Our cybersecurity news will not be enjoyable reading for organizations that fail to implement adequate online security measures and update them regularly. Many of the news items in this section report hacks, data breaches and scams that have cost organizations money, credibility and – in some cases – their businesses.
The majority of the adverse incidents reported below could have been avoided had the organization in question taken appropriate steps to protect its database and prevent malware from infecting its computer system. To ensure your organization does not feature in a future cybersecurity news item, implement a web filter from WebTitan.
Ransomware attacks have been increasing since late December 2018 and attacks have been reported with increasing frequency as 2019 has progressed. Ransomware may have fallen out of favor with cybercriminals in 2018, but it is once again a firm favorite as it was in 2016 and 2017.
In recent months there has been an extensive ransomware campaign targeting local government offices, cities, and municipalities. These attacks have caused massive disruption, and many have resulted in ransoms being paid.
In the past few days alone, three ransomware attacks have been reported that have seen more than $1,200,000 in ransoms paid. Riviera Beach in Florida paid a ransom of $600,000 for the keys to unlock its encrypted files and Lake City in Florida paid around $460,000. Most recently, La Porte County in Indiana paid a ransom demand of $130,000.
These are just three of many. According to the United States Conference of Mayors, in the past 6 years, more than 170 city, county, or state government systems have been taken out of action as a result of ransomware attacks and there have been 22 attacks so far in 2019.
Cybercriminals will continue to conduct attacks as long as it is profitable to do so. When ransoms are paid, it simply encourages further attacks. The United States Conference of Mayors has decided to take a stand. The organization represents more than 1,400 majors across the United States and has vowed that in the event of attack, ransom demands will not be paid.
That is a necessary step to take to de-incentivize attacks but it could potentially be very costly. In 2018, the City of Atlanta was attacked with ransomware and refused to pay the $50,000 ransom demand. The city has ended up spending tens of millions of dollars on recovery.
The high cost of recovery without paying the ransom could prove too much for small cities, which is why several have been advised by their insurers to pay the ransoms.
In such cases, help is required from the federal government. The majors have urged Congress to pass the State Cyber Resiliency Act, which would give state and local governments the support needed to help them implement their cyber resiliency plans
What is also needed is greater investment in cybersecurity defenses. Attacks are being conducted because there are security holes that can be easily exploited. Until those holes are plugged, the attacks will continue.
TitanHQ can help plug those holes and thwart ransomware attacks by blocking the main attack vectors. SpamTitan is a powerful email security solution that blocks email-threats at source and keeps inboxes threat free. WebTitan protects users while online and blocks malicious websites and malware downloads. With both of these powerful, but low-cost solutions in place, you will be well protected 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.
There has been a spate of ransomware attacks on cities and government agencies in recent months and the healthcare industry sees more than its fair share of attacks, but they are not the only industries being targeted.
Schools, colleges, and universities are prime targets for hackers and ransomware attacks are common. One recent attack stands out due to its scale and the massive ransom demand that was issued. The attackers demanded $2 million (170 BTC) for the keys to unlock the encryption.
Monroe College in New York City was attacked at 6:45am on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. The ransomware quickly spread throughout the network, shutting down the computer systems at its campuses in Manhattan, New Rochelle and St. Lucia and taking down the college website.
The college has switched to pen and paper and is finding workarounds to ensure students taking online courses receive their assignments. No mention has been made about whether files will be recovered from backups or if the ransom will need to be paid.
This is one of many recent ransomware attacks in the United States. Ransomware may have fallen out of favor with cybercriminals in 2018, but it now appears to be back in vogue and attacks are rising sharply. So too have the ransom demands.
$2 million is particularly high, but there have been several recent attacks involving ransom demands for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In several cases, the ransom has been paid.
Riviera Beach City in Florida was attacked and was forced to pay a $600,000 ransom to regain access to its files and bring its computer systems back online. Lake City in Florida also paid a sizeable ransom – $500,000. Jackson County was also attacked and paid a $400,000 ransom.
There have been several cases where ransoms have not been paid. The City of Atlanta was attacked and around $51,000 in Bitcoin was demanded. Atlanta refused to pay. Its cleanup bill has already reached $3 million. With such high costs it is clear to see why many choose to pay up.
In all of the above cases, the cost of implementing cybersecurity solutions to protect against the main attack vectors would have cost a tiny fraction of the cost of the ransom payment or the mitigation costs after an attack.
For less than $2 per employee, you can ensure that the email network is secured and you are well protected against web-based attacks. To find out more, call TitanHQ today.
Sodinokibi and Buran ransomware are being pushed via the RIG exploit kit and now another exploit kit has joined the ranks, although its payload is currently banking Trojans.
Exploit kits are utility programs on websites that conduct automated attacks on visitors. When a visitor lands on a page hosting the exploit kit, the user’s browser and browser-based applications are probed to determine whether vulnerabilities exist.
Exploit kits contain exploits for several vulnerabilities, only one of which is required to silently download and execute a malicious payload on a visitor’s device. Traffic to these malicious pages is generated through malvertising/malicious redirects. The exploit kit code is also commonly added to compromised high-traffic websites.
Exploit kits were once the malware delivery mechanism of choice, but they fell out following a law enforcement crackdown. The threat from exploit kits has never disappeared, but activity has been at a much-reduced level. In recent months however, exploit activity has been at an elevated level.
The new exploit kit is called Spelevo and its purpose is to deliver two banking Trojans – Dridex and IceD – via a business to business website. The exploit kit was discovered by a security researcher named Kafeine in March 2019.
The exploit kit currently hosts multiple exploits for Adobe Flash and one for Internet Explorer. A user visiting a web page hosting the Spelevo exploit kit would unlikely tell that anything untoward was occurring. A tab would be opened to the gate and the browser would appear to go through a series of redirects before landing on Google.com. The entire process from the user landing on a page hosting the exploit kit, to a vulnerably being identified, exploited, and the user redirected to Google.com takes just a few seconds.
The exploit kit could be hosted on an attacker-owned domain, but it is easy to add the exploit kit to any website. All that is required is the addition of four lines of code once a website has been compromised.
Exploit kits are an efficient, automated way of delivering a malware payload, but they are reliant on users that have not patched their browsers and plugins. If browsers and plugins are kept up to date, there are no vulnerabilities to exploit.
The Spelevo exploit kit appears to be used in a campaign targeting businesses. IT teams often struggle to keep on top of patching and have poor visibility into the devices that connect to the network. As a result, it is easy for devices to be missed and remain unpatched. If one device is compromised, an attacker can use a variety of tools to spread laterally and infect other devices and servers.
The primary defense against exploit kits is patching, but additional protections are required. To protect against attacks while patching takes place, to prevent attacks from succeeding using zero-day exploits, and to stop users from visiting websites hosting exploit kits, a web filter is required.
WebTitan is a DNS filter that provides real-time, automated threat detection and blocking and protects against exploit kits and web-based phishing attacks. The WebTitan database contains three million malicious URLs that are blocked to protect end users. More than 300,000 malware and ransomware websites are blocked every day.
If you want to improve protection against web-based threats, exercise control over the content that your employees can access, and gain visibility into what your employees are doing online, WebTitan Cloud is the answer and it can be set up in minutes.
As one ransomware-as-a-service operation shuts down, another is vying to take its place. Sodinokibi ransomware attacks are increasing and affiliates are trying to carve out their own niche in the ransomware-as-a-service operation.
Developing ransomware and staying one step ahead of security researchers is important, but what made the GandCrab operation so successful were the affiliates conducting the campaigns that generated the ransom payments. The GandCrab developers have now shut down their operation and that has left many affiliates looking for an alternative ransomware variant to push.
Sodinokibi ransomware could well fill the gap. Like GandCrab, the developers are offering their creation under the ransomware-as-a-service model. They already have a network of affiliates conducting campaigns, and attacks are on the increase.
As is the case with most ransomware-as-a-service operations, spam email is one of the most common methods of ransomware delivery. One Sodinokibi ransomware campaign has been detected that uses spoofed Booking.com notifications to lure recipients into opening a Word document and enabling macros. Doing so triggers the download and execution of the Sodinokibi payload.
Download websites are also being targeted. Access is gained the websites and legitimate software installers are replaced with ransomware installers. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have also been targeted. The MSP attacks have exploited vulnerabilities in RDP to gain access to MSP management consoles.
Two cases have been reported where an MSP was compromised and malicious software was pushed to its clients through the client management console. In one case, the Webroot Management Console and the Kaseya VSA console in the other.
Recently, another attack method has been detected. Sodinokibi ransomware is being distributed through the RIG exploit kit. Malvertising campaigns are directing traffic to domains hosting RIG, which is loaded with exploits for several vulnerabilities.
With so many affiliates pushing Sodinokibi ransomware and the wide range of tactics being used, no single cybersecurity solution will provide full protection against attacks. The key to preventing attacks is defense in depth.
TitanHQ can help SMBs and MSPs secure the email and web channels and block the main attack vectors. Along with security awareness training and good cybersecurity best practices, it is possible to mount a formidable defense against ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks.
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
The leading review website, G2, has published its 2019 Best Software Companies in EMEA list. This is the first time that the company has produced the list, which ranks the best software companies doing business in EMEA based on the feedback provided by users of those products.
G2 is one of the most well-respected business software review websites. Software solutions may appear to tick all the right boxes, but in practice the solutions can be time consuming and difficult to use and fail to live up to expectations. Since the G2 reviews are from registered users of the products, businesses can not only rely on the reviews but can also use them to make smarter buying decisions.
To compile the list, G2 compiled the reviews of over 66,000 users in the software category. More than 900 companies were represented, but only those that performed best in the reviews have made the cut in their respective categories.
TitanHQ has been awarded top spot in the list of the best software companies of 2019 in EMEA.
TitanHQ has developed powerful cybersecurity solutions to meet the needs of businesses and MSPs, but the solutions have also been developed to be easy to use. The solutions are versatile, flexible,and scalable, and can be managed via an intuitive web-based management console with a full reporting suite. A full range of APIs are supplied to allow the solutions to be integrated into existing management software and industry-leading customer support ensures that help is always available to resolve any customer issues.
“TitanHQ is delighted to have been included in the 2019 Best Software Companies in EMEA list. The inclusion shows the value our customers place on the uncompromised security and real-time threat detection we provide,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from on G2 Crowd is indicative of our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of customer success.”
“With 750,000+ user reviews, 80,000+ products and 1,600+ tech and service categories on G2, TitanHQ’s recognition on the prestigious Best Software Companies in EMEA list is an exceptional achievement: One that can only be earned through the endorsement of its users,” said CEO Godard Abel.
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’s anti-spam solution, SpamTitan, offers advanced protection against phishing and spear phishing attacks. A recent update has also seen DMARC email authentication and sandboxing features added to better protect users from phishing and malware attacks.
TitanHQ’s DNS-based content filtering solution further enhances protection against phishing attacks and prevents MSP employees from visiting malicious websites. Being DNS-based, malicious websites are blocked before any content can be downloaded.
In addition to helping MSPs protect their own networks, both solutions are ideal for MSPs to offer to their SMB clients and have been developed to perfectly meet the requirements of MSPs.
If you are an MSP and you have yet to implement a web filter or you are looking for an advanced spam filtering solution for you or your clients, give the MSP team at TitanHQ a call today to find out more about both solutions and how they can protect your business and better protect your clients.
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.
A new report has confirmed the need for robust, multi-layered cybersecurity protections for SMBs to prevent successful cyberattacks. SMBs are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals as security is often weak and attacks are easy to pull off.
While large corporations are an attractive target for cybercriminals, large corporations tend to have mature cybersecurity programs and they are usually very well protected. A successful attack could prove extremely profitable but breaking through the cybersecurity defenses of large corporations is difficult and attacks can be extremely time consuming and labor intensive.
Cybercriminals often choose the path of least resistance, even though the potential for profit may not be so high. Cyberattacks on SMBs are much easier and hackers are concentrating their efforts on SMB targets. This was clearly demonstrated in the latest cybersecurity report from Beazley Breach Response (BBR) Services.
BBR Services analyzed all of the data breaches that it investigated in 2018. 9% of the successful attacks involved ransomware and 71% of those ransomware attacks were on SMBs. The healthcare industry suffered the highest number of ransomware attacks, and accounted for one third of successful attacks. Companies in the professional and financial services sectors accounted for 12% of ransomware attacks each, followed by the retail industry with 8% of attacks.
The costs of those ransomware attacks can be considerable. If companies are unable to recover data from backups, a sizable ransom must be paid to recover encrypted data. In 2018, the average ransom demand was $116,400 and the median ransom demand was $10,310. One client was issued a ransom demand of $8.5 million. The highest ransom demand paid was $935,000.
Massive demands for payment for the keys to unlock encrypted files may not be the norm, but even at the lower end of the spectrum SMBs may struggle to find the money to pay. The ransom demand is also likely to be considerably higher than the cost of cybersecurity protections for SMBs to prevent ransomware attacks.
