevent employees from accessing known malicious sites where ransomware is automatically downloaded. With these two technical measures in place, businesses will be well protected from attacks. Along with security awareness training for staff and the adoption of good data backup practices, businesses can mount a strong defense against ransomware attacks.
There has been a spate of ransomware attacks on cities, municipalities, mayor’s offices, and local government facilities in recent weeks.
The latest attack was on La Porte County in Indiana. The attack started on July 6, 2019, but prompt action by the IT department allowed the ransomware to be contained. That rapid response meant only 7% of the laptops used by the county were affected. However, two domain controllers were also affected and that rendered the network unavailable.
Experts were brought in to try to restore files from backups and bring the network back online, but those attempts failed as the backup servers had also been infected with the ransomware. La Porte County was left with no alternative other than to pay the ransom demand. The Bitcoin ransom equated to around $130,000, $100,000 of which was covered by an insurance policy.
This attack involved Ryuk ransomware – The same ransomware variant that was used in the attack on Lake City in Florida on June 10, 2019. For Lake City, Ryuk ransomware was delivered by the Trickbot Trojan, which was in turn deployed by the Emotet Trojan. Lake City paid approximately $500,000 to the attackers to obtain the keys to unlock the encryption. Riviera Beach in Florida was also attacked and paid a ransom of around $600,000.
These are just three cases out of several recent attacks. Those three attacks alone have resulted in more than $1,200,000 being paid to cybercriminals. That sends a very clear message to other cybercriminals that these attacks can be extremely profitable. That is the reason the FBI advice is never to pay.
2018 saw a decline in ransomware attacks as cybercriminals pursued other strategies for attacking businesses, but ransomware is now certainly back in favor and is being used in an increasing number of attacks.
Something that several of the targets in the recent ransomware campaigns have in common is they are relatively small cities that have limited resources to devote to cybersecurity. They have hardware and software that has reached end of life and, due to limited funds, security gaps have started to appear.
Riviera Beach, for instance, is a city of 35,000 people with limited resources. It had recently undergone a period of turmoil in management, had suffered scandals, and during the upheaval its cybersecurity contract had been allowed to lapse. That left the door wide open to attack.
These attacks have proven incredibly costly, yet they could have been prevented with a very small spend on a select number of security solutions. The attacks on Rivera Beach and Lake City could have been prevented with an advanced email security solution such as SpamTitan. The ransomware was installed in both of these attacks as a result of employees opening malware-infected email attachments.
SpamTitan incorporates dual anti-virus engines to detect malicious software and a Bitdefender-powered sandbox for deep analysis of suspicious email attachments. SpamTitan incorporates DMARC email authentication to counter email impersonation attacks and a host of other anti-spam and anti-phishing controls.
SpamTitan can be deployed as a gateway solution on existing hardware or as a cloud-based solution, and can be easily layered on top of Office 365 to improve protection against phishing and ransomware attacks.
Further, the cost of protection against ransomware and phishing attacks is likely to be much lower than you think. For more information, contact TitanHQ today.
The excitement is building as DattoCon19 draws ever closer. Starting on June 17, 2019 in San Diego and running for three days, DattoCon19 is an unmissable event for managed service providers (MSPs).
At the conference, attendees benefit from practical advice and best practices to grow their businesses, increase sales, and boost monthly recurring revenue (MRR). A huge range of vendors will be on hand to offer information on exciting products and attendees will have the opportunity to learn strategies to increase business impact growth, boost profitability, and broaden their service stacks.
Sessions will be taken by industry experts and leading MSPs who will share tips and tricks to take back home and apply at the office. On average, attendees at DattoCon achieve 41% sales growth year-over-year as a result of attending the conference.
TitanHQ is sponsoring DattoCon19 and is excited about having the opportunity to meet new MSPs and help them grow their businesses. As a Datto Select Vendor, TitanHQ offers MSPs three cloud-based solutions that can be easily integrated into existing MSPs service stacks: Anti-phishing and anti-spam protection, DNS-based web filtering, and email archiving. All three solutions are available through the TitanShield program for MSPs.
MSPs can meet the TitanHQ team at booth 23 at DattoCon19 to find out more about the TitanShield program and the exciting opportunities for MSPs that work with TitanHQ. TitanHQ will be on hand to help MSPs that support Office 365 to improve protection against phishing attacks and malware. MSPs can also find out more about the TitanHQ threat intelligence that protects Datto DNA and D200 boxes, and how TitanHQ’s DNS filter is a direct swap out for Cisco Umbrella and the cost advantages of doing so.
TitanHQ Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, Rocco Donnino, is one of the panel members for the Datto Select Avendors event on Monday. The event brings together experts from different fields to help come up with solutions for some of the major problems faced by MSPs in today’s marketplace.
