Whereas news about Internet security often focuses solely on the latest threats or vulnerabilities, in addition to reporting hacks, data breaches and exposures, we also include advice about the best practices organizations should adopt to mitigate the threat from malware and other malicious software.
Consequently we strongly advise that individuals and organizations never use the same passwords for different accounts, make passwords as complex as possible and change them frequently. We also recommend that sensitive online accounts have 2-factor authentication whenever possible.
Ideally, organizations should implement a web filter to prevent Internet users from accessing websites that could compromise Internet security. With a web filter in place, the potential exists for productivity to increase and also for employees to enjoy a hostility-free workplace environment.
Today, February 11, is Safer Internet Day 2020 – A day where safe and positive use of digital technology is promoted around the world. Safer Internet Day started out as part of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004 but has grown into a global event with more than 150 countries participating and promoting safe use of the internet. The aim of Safer Internet Day is to help create a better and safer internet by empowering everyone to use technology responsibly, respectfully, critically, and creatively. This year’s theme is “A better internet: How to look after yourself and others.”
Everyone has a role to play in making the internet a more positive and safer environment, from seeking positive opportunities to create and connect with others, being kind and respectful to others online, and reporting illegal and inappropriate content.
Businesses that provide Wi-Fi access to their customers also have a responsibility to ensure their Wi-Fi hotspot is not abused and cannot be used to access harmful content, especially by minors. The easiest way to do that is by implementing a web filtering solution and today is the perfect day to get started.
The easiest-to-implement and most cost-effective web filtering solution is a DNS filter. A DNS filter allows content to be controlled at the DNS lookup stage of internet access, when the human-friendly domain name of a website is converted to an IP address that a computer uses to find the server hosting the website. This method of web filtering requires no hardware purchases or software downloads. You simply change your DNS record to point to your DNS filtering service provider. You then access a web-based interface and stipulate the categories of content your customers are not permitted to access. Getting started takes just a few minutes. Since all filtering takes place at the DNS level before any content is downloaded, this form of web filtering has almost zero latency, which means internet speeds are unaffected.
With WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi you can decide on the content that you don’t want people to access and can use the checkboxes in your user interface to block categories of web content with the click of a mouse. To make the internet family friendly, you can check the adult content checkbox to ensure pornographic material cannot be accessed through your Wi-Fi network. You can also block access to illegal websites to protect your business, such as torrents sites where copyright-infringing downloads of music, software, and films take place. Controls can also be applied to limit access to streaming websites to conserve bandwidth and make sure everyone can enjoy fast internet speeds.
WebTitan has categorized more than 500 million websites into 53 categories, including all of Alexa’s top million websites and web content in 200 languages. You can set internet content controls for different locations, different user groups, and you can manage multiple locations through a single portal.
Blacklists are a useful way to ensure unsuitable or illegal content cannot be accessed. One of the main blacklists is maintained by the Internet Watch Foundation and includes webpages and websites known to host child pornography and child abuse-related content.
Blacklists also protect Wi-Fi users from malicious content, such as phishing websites and sites hosting malware and ransomware, which can help you to protect your users and your company’s reputation.
WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi is ideally suited to all businesses that provide Wi-Fi access, such as:
Wireless Wi-Fi ISPs, MSPs and other Wi-Fi service providers
Cafes, coffee shops & restaurants
Retail outlets & shopping malls
Schools & universities
Health systems & hospitals
Rail & bus networks
This Safer Internet Day is the perfect time to implement a DNS filtering solution to make your Wi-Fi (or wired) network much safer for all users.
To find out more about WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi, WebTitan Cloud for wired networks, for a product demonstration, or to register for a free trial, contact TitanHQ today.
On January 1, 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect, giving state residents greater control over the use and sale of their personal data and introduced. In this post we explore the CCPA data security requirements for businesses and the consequences of failing to adequately protect consumer data.
What is the California Consumer Protection Act?
California already had some of the strictest privacy laws in the United States, but CCPA took consumer privacy a step further. CCPA has been likened to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as it gives California residents similar rights over the personal data collected and used by companies.
CCPA requires companies to inform California residents about the categories of data that are being collected, at or before the point of collection. There is a right to access all personal information held by a company and find out with whom personal data has been shared. Consumers have a right to opt out and prevent their personal data from being sold and can request that their personal data is deleted. Consumers also have a right to equal services and prices, and cannot be discriminated against, or denied goods or services or levels of services if they opt out of the sale of their personal data.
Who Must Comply with CCPA?
On January 1, 2020, CCPA applies to all companies that do business with California residents, regardless of where the company is based, if one of the following conditions is met:
The company generates revenues of at least $25 million each year; or
The company collects, purchases, sells, or shares the personal data of at least 50,000 people; or
The company generates at least 50% of its revenues from the sale of personal data
CCPA does not apply to insurance institutions, agents, and support organizations, which are covered by different state laws.
CCPA Data Security Requirements
CCPA does not specify what security measures need to be implemented to protect the personal data of California residents; however, businesses do have a duty to implement reasonable security measures based on the level of risk, in accordance with other state laws. Under CCPA, penalties can be applied for a “violation of the duty to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices.”
Since legal action can be taken against companies over a breach of personal data, it is important for companies to ensure appropriate measures are taken to protect data and prevent data breaches.
CCPA does not specify what controls need to be implemented nor what constitutes “reasonable security procedures and practices.” A 2016 Data Breach Report released by the California Attorney General acts as a good guide. It includes a list of 20 controls that the Center for Internet Security says are requirements to protect against known cyberattack vectors. These should therefore serve as guide to the CCPA data security requirements. They are:
How TitanHQ Can Help You Comply with CCPA Data Security Requirements
Email is the most common attack vector used for phishing and malware distribution, so safeguards need to be implemented to keep email systems secure. Phishing attacks often have a web-based component where credentials are harvested, and many malware downloads occur via the internet. Internet controls are therefore also essential to protect against cyberattacks and data breaches. Due to the risk of attack via email and the web, email and browser protections are listed as the first of the foundational Center for Internet Security controls.
This is an area where TitanHQ can help. We have developed two powerful cloud-based security solutions that can help you meet CCPA data protection requirements.
SpamTitan Email Security is a powerful spam filtering solution that keeps inboxes free from email-based threats. SpamTitan incorporates multiple layers of anti-spam and anti-phishing controls, including Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DMARC, SURBL’s, RBL’s Bayesian analysis and more. SpamTitan uses twin antivirus engines to block known malware threats and sandboxing to protect against breaches and data loss from zero-day threats.
WebTitan is a cloud-based DNS filtering solution that protects against the internet component of phishing attacks and stops wired and wireless network users from accessing malicious websites. These solutions will help you meet your email and web security responsibilities and protect your organization from phishing attacks, malware and ransomware downloads. Together they will help you prevent costly data breaches and avoid the resultant CCPA fines.
Penalties for Noncompliance with CCPA
Each intentional violation carries a maximum penalty of $7,500 per record. Unintentional violations carry a penalty of $2,500 per record.
There is also a private cause of action in CCPA. In the event of a data breach, victims of the breach can sue for a CCPA violation. Statutory damages of between $100 and $750 by each California resident affected by the breach. Alternatively claims can be made for actual damages, whichever is greater, along with other relief determined by the courts. Class action lawsuits are also permitted under CCPA. The California Attorney General can also take legal action against the company rather than permitting civil suits to be filed.
TitanHQ and Pax8 have announced a new strategic partnership that will see TitanHQ’s cloud-based email security and DNS filtering solutions incorporated into the Pax8 ecosystem.
Pax8 simplifies the journey into the cloud through billing, provisioning, automation and industry-leading PSA integrations and is proven leader in cloud distribution. Pax8 has achieved position 60 in the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies and has been named CRN’s Coolest Cloud Vendor and Best in Show at the NextGen and Xchange conferences for two years in a row.
In order to have products added to the Pax8 marketplace, vendors must have developed exceptional channel friendly solutions. As the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) serving the SMB marketplace, TitanHQ was an ideal fit.
Under the new partnership, Pax8 partners will have easy access to TitanHQ’s leading email security solution, SpamTitan Cloud, and can protect clients from web-based threats with WebTitan Cloud, TitanHQ’s DNS filtering solution.
These cloud-based AI-driven solutions help MSPs secure their own environments and protect their clients from malware, ransomware, botnets, viruses, and phishing and email impersonation attacks and avoid costly data breaches.
Both solutions have been developed with MSPs firmly in mind. The solutions are easy to integrate into an MSP’s security stack through TitanHQ’s APIs, there are multiple hosting options, the solutions can be supplied in white label form, and there are generous margins. Pax8 partners also benefit from a fully transparent pricing policy and industry leading technical support.
TitanHQ’s solutions have much loved by users and are consistently rated highly on business software review platforms, including G2 Crowd, Gartner Peer Insights, and Capterra.
“Our partners are excited about the addition of TitanHQ and the ability to protect their clients’ businesses by blocking malware, phishing, ransomware, and links to malicious websites from emails.” said Ryan Walsh, chief channel officer at Pax8.
You will no doubt have heard of a man in the middle (MiTM) attack. Here we define this attack method, explain how a MiTM attack occurs, and show you how to prevent a man in the middle attack and keep your devices and networks secure.
What is a Man in the Middle Attack?
Man in the middle attacks are commonly cited as a threat, but what exactly is a man in the middle attack? As the name suggests, this is a scenario where a person inserts him or herself between two communicating systems and intercepts conversations or data sent between the two. It is the computer equivalent on eavesdropping on a phone call where neither party is aware that their conversation is not private and confidential.
With a phone call, eavesdropping would allow an attacker to gather a host of sensitive information, which is divulged verbally between both parties. In this scenario, the attacker does not influence the conversation. He/she must wait until a valuable nugget of information is disclosed by either party.