One of the main ways that hackers gain access to the networks of SMBs is by exploiting flaws in Remote Desktop Protocol. SMBs that leave RDP ports open are at a much higher risk of being attacked. RDP is required by many SMBs because they outsource IT to managed service providers, which need to use RDP to access their systems. In such cases it is essential for default RDP ports to be changed and for very strong passwords to be implemented to reduce the risk of brute force attacks succeeding.
There was also an increase in sextortion scams in 2018. These scams attempt to extort money by threatening to expose victims’ use of adult websites. While these scams usually contain empty threats, they are often successful. In addition to attempting to extort money, the scams are used to install malware or ransomware. Email attachments are sent which claim to contain videos of the victim accessing adult websites, which the scammers claim to have been recorded using the computer’s webcam. When the files are opened to be checked, malware or ransomware is installed.
2018 also saw a 133% increase in Business Email Compromise attacks. These attacks spoof the email address of a senior executive to make the emails and requests seem more plausible. These scams are usually conducted to obtain sensitive information or to get employees to make fraudulent wire transfers. BEC attacks accounted for 24% of all breaches investigated by BBR Services in 2018.
One of the most important cybersecurity protections for SMBs to implement to prevent these attacks is an advanced email filtering solution – One that is capable of detecting spoofed emails. SpamTitan, TitanHQ’s cloud-based spam filtering solution, has recently been updated to include DMARC authentication to detect email impersonation attacks such as BEC scams. The solution also now includes a new sandboxing feature that allows potentially malicious attachments to be analyzed in detail in the sandbox where no harm can be caused. This helps to identify more malicious attachments and better protect SMBs from zero-day malware and other malicious files.
TitanHQ’s powerful cybersecurity protections for SMBs can greatly improve email security and block a wide range of web-based attacks. For further information on effective cybersecurity protections for SMBs to deploy to improve security posture and block costly attacks, contact TitanHQ today.
TitanHQ has announced its award-winning anti-spam solution, SpamTitan, has been updated and now has two powerful new features to better protect users from phishing, spear phishing, malware, ransomware, botnets, and APT threats.
SpamTitan has long been the go-to solution for SMBs to improve email security and the solution is popular with managed service providers serving the SMB market. SpamTitan is quick and easy to install, simple to use, and provides excellent protection against a wide range of email threats.
As email threats have become more sophisticated and zero-day attacks and new malware variants have skyrocketed, new features are needed to keep end users protected.
To maintain pace and better protect SpamTitan users, two important new features have now been rolled out with the latest release of SpamTitan: Sandboxing and DMARC authentication.
Sandboxing Feature Added to SpamTitan Product Suite
Blocking known threats is one thing, but detecting and blocking brand new threats that evade AV solutions is another matter, yet businesses need protection from these zero-day threats as well. SpamTitan already incorporates a range of mechanisms to detect these new threats but the latest feature takes protection to the next level.
SpamTitan now incorporates a new next-gen sandboxing feature. The Bitfedender-powered sandbox is a virtual environment that is totally separate from other systems. When an email is sent to a SpamTitan user, the message will be subjected to a range of checks to determine whether it is genuine, benign, and should be delivered or if it is malicious and needs to be rejected. If the message contains a suspicious attachment that is not picked up as a threat from those checks, it is sent to the sandbox.
The SpamTitan sandbox service has been designed to appear as a normal endpoint. Malicious files are opened or executed in the sandbox and any malicious code is run as it would on a standard machine. Its actions are logged and subjected to an in-depth analysis, including its self-protection mechanisms and attempts to evade detection. All actions are then assessed by advanced machine learning algorithms and the results of the analysis are then checked against a wide range of online repositories.
Opening potentially malicious files on an endpoint is dangerous, but in the isolated sandbox all risks are eliminated. Once the analysis is complete, which takes just a few minutes, if the file is determined to be benign it will be released and can be delivered to the end user. If it is malicious, the sandbox solution will automatically report the file to Bitdefender’s cloud threat intelligence service. That threat will then be blocked for all SpamTitan users, so the file will not need to be analyzed again.
This new feature greatly increases detection of elusive threats, provides end users with even greater protection, and it also helps to ensure that more genuine messages are delivered.
Businesses that want sandboxing technology usually need to purchase a separate solution. With SpamTitan, advanced emulation-based malware analysis is provided free of charge.
DMARC Email Authentication Now Included in SpamTitan
Email impersonation attacks are a major threat. They abuse trust in a known contact, company, or government organization to fool end users into taking a specific action – disclosing sensitive information, installing malware, or visiting a phishing webpage, for instance.
While SpamTitan already incorporates several mechanisms to identify email impersonation attacks, DMARC authentication has now been added to block even more threats. DMARC is a powerful tool for identifying the true sender of an email to determine if that individual is authorized to use a particular domain.
Detailed checks of the email header are performed and the sender is checked against DMARC records. If the checks are passed, the message can be delivered. If DMARC authentication fails, the message is rejected.
The new anti-spoofing feature protects SMBs and MSPs against data loss, date breaches, zero-day threats, and highly sophisticated email threats, while the sandboxing feature protects against malware, advanced persistent threats (APTs), malicious URLs, and offers insight into new threats to help mitigate risks.
Both of these features have been made available to current and new TitanHQ customers at no extra charge.
The threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites has long been thought to be a major risk; however, not all studies on the subject have demonstrated that the risk is any higher than visiting other types of websites. The owners of adult websites, as legitimate business owners, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware free.
However, new research from Kaspersky suggests the threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites is real, and adult-themed phishing attacks increased in 2018.
Is There a High Risk of Malware Downloads from Visiting Adult Websites?
According to its latest report, there is a real risk of malware downloads from visiting adult websites. Naturally for consumers who visits adult websites, the risk is theirs to take. For businesses however, risks taken by employees can prove incredibly costly.
One of the major stories to be covered in the media on this theme in 2018 involved a government employee with a prolific thirst for such content. He was discovered to have accessed more than 9,000 adult websites and had inadvertently downloaded malware onto his work computer and the network. After visiting so many sites, that is perhaps understandable, but there have been many such malware downloads from far less prolific surfing of adult sites.
Kaspersky Lab’s research indicates that most malware downloads from malicious websites involves malware disguised as videos. Oftentimes, users are required to download a supposedly benign but malicious file in order to access the video.
Cybercriminals are also using black-hat techniques to poison the search results and get malicious sites appearing high up in the listings. The top 20% of porn-related search terms accounted for 80% of malware disguised as porn. Kaspersky’s tracking indicated 87,227 users had downloaded malware-disguised as porn and 8% of those did so via their work network.
The use of these porn tags is also common to get users to download non-malware threats such as adware and downloaders, although the latter are often capable of downloading much more malicious files. While the number of these attacks decreased by 36% year-over-year, attacking people searching for adult content is still common.
The most common threats associated with adult content were Trojan downloaders (45%) and Trojans (20%), followed by adware (9%) and worms (8%).
Adult-Themed Phishing Attacks Increased by 1,000% in Q4, 2018
While it was previously uncommon for phishing scams to use porn as a lure, that changed in 2018. It is still common for cybercriminals to use impersonate or create fake hookup sites to lure people into divulging credentials but there was also a 1,000% increase in phishing attacks using websites that masquerade as porn websites. Most commonly these were spoofed versions of the top 10 adult sites on the web. The rise in these types of phishing scams could be indicative of a trend that will grow in 2019.
The research shows that malware downloads from visiting adult websites is still a risk and the threat from adult-themed phishing attacks has grown at an alarming rate. Businesses should take note and take steps to limit risk.
The easiest way to do that is with a DNS web filter – A solution that allows businesses to carefully control the web content that can be accessed on work devices and via their wireless networks. With a DNS web filtering solution in place, businesses can block access to adult websites, commonly spoofed hookup and dating sites, and web-based phishing threats.
Not only will a DNS web filter provide protection against phishing, ransomware, and malware downloads, by blocking access to these adult sites, legal liability can be reduced and staff issues can be avoided.
If you have yet to start filtering the internet and preventing your users from accessing adult websites, other NSFW web content, and sites that are a drain on productivity, TitanHQ can help.
For a very low cost, businesses can protect all users of their wired and wireless networks and block a wide range of web-based threats. MSPs can also start providing filtered internet service to better protect their clients.
For further information, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – TitanHQ’s award winning web filtering solution for businesses.
A phishing campaign has been detected that uses Google Translate to make phishing web pages appear legitimate when visited through mobile browsers. The novel tactic makes it harder for end users to see that the website they have been directed to is not an official website.
The phishing attack starts with an email that indicates the user’s password has been used to access their Google account from an unfamiliar device. Many users will be familiar with these messages. They are generated when a user logs into their own account using a different device or from an unfamiliar location. The messages are also triggered when a user attempts to login to their account using a VPN that has previously not been used to access the account.
In this campaign, the standard Google Security Alert has been copied exactly and includes the Google logo, standard formatting, and text that users will be familiar with. The message tells the user to click on a link – A button below the warning message – to visit their account to review the activity and take action to secure their account.
If the user is on a desktop or laptop, they will be directed to a standard phishing page which has a copy of the Google login window. It should be apparent that the user is not on the legitimate Google site as the URL clearly nothing to do with Google although end users do not always check the URLs carefully, especially when there is an urgent reason for visiting a website such as a security alert.
If the user has opened the email on a mobile device and clicks the hyperlink button, the URL displayed in the browser will be different and they are much ore likely to be fooled. The phishing webpage uses Google Translate to display a URL containing a random string of characters, but crucially, the visible part of the URL displayed in the browser starts with translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_
The URL does contain the web page which the user is on, which is a page on mediacity.co.in that clearly has nothing to do with Google, but it is detailed much later in the URL so will not be displayed to the user unless they click the address bar to check the web page. Many users will not do that since the visible part of the URL appears to be a genuine Google page.
While the phishing campaign is unlikely to work on desktops or laptops, many mobile users will likely be fooled by the scam and will provide their Google credentials. They may not fall for the Facebook login request, as being redirected to Facebook from Google is odd, but by that time the attacker will have full access to the user’s Google account. Google accounts can contain a wealth of sensitive data and can be used for further phishing attacks on the user’s contacts.
Security awareness training will help to prevent employees from falling for phishing scams such as this. By conditioning employees to always check the sender of a message before taking any action, and to always take the time to carefully check the full URL of a website before disclosing any sensitive information, scams like this can be easily identified. Even with security awareness training, employees make mistakes. To improve protection against phishing attacks, businesses should deploy an advanced spam filter to prevent malicious messages from being delivered to corporate inboxes. A web filter is also strongly recommended. A cloud-based web filter can prevent users from accessing phishing web pages, even when they are not onsite and are using mobile devices remotely.
For further information on spam filtering and web filtering for businesses, contact the TitanHQ team today and ask about SpamTitan and WebTitan: TitanHQ’s leading spam filtering and web filtering solutions for businesses.
Anatova ransomware is a new cryptoransomware variant that appears to have been released on January 1, 2019. It is stealthy, can infect network shares, has already been used in attacks in many countries around the world. It could well prove to become a major ransomware threat in 2019.
Ransomware has somewhat fallen out of favor with cybercriminals as cryptocurrency mining malware offers greater potential for profit. The development of new ransomware variants has slowed, but new variants are still emerging and the threat from ransomware is not going away any time soon. Ransomware attacks are still profitable for cybercriminals and as long as that remains the case the attacks will continue.
Anatova ransomware was identified and named by security researchers at McAfee. The name was taken from the name on the ransomware note. The previously unknown ransomware variant has been used in at least 10 countries, with over 100 Anatova ransomware attacks identified in the United States, more than 65 in Belgium, and over 40 in France and Germany.
Not only does the ransomware variant employ a range of techniques to avoid detection, infection can cause major damage and widespread file encryption. Further, the modular design allows the developers to easily add new functionality in the future.
Most of the strings in Anatova ransomware have been encrypted and different keys are required to decrypt them. Those keys have been embedded in the executable. 90% of calls are dynamic and use non-suspicious Windows APIs and standard C-programming language.
Once downloaded and executed, the ransomware performs a check of the name of the logged in user against a list of encrypted names and will exit if there is a match. Names that prompt an exit include tester, lab, malware, and analyst. These names are commonly used on virtual machines and sandboxes. A check will also be performed to determine the country in which the device is located. The ransomware will exit if the device is in any CIS country, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, or India.
Anatova ransomware scans for files smaller than 1MB and checks for network shares, although care is taken not to disrupt the operating system during this process and raise a flag before files are encrypted. Once files have been identified, the encryption routine starts. The ransomware uses its own key, so each victim requires a separate key to unlock the encryption.
Once the encryption process has run, the ransom note is dropped on the desktop, the memory is cleaned, and volume shadow copies are overwritten 10 times to ensure files cannot be recovered from local backup files.
The ransom demand is relatively high – Around $700 (10 DASH) per infected machine. Since multiple devices can be infected with a single installation, the total ransom demand could well be considerable.