TitanHQ at DattoCon19
TitanHQ will be at booth 23
Special Show Pricing available
Daily TitanHQ vintage Irish whiskey raffle
TitanHQ and BVOIP are sponsoring a GasLamp District Takeover Party 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
In our previous post we explained why managed service providers (MSPs) should be offering a web filtering service to their customers and the benefits that can be gained by customers and MSPs alike. In this post we explain what makes WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs and why so many MSPs have chosen TitanHQ as their web filtering partner.
Why WebTitan Cloud is the Best Web Filter for MSPs
One problem MSPs face before they can start offering a web filtering service to their clients is how to incorporate the solution into their service stacks and their existing cloud offerings. While there are many providers of web filtering services, not all solutions have been developed with MSPs in mind. TitanHQ differs in that respect.
TitanHQ’s web filtering solution, WebTitan Cloud, has been developed specifically to meet the needs of MSPs and make it as easy as possible for the solution to be added to their existing cloud offerings. WebTitan Cloud seamlessly integrates within existing workflows regardless of whether MSPs self-host, use AWS, Azure, or other cloud platforms.
Why WebTitan is Perfect for MSP’s
Save on customer support time, hours and cost. No more costly ransomware call outs.
Gives your clients excellent protection against malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks.
Real time LIVE updating of malware and malicious threats with an active database of 650 million users driving the AI driven protection.
Easy filtering at multiple levels with the capability to recognize users in many different ways.
Protection from web threats for office and remote users.
Reporting with full AD integration – Easy to show your customers the volume of malicious attacks you have prevented.
Great for improving revenue – Generate regular monthly revenue for very little effort.
Easy client account administration via a central control panel.
Multiple hosting options: Deployed in our cloud, a private cloud, or in your data center.
Intuitive controls with low management overhead.
API driven for advanced back-end integration in your own systems, including billing and reporting.
Flexible pricing to suit your business, including monthly billing.
Multi-tenant solution with advanced customer management features.
Highly scalable with no latency.
Highly customizable – can be provided as a white label ready for your logos and color scheme.
Leading alternative to OpenDNS Cisco Umbrella at a fraction of the price.
Industry-leading technical support and customer service.
No punitive terms, measures, or sharp practices and a fully transparent pricing policy with no hidden costs.
How Does WebTitan Cloud Integrate into MSPs Management Systems?
To make integration as easy as possible, TitanHQ uses RESTful API, which allows fast and risk-free integration into MSPs management systems. WebTitan Cloud uses the OAuth 1.0 protocol for authentication and has a full set of keys and secrets in the WebTitan Cloud user interface (UI). Once an MSP has signed up, no further registration or authentication is necessary. The API client provides the appropriate oauth_signature to authorize requests to protected resources.
Overly complex user interfaces are a problem with many cloud-based solutions. With WebTitan Cloud, the UI is made as clean and easy to use as possible. MSPs can remove all elements from the UI that are not required to keep the UI clean and simple. WebTitan Cloud can also be integrated into MSP cloud interfaces to create a better user experience and greater consistency for customers.
Having information at your fingertips is important when customers send in requests or when reports are required on web use and blocking. WebTitan Cloud allows MSPs to create and integrate a full suite of high-level system and customer reports into their own management consoles.
Onboarding new customers is also a quick and simple process, which can be integrated into current MSP on-boarding processes. New customer accounts can easily be created (or deleted) from within an MSP’s own UI, in addition to performing updates and listing all current customer accounts.
MSPs can connect to WebTitan Cloud to manage their customers settings, including locations, whitelists, and blacklists. Customers that would prefer to manage their own settings can perform a limited number of operations themselves using APIs. Since WebTitan Cloud is available in a full white label, customers who do access their own settings can be given a UI with MSP branding rather than TitanHQ’s to maintain consistency and help reinforce the MSPs brand.
TitanHQ also operates an extremely competitive pricing strategy with generous margins for MSPs and aligned monthly billing cycles through the TitanShield MSP Program.
If you have yet to start offering web filtering to your clients as part of your service stack or if you are unhappy with your current provider’s product, contact TitanHQ today and as about becoming a member of the TitanShield MSP Program. Product demonstrations can also be scheduled on request.