A MiTM attack is concerned with intercepting data transferred between two parties. This could be data sent between a smartphone app and a server, between two parties on a messaging app such as WhatsApp, or an email conversation between two parties. It could also be communication between a user’s browser and a website.
In contrast to the telephone call scenario, which is passive, in a MiTM attack the attacker can influence what is being said. In fact, with a MiTM attack, the two people or systems communicating are not really communicating with each other. Each is communicating with the attacker.
Take email for example. Person A initiates an email conversation with Person B and requests a wire transfer to pay for services rendered. Person A supplies the bank details, and Person B agrees to the wire transfer. Various details are discussed, and the transfer is eventually made. There could be 10 or more messages sent by each party in the conversation. Each message between the two is altered by the attacker, crucially including the bank account details for the transfer. Neither party has been communicating with each other, yet both parties would be convinced they are.
Types of Man in the Middle Attack
The goal of a MiTM is to intercept information, usually for financial gain, but there are different ways that this can be achieved. Generally speaking, there are four main ways that a MiTM attack occurs: Packet sniffing, packet injection, session hijacking, and SSL stripping
Packet sniffing is one of the most common MiTM attack methods and is a type of eavesdropping or wiretapping, except it is not phone conversations that are obtained. It is packets of data sent between the two systems. Packet sniffing is much easier when sensitive data is not encrypted, such when information is disclosed between a browser and a HTTP website, rather than HTTPS where the connection is encrypted.
The above email example is a type of packet injection. Data is intercepted, but additional packets are introduced, or data packets are altered. For instance, malware could be introduced.
Session hijacking is where an attacker hijacks a session, such as a session between a browser and a banking website where the user has logged in. In this example, the attacker is the one in control of the session. SSL stripping is where a HTTPS session, which should be secure as the session is encrypted, is stripped of the encryption, turned from HTTPS to HTTP, and data is identified. This latter example is utilized by web filtering solutions that feature SSL inspection. It allows businesses to check for threats in encrypted traffic.
How to Prevent a Man in the Middle Attack
Fortunately, MiTM attacks can be difficult to perform, so the potential for an attack is limited, but there are skilled hackers who can – and do – perform these attacks and gain access to sensitive data and empty bank accounts. One of the most common examples is a coffee shop scenario where an attacker creates an evil twin hotspot. When a user connects to this evil twin – a Wi-Fi network set up to look like the genuine coffee shop Wi-Fi hotspot – all data sent between their browser and the website is intercepted.
There are several steps you can take to prevent a Man in the Middle Attack.
Never disclose sensitive data when connected to an untrusted public Wi-Fi network. Only ever connect via a VPN, and ideally wait until you are on a trusted Wi-Fi network to access online bank accounts.
Ensure the website is protected by an SSL certificate (starts with HTTPS). Bear in mind that hackers also use SSL certificates, so HTTPS does not mean a website is genuine.
Do not use hyperlinks included in emails, always visit the website directly by typing the correct URL into your browser or finding the correct URL through a Google search.
Do not install unauthorized software, apps from third-party app stores, and do not download and use pirated software.
Businesses should implement a DNS filtering solution to protect their workers and prevent them from visiting malicious websites.
Make sure your networks are secured and have appropriate security tools installed.
Disable insecure SSL/TLS protocols on your website (Only TLS 1.1 and TLS 1.2 should be enabled) and implement HSTS.
At face value, SpamTitan and VadeSecure may appear to be equivalent products. In this post we offer a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure to help managed service providers (MSPs) differentiate between the two solutions.
SpamTitan and VadeSecure
SpamTitan and VadeSecure are two email security solutions that block productivity-draining spam emails, phishing emails, and malspam – spam emails that deliver malware or malware downloaders. These cloud-based solutions assess all incoming emails and determine whether they are genuine communications, unwanted spam, or malicious messages and deal with them accordingly to prevent employees from opening the messages.
TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs that serve the SMB market and has been providing email security for MSPs for more than 2 decades. SpamTitan is TitanHQ’s email security offering, which has been developed for SMBs and MSPs that serve the SMB market.
VadeSecure is a French company that has developed an email security solution for the SMB market. As is the case with SpamTitan, VadeSecure offers protection from email-based threats and provides an important extra layer of security, especially for Office 365 environments. The company is now venturing into the MSP market and has recently raised an additional $79 million in venture capital to help it make inroads into the MSP market. However, at present, the solution is primarily geared toward SMBs rather than MSPs that serve them.
Enhanced Phishing Protection for Office 365 Accounts
Office 365 is the most widely used cloud service by user count and 2019 figures show that Office 365 cloud services are used by 1 in 5 corporate employees, with Office 365 email being the most common. With so many businesses using Office 365 for email, it should come as no surprise that Office 365 email accounts are being heavily targeted by hackers and scammers.
Microsoft does have measures in place to block spam and phishing emails, but the level of protection provided by Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is not sufficient for many businesses. A large percentage of phishing emails manage to sneak past Microsoft’s defenses. According to research from Avanan, 25% of phishing emails are delivered to Office 365 inboxes.
Consequently, additional protection is required, and many businesses choose to implement an anti-phishing solution provided by third parties such as SpamTitan and VadeSecure. MSPs also offer third party solutions to block phishing attacks on Office 365 accounts, not only to better protect their customers, but also to reduce the amount of time they spend mitigating phishing attacks that have not been blocked by EOP.
SpamTitan and VadeSecure have been developed to work on top of Office 365 and add an important extra layer of protection for Office 365 email.
Here we will concentrate on a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure with a specific focus on the features and benefits for MSPs rather than SMBs.
Comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for MSPs Serving the SMB Market
Since VadeSecure has historically focused on the Telco market, the email security solution lacks many features to make MSP’s lives easier and does not provide the level of control, flexibility, or the management tools and reports that MSPs seek. SpamTitan has been developed by MSPs for MSPs, so important features for MSPs have always been offered. We will cover these features below, but initially it is useful to include an infographic that summarizes some of the basic features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for comparison purposes.
Basic Features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure
SpamTitan Features for MSPs Not Offered by VadeSecure
This comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure may seem a little one-sided, and that is because VadeSecure is very much focused on end users rather than MSPs. No doubt the solution will be updated to incorporate more MSP-friendly features over time as the company tries to move into the MSP market, but at present, the features below are provided by SpamTitan but are not offered by VadeSecure.
Configuration Flexibility and Customization Potential
One of the biggest bug bears with VadeSecure is the inability to configure the solution to suit the needs of MSPs. It is not possible to create custom rules for instance, and MSPs must therefore use the Exchange Admin functionality of Office 365.
With SpamTitan, MSPs can create rules based on their own requirements and the needs of each individual client, and those rules can be highly granular and can easily be applied to specific groups, users, and for specific domains. That level of granularity and the ease of customization allows MSPs to fine-tune filtering policies to maximize the detection of threats while minimizing false negatives. MSPs can easily select more permissible or more aggressive policies for each client, but with VadeSecure there is no option for customization for each customer.
SpamTitan includes a full multi-tenancy view of all customers, with multiple management roles. This allows MSPs to easily monitor their entire customer base and trial base, assess the health of the deployments, view activity volumes across all customers, and quickly identify issues that require attention. With VadeSecure, there is no possibility of integrating with PSAs and RMMs, and there is no customer-wide view of the entire system.
Highly Granular Reporting
MSPs can tell their clients how important it is to improve their security defenses, but they must also be able to demonstrate that the solutions are proving effective at blocking threats to ensure they can continue to provide those services and receive regular, repeating revenue.
With SpamTitan, MSPs have highly granular reports that give them full visibility into what is happening and a detailed view of system performance. Client reports can easily be generated to show them how effective the solution is and why it is important to keep it in place. Furthermore, this level of reporting – per domain, per group, and at the group domain level – gives MSPs the information they need to identify potential issues and obtain detailed information on spam emails. The solution also has the management capabilities to allow any issues to be quickly identified and corrected to ensure the solution remains effective over time. With VadeSecure, visibility and control options are lacking and there are no options for demonstrating how effective the solution is and to demonstrate that to clients.
High Margins and Significant Revenue Potential
As previously mentioned, the flexibility and scope for customization is a real benefit for MSPs as it allows them to add more value through superior management capabilities. That means MSPs can build solutions that really benefit their clients and it helps them become more of a strategic partner rather than an IT service provider. It is much harder for clients to change a strategic partner than switch IT service providers. VadeSecure lacks this customization which means it is not possible for MSPs to add value to generate reliable, recurring revenue.
Further, with VadeSecure you get one product, but TitanHQ offers a trio of solutions for MSPs to better protect their clients and add more recurring revenue streams. Through the TitanShield for Service Providers program, MSPs also have access to WebTitan DNS filtering and ArcTitan email archiving. This allows MSPs to maximize revenue from each client by cross-selling new services, while also offering a layered security package to protect clients from the full range of email- and web-based threats.
Fully Transparent Pricing
When it comes to pricing, VadeSecure (and many other email security solutions) lack transparency and the pricing model is complex and expensive. Several features are not included as standard with VadeSecure and come at an additional cost. This makes it hard to perform a SpamTitan and VadeSecure pricing comparison.
For instance, with VadeSecure the solution is priced per module, so the Greymail, Spam, and Virus Protection options are not provided as standard and have to be added onto the cost. Based on feedback we have received from MSPs the solution is expensive, which reduces MSP profits and makes the email security solution more difficult to sell to SMBs.
With VadeSecure, the total number of users is not aggregated, which shows a lack of experience of working with MSPs. An MSP with 100 x 10-seat licenses will have that pay at 10 seats each rather than 1,000 seats overall. As such, discounts will be far lower.