What is not 100% certain is how the ransomware is being distributed. McAfee detected one sample on a P2P file sharing network which masquerades as a free software program complete with game/application icon to encourage users to download and run the installer. Other attack vectors may also be used. Based on the current distribution vector, a web filter will offer protection against attacks if P2P file sharing/torrents sites are blocked.
The researchers believe Anatova ransomware has been created by highly skilled malware authors who are currently distributing a prototype of the ransomware. More widespread attacks are to be expected once this testing phase has been completed.
A new form of MongoLock ransomware is actively being used in a global campaign. A 0.1 BTC ransom is demanded, although file recovery may not be possible. The ransomware immediately deletes files and formats backup drives and a recoverable copy may not be retained by the attackers.
MongoLock ransomware was first detected in January 2017. A major campaign involving the ransomware was detected in September 2018 with the latest attacks having been ongoing since December 2018. The attackers are gaining access to unprotected or poorly protected MongoDB databases and are deleting data and replacing the databases with a new database. Inside the database is a file called readme that contains the ransom demand.
The attackers claim to have exported the database before encrypting it. Victims are required to make a 0.1 BTC payment to a supplied Bitcoin wallet or contact the attackers via email. Many victims have chosen to pay the ransom; however, there is no guarantee that data can be recovered. It is unclear whether the attackers are making a copy of the database or are simply deleting it.
The attacks are automated and scripts are used to delete the database and create the ransomware note, but the scripts are not always effective. Even if it is the intention of the attackers to obtain a copy of the database, that may not always happen.
The latest version of MongoLock ransomware also conducts a scan of local drives and deletes important data, including files saved to the Desktop, My Documents folder, Recent files, favorites, and any backup files that can be located. The drives are then formatted. This makes payment of the ransom all the more likely. Users are advised they have just 24 hours to make payment before the database is permanently deleted.
The file deletion routine is executed after the files have been uploaded to the attackers’ C2 server, so they can potentially be recovered if the ransom payment is made. However, if the computer is taken offline, file deletion continues but no copy of the file will be obtained by the attackers.
These attacks are primarily conducted on exposed MongoDB databases, which can easily be found using the Shodan search engine. Any businesses that uses MongoDB should ensure that the databases are properly secured, and that authentication is required to gain access. It is also important to ensure the databases cannot be accessed remotely over the Internet.
It is also essential to adopt a good backup strategy. The 3.2.1 approach is recommended. Make three backups, stored on two separate devices, with one copy stored securely off site on a non-networked device.
A malvertising campaign has been detected that delivers two forms of malware: The new, previously unknown Vidar information stealer and subsequently, the latest version of GandCrab ransomware.
The packaging of multiple malware variants is nothing new of course, but it has become increasingly common for ransomware to be paired with information stealers. RAA ransomware has been paired with the Pony stealer, njRAT and Lime ransomware were used together, and Reveton ransomware is used in conjunction with password stealers.
These double-whammy attacks help threat actors increase profits. Not everyone pays a ransom, so infecting them with an information stealer can make all infections profitable. In many cases, information can be obtained and sold on or misused and a ransom payment can also be obtained.
The latest campaign uses the Vidar information stealer to steal sensitive information from a victim’s device. The Vidar information stealer is used to obtain system information, documents, browser histories, cookies, and coins from cryptocurrency wallets. Vidar can also obtain data from 2FA software, intercept text messages, take screenshots, and steal passwords and credit/debit card information stored in browsers. The information is then packaged into a zip file and sent back to the attackers’ C2 server.
The Vidar information stealer is customizable and allows threat actors to specify the types of data they are interested in. It can be purchased on darknet sites for around $700 and is supplied with an easy to use interface that allows the attacker to keep track of victims, identify those of most interest, find out the types of data extracted, and send further commands.
Vidar also acts as a malware dropper and has been used to deliver GandCrab ransomware v5.04 – The latest version of the ransomware for which no free decryptor exists.
While many ransomware variants are delivered via spam email or are installed after access to systems is gained using brute force tactics on RDP, this campaign delivers the malicious payload through malvertising that directs traffic to a websites hosting the Fallout or GrandSoft exploit kits. Those EKs exploits unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Flash Player. The campaign targets users of P2P file sharing sites and streaming sites that attract large amounts of traffic.
Infection with the Vidar information stealer may go undetected. New malware variants such as this may be installed before AV software malware signatures are updated, by which time highly sensitive information may have been stolen, sold on, and misused. If GandCrab ransomware executes, files will be permanently encrypted unless a ransom is paid or files can be recovered from backups.
Businesses can protect against attacks such as these by ensuring that all operating systems and software are promptly patched. Drive-by downloads will not occur if the exploits for vulnerabilities used by the exploit kit are not present.
An additional, important protection is a web filter. Web filters prevent users from visiting websites known to host exploit kits and also sites that commonly host malicious adverts – torrents sites for instance. By carefully controlling the sites that employees can access, businesses can add an extra layer of protection while avoiding legal liability from illegal file downloads and improving productivity by blocking access to non-work-related websites.
For further information on web filters for businesses and MSPs, contact the TitanHQ team today.
The U.S. government has issued a warning following a spate of MSP cyberattacks by nation-state sponsored hackers.
Homeland Security Warns of Targeted MSP Cyberattacks
Managed service providers (MSPs), cloud service providers (CSPs), and managed security service providers (MSSPs) have been warned about an increase in malicious cyber activity and targeted attacks on IT service providers. Nation-state sponsored hackers are targeting IT service providers in an attempt to gain access to their networks, and ultimately, those of their clients.
It is not difficult to see why MSPs, CSPs, and MSSPs are such an attractive target. These IT service providers usually have administrator access to their clients’ networks or certainly elevated privileges that could allow an attacker to gain access to servers, security appliances, and databases of multiple clients.
The threat of attack is theoretical. There has been an increase in MSP cyberattacks in recent months, so much so that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a warning to all IT service providers specifically due to an increase in attacks on IT service providers by Chinese government-backed hackers.
The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued cybersecurity guidance for IT service providers on steps that need to be taken to improve security, detect attacks quickly, and prevent threat actors from gaining access to their clients’ networks. Since companies that use IT service providers have also been warned of the risk of attack through their IT companies, MSPs, MSSPs and CSPs are likely to be contacted by clients wanting reassurances.
IT service providers should therefore be proactive and n ensure that CISA guidance is being followed to better protect themselves and their clients.
Feds Launch Campaign to Raise Awareness of Cyber Risks
CISA is not the only government agency to issue a warning in the past few days. The Trump administration has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of cyber risks in all industry sectors. The “Know the Risk, Raise your Shield campaign is being spearheaded by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The campaign has been launched in response to increased cyberattacks from state sponsored hackers in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea and independent hackers.
The aim of the campaign is to ensure that cybersecurity best practices are being followed to make it much harder for the attackers to succeed. The NCSC is aware that improved cybersecurity comes at a cost, but explains that investment in cybersecurity defenses is money very well spent and reminds businesses that an ounce of security equates to a pound of protection.
How Can Businesses and MSPs Improve Their Defenses?
With MSP cyberattacks on the increase it is essential that defenses are improved. While there are many ways that MSPs and businesses can be attacked, one of easiest ways is phishing. Phishing targets a weak link in security defenses: Employees. If a phishing email is delivered to an inbox and an employee responds, credentials will be obtained by the attacker that gives them a foothold to launch further attacks on other employees and MSP clients.
It is therefore important to improve awareness of the risks and train employees how to recognize email threats and how to react. It is also important to ensure that technical spam defenses are implemented to make sure phishing threats are blocked on the server and are not delivered to end users’ inboxes or local spam folders. SpamTitan is an ideal solution for MSPs to implement to block these phishing attacks on their employees and their clients.
A DNS based web filter should also be implemented to ensure that should a malicious email make it past the spam defenses, employees are prevented from visiting malicious websites. A DNS-based web filter blocks attempts to access malicious sites during the DNS lookup process and adds an extra layer of security against phishing.
For further information on spam filtering and web filtering for businesses and MSPs, speak to the TitanHQ team today.
Other important steps to take to improve security include:
Use of strong password policies
Applying the principle of least privilege
Ensuring network and host-based monitoring systems are implemented and logs are regularly checked for signs of malicious activity
Performing regular vulnerability scans to identify security weaknesses before they are exploited.
New figures released by anti-virus firms McAfee and Symantec have shown the extent to which hackers are using cryptocurrency mining malware in attacks on consumers and businesses.
Cryptocurrency mining malware hijacks system resources and uses the processing power of infected computers to mine cryptocurrencies – Validating transactions so they can be added to the blockchain public ledger. This is achieved by solving difficult computational problems. The first person to solve the problem is rewarded with a small payment.
For cryptocurrency mining to be profitable, a lot of processing power is required. Using one computer for mining cryptocurrency will generate a few cents to a few dollars a day; however, hackers who infect thousands of computers and use them for cryptocurrency mining can generate significant profits for little work.
The use of cryptocurrency mining malware has increased considerably since Q4, 2017 when the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies started to soar. The popularity of cryptocurrency mining malware has continued to grow steadily in 2018. Figures from McAfee suggest cryptocurrency mining malware has grown by 4,000% in 2018.
McAfee identified 500,000 new coin mining malware in the final quarter of 2017. In the final quarter of 2018, the figure had increased to 4 million. Figures from Symantec similarly show the scale of the problem. In July 2018, Symantec blocked 5 million cryptojacking events. In December, the firm blocked 8 million.
There are many different ways of infecting end users. Hackers are exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities to silently download the malware. They package coin mining malware with legitimate software, such as the open-source media player Kodi, and upload the software to unofficial repositories.
One of the easiest and most common ways of installing the malware is through email. Spam emails are sent containing a hyperlink which directs users to a website where the malware is silently downloaded. Links are similarly distributed through messaging platforms such as Slack, Discord, and Telegram. One campaign using these messaging platforms included links to a site that offered software that claimed to fix coin mining malware infections. Running the fake software installer executed code on the computer which silently downloaded the malware payload.
Unlike ransomware, which causes immediate disruption, the presence of cryptocurrency mining malware may not be noticed for some time. Computers infected with coin mining malware will slow down considerably. There will be increased energy usage, batteries on portable devices will be quickly drained, and some devices may overheat. Permanent damage to computers is a possibility.
The slowdown of computers can have a major impact for businesses and can result in a significant drop in productivity if large numbers of devices are infected. Businesses that have transitioned to cloud computing that are charged for CPU usage can see their cloud bills soar.
Anti-virus software can detect known coin mining malware, but new malware variants will be unlikely to be detected. With so many new malware variants now being released, AV software alone will not be effective. It is therefore important to block the malware at source. Spam filters, such as SpamTitan, will help to prevent malicious emails from reaching end users’ inboxes. Web filters, such as WebTitan, prevent users from accessing infected websites, unofficial software repositories, and websites with coin-mining code installed that uses CPU power through browser sessions.
It’s the time of year when the poor password practices of users are highlighted. This month has seen the list of the worst passwords of 2018 published and a list of 2018’s worst password offenders.
The Worst Passwords of 2018
So, what were the worst passwords of 2018? SplashData has recently published a list of the worst passwords of 2018 which shows little has changed since last year. End users are still making very poor password choices.
To compile the list, SplashData analyzed passwords that had been revealed through data dumps of passwords obtained in data breaches. More than 5 million exposed passwords were sorted to find out not only the weakest passwords used, but just how common they were. The list of the top 100 worst passwords of 2018 was published, although we have only listed the top 25 worst passwords of 2018:
Unsurprisingly, there has been no change in the top two passwords this year. 123456 and password have held number 1 and 2 spots for the past five years. Donald is a new addition but would not keep a user’s account secure for long, even if their name isn’t Donald. 654321 is also new this year but offers little more protection than 123456.
Other new entries include qwerty123 and password1 – Clear attempts to get around the requirement of including numbers and letters in a password.
How common are the worst passwords of 2018? According to SplashData, 3% of users have used 123456 and 10% of people have used at least one password in the list of the top 25 worst passwords of 2018!
Poor Password Practices and the Worst Password Offenders of 2018
DashLane has published its list of the worst password offenders of the year. In addition to the list containing users who have made very poor password choices by selecting some of the worst passwords of 2018, the report highlights some of the terrible password practices that many individuals are guilty of. Poor password practices that render their passwords absolutely useless.
This year has seen many major password failures, several of which came from the White House, where security is critical. Topping the list was a password faux pas by a visitor to the oval office – Kanye West. Not only was ‘Ye’ guilty of using one of the worst possible passwords on his phone ‘000000’, he also unlocked his phone in full view of an office full of reporters who were filming his meeting with President Trump. Ye’s poor password was broadcast to the nation (and around the world). This incident highlights the issue of ‘shoulder surfing.’ Looking over someone’s shoulder at their screen to see passwords being entered. Something that can easily happen in public places.
Another White House password failure concerned a staffer who committed the cardinal password sin of writing down a username and password to make it easier to remember. It is something that many employees do, but most do not write it on White House stationary and then leave the document at a bus stop.