Feedback from MSP Clients
“WebTitan is an outstanding tool for most reliable content filtering. The monitoring feature of this specific product is quite unique that totally monitors all the process of online working and also secures all the data. Additionally, its set-up is superb easy and it can be done in just few minutes that save my time and energy as well.” – Kristie H. Account Manager
“WebTitan is fairly easy to setup. It is available as a cloud based solution or on prem. You can get as simple or as complicated with your filtering as you like, it will handle most situations with ease. It has provided us with a stable web filtering platform that has worked well for us for many years.” – Derek A. Network Manager
“WebTitan is outstanding software that helps me a lot in minimizing viruses. The thing I like most about WebTitan is that it is extremely easy to use and configure. I like its clear interface. It lets us block malicious content and spam easily. It is no doubt an amazing product helping us a lot in kicking out harmful bad stuff.” – Randy Q. Software Engineer
“By reducing malware-related security incidents, you’re reducing your number one uncontrollable expense: the people on your IT operations team, like your help desk techs.” – MSP, Washington, US
“a key part of our security stack as we’ve scaled to over 6,000 managed endpoints, while decreasing virus and malware related tickets by 70%.” – MSP, Boston, US
“It has paid for itself many times over by reducing malware calls.” – MSP, Toronto, Canada
A web filtering service allows Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to better protect their clients from accidental malware downloads and phishing attacks while improving their bottom lines. Further, by preventing phishing attacks and malware infections, they can reduce the amount of time they spend fighting fires. For busy MSPs, the latter will be especially beneficial.
Why is Web Filtering Important?
There are several reasons why MSP clients will benefit from a web filtering service. First and foremost, a web filter will help to prevent their customers’ employees from visiting phishing websites and malicious URLs. Most phishing attacks start with a phishing email, so a powerful spam filtering solution is essential. While commercial spam filters such as SpamTitan will block more than 99% of spam and phishing emails, additional protections are required to protect against the 1% that bypass spam defenses.
Naturally end user security awareness training will help in this regard, but as the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report shows, 30% of delivered phishing messages are opened by end users and 12% of those users also click on malicious links in the messages.
A web filter is an additional layer of anti-phishing and anti-malware defenses that kicks in when malicious links are clicked and when end users attempt to visit other malicious sites while browsing the Internet. With a web filter in place, when an employee attempts to access a malicious web page, that attempt will be blocked before any content is downloaded. Instead of displaying the web page, a block page will be displayed.
Web filters also allow companies to carefully control the types of content their employees can access. This allows them to enforce acceptable internet usage policies with ease. Employers can prevent their employees from accessing NSFW content such as pornography, illegal content and, if tighter controls are required to improve productivity, other categories of web content such as dating sites, social media networks, gambling sites, and gaming sites.
With a web filter in place, security and productivity can both be quickly improved and the gains in both of those areas is likely to more than pay for the cost of the web filtering package provided by their MSP.
Cloud Based Web Filtering Solutions for MSPs
Convincing customers to implement a web filtering solution should be straightforward given the number of phishing attacks that are now being conducted and the cost of mitigating phishing attacks and malware infections. The cost of web filtering is tiny by comparison.
For MSPs, cloud-based filtering solutions are the natural choice. They can be implemented in minutes once a customer request has been received, no hardware is required, there is no software to install, and patching is handled by the service provider. All that is required from the MSP is a brief set up and configuration for each customer and ongoing management and reporting.
However, not all cloud-based web filtering solutions make set up, management and reporting simple. WebTitan Cloud differs in this respect. Not only does the solution offer excellent protection, the solution has been developed specifically with MSPs in mind. The ease of integration into MSP’s back-end systems and management has made WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs.
In our next post we will explain how WebTitan Cloud differs from other web filtering solutions, why it is the easiest solution for MSPs to integrate into their existing cloud offerings, and how TitanHQ makes getting started, provisioning new customers, and managing customer accounts a quick and easy process requiring the minimal management overhead.
Supply chain attacks allow cybercriminals to attack businesses through weak links in the supply network. Smaller companies are attacked, which gives hackers access to larger and better secured businesses: Businesses that would be harder to attack directly.
This attack method was used to spread NotPetya malware in Ukraine. A software supply company was breached which allowed the malware to be spread to the software supplier’s clients. The massive data breach at Target in 2014 was made possible by first attacking an HVAC system provider. The attack allowed hackers to install malware on the Target’s POS system and obtain the credit card numbers of millions of its customers. According to Symantec, supply chain attacks doubled in 2018.
There are many different types of supply chain attacks, but all serve a similar purpose. By attacking one company it is then possible to attack a bigger fish, or in the case of attacks on cloud service providers and managed service providers, a single attack will give a hacker access to the networks of all MSP clients.
Large businesses often have the budgets to hire their own IT and security staff and can implement robust defenses to prevent attacks. Smaller businesses often struggle to recruit security professionals as they are in high demand. With the shortage of skilled cybersecurity staff and an inability to pay the large salaries that skilled cybersecurity professionals demand, SMBs often turn to MSPs to provide those services.
In order to be able to provide those services, managed service providers are given remote access to their client’s networks. Many of the tasks that need to be performed by MSPs require administrative privileges. Managed service providers also hold login credentials to their clients’ routers and cloud accounts. All of those credentials are extremely valuable to hackers.