With SpamTitan there is just one price which includes all features, including sandboxing, full support, dual anti-virus protection, all security modules, and updates. Furthermore, the price is exceptionally competitive (less than $1 per user). The pricing model was created to incorporate the flexibility for dealing with fluctuating numbers of customers, which often happens when providing managed email services.
Effectiveness at Blocking Threats
Price, usability, and flexibility are all important for MSPs, but features and benefits are the icing on the cake. Email security solutions are used to protect against threats, so the effectiveness of a solution is critical. SpamTitan and VadeSecure are effective at blocking threats and will provide an important additional layer of security for Office 365 users, but feedback we have received from MSPs show there is a clear winner.
VadeSecure includes ‘time-of-click’ protection against embedded hyperlinks, which rewrites URLs and sends them to a scanner. However, MSPs have reported that it can take a long time for phishing emails to be detected, even after threats would be blocked by Chrome. That means that phishing emails are being delivered and there is a window during which a successful attack could occur. This URL click feature only appears to work in OWA or the Outlook client as it is an API integration with Office 365.
SpamTitan includes more advanced detection methods to ensure that malicious URLs are detected and phishing emails are filtered out. SpamTitan includes SURBL filtering and other malicious URL detection mechanisms that complement the default mechanisms in Office 365 such as Recipient Verification Protocols, Sender Policy Frameworks, and Content Filter Agents. This means end users are better protected and there is a much lower probability of a phishing email evading detection.
Dual anti-virus protection is also provided and SpamTitan features a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be safely analyzed for malicious actions. This provides superior protection against malware, ransomware, and zero-day threats that are not detected by the two AV engines.
The WannaCry ransomware attacks that started on May 12, 2017 were blocked quickly when a kill switch was identified and activated, but how much money did WannaCry make during the time it was active?
WannaCry was a devastating global cyberattack, the likes of which had been predicted by many cybersecurity professionals but had yet to materialize. WannaCry was the fastest spreading ransomware ever created.
WannaCry combined ransomware with a worm, which allowed it to automatically spread and infect huge numbers of devices on a network. The ransomware exploited a vulnerability in Windows Server Message Block (SMBv1) using an NSA exploit called EternalBlue.
The flaw exploited by EternalBlue had been reported to Microsoft and a patch was issued in March 2017, two months before the attacks started. However, many businesses were slow to apply the patch and were vulnerable to attack. Within a matter of hours, around 200,000 computers had been attacked in 150 countries. It is worth noting here that there are still many computers that have not been patched more than 2 and a half years after the patch was released, in spite of widespread news coverage about the threat of attack and its huge cost. WannaCry is still one of the biggest ransomware threats and accounts for a significant percentage of all successful ransomware attacks in 2019.
WannaCry was blocked by a British security researcher who discovered the ransomware checked a domain name prior to encrypting data, but that domain name had not been registered. He purchased the domain name, thus preventing file encryption.
That said, the speed at which the ransomware spread meant many devices were infected and encrypted. Since businesses were not protected if the ransomware encryption had already started by the time the kill switch was activated, the attackers must have had a huge payday. So how much did WannaCry make?
By today’s standards, the ransom demand was very small. Just $300 per infected device, which doubled to $600 if the payment was not paid within 3 days. It is actually easy to see how many payments were made, as the transactions are detailed in the blockchain. The recipient remains anonymous, but the payments can be seen.
The three Bitcoin addresses known to have been used in the WannaCry attacks currently show 430 payments have been made and 54.43228033 BTC has been sent to those accounts. The value of BTC is somewhat volatile and was much higher at points between now and the attacks, but at today’s exchange rate that equates to around $386,905. Most of the BTC payments have now been moved out of the accounts so they attackers have managed to cash out. Payments are also still being made to those accounts. The latest payments to one of the addresses were made in December 2019.
$386,905 may not seem like much of a payday considering the number of devices infected and the damage caused by the attack, and it’s not. Further the attackers will need to convert that total to real money, and a considerable amount will be lost in that process. The payday was tiny considering the scale of the attack. However the cost of the attack to businesses was colossal.
The National Health Service in the United Kingdom was hit bad and the cleanup operation, and loss of business while that occurred, has been estimated to have cost £92 million. That was just one victim, albeit a major one. Estimates on the total cost of WannaCry range from hundreds of millions to $4 billion globally.
Next time you delay applying a patch or updating software, consider WannaCry and the potential costs of exploitation of a vulnerability. In all of the above cases – all 200,000+ attacks – applying the patch would have prevented the attack and the huge cost of remediation.
Black Friday phishing scam are rife this year. With almost a week to go before the big discounts are offered by online retailers, scammers are stepping up their efforts to defraud consumers.
Spam email campaigns started well ahead of Black Friday this year and the scams have been plentiful and diverse. Black Friday phishing emails are being sent that link to newly created websites that have been set up with the sole purpose of defrauding consumers or spreading malware and ransomware. It may be a great time of year to pick up a bargain, but it is also the time of year to be scammed and be infected with malware.
A wide range of spam emails and scam websites have been detected over the past few weeks, all of which prey on shoppers keen to pick up a bargain. This year has seen the usual collection of almost too-good-to-be-true offers on top brands and the hottest products, free gift cards, money off coupons, and naturally there are plenty of prize draws.
Anyone heading online over the next few days to kick start their holiday shopping spree needs to beware. The scammers are ready and waiting to take advantage. With legitimate offers from retailers, speed is of the essence. There is a limited supply of products available at a discount and shoppers are well aware that they need to act fast to secure a bargain. The scammers are playing the same game and are offering limited time deals to get email recipients to act quickly without thinking, to avoid missing out on an exceptional deal.
This time of year always sees a major uptick in spam and scams, but this year has seen much more sophisticated scams conducted than in previous years. Not only are the scammers insisting on a quick response, several campaigns have been identified that get users to help snag more victims. In order to qualify for special offers or get more deals, the scammers require users to forward messages and share social media posts with their friends and contacts. This tactic is highly effective, as people are more likely to respond to a message or post from a friend.
So how active are the scammers in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday? According to an analysis by Check Point, the number of e-commerce phishing URLs has increased by 233% in November. Those URLs are being sent out in mass spam campaigns to direct people fake e-commerce sites that impersonate big name brands. Those sites are virtual carbon copies of the legitimate sites, with the exception of the URL.
While consumers must be wary of Black Friday phishing scams and potential malware and ransomware downloads, businesses should also be on high alert. With genuine offers coming and going at great speed, employees are likely to be venturing online during working hours to bag a bargain. That could easily result in a costly malware or ransomware infection.
The scams are not limited to the run up to Black Friday. Cyber Monday scams can be expected and as holiday season fast approaches, cybercriminals remain highly active. It’s a time of year when it pays to increase your spam protections, monitor your reports more carefully, and alert your employees to the threats. A warning email to employees about the risks of holiday season phishing scams and malicious websites could well help to prevent a costly data breach or malware infection.
Its also a time of year when a web filtering solution can pay dividends. Web filters prevent employees from visiting websites hosting exploit kits, phishing kits, and other known malicious sites. They can also be configured to block downloads of malicious files. A web filter is an important extra layer to add to your phishing defenses and protect against web-based attacks.
If you have yet to implement a web filter, now is the ideal time. TitanHQ is offering a free trial of WebTitan to let you see just how effective it I at blocking web-based threats. What’s more, you can implement the solution in a matter of minutes and get near instant protection from web-based phishing attacks and holiday season malware infections.
According to research from Channel Futures, security is the fastest growing service for 73% of managed service providers (MSPs). If you have yet to start offering security services to your clients, you are missing out on a steady income stream that could really boost your profits. But where should you start? What services should you be offering? In this post we will be exploring the ideal security stack for MSPs and the essential services that should form the core of your security offering.
Why is Managed Security is so Important?
As an MSP, you should be aware of the importance of security. Companies are being targeted by cybercriminals and data breaches are occurring at an alarming rate. It is no longer a case of whether a business will be attacked, it is a case of when and how often.
Many SMBs do not have sufficiently skilled staff to handle IT and it is far easier, and often more cost effective, to outsource their IT to MSPs. The same is true for security, but even more so due to the difficulty finding sufficiently skilled cybersecurity staff. With so many positions available and a national shortage of cybersecurity staff, cybersecurity professionals can afford to pick and choose there they work. SMBs must ensure they are well protected against cyberattacks, so they look to MSPs to provide security-as-a-service either as a stop gap measure while they try to fill internal positions or so they can forget about security and let an MSP look after that side of the business.
If you are not providing security services to your clients, they will most likely search for another MSP that can protect their business from threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, botnets, and prevent costly data breaches.
What do SMBs Want?
SMBs may be aware of the need for security, but they may not be so clued up about the solutions they need to protect them from cyber threats. You may need to explain to them exactly what they need and why. What is vital when explaining cybersecurity to SMBs is to emphasize the need for layered security. No single solution will provide protection against all threats and you will need to educate your clients about this.
Layered security is essential for protecting against ever increasing cybersecurity threats. No single solution will provide total protection. You need overlapping layers so that if one layer is bypassed, others are there to block the attack.
You should certainly be initiating conversations with your clients about security. Many SMBs only look for security services after they experience a costly data breach. By being proactive and approaching your clients and offering security services, you will not only have a much greater opportunity for increasing sales quickly, you will help them avoid a costly data breach and will not have to clear up the mess that such a breach causes.
What is the Ideal Security Stack for MSPs?
The best place to start is with a cybersecurity package that includes the core security services that all businesses need to protect them from a broad range of threats. Different packages can be offered based on the level of protection your clients need and their level of risk tolerance. Extra services can always be provided as add-ons.
There are four key security services you should be offering to your clients to give them enterprise-grade protection to secure their networks and protect against the main attack vectors. The ideal security stack for MSPs will differ from company to company, depending on the kind of clients that each MSP has. It may take some time to find the ideal security stack, but a good place to start is with core security services that every business will need.