Password security should be exemplary at the White House, but even more so at the Pentagon. Even staff at the Pentagon are guilty of poor password hygiene, as was discovered by Government Accountability Office (GAO) auditors. GAO auditors discovered default passwords were used for software associated with weapons systems. Default passwords are publicly available online which renders them totally useless. GAO auditors were also able to guess admin passwords with full privileges in only 9 seconds.
These are just three examples of terrible password practices. While they are shocking given the individuals concerned, they are sadly all too common.
Password Best Practices to Keep Accounts Secure
A password prevents other individuals from gaining access to an account and the sensitive information contained therein. Choose a strong password or passphrase and it will help to make sure that personal (or business) information remains confidential. Choose a weak password and an account can easily get hacked. Choose an exceptionally weak password and you may as well have no password at all.
To ensure passwords are effective, make sure you adopt the password best practices detailed below:
Make sure you set a password – Never leave any account open
Always change default passwords – They are just placeholders and are next to useless
Never reuse old passwords
Use a unique password for all accounts – Never use the same password for multiple accounts
Do not use names, dictionary words, or strings of consecutive numbers or letters
Ensure passwords are longer than 8 characters and contain at least one number, lowercase letter, uppercase letter, and a symbol – Long passphrases that are known only to you are ideal
Use a random mix of characters for passwords and use a password manager so you don’t have to remember them. Just make sure you set a very strong password for your password manager master password.
Set up multi-factor authentication on all of your accounts
Never write down a password
Never share passwords with others, no matter how much you trust them
Password Best Practices for Businesses
Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed 81% of hacking-related data breaches were due to weak passwords or stolen credentials. It is therefore critical that businesses adopt password best practices and ensure users practice good password hygiene. Businesses need to:
Train end users on good password hygiene and password best practices
Enforce the use of strong passwords: Blacklist dictionary words, previously exposed passwords, previously used passwords, and commonly used weak passwords
Set the minimum password length to 8 characters (or more) and avoid setting a maximum length to encourage the use of passphrases.
Follow the password advice published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Don’t enforce password changes too often. End users will just reuse old passwords or make very minor changes to past passwords.
Implement multi-factor authentication
Encrypt all stored passwords
Consider the use of other authentication methods – Fingerprint scanners, facial recognition software, voice prints, or iris scans
Educational institutions are being targeted by cybercriminals for all manner of nefarious purposes: To obtain the personal information of staff and students for identity theft and tax fraud, to steal university funds, and to steal university research.
University research theft is an easy income stream for hackers. Research papers can command high prices on the black market and are highly sought after by nation state governments and businesses.
This fall, the UK’s Daily Telegraph revealed Iranian hackers were selling research papers that had been stolen from top British Universities including Oxford and Cambridge. Several Farsi websites were identified advertising free access to university research papers, including an offer of university research theft to order. Provide the details and, for a price, the research be found and sent through an encrypted channel.
There were papers for sale on highly sensitive subjects such as nuclear research and cybersecurity defenses. Even less sensitive subjects are valuable to foreign businesses. The research could help them gain a competitive advantage at the expense of universities. In the case of Iran, universities are being used to gain access to Western research that would otherwise be off limits due to current sanctions.
It is not just British universities that are being targeted. The hackers are infiltrating university research databases the world over, and it is not just Iranian hackers that have tapped into this income stream. University research theft is a growing problem.
How Are University Databases Breached?
One of the main ways access to research databases is gained is through phishing – A simple method of attack that requires no programming know-how and no malicious software. All that is required is a little time and the ability to create a website.
Phishing emails are sent to staff and students that request a visit a webpage where they are required to enter their credentials to academic databases. If the credentials are disclosed, the phishers have the same access rights as the user. The phishers then download papers or advertise and wait for requests to roll in. They then just search the database, download the papers, and provide them to their customers.
Various social engineering techniques are used to entice users to click the links. Requests are sent instructing the user that they need to reset their password, for instance. The web pages they are directed to are exact copies of the sites used by the universities. Apart from the URL, the websites appear perfectly genuine.
Unfortunately, once credentials have been obtained it can be difficult for universities to discover there has been a breach since genuine login credentials are used to access the research databases.
How to Prevent University Research Theft
No single cybersecurity solution will protect universities from all phishing attacks. The key to mounting an effective defense against phishing is layered phishing defenses.
The primary cybersecurity solution to implement is an advanced spam filter to ensure as many phishing emails as possible are blocked and messages containing malicious attachments do not reach inboxes. SpamTitan for instance, blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing messages and 100% of known malware. Even advanced spam filtering solutions will not block all phishing emails, so additional controls are required to deal with the <0.1% of phishing emails that are delivered.
While a web filter can be used to block access to categories of web content such as pornography, it will also block access to known malicious websites: Websites used for phishing and those that host malware.
End user security awareness training is also essential. End users are the last line of defense and will remain a weak link unless training is provided to teach them how to identify malicious emails. Staff and students should be conditioned to report threats to their security teams to ensure action can be taken and to alert first responders when the university is under attack.
Multi-factor authentication should also be implemented. If credentials are stolen and used to access a database, email account, computer, or server, from an unfamiliar device or location, a further form of authentication is required before access is granted.
Universities should have security monitoring capabilities. Logs of access attempts and should generated and network and user activity should be monitored for potential compromises.
For further information on anti-phishing defenses and cybersecurity solutions that can help prevent university research theft, contact the TitanHQ team today.
In 2016, Starbucks agreed to filter out pornography from its WiFi networks, but two years on and a Starbuck WiFi filter has yet to be applied anywhere other than the UK.
The 2016 promise came in response to public pressure to take action to prevent customers from abusing its free WiFi network to view pornography. While Starbucks had an acceptable use policy and prohibited the viewing of pornography on its WiFi network, there were no controls in place to prevent customers from accessing such content.
Leading the campaign for a Starbucks WiFi filter was the Internet safety group Enough is Enough. Back in 2016, as part of its Porn Free WiFi Campaign (since renamed SAFE WiFi Campaign) the group stepped up its efforts to convince big businesses to take the lead and implement filtering technology to enforce acceptable internet usage policies on their free WiFi networks. McDonalds and Starbucks were two such brands that were petitioned by the group – a coalition of 75 partner organizations.
More than 50,000 petitions were sent to Starbucks and McDonald’s in 2016, and in response, both agreed to start filtering pornographic web content on their WiFi networks. While McDonald’s acted quickly and started blocking adult content, the Starbucks WiFi filter failed to materialize. The coffee shop chain did implement a WiFi filter in its UK locations, but the Starbucks WiFi filter was not rolled out in other countries.
Since McDonalds took the lead and created a family-friendly free WiFi network, Chick-fil-A has followed suit and has implemented a WiFi filter in its 2,200 restaurants, as have many other restaurant and coffee shop chains. However, two years on and Starbucks has not made good on its promise. The lack of apparent action prompted Enough is Enough to issue a new call for the coffee shop chain to take action.
Enough is Enough Issues Fresh Call for Starbucks WiFi Filter Rollout
“Starbucks has had a tremendous opportunity to put its best foot forward in protecting its customers from images deemed obscene and illegal under the law, but they haven’t budged, despite their promise two years ago and despite the fact that they voluntarily filter this same content in the UK,” said Enough is Enough president and CEO, Donna Rice Hughes. “By breaking its commitment, Starbucks is keeping the doors wide open for convicted sex offenders and others to fly under the radar from law enforcement and use free, public WiFi services to access illegal child porn and hard-core pornography.”
Despite the promise, there has been little news issued on the Starbucks WiFi filter front. “To date, no action has taken place to suggest Starbucks has moved forward with its public commitment. EIE has made repeated attempts to reach out to Starbucks executives by phone, e-mail and certified mail since 2016. Starbucks has remained unresponsive with the exception of a form letter from customer relations,” explained Donna Rice Hughes on November 26, 2018.
Enough is Enough has called for members of the public to petition Starbucks once again and demand a WiFi filtering solution be applied to prevent customers from accessing inappropriate content in its coffee shops.
Starbucks has now confirmed to Business Insider that the chain has been taking action and has been evaluating WiFi filtering solutions to determine whether they can be applied to block access to pornography without inadvertently blocking other types of content. A solution has now been chosen at last and it will be rolled out in 2019.
WiFi Filtering Made Simple with WebTitan Cloud for WiFi
While web filters have been criticized in the past for overblocking web content, today, web filters such as TitanHQ’s WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allow fine control of Internet content thanks to highly granular controls. Blocking access to pornography, or any other category of Internet content, requires just a couple of clicks of a mouse.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi includes 53 preset categories of Internet content that can be filtered out in seconds once the solution has been implemented. Implementing WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, configuring the filter, and protecting customers (and employees) takes just a few minutes. No hardware purchases are required, and no software downloads are necessary. Simply change the DNS to point to WebTitan and controls can easily be applied.
In addition to blocking pornography, illegal content such as child pornography and copyright-infringing file downloads via P2P file sharing sites and be blocked. WiFi users will also be protected from malicious sites that download malware, phishing websites, and other web-based threats.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is highly scalable and can be used to protect multiple WiFi access points, regardless of where they are located, through an easy-to-use web-based interface. With WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, filtering the Internet and protecting customers could not be any easier.
If you run a business and you offer your customers free, unfiltered WiFi access, now is the perfect time to make a change and send a message to your customers that you are leading the fight against online pornography and are taking action to protect customers by creating a family-friendly WiFi environment.
Contact TitanHQ today for more information, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free WebTitan Cloud for WiFi trial.
Managed Service providers that want to start offering WiFi filtering to clients should contact the TitanHQ MSP Program team to find out how WebTitan (and other TitanHQ products) can be integrated into their security stacks.
Business email compromise (BEC) attacks cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and business email account compromises are soaring.
What is a Business Email Compromise Attack?
As the name suggests, these attacks involve the hijacking of business email accounts. The primary aim is to compromise the account of the CEO or CFO, which is usually achieved through a spear phishing attack. Once the email account has been compromised, it is used to send phishing emails to other employees in the company, most commonly, employees in the accounts, finance, and payroll departments.
The emails commonly request wire transfers be made to accounts under the control of the attackers. Requests are also made for sensitive information such as the W-2 Forms of employees.
Since the emails are sent from the CEO or CFO’s own account, there is a much higher chance of an employee responding to the request than to a standard phishing attempt from an external email address. Since the emails come from within an organization, they are also much harder to detect as malicious – a fact not lost on the scammers.
With access to the email account, it is much easier to craft convincing messages. The signature of the CEO can be copied along with their style of writing from sent messages. Email conversations can be started with employees and messages can be exchanged without the knowledge of the account holder.
Fraudulent transfers of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars may be made and the W-2 Forms of the entire workforce can be obtained. The latter can be used to submit fake tax returns in victims’ names to obtain tax refunds. The profits for the attackers can be considerable, and with the potential for a massive payout, it is no surprise that these attacks are on the rise.
Business Email Account Compromises Have Increased by 284% in a Year
FBI figures in December 2016 suggest $5.3 billion had been lost to BEC scams since October 2013. That figure had now increased to $12.5 billion. More than 30,000 complaints of losses due to BEC attacks were reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaints Center (IC3) between June 2016 and May 2018.
The specialist insurance service provider Beazley has been tracking business email account compromises. The firm’s figures show business email account compromises have increased each quarter since Q1, 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, 45 business email account compromises were detected. In Q2, 2018, 184 business email account compromises were detected. Between 2017 to 2018, there was a 284% increase in compromised business email accounts.
While the CEO’s email credentials are often sought, the credentials of lowlier employees are also valuable. Any email account credentials that can be obtained can be used for malicious purposes. Email accounts can be used to send phishing messages to other individuals in an organization, and to business contacts, vendors, and customers.
Beazley notes that once one account has been compromised, others will soon follow. When investigating business email account compromises, businesses often discover that multiple accounts have been compromised. Typically, a company is only aware of half the number of its compromised accounts.
The High Cost of Resolving Business Email Account Compromises
Business email account compromises can be extremely costly to resolve. Forensic investigators often need to be brought in to determine the full extent of the breach. Each breached email account must then be checked to determine what information has been compromised. While automated searches can be performed, manual checks are inevitable. For one client, the automated search revealed 350,000 document attachments had potentially been accessed, and each of those documents had to be checked manually to determine the information IT contained. The manual search alone cost the company $800,000.
How to Protect Your Organization from Business Email Compromise Attacks
A range of measures are required to protect against business email compromise attacks. An advanced spam and anti-phishing solution is required to prevent phishing and spear phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes.
SpamTitan is an easy-to-implement spam filtering solution that blocks advanced phishing and spear phishing attacks at source. In contrast to basic email filters, such as those incorporated into Office 365, SpamTitan uses heuristics, Bayesian analysis, and machine learning to identify highly sophisticated phishing attacks and new phishing tactics. These advanced techniques ensure more than 99.9% of spam and malicious messages are blocked.