Given the typical number of clients each MSP has, a successful attack on an MSP could prove very profitable for a hacker. It is therefore no surprise that there has been an increase in cyberattacks on MSPs and CSPs.
While MSPs are usually good at securing their clients’ networks and ensuring they are well protected, they also need to ensure their own house is in order. Patches must be applied promptly, vulnerabilities must be addressed, and security solutions must be put in place to protect MSPs systems.
MSP staff should be security aware, but when they are busy resolving their clients’ problems, mistakes can easily be made such as responding to a well-crafted spear phishing email. All it takes is for one MSP employee to respond to such an email for a hacker to gain a foothold in the network.
Naturally, security awareness training should be provided to all MSP employees and security solutions need to be deployed to protect against email and web-based attacks. This is an area where TitanHQ can help.
TitanHQ Cybersecurity Solutions for MSPs
TitanHQ’s offers a suite of cybersecurity solutions for managed service providers that have been developed from the ground up with MSPs in mind. TitanHQ has an in depth understanding of what MSPs need, having been working closely with them for more than two decades. TitanHQ solutions provide everything MSPs could reasonably ask for to meet the demands of their clients.
Our multi-tenanted solutions are full of features to help MSPs save time and money. The solutions work on any operating system, client accounts can be up and running within 20 minutes, and fully automated updates minimize the management overhead while ensuring maximum protection from threats. Furthermore, all TitanHQ solutions are available in white label format ready to receive an MSPs logos and there is a choice of hosting options, including the option of hosting the solution within an MSPs own infrastructure.
SpamTitan is an easy to implement and easy to manage cloud-based spam filtering solution that provides excellent protection against the full range of email threats. Email attachments are scanned using dual antivirus engines that block 100% of known malware threats. Suspicious attachments that pass the AV scans are sent to a Bitdefender-powered sandbox where they are subjected to an in-depth, sophisticated analysis to identify previously unknown malware threats and malicious scripts. SpamTitan also uses a defense-in-depth approach to protect against phishing threats, including machine learning predictive techniques to identify zero-day phishing threats. SpamTitan scans inbound and outbound emails and includes a data loss prevention feature to prevent attempts to use email accounts to send sensitive data outside the organization.
TitanHQ has developed WebTitan to provide protection against web-based threats. WebTitan is a DNS-based web filtering solution that prevents employees and guest network users from visiting malicious websites used for phishing and malware distribution. Stopping malicious requests at the DNS layer, which is better than waiting for the payload to be delivered onto the machine and then removed. By stopping it at the DNS layer you’re reducing not only malware infections, but containing machines already infected by preventing them from communicating out to their C&C servers. SpamTitan and WebTitan are fed threat intelligence in real time from an active database of 650 million users, which provides zero-minute protection against cyber threats.
Benefits of TitanHQ Cybersecurity Solutions for MSPs
Easy client account administration via a central control panel
One control panel to manage all clients
Intuitive controls with low management overhead
Eliminates the need for site visits, with no local support required
No end user software installations needed
Incorporate new clients in minutes
Competitive usage-based pricing with monthly billing
Three hosting options: Our servers, a private cloud, or within an MSP’s infrastructure
Generous margins for MSPs
Industry-leading technical support and customer service
Solutions available in a white label version ready to take MSP logos
If you want to improve your defenses against cyber threats and better protect your clients, contact TitanHQ today for further information about SpamTitan Email Security and WebTitan Web Security.
The TitanHQ MSP Program – TitanSHIELD
The TitanSHIELD MSP Program allows MSPs to take advantage of TitanHQ’s proven technology so that they can sell, implement and deliver our advanced network security solutions directly to their client base. Benefits include partner support, a dedicated account manager, assigned sales engineer support, access to the Global Partner Program Hotline, access to the Partner Knowledge Base, 24/7 priority technical support, online technical training and FAQs, access to the Partner Technical Knowledge Base, and full access to an extensive range of marketing materials and sales tools.
Contact the MSP team at TitanHQ today for more information and to apply to join more than 1,500 MSP members of the TitanSHIELD program.
Traditional email security solutions are effective at keeping inboxes free from spam email, but many fall short when it comes to blocking phishing and spear phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are conducting ever more sophisticated campaigns that manage to bypass traditional email security defenses by impersonating legitimate companies and spoofing their domains.
In addition to phishing attacks that attempt to obtain sensitive information, email is often used to spread malware, ransomware and botnets. Traditional anti-virus solutions are effective at blocking known malware threats, but signature-based AV solutions are not effective at blocking never-before-seen malware variants.
Today, new malware variants are being released at record pace. To block these zero-day malware attacks, an advanced email security solution is required which does not rely on signatures to identify malicious file attachments.