Core Security Services for MSPs
Firewalls are essential for securing the network perimeter and separating trusted from untrusted networks. They will protect network resources and infrastructure against unauthorized access. It may even be necessary to implement multiple firewalls.
Email security is essential as this is the most common attack vector. Without email security, malware and phishing emails will hit inboxes and employees’ security awareness will be regularly put to the test. The threat of email attacks cannot be understated.
Email security must be explained to clients to ensure they understand its importance and why standard email security such as that provided by Microsoft through Office 365 simply doesn’t cut in anymore. Too many threats bypass Office 365 defenses. A study by Avanan showed that 25% of phishing emails bypass Office 365 security and are delivered to inboxes.
DNS filtering is also a requirement to protect against web-based attacks such as malvertising, drive-by downloads, and exploit kits. Even the best email security solutions will not block all phishing threats. DNS filtering provides an additional layer of security to protect against phishing attacks. While email was once the primary method of delivering malware, now malware is most commonly delivered via web-based attacks. The average business user now encounters three malicious links per day and 80% of malware is downloaded via the internet. Further, with more and more employees spending at least some of the week working remotely, protection is needed for public Wi-Fi hotspots. DNS filtering provides that protection when they are off the network.
Endpoint security solutions add another layer to the security stack. If any of the above solutions fail and malware is downloaded, endpoint security solutions will provide extra protection. This can include basic protection such as antivirus software or more advanced solutions such as intrusion detection systems.
When choosing solutions for your security stack, it is important to make sure they work seamlessly together. This can be difficult if you purchase security solutions from a lot of different vendors.
Additional Services to Add to your Security Stack.
The above security services should form the core of your security offering, but there are many additional services you can easily provide to ensure your clients are better protected. These can be offered as addons or as part of more comprehensive security packages.
Data loss protection
Email archiving and backup services
Vulnerability scanning and patch management
Security policy management
Security information and event management (SIEM)
Incident response and remediation
Security awareness training and phishing email simulations
How TitanHQ Can Help
TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market. TitanHQ products are consistently rated highly by MSPs for the level of protection, ease of use, ease of admin, and the level of support provided.
The TitanHQ portfolio of cybersecurity products consists of three core solutions:
SpamTitan Email Security
WebTitan DNS Filtering
ArcTitan Email Archiving
Each of these solutions has a 100% cloud-based architecture and has been developed for MSPs to easily incorporate into their security stacks. TitanHQ offers seamless deployments and easy incorporation into MSP’s management portals via RESTful API.
The above solutions can be supplied with multiple hosting options. You can host with TitanHQ, on your existing infrastructure or in the cloud with AWS, Azure or any other system.
SMBs want to know they are protected, but many don’t care about what solutions are used. This gives you an opportunity to reinforce your brand. This is easily achieved with TitanHQ as the above solutions can be provided in white label form, ready for you to add your own branding. You can even customize the user interface and only include the features that you need to reduce complexity.
Need reports for your clients? No problem. TitanHQ has an extensive range of pre-configured reports that can be scheduled to ease your admin burden, including board-level reports with scope to create your own reports to meet you and your clients’ needs.
Other key features for MSPs include:
Automated policy management
Full visibility of usage
Flexible, affordable, and transparent pricing with monthly billing
Set and forget solutions to ease the admin burden
World-class customer support included with all solutions
Generous margins for MSPs
Excellent MSP program – TitanShield – with dedicated account managers, assigned sales engineers, scalable pre-sales and technical support, and sales and technical training
TitanHQ has made it as easy as possible for MSPs to start offering security services to their clients. These solutions will also help established security-as-a-service providers ease their management burden and improve their margins.
To find out more about the TitanShield program and for further information on any or all of TitanHQ’s security solutions for MSPs, get in touch with the channel team today. Product demonstrations can be arranged and free 14-day trials are available to allow you to see for yourself why TitanHQ is the leading provider of email and web security solutions for MSPs.
The Racoon Stealer is a relatively new form of malware that was first detected in April 2019. The malware is not sophisticated, it does not incorporate any never before seen features, in fact it is pretty unremarkable. The Racoon Stealer can take screenshots, harvest system information, monitor emails, and steal information from browsers, such as passwords, online banking credentials, and credit card numbers.
However, the malware is effective and very popular. In the past six months, the Racoon Stealer has been installed on hundreds of thousands of Windows devices and it is now one of the most talked about malware variants on underground forums.
What makes the Racoon Stealer stand out is a highly aggressive marketing campaign aimed at signing up as many affiliates as possible. Racoon is being marketed as malware-as-a-service on underground forums and affiliates can sign up to use the malware for a flat fee of $200 per month.
The information stealer can be used to steal a range of sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, and cryptocurrencies. Under this distribution model, affiliates do not have to develop their own malware, and little skill is required to start conducting campaigns. The malware developers are also providing bulletproof hosting and are available to give affiliates support 24/7/365, and the package comes with an easy to use backend system.
While the cost is certainly high compared to other malware-as-a-service and ransomware-as-a-service offerings, affiliates are likely to make that back and much more from the information that they can steal. There is no shortage of takers.
How is the Racoon Stealer Being Distributed?
Affiliates are distributing the Racoon Stealer via phishing emails containing Office and PDF files that incorporate code that downloads the Racoon payload. The information stealer has been bundled with software on third-party websites, although a large percentage of the infections come from exploit kits.
The Racoon Stealer has been added to both the Fallout and Rig exploit kits which are loaded onto compromised websites and attacker-owned domains. Traffic is sent to those sites via malicious adverts on third party ad networks (malvertising).
When a user lands on a webpage hosting an exploit kit, their device is probed for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. If a vulnerability is found it is exploited and the Racoon Stealer is silently downloaded.
Once installed, Racoon connects to its C2 server and the resources required to start stealing information are obtained, that information can be sold on darknet marketplaces or used by affiliates to conduct their own attacks.
Given the huge potential for profit, it is no surprise that malware developers are now opting for this business model. The problem is likely to get a lot worse before it gets better and the threat from these malware-as-a-service offerings is significant.
How to Block the Racoon Stealer and Other Web and Email Threats
Fortunately, there are steps that businesses can take to improve their defenses against these MaaS campaigns.
Exploit kits usually incorporate exploits for a small number of known vulnerabilities rather than zero-day vulnerabilities for which no patches have been released. To block these exploit kit attacks, businesses need to apply patches and update software promptly.
It is not always possible for businesses to apply patches promptly as extensive testing may be necessary before the patches can be applied. Some devices may be skipped – accidentally or deliberately due to compatibility issues. Those devices will remain vulnerable to attack.
Patching is important, but it will not stop drive-by malware downloads from the internet that do not involve exploit kits. What is therefore required is a web security solution that can block access to malicious sites and prevent downloads of risky file types.
A DNS filtering solution such as WebTitan provides an additional layer of security to block these web-based threats. Through a combination of blacklists, content control, and scanning websites for malicious content, businesses can protect themselves against web-based attacks. A DNS filter will also prevent employees from visiting websites used for phishing.
Blocking attacks that take place via email requires strong email security defenses. An advanced spam filter such as SpamTitan can prevent malicious emails and attachments from reaching end users’ inboxes. SpamTitan scans all incoming emails for malware using two anti-virus engines but is also effective at blocking zero-day threats. SpamTitan includes a Bitdefender-powered sandbox, where suspicious attachments are subjected to in-depth analysis to identify any potentially malicious actions.
With these two solutions in place, businesses will be well protected from malware threats and phishing attacks and managed service providers can ensure their environment and those of their clients are kept malware free.
To find out more about these two powerful anti-malware solutions and to discover why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security for the managed service provider serving the SMB market, give the TitanHQ team a call.
The event will be attended by thousands of IT professionals, business owners, and industry leaders who will be discussing the IT industry, recent advances in information technology, and the latest trends affecting MSPs. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for learning, networking, and collaboration and boasts an extensive program of interactive sessions, keynotes, and in-depth training sessions. The event also showcases the latest IT solutions and provides tips and tricks to ensure every ounce of value is squeezed from those tools.
This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, thanks to an all-star cast of thought leaders and industry professionals who will provide practical advice to help you improve every aspect of your business.
Connect IT Europe covers the entire Kaseya universe and the diverse ecosystem of solutions that serve IT professionals. The conference will help attendees find new revenue streams, increase their profit margins, and simplify IT management through educational presentations, workshops, roundtables, and interactive challenges.
As the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs serving the SMB market, TitanHQ is proud to be a Silver sponsor of the event. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover why TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs servicing the SMB marketplace and the features and benefits of SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving that make the solutions such a hit with MSPs and IT professionals.
The event will be attended by TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager Marc Ludden and Alliances/MSP Partner Manager Eddie Monaghan. Marc and Eddie will be explaining the recently launched TitanShield program for MSPs and how TitanHQ solutions can help MSPs improve efficiency, profitability, and security of their operations and enhance their customers’ security postures.
If you would like further information on TitanHQ products, feel free to reach out to Marc and Eddie ahead of the event:
Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
TitanHQ is proud to be a platinum sponsor of DattCon19, Paris – The leading event for MSPs looking to keep up to date on the latest industry trends, learn best practices, form new and profitable partnerships, and obtain invaluable advice that will help them grow their business and become more successful.
The event gives the TitanHQ team an opportunity to meet with leading MSPs, MSSPs, and ISPs and explain why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market.
The team will be available to explain the benefits of the TitanShield MSP program and show just how easy it is to integrate TitanHQ products into your service stacks and start rolling out spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving to your customers… and the best way to sell those services, reduce the time you spend on providing support, and improve the profitability of your business.