The importance of security awareness training should not be underestimated. End users should be trained how to recognize phishing attempts. Training should be ongoing to ensure employees are made aware of current campaigns and new phishing tactics. Phishing simulation exercises should also be conducted to reinforce training and identify weak links.
Multi-factor authentication is important to prevent third parties from using stolen credentials to access accounts. If a login attempt is made from an unfamiliar location or unknown device, an additional form of identification is required to access the account.
Password policies should be enforced to ensure that employees set strong passwords or passphrases. This will reduce the potential for brute force and dictionary attacks. If Office 365 is used, connection to third party applications should be limited to make it harder for PowerShell to be used to access email accounts. A web filtering solution should also be implemented to block access to phishing accounts where email credentials are typically obtained.
Defense in depth is the key to protecting against BEC attacks. For more information about email and web security controls to block BEC attacks, give the TitanHQ team a call. Our experienced advisers will recommend the best spam and web filtering options to meet the needs of your business and can book a product demonstration and set you up for a free trial.
A massive malvertising campaign has been detected that has so far hijacked at least 300 million browser sessions in the space of just 48 hours.
What is Malvertising?
Malveristing is a method of generating traffic to websites that would otherwise be unlikely to be visited by Internet users. The technique involves using code in adverts submitted to advertising networks to redirect users to a specific website. Clicking a link in one of the adverts can trigger multiple redirects, first to the site detailed in the Ad code, then onto another web page.
Malvertising is often used to direct Internet users to malicious websites, such as those hosting exploit kits that probe for vulnerabilities and silently download malware or phishing websites, tech support scams, and other scam sites.
As spam filtering technology has improved, fewer spam emails are being delivered to inboxes, which means fewer individuals click links in emails and visit malicious websites. Malvertising is a suitable alternative that generates huge volumes of traffic.
Users Directed to Phishing Websites
The latest malvertising campaign is being used to direct Internet users to a variety of web pages, including adult websites and ‘You’ve Won a Gift Card’ scams.
Malvertising is nothing new and there are more than a dozen threat actors that are primarily using this method to generate traffic to web pages, but this campaign stands out due to its scale and the volume of visitors that have been redirected to malicious websites.
How to Protect Your Business from Malvertising Attacks
As with spam email, malvertising is a serious risk for businesses. The majority of businesses now use a spam filtering solution to prevent malicious messages from reaching inboxes, but fewer businesses have protections in place to prevent their employees from malvertising and other web-based attacks.
Anti-virus and anti-malware solutions may identify malware downloads that take place through these malicious websites, but usually only once the malware has been downloaded. Since most AV solutions are signature-based, if a new malware variant is downloaded it will not be detected.
The most effective way of blocking malvertising is a web filtering solution. A web filter is most commonly used to control the types of content that can be accessed by employees and serves a similar purpose to parental control software. However, in contrast to parental control solutions, enterprise class-web filtering solutions also prevent network users from accessing malicious websites such as those used for phishing and to distribute malware.
WebTitan Cloud – An Easy to Use, Powerful Web Filtering Solution
WebTitan Cloud is an enterprise-class web filtering solution that has been developed to offer protection against web-based attacks, including malvertising.
WebTitan Cloud is a 100% cloud-based web filtering solution. As such, it requires no hardware purchases or software downloads. Implementation is quick and easy and only takes a few minutes. No technical skill is required to start filtering the Internet and start protecting your business from web-based threats.
In addition to blocking access to malicious websites, WebTitan Cloud allows users to restrict internet activity through 53 category-based filters. More than 700 million URLs are crawled, analyzed, and categorized every day, and the solution provides 100% coverage of the Alexa top 1 million most visited websites and blocks more than 3 million malicious URLS at any one time. More than 7,500 businesses around the world trust WebTitan to protect them from malicious web content.
WebTitan Cloud is also an ideal web filtering solution for managed service providers (MSPs), allowing them to easily add web filtering to their security stacks. WebTitan Cloud comes with a variety of hosting options, including the option of hosting the solution within an MSP’s own data center. The solution can also be provided as a white-label ready to take MSP branding.
For further information on WebTitan Cloud for managed service providers and SMBs, details of pricing, and to book a product demonstration, contact the TitanHQ team today.
Businesses that fail to secure their WiFi networks are taking a huge risk, and one that could prove catastrophic. In this article we explain why WiFi security is so important and cover the main WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses.
What are the Consequences of Poor Cybersecurity?
Customers often feel loyal to a particular brand. The company gives them what they want, the prices are reasonable, the quality of products/services are good. One of the most important factors influencing customer loyalty is trust in a brand. If trust in a brand is lost, it can be difficult win customers back. They may be permanently lost. Those customers then speak to their friends and colleagues and word spreads and further business can be lost.
One of the easiest ways to lose the trust of customers is a data breach. Ask customers why they love a particular brand, and “The company keeps my data safe” will not make the top ten list. That said, if a company experiences a data breach, customers will leave in droves.
Some industries are more prone to high customer churn rates following a data breach than others. The healthcare and insurance industries do experience customer loss, but many breach victims are tied to those providers and leaving is not straightforward. The banking and retail industries on the other hand see high churn rates. There is usually plenty of choice and customers explore other options after a breach.
A study of 10,000 consumers by Gemalto in November 2017 showed 70% of customers would stop doing business with a company after a data breach. Could your business cope with an overnight loss of 70% of your customers?
Further, the cost of a data breach report revealed the average cost of a data breach has now risen to $3.86 million. A 70% loss of customers and a $3.86 million data breach bill would prove catastrophic for many businesses. It is therefore no surprise that the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60% of SMBs go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.
Defense in Depth is Essential
The Gemalto study found that 62% of consumers felt that a company that holds their data is responsible for security, highlighting the importance customers place on the privacy of their data.
For businesses, ensuring systems and data are kept secure can be a major challenge. The only way to meet that challenge is through defense in depth. A range of cybersecurity solutions are required to secure systems and data, block cyberattacks, and prevent data breaches.
The best place to start is by performing a risk assessment to highlight all potential risks to your systems and data. Consider all possible ways that an attack can occur, assess the risk of each, and develop a risk management plan to address those risks, addressing the highest risk areas first.
While many companies implement a host of network and email security solutions, one area of security that is often overlooked is the WiFi network, even though WiFi poses a considerable risk, not only to the business but also to customers that are allowed to connect to the WiFi network. Some of the important WiFi filtering security benefits are detailed in the section below.
Important WiFi Filtering Security Benefits for Businesses
There are many WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses. Implementing a WiFi filter will not only improve security for the business and its customers, it can also help to improve the productivity of the workforce.
Some of the most important WiFi security benefits are detailed below:
Block Malware and Ransomware Downloads
One of the most important WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses is protection from malware and ransomware downloads. Malware allows hackers to steal customer data, intellectual property, and obtain credentials to plunder corporate bank accounts. Malware infections can prove incredibly costly to resolve and ransomware attacks can bring businesses to a grinding halt. A WiFi filter help improve security by blocking access to sites hosting exploit kits and preventing drive-by malware downloads.
Prevent WiFi Users from Visiting Phishing Websites
Phishing is a major risk for all businesses. While most phishing attacks start with an email, they invariably link to websites that harvest credentials. A WiFi filter ensures that employees and guest users cannot access websites known to be used for phishing.
Stop Users from Accessing Illegal Website Content
Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that their WiFi networks cannot be used to access illegal content such as child pornography or to perform copyright-infringing file downloads. In addition to the potential for these actions to lead to legal problems for employers, these illegal online activities increase the risk of a malware infection.
Prevent Users from Accessing Inappropriate Websites
Businesses should take steps to prevent employees and guest WiFi users from accessing inappropriate websites – Websites that have no work purpose and those that are likely to cause offense to other individuals – adult content for example. Inappropriate internet use is a major drain of productivity and poses a security risk.
Other Important WiFi Filtering Benefits
All companies must take steps to reduce legal liability and employee Internet access is one area where companies can experience legal problems. Web content that seems funny to some employees could be highly offensive to others and lead to the creation of a hostile working environment and subsequent legal action by employees. Any company that fails to block illegal online activities such as copyright-infringing downloads, could be found to be vicariously liable for the actions of its WiFi users.
Businesses can use a WiFi filter to control bandwidth use. By blocking access to bandwidth heavy activities such as video streaming at busy times, business can ensure all users can enjoy fast Internet speeds.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi: WiFi Filtering Made Simple
Gaining the above WiFi filtering security benefits is easy with TitanHQ’s innovative WiFi filtering solution – WebTitan Cloud for WiFi.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is easy to implement, simple to use, and effortless to maintain. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows businesses to carefully control Internet access, reduce risk, make important productivity gains, and improve their security posture.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can be implemented in minutes, requires no hardware purchases and needs no software downloads. An intuitive user interface can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and no technical skill is required to configure and maintain the solution.
WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows business of all sizes to gain the WiFi filtering security benefits with no slowing of Internet speeds.
WebTitan WiFi Filtering Security Benefits
Blocks access to web pages hosting malware
Blocks ransomware, malware, virus, and botnet downloads
Prevents employees and guests from accessing phishing websites
Requires no user updates or patches
Blocks the use of anonymizers
Inspects all Internet traffic, including encrypted content
Reports can be generated to show which employees are attempting to bypass filtering controls
Policies can be created for different users, departments, or locations
Different filtering controls can be set for employees and guest WiFi users
For further information on WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, details of pricing, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free 14-day trial of the full solution, contact the TitanHQ team today.
One of the ways that threat actors install malware is through malvertising – The placing of malicious adverts on legitimate websites that direct visitors to websites where malware is downloaded. The HookAds malvertising campaign is one such example and the threat actors behind the campaign have been particularly active of late.
The HookAds malvertising campaign has one purpose. To direct people to a website hosting the Fallout exploit kit. An exploit kit is malicious code that runs when a visitor lands on a web page. The visitor’s computer is probed to determine whether there are any vulnerabilities – unpatched software – that can be exploited to silently install files.
In the case of the Fallout exploit kit, users’ devices are checked for several known Windows vulnerabilities. If one is identified, it is exploited and a malicious payload is downloaded. Several malware variants are currently being delivered via Fallout, including information stealers, banking Trojans, and ransomware.
According to threat analyst nao_sec, two separate HookAds malvertising campaigns have been detected: One is being used to deliver the DanaBot banking Trojan and the other is delivering two malware payloads – The Nocturnal information stealer and GlobeImposter ransomware via the Fallout exploit kit.
Exploit kits can only be used to deliver malware to unpatched devices, so businesses will only be at risk of this web-based attack vector if they are not 100% up to date with their patching. Unfortunately, many businesses are slow to apply patches and exploits for new vulnerabilities are frequently uploaded to EKs such as Fallout. Consequently, a security solution is needed to block this attack vector.
HookAds Malvertising Campaign Highlights Importance of a Web Filter
The threat actors behind the HookAds malvertising campaign are taking advantage of the low prices offered for advertising blocks on websites by low quality ad networks – Those often used by owners of online gaming websites, adult sites, and other types of websites that should not be accessed by employees. While the site owners themselves are not actively engaging with the threat actors behind the campaign, the malicious adverts are still served on their websites along with legitimate ads. Fortunately, there is an easy solution that blocks EK activity: A web filter.
TitanHQ has developed WebTitan to allow businesses to carefully control employee Internet access. Once WebTitan has been installed – a quick and easy process that takes just a few minutes – the solution can be configured to quickly enforce acceptable Internet usage policies. Content can be blocked by category with a click of the mouse.
Access to websites containing adult and other NSFW content can be quickly and easily blocked. If an employee attempts to visit a category of website that is blocked by the filter, they will be redirected to a customizable block screen and will be informed why access has been prohibited.
WebTitan ensures that employees cannot access ‘risky’ websites where malware can be downloaded and blocks access to productivity draining websites, illegal web content, and other sites that have no work purpose.
Key Benefits of WebTitan
Listed below are some of the key benefits of WebTitan
No hardware purchases required to run the web filter
No software downloads are necessary
Internet filtering settings can be configured in minutes
Category-based filters allow acceptable Internet usage policies to be quickly applied
An intuitive, easy-to-use web-based interface requires no technical skill to use
No patching required
WebTitan Cloud can be applied with impact on Internet speed
No restriction on devices or bandwidth
WebTitan is highly scalable
WebTitan protects office staff and remote workers
WebTitan Cloud includes a full suite of pre-configured and customizable reports
Reports can be scheduled and instant email alerts generated
Suitable for use with static and dynamic IP addresses
White label versions can be supplied for use by MSPs
Multiple hosting options are available
WebTitan Cloud can be used to protect wired and wireless networks
For further information on WebTitan, for details of pricing, to book a product demonstration, or register for a free trial, contact the TitanHQ team today.
Further information on WebTitan is provided in the video below:
TitanHQ has expanded its partnership with Z Services, the leading SaaS provider of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions in the MENA region.
UAE-based Z Services operates 17 secure data centers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco and is the only company in the Middle East and North Africa to offer an in-country multi-tenant cloud-based cybersecurity architecture.