SpamTitan was already a powerful email security solution for SMBs and MSPs serving the SMB market and was capable of blocking sophisticated phishing emails and new malware threats. However, new features have now been added that improve detection rates further still and provide superior protection against zero-day malware and phishing attacks that spoof legitimate domains.
TitanHQ has updated SpamTitan to include a DMARC email authentication feature which is capable of detecting and blocking spoofed emails to better protect users from sophisticated phishing attacks.
To better protect against malware, ransomware, botnets, and zero-day attacks, TitanHQ has incorporated a new Bitdefender-powered sandboxing feature into SpamTitan. Email attachments that pass standard checks are safely detonated in the sandbox and are analyzed for malicious activity. The sandboxing feature provides an additional layer of security and greatly enhances protection against malicious attachments. This feature also helps to ensure that more legitimate emails and attachments are delivered to end users.
To explain how these new features work and the benefits to users, TitanHQ is running a webinar. In the webinar, TitanHQ will cover the new features in detail and will explain how SpamTitan can protect against the full range of email-based threats.
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2019
Time: 12pm, EST
The webinar will last 30 minutes and advance registration is necessary.
The poor state of cybersecurity in K-12 schools is making it too easy for criminals to conduct cyberattacks. As 2018 figures show, attacks are coming thick and fast. Action is needed to shore up security and keep cybercriminals at bay.
2018 Cyberattacks on K-12 Schools
Education has long been one of industries most commonly targeted by cybercriminals and 2018 was no exception. Last year there were several major cyberattacks on K12 schools that resulted in data theft and huge financial losses.
The 2018 State of K-12 Cybersecurity report from the K12 Cybersecurity Resource Center revealed 122 cyberattacks on K-12 schools were reported in 2018. 119 public K-12 education agencies in 38 states reported attacks. 60% of those cyberattacks resulted in the personal data of students being compromised.
North Dakota schools were hit particularly hard. In February 2018, one third of schools in the state experienced malware attacks. In many cases, the malware infections were the result of staff and students clicking on links in emails, visiting malicious websites, or opening malware-laced email attachments.
The 2019 State of Malware report from Malwarebytes reveals that in 2018, education was the number one industry targeted with Trojans and was second for ransomware attacks. Business email compromise scams are also common and many K12 school districts suffered W-2 phishing attacks and were fooled into sending scammers copies of employees’ tax information.
There have also been several successful email scams that have resulted in staff being fooled into making fraudulent transfers of school funds to criminals’ accounts. A school district in Texas was scammed out of $2 million in construction funds as a result of a phishing attack that fooled a staff member into making payments to fraudulent accounts. The high number of these types of scams prompted the FBI to issue a warning to schools in September 2018 about phishing scams that attempt to steal employees’ credentials.
K-12 schools are an attractive target for cybercriminals because attacks are relatively easy and the potential rewards are high. Student information sells for big bucks on the black market. Personal information along with Social Security numbers can be used for identity theft. It typically takes longer for identity theft to be detected with minors. If student data are stolen, thieves can rack up huge debts in students’ names over the course of several years before fraud is detected.
The State of Cybersecurity in K-12 Schools
Even though the risk of cyberattacks is high, many school leaders fail to appreciate the seriousness of the problem and how even simple changes to improve cybersecurity in K-12 schools can prevent most cyberattacks.
A Consortium for School Networking/Education Week Research Center survey in late 2017 showed that only 48% of school leaders considered the threat from phishing to be significant or very significant, with the numbers falling to under 30% for malware and ransomware attacks. Only 15% of K-12 schools have implemented a cybersecurity plan, just 29% have purchased cybersecurity products and services, and 31% had not provided end-user training.
The high value of student data, the opportunity to conduct multiple types of fraud, and poor cybersecurity defenses is a winning combination for cybercriminals. Unfortunately, there is no single solution that can be implemented to improve cybersecurity and prevent costly cyberattacks and data breaches. What is needed is an effective cybersecurity plan, policies and procedures, training, and technology.
How to Improve Cybersecurity in K-12 Schools
School budgets are usually stretched so it can be difficult to find the funds to improve cybersecurity in K-12 schools. It is therefore important to choose cybersecurity solutions wisely and select products that provide protection against the most common methods used by cybercriminals to attack schools.
Many of the attacks start with a single phishing email. It is therefore critical for K12 schools to improve email security, and for that, an advanced spam filtering solution is essential. SpamTitan blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails and is an ideal, low-cost, easy-to-implement spam filtering solution for K12 schools.
A web filtering solution is also an important cybersecurity measure. In addition to blocking students’ access to obscene content, as required for CIPA compliance, web filters can prevent users from visiting phishing websites and will block ransomware and malware downloads. The cost of a web filter can be partially offset by discounts obtained through the E-rate program.