The event will be attended by Rocco Donnino, TitanHQ VP of Strategic Partnerships, Marc Ludden, TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager, and Eddie Monaghan. Alliances/MSP Partner Manager.
On Tuesday October 22 between 11:15am and 11:35am, Rocco Donnino will be explaining Email & Web Security for the SMB Market. Rocco will talk about the trends TitanHQ are seeing in the email and web security for SMB markets globally, drawing on the experience from working with over 2,200 MSP customers worldwide.
Marc Ludden and Eddie Monaghan will be on hand to meet with MSPs and ISPs to explain the benefits of joining the TitanShield MSP Program and how best to take advantage of TitanHQ’s proven technology and deliver our advanced network security solutions directly to their client base. The pair will be helping MSP partners push TitanHQ products downstream to their customers and grow their businesses.
The event will be attended by more than 1000 MSPs, ITSPs, and industry leaders. Over the three days of the conference, attendees will get to hear from the most successful MSPs and MSSPs and discover what they are doing differently and how they are driving growth.
The sessions, keynotes, and networking opportunities will help you get better at running your business with Datto Solutions and discover how the addition of key products such as SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving can improve profitability and add greater value.
The keynotes will be bigger and better than ever before and will be taken by 80 of the best and brightest business tycoons, MSPs, and Datto executives, who will share valuable real-world insights and best practices.
The Peer Forums are more intimate small-group roundtable sessions that provide high-value networking on key topics. These sessions are driven by attendees who will share pain points, success stories, and best practices that have been proven to help MSPs grow their business. This year’s Peer Forums are on the following topics:
Service Delivery: Driving Efficiency & Automation
Selling Networking as a Managed Service
Women in Tech
French Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
Service Delivery: Service Desk & Professional Services
M&A: How Do I Acquire or Be Acquired?
Security: Securing Your MSP First
German Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
Service Delivery: Client Engagement & vCIO
Add to that the networking opportunities and the stunning location and you have an invaluable event that is not to be missed.
DattoCon19 Paris will be taking place on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd at the Palais des congrès de Paris, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris, France.
Malvertising is the term given to the abuse of ad networks to serve malicious adverts on legitimate websites that scam visitors by displaying popup ads or direct them to malicious websites hosting phishing forms or exploit code to silently deliver malware. Many website owners place third-party advertising blocks on their websites to increase revenue. While the ad networks have controls in place to prevent abuse, cybercriminals often succeed in bypassing those security measures.
One cybercriminal group has been particularly active over the past year and has been conducting attacks on a massive scale. Researchers at Confiant have been tracking the activity of the group – known as eGobbler – and report that the group delivered fake adverts on 500 million user sessions in Europe and the United States in the past week alone. The campaigns are on a truly massive scale. One of the latest campaigns, conducted between August 1 and September 23 involved around 1.16 billion ad impressions.
Typically, the criminals behind these campaigns target mobile users as the security protections on their devices are nowhere near as robust as on desktop computers; however, this campaign has targeted desktop users on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Several content delivery networks have been used to serve the malicious adverts, which redirect users to websites that exploit two browser vulnerabilities to deliver their malicious payloads. The first is a bug in the Chrome browser – CVE-2019-5840 – which was patched by Google in June. The second is a zero-day vulnerability in WebKit, the browser engine used by old Chrome versions and the Safari web browser. The bug has already been patched for Safari, but currently Google has not patched Chrome. Since the latest browser engine used by Chrome is based on WebKit, later versions are also affected.
While sandboxing features protect advertising iframes, the zero-day vulnerability has allowed the group to break out of the iframes and display malicious code to visitors and perform redirects.
This cybercriminal group is atypical of most groups that use malvertising to deliver malware. The group is highly skilled and capable of finding bugs in the source code of browsers and conducts campaigns on a massive scale. The group poses a significant threat to internet users although there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of an attack.
Personal users can harden their defenses by using ad-blockers and ensuring they keep their browsers updated. Businesses similarly need to ensure browsers are updated and block these malicious adverts using a web filtering solution.
In addition to blocking malicious adverts, a web filter can be configured to block the download of malicious files and prevent employees from visiting phishing websites and other malicious websites. A web filter can also be used by businesses to enforce acceptable internet usage policies.
TitanHQ has developed a powerful DNS-based web filtering solution for SMBs and MSPs – WebTitan – that provides protection against malvertising and other types of web-based attacks. The solution is easy to use and can be implemented in just a few minutes. No technical skill is required.
Considering the level of protection provided by WebTitan, you are likely to be surprised at how little the solution costs. To find out more, to arrange a product demonstration, or to set up free trial of the full solution, give the TitanHQ sales team a call.
Due to the high cost per user, many SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs) are looking for an OpenDNS alternative that provides the same or better protection at a much lower cost. At TitanHQ, we have the solution. We offer an advanced cloud-based web filtering solution that provides excellent protection from online threats with highly granular filtering controls for precision control over the types of web content that can be accessed by end users.
In this post we will explain why so many SMBs and MSPs have signed up for our OpenDNS alternative, and why WebTitan Cloud is, in general terms, a direct swap out for OpenDNS. However, first, lets consider one of the most important reasons for seeking an OpenDNS alternative. Cost.
OpenDNS Cost Per User
Cisco’s OpenDNS (Cisco Umbrella) is a popular choice with enterprises, SMBs, and MSPs for good reason. It is an accomplished web filtering solution but that comes at a price. At the time of writing, the OpenDNS cost per user is $2.20 per month (based on 100 users). While that is a small price to pay for the level of protection that a web filter provides and the potential for productivity increases through careful content control, the cost adds up. For 100 users, that’s $220 per month and $2,640 per year.
WebTitan costs $0.90 per user, per month. That’s just $90 per month and only $1,080 per year. That provides a saving of $1,560 per year based on a 1-year subscription and the cost can be lowered further with a 3-year subscription.
Such a major cost saving makes WebTitan Cloud a very attractive proposition, but price isn’t everything and lowest cost choices are not always the best. In this case however, it is possible to save a small fortune without compromising security and control, while improving usability.
A Direct Swap Out for OpenDNS That Will Save a Small Fortune
OpenDNS Cisco Umbrella and WebTitan are best-of-breed DNS-based web filtering solutions that combine advanced protection against malware, phishing, and other web-based threats. They also offer precision control for restricting access to certain types of online material.
Both solutions have been designed with the same core principles and both can be used to block downloads of file types commonly associated with malware and ransomware, such as .exe, .js, .scr, and other executable file types.
To protect against phishing, both solutions support the use of blacklists – Lists of websites and IPs that have previously been identified as malicious or have a low trust score. These phishing web pages are often visited by end users after clicking embedded hyperlinks in emails. Both web filters therefore serve as an important additional layer of protection against phishing.
Both solutions allow filtering controls to be set for different users, at the individual, user group, department, or organization level via category-based filters, which makes it easy to quickly apply and enforce your acceptable Internet usage policies.
Both solutions offer a high level of protection, but for many SMBs and MSPs, the price of WebTitan is the deal clincher. However, there are several other benefits of WebTitan Cloud over OpenDNS.
WebTitan Cloud Advantages
Some of the key advantages of WebTitan Cloud over OpenDNS are detailed below.
Certain types of businesses, such as MSPs, will be reluctant to direct users to an external cloud service. To meet the needs of those businesses, TitanHQ offers different hosting options. Typically, WebTitan is hosted within TitanHQ’s own environment, but it is also possible for the solution to be hosted locally to give users greater control and privacy.
The WebTitan pricing model is perfectly transparent and all features are included in the price, including customer support at no additional cost. TitanHQ can also offer flexible licensing and can negotiate commercial arrangements that suit both parties. OpenDNS Cisco Umbrella has a multi-tiered pricing system with some of the advanced features only available as an add-on which further increases the cost.
World Class Support
All WebTitan Cloud users benefit from industry leading, world class support, including scalable pre-sales and technical support and sales & technical training. Support is provided for all users at no additional cost. Support is also provided to customers taking advantage of the free trial.
There will be times when organization-wide or individual filtering controls need to be bypassed. Rather than changing a policy for a particular user and then having to revert back to the original policy, TitanHQ developed bypass codes called cloud keys. These cloud keys can be used to temporarily bypass filtering policies. They can be set to expire after a certain time period or after a certain number of uses.
An Ideal OpenDNS Alternative for Managed Service Providers
The biggest exodus from OpenDNS to WebTitan is MSPs. As mentioned in the previous section, the ability to host WebTitan locally is a major benefit for many MSPs who prefer to host their solutions in their own private clouds.
As an additional benefit, WebTitan Cloud can be supplied in full white-label form and is completely rebrandable. The solution allows customized block pages to be created – these pages are displayed when a user attempts to visit a webpage that contravenes company policies. The UI can also be rebranded and customized to include corporate branding. OpenDNS does not offer MSPs a white-label solution and cannot be rebranded.
TitanHQ also ensures WebTitan Cloud fits seamlessly into MSPs service stacks through the use of APIs and RMM integrations. The multi-tenant dashboard allows MSPs to keep clients separated and apply controls on an individual client basis and also to manage client settings in bulk.
The low price of the solution allows MSPs to add web filtering to their existing security packages to better protect their customers while saving themselves a great deal of support time. TitanHQ also offers monthly billing and high margins for MSPs. With WebTitan it really is possible to make 100 points.
How Does WebTitan and OpenDNS Compare?
One of the best ways to find out about how the two different solutions compare is to use independent review sites such as G2 Crowd. The site includes more than 650,000 reviews from verified users. Those users consistently rate WebTitan Cloud higher than alternative web filtering solutions and across the 6 rating areas, WebTitan Cloud achieves higher ratings than OpenDNS.