In February 2017, Z Services partnered with TitanHQ and integrated TitanHQ’s award-winning email filtering technology into its service stack and started offering SpamTitan-powered Z Services Anti-Spam SaaS to its clients. TitanHQ’s email filtering technology now helps Z Services’ clients filter out spam email and protect against sophisticated email-based threats such as malware, viruses, botnets, ransomware, phishing and spear phishing.
The integration has proved to be a huge success for Z Services, so much so that the firm has now taken its partnership with TitanHQ a step further and has integrated two new TitanHQ-powered SaaS solutions into its service stack. TitanHQ’s award-winning web filtering technology – WebTitan – and its innovative email archiving solution – ArcTitan have both been incorporated into Z Services’ MERALE SaaS offering. MERALE is a suite of cybersecurity, threat protection, and compliance solutions specifically developed to meet the needs of small to medium sized enterprises.
“With cybersecurity growing as a critical business concern across the region, there is a clear need to make security an operational rather than a capital expense. Hence the paradigm shift in the delivery of effective security solutions from the traditional investment and delivery model to an agile SaaS model through the primary connectivity provider of SMEs – the ISPs,” said Nidal Taha, President – Middle East and North Africa, Z Services. “MERALE will be a game-changer in how small and medium businesses in the region ensure their protection, and as a subscription-based service, it removes the need for heavy investments and long-term commitments.”
“We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with Z Services and share their vision for serving the SME segment with leading edge SaaS based security solutions,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO of TitanHQ. “With this development Z Services is strengthening its leadership position as an innovative cloud-based cybersecurity solutions provider in the Middle East and North Africa.”
TitanHQ’s cloud-based cybersecurity solutions have been developed from the ground up specifically to meet the needs of Managed Service Providers. The email filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions are currently being used by more than 7,500 businesses around the world and more than 1,500 MSPs are now offering TitanHQ solutions to their clients.
In contrast to many cybersecurity solution providers, TitanHQ offers its products with a range of hosting options – including within an MSP’s own infrastructure – as full white label solutions ready for MSPs to apply their own branding. By protecting clients with TitanHQ solutions MSPs are able to significantly reduce support and engineering costs by blocking a wide range of cyber threats at source. MSPs also benefit from generous margins and industry-leading customer service and support.
If you are a managed service provider and have yet to incorporate email filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions into your service stack, if you are unhappy with your current providers, or are looking to increase profits while ensuring your clients have the best protection against email and web-based threats, contact TitanHQ today for further information.
An IT security audit conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at its Earth Resources Observation and Science Center has highlighted the importance of implementing technical solutions to control employee internet use.
Most organizations and businesses have strict rules covering acceptable use of the Internet on work computers. Those rules are usually explained when a new employee starts work. A document must be signed that confirms that the Rules have been understood and the employee is aware of the repercussions if the rules are violated.
For many organizations and businesses, those measures are deemed to be sufficient. Most employees understand the rules and adhere to them, but even though rule violations will likely result in termination, some employees take the risk as they believe they will not be caught.
During a recent USGS IT security audit, suspicious Internet traffic was identified. The discovery prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) to determine the source of the suspicious traffic.
The OIG investigation revealed malware had been installed on an employee’s computer and that the malware was the source of the suspicious communications. Further investigation revealed the employee had been routinely visiting adult websites, which routed through Russian websites that hosted malware. As a result of visiting those websites, the employee had inadvertently downloaded malware onto the work computer. Pornographic images had been downloaded, which were then transferred to an Android mobile and portable USB drive. The mobile was similarly infected with malware.
The employee was discovered to have viewed over 9,000 adult websites, even though USGS Rules of Behavior had been explained and a document was signed confirming those rules had been understood. Annual security training had also been provided in which the Rules of Behavior were reinforced.
Had USGS implemented a technical solution to control employee internet use and enforce its Rules of Behavior, the malware infection would have been avoided.
OIG made several recommendations to prevent future malware infections and similar abuses of its Rules of Behavior, which included enforcing a strong blacklist of URLs and to regularly monitor employee Internet use. Additionally, it was recommended that USGS implement controls that prevent employees from using unauthorized USB devices on their work computers.
In addition to implementing an advanced intrusion detection system and firewall, USGS is now enhancing its preventative countermeasures by detecting and blocking known pornographic websites and other websites with suspicious origins.
This is not the first time that the U.S. government has discovered employees have accessed pornography at work and it certainly will not be the last.
The problem is believed to be so widespread that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC11) proposed the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act on three occasions. The Act was prompted by the discovery that an Environmental Protection Agency had been accessing pornography at work. In that case, the employee had viewed pornography for 252 hours in a single year without detection.
The Easy Way to Control Employee Internet Use and Block Web-Based Threats
These cases show that organizations and businesses that rely on internal policies to control employee internet use are taking a considerable risk. It is not just the visiting of adult websites that carries an increased risk of malware infections. Malware can be downloaded from an extensive range of websites, even seemingly ‘legitimate’ sites.
Only by implementing a web filtering solution to control employee internet use will organizations and businesses be able to effectively reduce risk. A web filter is an appliance, virtual appliance, or cloud-based solution that prevents employees from accessing website content that violates acceptable Internet usage policies and blocks the accessing of websites that are known to be used for malicious purposes or have been infected with malware and exploit kits.
Control Employee Internet Use with WebTitan
WebTitan is a lightweight but powerful web filtering solution that allows organizations and businesses to carefully control employee internet use and block access to websites known to host pornography and other unsuitable for work content. A comprehensive reporting suite also allows employee internet use to be carefully monitored, including attempts to view prohibited content even if those attempts are not successful.
WebTitan can be deployed as a gateway solution on existing hardware or hypervisors or as a cloud-based solution hosted on TitanHQ servers. The solution is quick and easy to implement and configure and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. In addition to category-based filtering controls, the solution can block by keyword or keyword score and supports whitelists and blacklists.
If you want to control employee internet use and manage risk, call TitanHQ today for further information on WebTitan and find out how it can reduce the risk from web-based threats at your place of work.
A new ransomware threat has been detected called FilesLocker which is currently being offered as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) on a TOR malware forum. FilesLocker ransomware is not a particularly sophisticated ransomware variant, but it still poses a significant threat.
FilesLocker ransomware is a dual language ransomware variant that displays ransom notes in both Chinese and English. MalwareHunterTeam has identified a Chinese forum on TOR where it is being offered to affiliates to distribute for a cut of the ransom payments.
Unless advertised more widely, the number of affiliates that sign up may be limited, although it may prove popular. There are several features which could see the ransomware variant favored over other RaaS offerings, notably a sliding scale on commissions. The developers are offering a 60% cut of ransoms, which will increase to 75% if sufficiently high numbers of infections can be generated.
While relatively small and simple, FilesLocker ransomware still uses an RSA 2048+AES algorithm to lock files and it deletes Windows shadow copies to hamper attempts to recover files without paying the ransom. FilesLocker is also capable of file encryption in a broken network environment.
No server is required and the ransomware is effective on all Windows versions later than XP plus 32-bit and 64-bit Windows Server. Users are also able to easily monitor infections through a tracking feature which displays infections by country.
There is no free decryptor for FilesLocker ransomware. Recovery will only be possible by restoring files from backups.
While news of a new RaaS offering is never good, there has at least been some good news on the ransomware front this week, at least for some victims.
Free Decryptor Developed for GandCrab Ransomware
GandCrab ransomware is another RaaS offering that has been available since January 2018. It has been widely adopted, with many affiliates signing up to distribute the ransomware over the past 10 months.
A GandCrab ransomware decryptor was developed by Bitdefender in February that was able to unlock files encrypted by version 1.0 and v1.1 of GandCrab ransomware. The decryptor was developed after private keys were leaked online. However, it didn’t take long for v2.0 to be released, for which no free decryptor is available. There have been several further updates to GandCrab ransomware over the past few months, with v5.0 of the ransomware variant released in late September.
This week, Bitdefender has announced that after collaboration with the Romanian Police, Europol and other law enforcement agencies, a new decryption tool has been developed that allows GandCrab ransomware victims to decrypt files for free, provided they have been attacked with version 1, 4, or 5 of the ransomware.
The version can be determined by the extension used on encrypted files. V1=GDCB; v2/3=CRAB; v4=KRAB; and v5 uses a random 10-character extension.
The free GandCrab ransomware decryptor has been uploaded to the NoMoreRansom Project website. Bitdefender is currently working on a free decryptor for v2 and v3 of GandCrab ransomware.
The past few months have seen an increase in new, versatile malware downloaders that gather a significant amount of data about users’ systems before deploying a malicious payload. That payload is determined on the users’ system.
Marap malware and Xbash are two notable recent examples. Marap malware fingerprints a system and is capable of downloading additional modules based on the findings of the initial reconnaissance. XBash also assesses the system, and determines whether it is best suited for cryptocurrency mining or a ransomware attack and deploys its payload accordingly.
Stealthy sLoad Downloader Used in Highly Targeted Attacks
A further versatile and stealthy malware variant, known as the sLoad downloader, can now be added to that list. SLoad first appeared in May 2018, so it predates both of the above malware variants, although its use has been growing.
The primary purpose of sLoad appears to be reconnaissance. Once downloaded onto a system, it will determine the location of the device based on the IP address and performs several checks to ascertain the type of system and the software that is running and will determine whether it is on a real device or in a sandbox environment. It checks the processes running on the system, compares against a hardcoded list, and will exit if certain security software is installed to avoid detection.
Provided the system is suitable, a full scan of all running processes will be performed. The sLoad downloader will search for Microsoft Outlook files, ICA files associated with Citrix, and other system information. sLoad is capable of taking screenshots and searches the browser history looking for specific banking domains. All of this information is then fed back to the attackers’ C2 server.
Once the system has been fingerprinted, further malware variants are downloaded, primarily banking Trojans. Geofencing is used extensively by the threat actors using sLoad which helps to ensure that banking Trojans are only downloaded onto systems where they are likely to be effective – If the victim uses one of the banks that the Trojan is targeting.
In most of the campaigns intercepted to date, the banking Trojan of choice has been Ramnit. The attacks have also been highly focused on specific countries including Canada, and latterly, Italy and the United Kingdom – Locations which are currently being targeted by Ramnit. Other malware variants associated with the sLoad downloader include the remote desktop tool DarkVNC, the Ursnif information stealer, DreamBot, and PsiBot.
The sLoad downloader is almost exclusively delivered via spam email, with the campaigns often containing personal information such as the target’s name and address. While there have been several email subjects used, most commonly the emails relate to purchase orders, shipping notifications, and missed packages.
The emails contain Word documents with malicious macros in ZIP files, or alternatively embedded hyperlinks which will download the ZIP file if clicked.
The sLoad downloader may be stealthy and versatile, but blocking the threat is possible with an advanced spam filter. End user training to condition employees never to click on hyperlinks from unknown senders nor open attachments or enable macros will also help to prevent infection. Web filtering solutions provide an additional layer of protection to block attempts to download malicious files from the Internet.
The U.S. midterm elections have been attracting considerable attention, so it is no surprise that cybercriminals are taking advantage and are running a midterm elections SEO poisoning campaign. It was a similar story in the run up to the 2016 presidential elections and the World Cup. Whenever there is a major newsworthy event, there are always scammers poised to take advantage.
Thousands of midterm elections themed webpages have sprung up and have been indexed by the search engines, some of which are placing very highly in the organic results for high-traffic midterm election keyword phrases.
The aim of the campaign is not to influence the results of the midterm elections, but to take advantage of public interest and the huge number of searches related to the elections and to divert traffic to malicious websites.
What is SEO Poisoning?
The creation of malicious webpages and getting them ranked in the organic search engine results is referred to as search engine poisoning. Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are used to promote webpages and convince search engine algorithms that the pages are newsworthy and relevant to specific search terms. Suspect SEO practices such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, and backlinking are used to fool search engine spiders into rating the webpages favorably.
The content on the pages appears extremely relevant to the search term to search engine bots that crawl the internet and index the pages; however, these pages do not always display the same content. Search engine spiders and bots see one type of content, human visitors will be displayed something entirely different. The scammers are able to differentiate human and bot visitors through different HTTP headers in the web requests. Real visitors are then either displayed different content or are redirected to malicious websites.
Midterm Elections SEO Poisoning Campaign Targeting 15,000+ Keywords
The midterm elections SEO poisoning campaign is being tracked by Zscaler, which notes that the scammers have managed to get multiple malicious pages ranking in the first page results for high traffic phrases such as “midterm elections.”
However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The scammers are actually targeting more than 15,000 different midterm election keywords and are using more than 10,000 compromised websites in the campaign. More sites are being compromised and used in the campaign each day.
When a visitor arrives at one of these webpages from a search engine, they are redirected to one of many different webpages. Multiple redirects are often used before the visitor finally arrives at a particular landing page. Those landing pages include phishing forms to obtain sensitive information, host exploit kits that silently download malware, or are used for tech support scams and include various ruses to fool visitors into installing adware, spyware, cryptocurrency miners, ransomware or malicious browser extensions. In addition to scam sites, the campaign is also being used to generate traffic to political, religious and adult websites.