End user training is also important. K12 schools need to include cybersecurity awareness training as part of their staff development program. Rather than providing a one-off or annual training session, training needs to be conducted regularly to keep staff up to speed on the latest threats.
Doing nothing to improve cybersecurity in K-12 schools is now simply not an option. If costly cyberattacks are to be avoided, is not improved, cybersecurity in K-12 schools must be improved.
If you want to find out more about email and web security and just how affordable these solutions can be for schools, contact the TitanHQ team today.
Web filtering at multiple locations can be a headache but it is a necessity. Human error can easily result in an email account breach, malware download, or ransomware attack. Every employee is a potential security risk, so it is important for controls to be implemented to reduce the risk of mistakes leading to a costly security incident.
One of the main ways that data breaches occur is through phishing. The web pages used in phishing attacks host phishing kits that collect login credentials and send them to the scammers. The web pages usually contain identical copies of the login boxes used by the likes of Microsoft Office 365, Google, and Facebook. The web pages are incredibly realistic and can be difficult for employees to identify as malicious.
Hyperlinks in emails also direct employees to websites containing exploit kits which probe for vulnerabilities and silently download malware. A user could visit a website for a couple of seconds, yet still trigger a malware download. Even general web surfing can see users redirected to malicious websites.
The solution is to implement a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control the web content that users can visit, and it also blocks access to malicious web sites.
Web Filtering at Multiple Locations
While a web filter is easy to implement on premises, protecting mobile workers and multiple offices can be more of a challenge. Traditionally, web filters were physical appliances through which all Internet traffic flowed. Rules were applied to the appliance to control what sites can be visited by employees.
One of the main disadvantages when web filtering multiple locations, is a separate appliance needs to be used at each location. Not only is this costly, installing and maintaining the appliance requires technicians to be available on site. For many businesses running multiple offices, IT is managed remotely. IT staff are not available at each site. An appliance-based filter at each site is far from ideal.
An alternative is to backhaul Internet traffic to the corporate office, but this has a major impact on Internet speed. The latency issued can cause major problems for remote offices so this option is also not ideal.
The best solution is a cloud-based DNS web filter. A DNS web filter can be applied, configured and maintained remotely without the need for site visits or on-site support staff. No hardware is required and no software needs to be downloaded. All that is required is for a change be made to internal DNS servers or DNS settings.
Not only does this approach eliminate the need for any costly hardware purchases, with a cloud-based DNS filter there is no latency. The DNS-filter can be applied for all locations and managed through a single web-based interface. Controls can also be applied for different locations via an AD/LDAP client.
A cloud-based DNS filter is ideal for web filtering multiple locations, but what about protecting employees on the move? When employees travel for business, their mobile devices similarly need to be protected. A DNS filter can protect those employees online no matter where they access the Internet without the need to backhaul traffic.
Cloud-based DNS web filters are also the ideal solution for managed service providers (MSPs) who want to offer web filtering to their clients. The filters are highly scalable, and they offer multitenant management for MSPs and allow all clients settings to be configured and managed through a single pane of glass. Separate polices can be applied for each clients and reports can be easily generated. There is no need for any site visits, no need for patching, and web filtering can be offered no matter where the client is based.
WebTitan Cloud – Web Filtering Multiple Locations Made Simple
TitanHQ is a leading provider of DNS-based web filtering for businesses. WebTitan Cloud is an enterprise-class DNS-based web filtering solution that makes web filtering multiple locations effortless. The solution takes minutes to implement and requires no training to use. All web filtering controls can be applied remotely via an intuitive user interface.
If you run a business in multiple geographical locations, want to protect remote workers, or if you are a managed service provider that wants to add web filtering to your service stack, contact TitanHQ for further information on WebTitan Cloud.
Hackers are taking advantage of poor Wi-Fi security to attack small businesses. This post covers simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security to block cyberattacks.
Small businesses can implement a robust firewall to protect against cyberattacks, but the Wi-Fi router is often a weak point. A Wi-Fi router providers wireless coverage for your business and it is a likely attack vector if security is lax. By attacking wireless routers, hackers can bypass your firewall.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve Wi-Fi security and block attacks. Seven simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security have been listed below.
Simple Steps for Small Businesses to Take to Improve Wi-Fi Security
Some of the steps below are obvious security measures, but there have been many instances when small businesses have overlooked these simple protections, only for them to be exploited by hackers.
Change Router Admin Credentials
Changing default credentials is one of the easiest but most important steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security. Because it is so simple, no business should be guilty of this security faux pas, but many are, even large businesses. In November, a school system discovered that its WAN provider had not changed the passwords on routers that had been in use for years. This is not the login for Wi-Fi, but the password for the router itself. These default administrator passwords can be found with a simple Internet search.