Speak to TitanHQ About Changing from OpenDNS to WebTitan
If you are looking for an OpenDNS alternative and would like further information about WebTitan Cloud, would like to book a product demonstration to see WebTitan Cloud in action, or are interested in signing up for a free trial of the full solution, contact the TitanHQ team today and our friendly sales staff will be happy to help.
Exploit kit activity may be at a fraction of the level of 2016 when peak activity was reached, but the threat has not gone away. In fact, the mid-year cybersecurity roundup from Trend Micro shows exploit kit activity is now triple the level of mid-2018. Websites hosting exploit kits still pose a significant threat to businesses.
Exploit kits are toolkits that contain exploits for vulnerabilities in popular software applications, such as Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash Player. When a user lands on a web page that hosts an exploit kit, it will scan the user’s browser for vulnerabilities. If an exploitable flaw is identified, malware is automatically downloaded and executed on the user’s device. In many cases, the downloading of a Trojan, ransomware, or other form of malware is not identified by the user.
Traffic is sent to exploit kits through malvertising – malicious advert – on high traffic websites. User’s can be directed to malicious websites through phishing emails, and it is also common for hackers to hijack high traffic websites and use them to host their exploit kit. That means users could visit a malicious website just through general web browsing.
There are several exploit kits currently in use such as Magnitude, Underminer, Fallout, Green Flash/Sundown, Rig, GrandSoft, and Lord. These exploit kits are pushing cryptocurrency miners and botnet loaders, although ransomware and banking Trojans are the most common payloads.
Many of the exploits used by these toolkits are for old vulnerabilities, but since businesses are often slow to apply patches, they still pose a major threat. Exploit kits such as GrandSoft and Rig are regularly updated and now host exploits for much more recently disclosed vulnerabilities.
One of the most recently identified campaigns has seen the threat actors behind Nemty ransomware team up with the operators of RIG to push their ransomware on businesses still using old, vulnerable versions of Internet Explorer.
A new exploit kit named Lord is being used to infect users with Eris ransomware. In this case, traffic is being directed to the exploit kit through malvertising on the PopCash ad network. The EK primarily uses exploits for flaws in Adobe Flash Player such as CVE-2018-15982.
Protecting against exploit kits is straightforward on paper. Businesses need to ensure that vulnerabilities are identified and patched promptly. If there are no vulnerabilities to exploit, no malware can be downloaded. Unfortunately, in practice things are not quite so simple. Many businesses are slow to patch or fail to apply patches on all devices in use.
Anti-spam software can help to reduce risk by blocking phishing emails containing links to exploit kits, but most of the traffic comes from search engines and malvertising, which anti-spam software will do nothing to block. To improve your defenses against exploit kits, drive-by downloads, and phishing websites, one of the best cybersecurity solutions to deploy is a DNS filtering solution.
A DNS filter allows businesses to carefully control the websites that employees can access when connected to the business’s wired and wireless networks. Controls can be set to block different types of web content such as gambling, gaming, and adult websites but crucially, the DNS filter also blocks all known malicious websites. DNS filters use blacklists of known malicious websites such as those hosting exploit kits or phishing forms. If a web site or web page is included in the blacklist, it will automatically be blocked. Websites are also scanned in real time to identify malicious content.
Since all filtering takes place at the DNS level, access to malicious or undesirable content is blocked without any content being downloaded. Setting up the solution is also quick and easy, as it only requires a change to the DNS record to point it to the service provider. No hardware is required and there is no need to download any software.
If you want to improve your defenses against malware, ransomware, botnets, and phishing and are not yet controlling the web content that your employees can access, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan. Alternatively, sign up for a free trial of the solution by clicking the image below.
The year 2018 saw a reduction in ransomware attacks on businesses as cybercriminals opted for alternative means to make money. Major ransomware attacks were still occurring, just at a slightly lower rate than in 2017.
Some reports were released that suggested ransomware was no longer such a massive threat as it was in 2016 and 2017, but the number of reported attacks in 2019 have shown that is definitely not the case. Any business that has not implemented defenses to protect against ransomware attacks could well be the next victim and have to pay millions to recover from an attack.
Make no mistake. Ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats faced by businesses. If ransomware is installed on the network, all files, including backups, could be encrypted. That could prove catastrophic, as one small Michigan medical practice discovered.
The two-doctor practice in Battle Creek, MI suffered an attack that resulted in the encryption of all patient data. A ransom demand was issued by the attackers, but as there was no guarantee that files could be recovered after the ransom was paid, the decision was taken not to pay up. The hackers then deleted all the encrypted files. Faced with having to rebuild the practice from scratch, the doctors decided to call it quits and took early retirement.
Ransomware attacks on healthcare providers are now being reported at an alarming rate and government entities, cities, and municipalities are being extensively targeted. The city of Baltimore suffered a major attack in May involving a ransomware variant called RobbinHood. The attack brought down the city’s servers and systems, causing major disruption across the city. A ransom of $6 million was paid for the keys to regain access to the encrypted files.
Two small cities in Florida also suffered major attacks. Lake City was forced to pay a ransom of $460,000 and Riviera Beach paid a ransom of $600,000, while Jackson County in Georgia paid $400,000 after its court system was attacked.
As the year has progressed, the attacks have increased. A report from Malwarebytes indicates there was a 195% increase in ransomware attacks in Q1, 2019. Figures from Kaspersky Lab show ransomware attacks almost doubled in Q2, 2019, with 46% more attacks reported than the corresponding period in 2018.
The increase in attacks means businesses need to be prepared and have the necessary security tools in place to make it difficult for the attacks to succeed.
There is no one cybersecurity solution that can be implemented to eliminate the threat of attack, as hackers are using a variety of methods to gain access to networks and download their malicious payloads. Layered defenses are key to repelling an attack.
Email is the primary method of delivering ransomware. All it takes if for a malicious email to arrive in an inbox and for an employee to be fooled into opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a hyperlink for ransomware to be installed. An advanced email filtering solution such as SpamTitan Cloud is therefore needed to block malicious emails and ensure they do not reach employees’ inboxes.
SpamTItan includes Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to block email impersonation attacks and a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be executed in safety and studied for malicious activity. Sandboxing is essential as it allows zero-day ransomware threats to be identified and blocked.
Not all attacks occur via email. Attacks over the Internet are also common. A web filtering solution should therefore be implemented to block these web-based attacks. A web filter will prevent employees from accessing known malicious sites where ransomware is automatically downloaded. With these two technical measures in place, businesses will be well protected from attacks. Along with security awareness training for staff and the adoption of good data backup practices, businesses can mount a strong defense against ransomware attacks.
A new phishing campaign has been detected that uses Google Drive links to avoid detection by Office 365 Exchange Online Protection and ensure messages are delivered to inboxes.
The emails, reported through Cofense Intelligence, impersonated the CEO of the company who was attempting to share an important document. The document had been shared via Google Drive and came with the message, “Important message from – CEO.”
Google Drive allows files and collaboration requests to be easily sent to other individuals. The account holder chooses who to share a file with and the system generates an email alert containing a link to the shared file.
In this case, the name of the CEO was correct, but the email address used was different to the format used by the company. While this is a clear sign that the emails are not what they seem, some employees would likely be fooled by the message.
Importantly, the messages are not detected as malicious by EOP and are delivered to inboxes. A scan of the message would reveal nothing untoward, as the embedded URL is a legitimate shared link to a genuine cloud service operated by Google.
The shared document itself is not malicious, but it does link to another Google Docs document and a phishing URL. Any anti-phishing solution that only assesses the embedded hyperlink in the email to determine whether it is malicious would allow the email to be delivered. Only a deeper inspection would reveal the true nature of the URL.
If the link is visited by an end user, a fake login window is presented. If login credentials are entered, they are captured and stored on the attacker’s server.
This campaign highlights the importance of multi-layered anti-phishing defenses and the risks of relying on EOP to provide protection against phishing attacks.
An advanced spam filtering solution should be implemented on top of Office 365 to provide greater protection from phishing and other email-based attacks. This will ensure more sophisticated phishing attacks are blocked.
If a malicious message is delivered and a link is clicked, the connection to the malicious webpage could be blocked using a web filtering solution.
WebTitan is a DNS-based content filtering solution that serves as an additional layer in organization’s anti-phishing defenses. Should an attempt be made by an employee to visit a malicious website or suspicious domain, the attempt would be blocked before any content is downloaded. WebTitan assesses each website when the DNS query is made. Malicious websites and those that violate an organization’s content control policies are blocked.
To find out more about how a DNS filter can improve your defenses against phishing attacks and malware downloads, contact TitanHQ today.
Malware creators are constantly developing new techniques to circumvent traditional anti-virus defenses and ensure their malicious code can run undetected on a targeted machine.
Zero-day malware variants, those which have never been seen before, are not picked up by signature-based AV solutions. However, the malware will need to communicate with its owner, so the source code will contain URLs and IPs for that purpose. These URLs can be detected when scanning files. If the URLS are detected and they are known to be malicious, the file will be deemed to be malicious and will be quarantined.
To ensure this does not happen, malware developers use a variety of techniques to hide the URLs and IPs in the source code. This is often achieved by converting the IP address into a decimal value, which is stored as XML content. When in decimal format, even a malicious URL would not be detected as such by most antivirus software. When the IP address is needed by the malware, it can be converted back to its original form and then reconverted to digital when no longer required.
Similarly, a URL – or part of a URL – could be encoded in its hexadecimal equivalent. That URL would be unlikely to be detected as malicious yet can be read by a browser. AV software would likely detect the file example.com/maliciousfile.exe as malicious in nature and would block it accordingly. In hexadecimal, that translates to:
That address would not be recognizable as malicious and would likely go undetected during a scan by an AV solution. The use of both obfuscation techniques together is not unusual, to make it even harder for AV solutions to detect malicious URLs and IPs.