This midterms elections SEO poisoning campaign poses a significant threat to all Internet users, but especially businesses that do not control the content that can be accessed by their employees. In such cases, campaigns such as this can easily result in the theft of credentials or malware/ransomware infections, all of which can prove incredibly costly to resolve.
One easy-to-implement solution is a web filter such as WebTitan. WebTitan can be deployed in minutes and can be used to carefully control the content that can be accessed by employees. Blacklisted websites will be automatically blocked, malware downloads prevented, and malicious redirects to phishing websites and exploit kits stopped before any harm is caused.
For further information on the benefits of web filtering and details of WebTitan, contact the TitanHQ team today.
A new and improved version of Azorult malware has been identified. The latest version of the information stealer and malware downloader has already been used in attacks and is being distributed via the RIG exploit kit.
Azorult malware is primarily an information stealer which is used to obtain usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, and other information such as browser histories. Newer versions of the malware have seen cryptocurrency wallet-stealing capabilities added.
Azorult malware was first identified in 2016 by researchers at Proofpoint and has since been used in a large number of attacks via exploit kits and phishing email campaigns. The latter have used links to malicious sites, or more commonly, malicious Word files containing malware downloaders.
Back in 2016, the malware variant was initially installed alongside the Chthonic banking Trojan, although subsequent campaigns have seen Azorult malware deployed as the primary malware payload. This year has seen multiple threat actors pair the information stealer with a secondary ransomware payload.
Campaigns have been detected using Hermes and Aurora ransomware as secondary payloads. In both campaigns, the initial aim is to steal login credentials to raid bank accounts and cryptocurrency wallets. When all useful information has been obtained, the ransomware is activated, and a ransom payment is demanded to decrypted files.
A new version of the Azorult was released in July 2018 – version 3.2 – which contained significant improvements to both its stealer and downloader functions. Now Proofpoint researchers have identified a new variant – version 3.3 – which has already been added to RIG. The new variant was released shortly after the source code for the previous version was leaked online.
The new variant uses a different method of encryption, has improved cryptocurrency stealing functionality to allow the contents of BitcoinGold, electrumG, btcprivate (electrum-btcp), bitcore, and Exodus Eden wallets to be stolen, a new and improved loader, and an updated admin panel. The latest version has a lower detection rate by AV software ensuring more installations.
If your operating systems and software are kept fully patched and up to date you will be protected against these exploit kit downloads as the vulnerabilities exploited by RIG are not new. However, many companies are slow to apply patches, which need to be extensively tested. It is therefore strongly advisable to also deploy a web filtering solution such as WebTitan to provide additional protection against exploit kit malware downloads. WebTitan prevents end users from visiting malicious websites such as those hosting exploit kits.
The latest version of Azorult malware was first listed for sale on October 4. It is highly probable that other threat actors will purchase the malware and distribute it via phishing emails, as was the case with previous versions. It is therefore strongly advisable to also implement an advanced spam filter and ensure that end users are trained how to recognize potentially malicious emails.
TitanHQ, the leading provider of spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) recently partnered with Datto Networking, the leading provider of MSP-delivered IT solutions to SMBs.
The partnership has seen TitanHQ’s advanced web filtering technology incorporated into the Datto Networking Appliance to provide secure internet access to all users connected the network.
The new technology providing enhanced protection against web-based threats while allowing administrators to carefully control the web content that can be accessed by employees and guest users.
On October 18, 2018, Datto and TitanHQ will be hosting a webinar that will explain the new functionality of the Datto Networking Appliance to MSPs, including a deep dive into the new web filtering technology.
The use of fake software updates to spread malware is nothing new, but a new malware campaign has been detected that is somewhat different. Fake Adobe Flash updates are being pushed that actually do update the user’s Flash version, albeit with an unwanted addition of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner on the side.
The campaign uses pop-up notifications that are an exact replica of the genuine notifications used by Adobe, advising the user that their Flash version needs to be updated. Clicking on the install button, as with the genuine notifications, will update users’ Flash to the latest version. However, in the background, the XMRig cryptocurrency miner is also downloaded and installed. One installed, XMRig will run silently in the background, unbeknown to the user.
The campaign was detected by security researchers at Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 team. The researchers identified several Windows executable files that started with AdobeFlashPlayer that were hosted on cloud servers not controlled by Adobe.
An analysis of network traffic during the infection process revealed most of the traffic was linked to updating Adobe Flash from an Adobe controlled domain, but that soon changed to traffic through a domain associated with installers known to push cryptocurrency miners. Traffic was later identified over TCP port 14444 that was associated with the XMRig cryptocurrency miner.
Further analysis of the campaign revealed it has been running since mid-August, with activity increasing significantly in September when the fake Adobe Flash updates started to be distributed more heavily.
End users are unlikely to detect the downloading and installation of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner, but there is likely to be a noticeable slowdown in the speed of their computer. The installation of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner may be stealthy, but when it runs it uses almost all of the computer’s CPU for cryptocurrency mining. Any user that checks Task Manager will see Explorer.exe hogging their CPU. As with most cryptocurrency miners, XMRig mines Monero. What is not currently known is which websites are distributing the fake Adobe Flash updates, or how traffic is being generated to those sites.
Any notification about a software update that pops up while browsing the internet should be treated as suspicious. The window should be closed, and the official website of that software provider should be visited to determine if an update is necessary. Software updates should only ever be downloaded from official websites, in the case of Adobe Flash, that is Adobe.com.
The Palo Alto researchers note “Organizations with decent web filtering and educated users have a much lower risk of infection by these fake updates.”
In May, security researchers at Proofpoint discovered a spam email campaign that was distributing a new banking Trojan named DanaBot. At the time it was thought that a single threat actor was using the DanaBot Trojan to target organizations in Australia to obtain online banking credentials.
That campaign has continued, but in addition, campaigns have been identified in Europe targeting customers of banks in Italy, Germany, Poland, Austria, and the UK. Then in late September, a further DanaBot Trojan campaign was conducted targeting U.S. banks.
The DanaBot Trojan is a modular malware written in Delphi that is capable of downloading additional components to add various different functions.
The malware is capable of taking screenshots, stealing form data, and logging keystrokes in order to obtain banking credentials. That information is sent back to the attackers’ C2 server and is subsequently used to steal money from corporate bank accounts.
An analysis of the malware and the geographical campaigns shows different IDs are used in the C2 communication headers. This strongly suggests that the campaigns in each region are being conducted by different individuals and that the DanaBot Trojan is being offered as malware-as-a-service. Each threat actor is responsible for running campaigns in a specific country or set of countries. Australia is the only country where there are two affiliates running campaigns. In total, there appears to currently be 9 individuals running distribution campaigns.
The country-specific campaigns are using different methods to distribute the malicious payload, which include the new Fallout exploit kit, web injects, and spam email. The latter is being used to distribute the Trojan in the United States.
The U.S. campaign uses a fax notice lure with the emails appearing to come from the eFax service. The messages look professional and are complete with appropriate formatting and logos. The emails contain a button that must be clicked to download the 3-page fax message.
Clicking on the button will download a Word document with a malicious macro which, if allowed to run, will launch a PowerShell script that downloads the Hancitor downloader. Hancitor will then download the Pony stealer and the DanaBot Trojan.
Proofpoint’s analysis of the malware revealed similarities with the ransomware families Reveton and CryptXXX, which suggests that DanaBot has been developed by the same group responsible for both of those ransomware threats.
The U.S. DanaBot campaign is targeting customers of various U.S. banks, including RBC Royal Bank, Royal Bank, TD Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase. It is likely that the campaigns will spread to other countries as more threat actors are signed up to use the malware.
Preventing attacks requires defense in depth against each of the attack vectors. An advanced spam filter is required to block malspam. Users of Office 365 should increase protection with a third-party spam filter such as SpamTitan to provide better protection against this threat. To prevent web-based attacks, a web filtering solution should be used. WebTitan can block attempts by end users to visit websites known to contain exploit kits and IPs that have previously been used for malicious purposes.
End users should also trained never to open email attachments or click on hyperlinks in emails from unknown senders, or to enable macros on documents unless they are 100% certain that the files are genuine. Businesses in the United States should also consider warning their employees about fake eFax emails to raise awareness of the threat.
Its conference season and the TitanHQ team is hitting the road again. The TitanHQ team will be travelling far and wide and will be attending the major MSP industry events in the United States and Europe throughout October and November.
The conferences give new and current MSP partners the chance to meet the TitanHQ team face to face, get answers to questions, pick up tips and tricks to get the most out of TitanHQ products, and find out about the latest innovations for MSPs from TitanHQ.
Conference season kicks off with the third annual Kaseya Connect Europe Conference in Amsterdam (October 2-4) at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam. Kaseya is the leading provider of complete IT infrastructure management solutions for MSPs, offering best-in-class solutions to help MSPs efficiently manage and secure IT environments for their clients.
TitanHQ is an Emerald Sponsor for the event and will be showcasing its SpamTitan spam filtering and WebTitan web filtering solutions for MSPs. TitanHQ will be at booth 4 at the event, next to Datto and Bitdefender – both of which are TitanHQ partners.
Next stop for the TitanHQ tour bus is the CompTIA EMEA Member & Partner Conference at Etc. Venues County Hall on the south bank of the Thames in London (October 16-17). The Computing Technology Industry Association is the world’s leading tech association, providing education, training, certification, advocacy, philanthropy and market research. The conference brings together members and thought leaders from the entire tech industry with panel discussions, keynote speeches, and the latest news and advice about the key trends and topics impacting the tech industry.
TitanHQ is a key sponsor of the event and will be on hand give product demonstrations and explain about the opportunities that exist for MSPs to add web filtering, spam filtering, and email archiving services to their client offerings.
At the end of October, the TitanHQ team will be heading to sunny Spain for DattoCon18 at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona (October 29-31). The conference is focused on helping business owners run their businesses more effectively through the use of Autotask + Datto solutions. There will be a host of educational sessions and keynote speeches at the event, with plenty of opportunities for networking. TitanHQ will be showcasing its security solutions for MSPs at the conference.
At the start of November, TitanHQ will be in attendance at the leading conference for the WiFi industry. The WiFi Now Europe conference is being held in Berlin ((November 6-8) at the Holiday Inn Berlin City-West. The event offers three full days dedicated to all things WiFi. Attendees will find out about key developments in WiFi and the latest industry trends, with opportunities to learn from industry experts, meet key industry influencers, and discover new business opportunities.
TitanHQ will be showcasing its WebTitan Cloud for WiFi solution at the event and will be explaining how MSPs can incorporate web filtering into their service stacks to provide greater value to their clients and improve their bottom lines
Next comes a quick hop across the Atlantic to the HTG Peer Groups Q4 conference in at the Omni Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida (October 10-16). HTG is an international consulting, coaching and peer group organization that helps business by igniting personal, leadership, business and legacy transformation to get companies to achieve their full potential.
There will be a full program of events throughout the week including peer group meeting and opportunities for learning and building relationships. TitanHQ will be in attendance and will be showcasing its innovative business security solutions.
Summary of TitanHQ Conference Schedule 2018
October 2-4: Kaseya Connect Europe, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Booth #4
October 16-17: CompTia EMEA Member & Partner Conference; London, UK. Booth #28
October 29-31: DattoCon18, Barcelona, Spain.
November 6-8: WiFi Now, Berlin, Germany.
November 10-16: HTG Peer Groups Q4 Conference, Orlando, FL, USA.
A new version of GandCrab ransomware (GandCrab v5) has been released. GandCrab is a popular ransomware threat that is offered to affiliates under the ransomware-as-a-service distribution model. Affiliates receive a cut of the profits from any ransoms payed by individuals they manage to infect.
GandCrab was first released in January 2018 and fast grew into one of the most widely used ransomware variants. In July it was named the top ransomware threat and is regularly updated by the authors.
There have been several changes made in GandCrab v5, including the change to a random 5-character extension for encrypted files. The ransomware also uses an HTML ransom note rather than dropping a txt file to the desktop.
Bitdefender released free decryptors for early versions of the ransomware, although steps were taken by the authors to improve security for version 2.0. Since version 2.0 was released, no free decryptors for GandCrab ransomware have been developed.
Recovery from a GandCrab v5 infection will only be possible by paying the ransom – approximately $800 in the Dash cryptocurrency – or by restoring files from backups. Victims are only given a limited time for paying the ransom before the price to decrypt doubles. It is therefore essential that backups are created of all data and for those backup files to be checked to make sure files can be recovered in the event of disaster.
Since this ransomware variant is offered under the ransomware-as-a-service model, different vectors are used to distribute the ransomware by different threat actors. Previous versions of the ransomware have been distributed via spam email and through exploit kits such as RIG and GrandSoft. GandCrab v5 has also been confirmed as being distributed via the new Fallout exploit kit.