Disable Remote Administration on Your Router
Many wireless routers allow users to access and change router settings from outside the network. For the majority of businesses, remote administration is not necessary so it should be disabled. While this setting can be convenient, there are other more secure ways to access router settings remotely such as using a VPN. Allowing remote administration makes it far too easy for hackers to access your router.
Monitor Your DNS Settings
In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an emergency directive to all government agencies instructing them to perform an urgent audit of their DNS records after it was discovered that a threat group was targeting government agencies and changing their DNS records. By hijacking the DNS, all employees could be directed to malicious websites – clones of legitimate sites. Businesses that do not have an internal DNS server often use their wireless routers for this. Businesses should regularly monitor their DNS settings to ensure that no changes have been made.
Limit the Range of Your Wi-Fi Signal
You will want to make sure that everyone on the premises can access your Wi-Fi network, but it is important that no one outside your offices can do so too. If your Wi-Fi signal is too strong, it could be accessed by someone outside your offices and out of sight – In a car parked in your lot for instance. An overly strong Wi-Fi signal makes it easy for an attacker to conduct brute force attacks without being seen.
Keep Firmware Updated
New router firmware will be periodically released by the manufacturer and, as with all other software updates, they should be applied as soon as possible. Firmware updates are issued to improve security and functionality. They address known vulnerabilities for which exploits exist. Some routers will be set to update automatically, others may require a manual update through the web-based interface. Be sure to check the manufacturers web page, as your router may no longer be supported, which means it is time for an upgrade.
Make Use of Your Guest Network
One of the most important security measures is to segment your network and this is especially important for Wi-Fi. You should not allow any untrusted device to connect to your network, such as those used by visitors. You should have a separate SSID for your employees and guests. This will keep guests away from your primary network.
Ensure Your Wi-Fi Network is Encrypted
You should ensure that your Wi-Fi network is encrypted with WPA as an absolute minimum. Without encryption your network will be open and hackers will be able to intercept wireless traffic. Currently the encryption standard is WPA2, although this will change to WPA3 in 2019. If you are planning on replacing your Wi-Fi router, make sure the new model supports WPA3. If your router only supports WEP it is time to upgrade.
Hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses. These 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses can be implemented to improve security, prevent successful cyberattacks, and avoid costly data breaches.
Many small business owners misguidedly think that their company is too small to be a target for hackers but cyberattacks on small businesses are common and they are increasing. A successful attack on a Fortune 500 company is likely to be far more profitable for the hacker, but also much harder. Small businesses are relatively easy targets and attacks can be highly profitable.
Small business owners cannot afford to take cybersecurity lightly. A successful cyberattack could prove catastrophic. With this in mind, we have compiled 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses that can easily be implemented to improve security. We hope you find these small business cybersecurity tips useful for improving your security posture.
Top Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
Implement a Robust Firewall
A firewall is a cybersecurity solution that sits between a small business network and the outside world and prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the network and stored data. Not all firewalls are created equal. Extra investment in a next generation firewall is money well spent. Don’t forget to also protect remote workers. Ensure that they are also protected by a firewall.
Create and Enforce Password Policies
You should implement password policies that require all users to set strong, secure passwords. A strong, unique password should be used for all systems. Passwords should include capitals, lower-case letters, a number, and a special character, and should be at least 10 digits long. Teach employees how to create secure passwords and enforce your password policies. Consider using a password manager so passwords do not need to be remembered. Consult NIST for the latest password guidance.
Security Awareness Training
Make sure you provide the workforce with regular security awareness training. This is the only way that you can create a culture of cybersecurity. Be sure to cover the security basics, safe Internet use, how to handle sensitive data, creation of passwords, and mobile device security. You should provide training to help employees avoid phishing attacks and consider phishing simulation exercises to test the effectiveness of your training program.
Multi-factor authentication involves the use of a password and at least one other method of authentication. If login credentials are compromised, an additional factor is required to gain access to an account or the network such as an SMS message to a user’s smartphone.
It is essential to have a good backup policy. In the event of disaster, such as a ransomware attack, you need to be able to recover critical data. Backups must also be tested to make sure files can be recovered. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test whether data can be recovered. A good strategy is the 3-2-1 approach. Three backup copies, on two different types of media, with one copy stored securely offsite.
Software and Firmware Updates
Vulnerabilities are regularly found in computer software. Patches are released to correct those vulnerabilities, including those that are being actively exploited. Make sure patches are applied promptly, software is kept 100% up to date, and the most up to date firmware has been installed. Implement automatic updates where possible and create a schedule for updates if they need to be performed manually.