While these techniques can be used to fool endpoint AV solutions, connections to those malicious servers can be blocked using a DNS-based content filter such as WebTitan.
It doesn’t matter how the URL or IP address is masked. Before a connection can be made, it is necessary to make a DNS query, and the collection must be permitted by the DNS-based filter. If the URL is malicious, the DNS filter will block the attempt to connect before any content is downloaded.
WebTitan works in conjunction with a real time database of millions of malicious URLS and uses a real-time classification system to assign websites to one of 53 categories. Those categories can be allowed or blocked with the click of a mouse. In addition to blocking access to malicious content, the category-based controls can be used to prevent employees from accessing content that could cause offense or lower productivity.
To find out more about how WebTitan can benefit your organization and improve your security posture, contact the TitanHQ team today.
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 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
TitanHQ, the leading provider of cloud security solutions for SMBs, has announced a new partner program has been launched to support Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), Cloud Distributors, Wi-Fi Providers, OEM Partners and Technology Alliance Partners..
TitanHQ started its journey in 1999. Initially, the company provided anti-spam solutions to local businesses in Ireland. Over the next two decades, the company expanded its range of products to include DNS filtering and email archiving solutions and is now a leading global player of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions.
While TitanHQ initially focused on meeting the needs of the SMB market, its products have been developed to meet the needs of MSPs. For instance, TitanHQ solutions are available with a range of hosting options, including the ability to host the solution within the MSPs own environment, and they can be provided in white-label form ready to take MSP’s branding.
TitanHQ’s cloud-based solutions have been developed to be easy to implement, use, and manage and are already a firm favorite with MSPs.
To make TitanHQ cloud security solutions even more attractive for MSPs, the existing partner program has been significantly enhanced and relaunched as TitanShield.
The TItanShield Partner Program makes it even easier to offer TitanHQ cloud security products to clients. Partners benefit from access to engineers, a highly capable support team that understands the needs of MSPs, and a dedicated account manager.
Partners have access to APIs to allow them to easily sell, onboard, manage and deliver advanced network security solutions directly to their client base from within their own user interfaces. In addition, partners receive free access to sales and technical resources, deal registration and lead generation resources, and benefit from flexible, volume-based monthly pricing models and profitable margins.
Under the new, enhanced partner program, customers are separated into their specific areas of expertise to ensure that each can be provided with focused information for the markets and customers they serve.
“Our program takes a unique and strategic approach for our partners and can be customized to fit all business models,” said Rocco Donnino, Executive VP of Strategic Alliances at TitanHQ.
If you want to become a highly valued member of the TitanHQ TitanShield Partner Program, enrollment is now open. Call TitanHQ today or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
In our previous post we explained why managed service providers (MSPs) should be offering a web filtering service to their customers and the benefits that can be gained by customers and MSPs alike. In this post we explain what makes WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs and why so many MSPs have chosen TitanHQ as their web filtering partner.
Why WebTitan Cloud is the Best Web Filter for MSPs
One problem MSPs face before they can start offering a web filtering service to their clients is how to incorporate the solution into their service stacks and their existing cloud offerings. While there are many providers of web filtering services, not all solutions have been developed with MSPs in mind. TitanHQ differs in that respect.
TitanHQ’s web filtering solution, WebTitan Cloud, has been developed specifically to meet the needs of MSPs and make it as easy as possible for the solution to be added to their existing cloud offerings. WebTitan Cloud seamlessly integrates within existing workflows regardless of whether MSPs self-host, use AWS, Azure, or other cloud platforms.
How Does WebTitan Cloud Integrate into MSPs Management Systems?
To make integration as easy as possible, TitanHQ uses RESTful API, which allows fast and risk-free integration into MSPs management systems. WebTitan Cloud uses the OAuth 1.0 protocol for authentication and has a full set of keys and secrets in the WebTitan Cloud user interface (UI). Once an MSP has signed up, no further registration or authentication is necessary. The API client provides the appropriate oauth_signature to authorize requests to protected resources.
Overly complex user interfaces are a problem with many cloud-based solutions. With WebTitan Cloud, the UI is made as clean and easy to use as possible. MSPs can remove all elements from the UI that are not required to keep the UI clean and simple. WebTitan Cloud can also be integrated into MSP cloud interfaces to create a better user experience and greater consistency for customers.
Having information at your fingertips is important when customers send in requests or when reports are required on web use and blocking. WebTitan Cloud allows MSPs to create and integrate a full suite of high-level system and customer reports into their own management consoles.
Onboarding new customers is also a quick and simple process, which can be integrated into current MSP on-boarding processes. New customer accounts can easily be created (or deleted) from within an MSP’s own UI, in addition to performing updates and listing all current customer accounts.
MSPs can connect to WebTitan Cloud to manage their customers settings, including locations, whitelists, and blacklists. Customers that would prefer to manage their own settings can perform a limited number of operations themselves using APIs. Since WebTitan Cloud is available in a full white label, customers who do access their own settings can be given a UI with MSP branding rather than TitanHQ’s to maintain consistency and help reinforce the MSPs brand.
TitanHQ also operates an extremely competitive pricing strategy with generous margins for MSPs and aligned monthly billing cycles through the TitanShield MSP Program.
If you have yet to start offering web filtering to your clients as part of your service stack or if you are unhappy with your current provider’s product, contact TitanHQ today and as about becoming a member of the TitanShield MSP Program. Product demonstrations can also be scheduled on request.
A web filtering service allows Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to better protect their clients from accidental malware downloads and phishing attacks while improving their bottom lines. Further, by preventing phishing attacks and malware infections, they can reduce the amount of time they spend fighting fires. For busy MSPs, the latter will be especially beneficial.
Why is Web Filtering Important?
There are several reasons why MSP clients will benefit from a web filtering service. First and foremost, a web filter will help to prevent their customers’ employees from visiting phishing websites and malicious URLs. Most phishing attacks start with a phishing email, so a powerful spam filtering solution is essential. While commercial spam filters such as SpamTitan will block more than 99% of spam and phishing emails, additional protections are required to protect against the 1% that bypass spam defenses.
Naturally end user security awareness training will help in this regard, but as the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report shows, 30% of delivered phishing messages are opened by end users and 12% of those users also click on malicious links in the messages.
A web filter is an additional layer of anti-phishing and anti-malware defenses that kicks in when malicious links are clicked and when end users attempt to visit other malicious sites while browsing the Internet. With a web filter in place, when an employee attempts to access a malicious web page, that attempt will be blocked before any content is downloaded. Instead of displaying the web page, a block page will be displayed.
Web filters also allow companies to carefully control the types of content their employees can access. This allows them to enforce acceptable internet usage policies with ease. Employers can prevent their employees from accessing NSFW content such as pornography, illegal content and, if tighter controls are required to improve productivity, other categories of web content such as dating sites, social media networks, gambling sites, and gaming sites.
With a web filter in place, security and productivity can both be quickly improved and the gains in both of those areas is likely to more than pay for the cost of the web filtering package provided by their MSP.
Cloud Based Web Filtering Solutions for MSPs
Convincing customers to implement a web filtering solution should be straightforward given the number of phishing attacks that are now being conducted and the cost of mitigating phishing attacks and malware infections. The cost of web filtering is tiny by comparison.
For MSPs, cloud-based filtering solutions are the natural choice. They can be implemented in minutes once a customer request has been received, no hardware is required, there is no software to install, and patching is handled by the service provider. All that is required from the MSP is a brief set up and configuration for each customer and ongoing management and reporting.
However, not all cloud-based web filtering solutions make set up, management and reporting simple. WebTitan Cloud differs in this respect. Not only does the solution offer excellent protection, the solution has been developed specifically with MSPs in mind. The ease of integration into MSP’s back-end systems and management has made WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs.
In our next post we will explain how WebTitan Cloud differs from other web filtering solutions, why it is the easiest solution for MSPs to integrate into their existing cloud offerings, and how TitanHQ makes getting started, provisioning new customers, and managing customer accounts a quick and easy process requiring the minimal management overhead.
For many people, Game of Thrones Season 8 is the TV highlight of the past 12 months, but not all fans of the series are keen to pay for the channel to watch the latest installments of this hugely popular series.
Some fans are turning to P2P file sharing sites to download the latest episodes, but hackers are ready and waiting. Many illegal video files of Game of Thrones episodes have been embedded with malware, most commonly adware and Trojans.
Research from Kaspersky Lab revealed Trojans to be the most common form of malware to be embedded in rogue video files. A third of all fake TV show downloads that have been impregnated with malware include a Trojan.
When one of these infected files is opened after it has been downloaded, the Trojan is launched and silently runs in the background on the infected device.
Many of the Trojans embedded into video files are brand new. These zero-day malware variants are not detected by traditional AV solutions as their signatures are not present in malware definition lists. That means malware infections are likely to go undetected. When signatures are updated, the malware may continue to run until a full system scan is completed. Either way, during the time that the malware is active it could be collecting a range of sensitive data including usernames and passwords.
Malware can also be installed that gives the attacker access to an infected device and the ability to run commands, change programs, download further malware variants, and add the infected device to a botnet.
File sharing websites offer an easy way of distributing malware. Users of the platforms voluntarily download the files onto their computers. However, only a small percentage of internet users visit P2P file sharing sites. Hackers therefore have turned to other methods to get users to execute their infected video files.
Prior to the release date of Game of Thrones Season 8, offers of free access to the TV show were being distributed via email. Campaigns were also detected offering episodes in advance of the release date to tempt GOT fans into installing malicious software or visiting malicious websites.
It is no surprise that fake Game of Thrones video files have been embedded with malware, given the huge popularity of the show. However, Game of Thrones fans are not the only people targeted using this tactic of malware distribution. In the past few months, malware has been detected in fake videos files claiming to be the latest episodes of the Walking Dead, Suits, and the Vikings to name but a few.