Traffic is directed to the exploit kit using malvertising – malicious adverts that redirect users to exploit kits and other malicious websites. These malicious adverts are placed on third party advertising networks that are used by many popular websites to provide an extra income stream.
Any user that clicks one of the malicious links in the adverts is redirected to the Fallout exploit kit. The Fallout exploit kit contains exploits for several old vulnerabilities and some relatively recent flaws. Any user that has a vulnerable system will have GandCrab ransomware silently downloaded onto their device. Local files will be encrypted as well as files on all network shares, not just mapped drives.
Whenever a new zero-day vulnerability is discovered it doesn’t take long for an exploit to be incorporated into malware. The publication of proof of concept code for a Task Scheduler ALPC vulnerability was no exception. Within a couple of days, the exploit had already been adopted by cybercriminals and incorporated into malware.
The exploit for the Task Scheduler ALPC vulnerability allows executable files to be run on a vulnerable system with System privileges and has been incorporated into GandCrab v5. The exploit is believed to be used to perform system-level tasks such as deleting Windows Shadow Volume copies to make it harder for victims to recover encrypted files without paying the ransom. Microsoft has now issued a patch to correct the flaw as part of its September Patch Tuesday round of updates, but many companies have yet to apply the patch.
The most important step to take to ensure that recovery from a ransomware attack is possible is to ensure backups are created. Without a viable backup the only way of recovering files is by paying the ransom. In this case, victims can decrypt one file for free to confirm that viable decryption keys exist. However, not all ransomware variants allow file recovery.
Preventing ransomware infections requires software solutions that block the main attack vectors. Spam filtering solutions such as SpamTitan prevent malicious messages from being delivered to inboxes. Web filters such as WebTitan prevent end users from visiting malicious sites known to host exploit kits. Remote desktop services are often exploited to gain system access, so it is important that these are disabled if they are not required, and if they are, they should only be accessible through VPNs.
Patches should be applied promptly to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited and advanced antimalware solutions should be deployed to detect and quarantine ransomware before files are encrypted.
A new malware threat – named Viro botnet malware – has been detected that combines the file-encrypting capabilities of ransomware, with a keylogger to obtain passwords and a botnet capable of sending spam emails from infected devices.
Viro botnet malware is one of a new breed of malware variants that are highly flexible and have a wide range of capabilities to maximize profit from a successful infection. There have been several recently discovered malware variants that have combined the file-encrypting properties of ransomware with cryptocurrency mining code.
The latest threat was identified by security researchers at Trend Micro who note that this new threat is still in development and appears to have been created from scratch. The code is dissimilar to other known ransomware variants and ransomware families.
Some ransomware variants are capable of self-propagation and can spread from one infected device to other devices on the same network. Viro botnet malware achieves this by hijacking Outlook email accounts and using them to send spam email containing either a copy of itself as an attachment or a downloader to all individuals in the infected user’s contact list.
Viro botnet malware has been used in targeted attacks in the United States via spam email campaigns, although bizarrely, the ransom note dropped on the victims’ desktops is written in French. This is not the only new ransomware threat to include a French ransom note. PyLocky, a recently detected new ransomware threat that masquerades as Locky ransomware, also had a French ransom note. This appears to be a coincidence as there are no indications that the two ransomware threats are related or are being distributed by the same threat group.
With Viro botnet, Infection starts with a spam email containing a malicious attachment. If the attachment is opened and the content is allowed to run, the malicious payload will be downloaded. Viro botnet malware will first check registry keys and product keys to determine whether its encryption routine should run. If those checks are passed, an encryption/decryption key pair will be generated via a cryptographic Random Number Generator, which are then sent back to the attacker’s C2 server. Files are then encrypted via RSA and a ransom note is dropped on the desktop.
Viro botnet malware also contains a basic keylogger which will log all keystrokes on an infected machine and send the data back to the attacker’s C2 server. The malware is also capable of downloading further malicious files from the attacker’s C2.
While the attacker’s C2 server was initially active, it has currently been taken down so any further devices that are infected will not have data encrypted. Connection to the C2 server is necessary for the encryption routine to start. Even though the threat has been neutralized this is expected to only be a brief hiatus. The C2 is expected to be resurrected and larger distribution campaigns can have been predicted.
Protecting against email-based threats such as Viro botnet malware requires an advanced spam filtering solution such as SpamTitan to prevent malicious messages from being delivered to end users. Advanced antimalware software should be installed to detect malicious files should they be downloaded, and end users should receive security awareness training to help them identify security threats and respond appropriately.
Multiple backups should also be created – with one copy stored securely offsite – to ensure files can be recovered in the event of file encryption.
Xbash malware is one of several new malware threats to be detected in recent weeks that incorporate the file-encrypting properties of ransomware with the coin mining functionality of cryptocurrency mining malware.
This year, several cybersecurity and threat intelligence companies have reported that ransomware attacks have plateaued or are in decline. Ransomware attacks are still profitable, although it is possible to make more money through cryptocurrency mining.
The recent Internet Organized Crime Threat Report released by Europol notes that cryptojacking is a new cybercrime trend and is now a regular, low-risk revenue stream for cybercriminals, but that “ransomware remains the key malware threat”. Europol notes in its report that a decline has been seen in random attacks via spam email, instead cybercriminals are concentrating on attacking businesses where greater profits lie. Those attacks are highly targeted.
Another emerging trend offers cybercriminals the best of both worlds – the use of versatile malware that have the properties of both ransomware and cryptocurrency miners. These highly versatile malware variants provide cybercriminals with the opportunity to obtain ransom payments as well as the ability to mine for cryptocurrency. If the malware is installed on a system that is not ideally suited for mining cryptocurrency, the ransomware function is activated and vice versa.
Xbash malware is one such threat, albeit with one major caveat. Xbash malware does not have the ability to restore files. In that respect it is closer to NotPetya than Cerber. As was the case with NotPetya, Xbash malware just masquerades as ransomware and demands a payment to restore files – Currently 0.2 BTC ($127). Payment of the ransom will not result in keys being supplied to unlock encrypted files, as currently files are not encrypted. The malware simply deletes MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB databases. This function is activated if the malware is installed on a Linux system. If it is installed on Windows devices, the cryptojacking function is activated.
Xbash malware also has the ability to self-propagate. Once installed on a Windows system it will spread throughout the network by exploiting vulnerabilities in Hadoop, ActiveMQ and Redis services.
Currently, infection occurs through the exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities and brute force attacks on systems with weak passwords and unprotected services. Protection against this threat requires the use of strong, unique non-default passwords, prompt patching, and endpoint security solutions. Blocking access to unknown hosts on the Internet will prevent communication with its C2 if it is installed, and naturally it is essential that multiple backups are regularly made to ensure file recovery is possible.
Kaspersky Lab determined there has been a doubling of these multi-purpose remote access tools over the past 18 months and their popularity is likely to continue to increase. This type of versatile malware could well prove to be the malware of choice for advanced threat actors over the course of the next 12 months.
A Bristol Airport ransomware attack has resulted in its customer display screens being taken offline for two days. Staff at the airport have had to resort to using dry markers and whiteboards to display flight arrival and departure information while the malicious software was removed and files were decrypted.
Ransomware was installed on its administrative computer system in the early hours on Friday, 14 September. As a result of the attack, several applications had to be taken offline as part of the airport’s efforts to contain the attack and prevent critical airport systems from being affected. The application used to display arrival and departure information throughout the airport was one of the casualties.
A statement was provided to the media confirming that a ransom demand had been received but the decision was taken not to give in to the attacker’s demand. Instead, IT staff at the airport chose to restore affected systems from backups. That process continued throughout the weekend. Screens in key locations throughout the airport were slowly brought back online on Sunday and efforts are continuing to restore files on all other affected computers at the airport.
Bristol Airport spokesman, James Gore, said initial investigations suggest this was a speculative rather than a targeted attack on the airport and that it was an online attack on its administrative systems. The exact nature of the Bristol Airport ransomware attack has not yet been disclosed and it is not known what variant of ransomware was used.
The recovery process has taken longer than was expected as the airport has adopted a particularly cautious approach due to the number of critical and security systems at the airport which could potentially have been affected. As it was, customer and airport safety were not affected by the ransomware attack and flights were not delayed.
Ransomware Still Poses a Major Threat to Businesses
Ransomware attacks have declined in recent months as many cybercriminals have turned to cryptocurrency mining as an easier way of generating an income, but the Bristol Airport ransomware attack shows that the threat of ransomware attacks is ever present. Cybercriminals have certainly not totally abandoned ransomware and it remains a serious threat.
Online attacks are also common. Ransomware is still widely distributed via exploit kits – Software loaded onto compromised websites that probes for vulnerabilities in browsers and plugins. When vulnerabilities are identified, they are exploited and ransomware is silently downloaded.
How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks
Protecting against ransomware attacks requires layered security solutions to block the key attack vectors. Spam filtering software will block the majority of malicious emails and prevent them from being delivered to end users’ inboxes. Security awareness training will help to ensure that employees can identify any malicious emails than make it past perimeter email security controls.
One of the most effective solutions for blocking web-based attacks is a web filter. Web filters can be configured to prevent end users from visiting malicious websites and will block drive-by downloads of malware. Naturally, all software, including browsers and browser plugins, should be kept up to date and fully patched to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Anti-virus software on all servers and end points is also a must.
As was the case with the Bristol airport ransomware attack, files could be recovered from backups without the need to pay the ransom demand. To ensure file recovery is possible, regular backups must be made.
A good backup practice will see at least three backup copies created, on at least two separate media, with one copy stored securely offsite on a device that is not connected to a network or the Internet.
For more information on anti-ransomware solutions for businesses, speak to TitanHQ today. TitanHQ offers award-winning spam filtering and web filtering technology that blocks malware and ransomware attacks and other email and web-based threats.
Vulnerabilities in the VPNs NordVPN and ProtonVPN have been identified that allow execution of arbitrary code with system level privileges, highlighting the risk that can be introduced if VPN software is not kept fully patched and up to date.
VPNs May Not be As Secure as You Think
One common method used to securely access the Internet on public WiFi networks is to connect through a VPN. A VPN helps to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and the interception of data by creating a secure tunnel through which data flows. Using VPN software means a user’s data is encrypted preventing information from being accessed by malicious actors.
While the connection is secured using a VPN, that does not always mean that a user is well protected. VPNs may not be quite as secure as users believe. Like any software, there can be vulnerabilities in VPNs that can be exploited. If the latest version of VPN software is not used, data may be vulnerable.
High Severity Vulnerabilities Identified in Popular VPNs
Recently, two of the most popular VPN clients have been found to contain a privilege escalation bug that could be exploited to allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code with elevated privileges.
The bug is present in NordVPN and ProtonVPN clients, both of which use the open-source OpenVPN software to create a tunnel through which information passes. In April, a flaw was identified which allowed an attacker with low level privileges to run arbitrary code and elevate their privileges to system level. Further, the flaw was not difficult to exploit.
A change could easily be made to the OpenVPN configuration file, adding parameters such as “plugin”, “script-security”, “up”, and “down”. Files specified within those parameters would be executed with elevated privileges. The flaw was identified by security researcher Fabius Watson of VerSprite Security, and prompt action was taken to patch the flaw.
However, while patches were issued by NordVPN and ProtonVPN that prevented the “plugin”, “script-security”, “up”, and “down” parameters from being added to the configuration file by standard users, the flaw had only been partially corrected.
Researchers at Cisco Talos discovered the same parameters could still be added to the configuration file if they were added in quotation marks. Doing that would bypass the mitigations of the patches. These vulnerabilities have been tracked under separate CVE codes – CVE-2018-3952 for ProtonVPN and CVE-2018-4010 for NordVPN. Both flaws are considered high-severity and have been assigned a CVSS v3 base score of 8.8 out of 10.
NordVPN and ProtonVPN have now released an updated patch which prevents the addition of these parameters using quotation marks, thus preventing threat actors from exploiting the vulnerability. Both vendors have tackled the problem in different ways, with ProtonVPN opting to put the configuration file in the installation directory to prevent standard users from making any changes, while NordVPN used an XML model to generate the configuration file. Standard users are not able to modify the template.
Securing Connections on Public WiFi Access Points
VPNs are an excellent way of improving security when connecting to public WiFi networks, but policies and procedures should be implemented to ensure that patches are applied promptly. It is not always possible to configure VPN clients to automatically update to the latest version. If vulnerabilities in VPNs are not addressed, they can be a major security weak point.
An additional protection that can be implemented to protect remote workers when connecting to WiFi networks is a web filtering solution such a WebTitan. WebTitan allows businesses to carefully control the web content that can be accessed by employees no matter where they connect – through wired networks, business WiFi networks, and when connecting to the Internet through public WiFi networks.
By controlling the types of sites that can be accessed, and using blacklists of known malicious sites, the potential for malware downloads can be greatly reduced.
If you want to improve WiFi security or implement web filtering controls for remote workers, contact the TitanHQ team today to find out more about WebTitan and the difference it can make to your security posture.