It is a standard best practice to segment networks and split them into subnetworks. Not only will this improve security it can also improve performance. By preventing access between segments, if one part of the network is compromised, an attacker will not have access to all systems and data. Also make sure you limit access to sensitive data and restrict the use of admin credentials. Apply the rule of least privilege. Do not give employees access to data, networks, and software that they do not need for day to day work duties.
Implement a Spam Filter
Arguably the biggest cyber threat that small businesses face is phishing. A single phishing email could allow an attacker to bypass your perimeter defenses and obtain login credentials or install malware. An advanced spam filter will allow you to improve productivity by blocking non-malicious spam emails and prevent phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes.
Secure Wi-Fi Networks
If you have a wireless network in your workplace it needs to be protected. Ensure that it is secured, data are encrypted, and that it is hidden and does not broadcast its SSID. Use WPA2 for encryption (or WPA3 if possible). Change default passwords and ensure your wireless router cannot be accessed from outside the network.
Consider Implementing a Web Filter
A web filter provides protection against web-based attacks by preventing employees from visiting phishing websites and sites that host malware.
A DNS-based web filter can protect wired and wireless networks and even remote workers. It will block malware downloads and prevent users from accessing dangerous websites and those that serve no work purpose thus improving productivity.
The news headlines frequently warn businesses of the need to improve cybersecurity protections to thwart hackers, but not all threats come from outside the company. There are various types of insider threats that need to be managed and mitigated, yet these are all too often overlooked or insufficient controls are put in place to reduce the risk of a deliberate or accidental breach.
What are Insider Threats?
An insider threat is one that comes from within the company, typically an employee who accidentally or deliberately takes an action that causes harm or loss to the company.
Hackers attack companies to gain access to their networks to spy on companies, obtain secrets, steal data or sabotage systems. Breaking through perimeter defenses can be time consuming and difficult but if an insider wants to steal data or sabotage a system, it is far easier as they already have network access.
Not all insider threats involve intentional malicious actions by employees. An employee can also act in a way that negatively affects their company without intending to cause any harm.
This could be intentionally violating company policies in a non-malicious manner. An example would be the installation of software to save the employee time or to allow them to work more efficiently. Installing unauthorized software carries a risk of a malware or spyware infection. An employee could violate company policies which could lead to an accidental data breach. Then there is human error, such as sending an email containing sensitive information to the wrong person. Such actions could prove costly.
Businesses need to protect against all insider threats if they are to avoid costly data breaches. A great many data breaches result from too little focus on cybersecurity defenses to block the threat from within.
Malicious Acts by Employees
Anyone that has access to sensitive company data could potentially abuse their access rights to view or steal data. There is no particular profile of a malicious insider. Everyone could decide one day to steal information or sabotage systems, but you can protect against malicious insiders and manage the risk.
Cover insider threats in security awareness training and encourage employees to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. Provide them with an easy way to report their concerns.
Implement tools that monitor for anomalous behavior
Implement controls to prevent the use of portable storage devices such as thumb drives
Implement tools that prevent employees from downloading and running certain files types – Executable files for instance.
Apply the rule of least privilege – Don’t let employees access data/systems that they do not need to access to complete their day to day work duties
Accidents Will Happen…
The insider threats that can be the hardest to defend against are mistakes by employees. These types of insider threats include responding to a phishing email and disclosing login credentials, sending sensitive data to the wrong email recipient, accidentally visiting malicious websites, and inadvertently downloading malware. These threats need to be managed and mitigated through policies and procedures, training, and software solutions.
…But You Can Minimize Risk!
Phishing is arguably the biggest threat. Hackers know all too well that people make mistakes and can easily be fooled. Priority number one should be blocking phishing emails and making sure they are not delivered. For that you need an advanced spam filter. The more phishing emails that are blocked, the lower the risk of a click.
Security awareness training is also essential. When a phishing email lands in an inbox, employees need to have the skills to recognize it as such. Provide training and make the training interesting to engage employees. Interactive training courses can help in that respect. Make sure you test your employees’ knowledge afterwards with phishing email simulations. They will let you know who has taken the training on board and who needs further training.
Training needs to cover all security threats, not just phishing. Teach employees security best practices, including checking badges before allowing someone into the building, password security, keeping credentials private, and safe use of WiFi.
Another important technical control to implement is a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control what employees can do online. They block access to phishing websites, block drive-by malware downloads, and prevent employees from visiting questionable websites that carry a high risk of malware infections or malvertising redirects: Adult sites and torrents/P2P file sharing sites for instance. Some web filters will also keep employees safe and secure when working remotely.
The important thing for businesses is not to leave things to chance or to assume they are too small to worry about insider threats and data breaches. Every business is at risk, regardless of size.
For further information on software solutions that can protect against data security threats give the TitanHQ team a call.