Some people feel the risk of a malware infection from downloading pirated video files to be low, or they do not even consider the risks. That is bad news for businesses. When employees ignore the risks and download illegal files at work, they risk infecting their network with malware.
The easiest solution to prevent illegal downloads at work and the visiting of other malicious websites is to use a web filtering solution. A web filter – WebTitan for instance – can be configured to prevent users from accessing file sharing and torrents websites. WebTitan uses a continuous stream of ActiveWeb URLs from over 550 million end users, which provides important threat intelligence to TitanHQ’s machine learning technology. This allows new, malicious URLs to be identified, and users are then prevented from visiting those malicious URLs.
Blocking email attacks is simple with SpamTitan. SpamTitan blocks 99.97% of spam emails to prevent malicious messages from reaching end users, including messages offering free access to Game of Thrones and other TV shows. In addition to dual AV engines to protect against known malware, SpamTitan also now has a sandboxing feature. Suspicious attachments can be safely executed and analyzed in the sandbox to identify potentially malicious actions. The sandboxing feature provides superior protection against zero-day malware which AV software does not block.
With both of these solutions in place, businesses will be well protected against malware, ransomware, botnets, viruses, and phishing attacks.
Each solution is available with a range of different deployment options to suit the needs of all businesses. For a product demonstration and further information, contact the TitanHQ team today.
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.
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.
TitanHQ has launched a busy campaign of MSP roadshows and conferences with two Valentine’s Day events in London and Tampa, Florida.
Over the coming five months, the TitanHQ team will be attending 15 events in Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA, and will be meeting with managed service providers (MSPs), Wi-Fi providers, ISPs, and technology partners to introduce and explain about TitanHQ’s award-winning suite of email security, web filtering, and email archiving solutions.
The 2019 roadshow campaign started in London where Alliance Manager Eddie Monaghan met with current and prospective MSP partners at the IT Nation Q1 EMEA Meeting. Eddie will be at the event all week and will be discussing TitanHQ’s MSP solutions and finding out more about what is happening in the MSP world. TitanHQ has learned a great deal since joining the IT Nation community two years ago and has really enjoyed the experience thus far.
TitanHQ Alliance Manager, Eddie Monaghan
On the other side of the Atlantic, Alliance Manager Patrick Regan has been meeting with MSPs from Florida and beyond at the TitanHQ-sponsored Datto Roadshow in Tampa. Since joining the Datto community as a strategic partner, TitanHQ has worked closely with Datto MSP partners helping them to integrate email security, DNS filtering, and email archiving into their product offerings and providing tips and tricks to help them to get the most out of the products.
TitanHQ has been increasing its technology partners over the past year and is now working closely with industry giants Comcast, BitDefender, Microsoft, Kaseya, and ViaSat and is a proud member of IT Nation (HTG Peer Groups), Datto Roadshows, COMPTIA, and ASCII.
From humble beginnings as an indigenous Irish company providing anti-spam appliances to the local market, over the following 20 years TitanHQ has developed an innovative range of cloud-based solutions and has matured into a global provider of network security solutions for enterprises, SMBs, and MSPs. TitanHQs award-winning cybersecurity solutions are now offered by a network of more than 1,500 MSP partners and have been adopted by several thousand businesses in 200 countries around the globe.
The TitanHQ product suite has been developed to meet the exacting needs of MSP partners and are delivered via the TitanShield Program. The products help MSPs to protect themselves and their clients, while saving valuable time and effort by blocking threats at source before they can cause any harm.
TitanHQ’s spam filtering solution – SpamTitan – and web filtering solution – WebTitan – help MSPs keep their clients protected from malware, ransomware, viruses, botnets, phishing attacks and other email and web-based threats.
The cloud-based solutions are easy for MSPs to slip into their service stacks to build a high-margin security practice offering clients world-class network security services.
If you are already a TitanHQ TitanShield partner or want to find out more about the MSP program and TitanHQ products, be sure to attend one of the upcoming events and come and meet the TitanHQ team.
We look forward to meeting you at one of the upcoming roadshow events in 2019.
Web filtering at multiple locations can be a headache but it is a necessity. Human error can easily result in an email account breach, malware download, or ransomware attack. Every employee is a potential security risk, so it is important for controls to be implemented to reduce the risk of mistakes leading to a costly security incident.
One of the main ways that data breaches occur is through phishing. The web pages used in phishing attacks host phishing kits that collect login credentials and send them to the scammers. The web pages usually contain identical copies of the login boxes used by the likes of Microsoft Office 365, Google, and Facebook. The web pages are incredibly realistic and can be difficult for employees to identify as malicious.
Hyperlinks in emails also direct employees to websites containing exploit kits which probe for vulnerabilities and silently download malware. A user could visit a website for a couple of seconds, yet still trigger a malware download. Even general web surfing can see users redirected to malicious websites.
The solution is to implement a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control the web content that users can visit, and it also blocks access to malicious web sites.
Web Filtering at Multiple Locations
While a web filter is easy to implement on premises, protecting mobile workers and multiple offices can be more of a challenge. Traditionally, web filters were physical appliances through which all Internet traffic flowed. Rules were applied to the appliance to control what sites can be visited by employees.
One of the main disadvantages when web filtering multiple locations, is a separate appliance needs to be used at each location. Not only is this costly, installing and maintaining the appliance requires technicians to be available on site. For many businesses running multiple offices, IT is managed remotely. IT staff are not available at each site. An appliance-based filter at each site is far from ideal.
An alternative is to backhaul Internet traffic to the corporate office, but this has a major impact on Internet speed. The latency issued can cause major problems for remote offices so this option is also not ideal.
The best solution is a cloud-based DNS web filter. A DNS web filter can be applied, configured and maintained remotely without the need for site visits or on-site support staff. No hardware is required and no software needs to be downloaded. All that is required is for a change be made to internal DNS servers or DNS settings.
Not only does this approach eliminate the need for any costly hardware purchases, with a cloud-based DNS filter there is no latency. The DNS-filter can be applied for all locations and managed through a single web-based interface. Controls can also be applied for different locations via an AD/LDAP client.
A cloud-based DNS filter is ideal for web filtering multiple locations, but what about protecting employees on the move? When employees travel for business, their mobile devices similarly need to be protected. A DNS filter can protect those employees online no matter where they access the Internet without the need to backhaul traffic.
Cloud-based DNS web filters are also the ideal solution for managed service providers (MSPs) who want to offer web filtering to their clients. The filters are highly scalable, and they offer multitenant management for MSPs and allow all clients settings to be configured and managed through a single pane of glass. Separate polices can be applied for each clients and reports can be easily generated. There is no need for any site visits, no need for patching, and web filtering can be offered no matter where the client is based.
WebTitan Cloud – Web Filtering Multiple Locations Made Simple
TitanHQ is a leading provider of DNS-based web filtering for businesses. WebTitan Cloud is an enterprise-class DNS-based web filtering solution that makes web filtering multiple locations effortless. The solution takes minutes to implement and requires no training to use. All web filtering controls can be applied remotely via an intuitive user interface.
If you run a business in multiple geographical locations, want to protect remote workers, or if you are a managed service provider that wants to add web filtering to your service stack, contact TitanHQ for further information on WebTitan Cloud.
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.
Hackers are taking advantage of poor Wi-Fi security to attack small businesses. This post covers simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security to block cyberattacks.
Small businesses can implement a robust firewall to protect against cyberattacks, but the Wi-Fi router is often a weak point. A Wi-Fi router providers wireless coverage for your business and it is a likely attack vector if security is lax. By attacking wireless routers, hackers can bypass your firewall.
Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve Wi-Fi security and block attacks. Seven simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security have been listed below.
Simple Steps for Small Businesses to Take to Improve Wi-Fi Security
Some of the steps below are obvious security measures, but there have been many instances when small businesses have overlooked these simple protections, only for them to be exploited by hackers.
Change Router Admin Credentials
Changing default credentials is one of the easiest but most important steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security. Because it is so simple, no business should be guilty of this security faux pas, but many are, even large businesses. In November, a school system discovered that its WAN provider had not changed the passwords on routers that had been in use for years. This is not the login for Wi-Fi, but the password for the router itself. These default administrator passwords can be found with a simple Internet search.
Disable Remote Administration on Your Router
Many wireless routers allow users to access and change router settings from outside the network. For the majority of businesses, remote administration is not necessary so it should be disabled. While this setting can be convenient, there are other more secure ways to access router settings remotely such as using a VPN. Allowing remote administration makes it far too easy for hackers to access your router.
Monitor Your DNS Settings
In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an emergency directive to all government agencies instructing them to perform an urgent audit of their DNS records after it was discovered that a threat group was targeting government agencies and changing their DNS records. By hijacking the DNS, all employees could be directed to malicious websites – clones of legitimate sites. Businesses that do not have an internal DNS server often use their wireless routers for this. Businesses should regularly monitor their DNS settings to ensure that no changes have been made.
Limit the Range of Your Wi-Fi Signal
You will want to make sure that everyone on the premises can access your Wi-Fi network, but it is important that no one outside your offices can do so too. If your Wi-Fi signal is too strong, it could be accessed by someone outside your offices and out of sight – In a car parked in your lot for instance. An overly strong Wi-Fi signal makes it easy for an attacker to conduct brute force attacks without being seen.
Keep Firmware Updated
New router firmware will be periodically released by the manufacturer and, as with all other software updates, they should be applied as soon as possible. Firmware updates are issued to improve security and functionality. They address known vulnerabilities for which exploits exist. Some routers will be set to update automatically, others may require a manual update through the web-based interface. Be sure to check the manufacturers web page, as your router may no longer be supported, which means it is time for an upgrade.
Make Use of Your Guest Network
One of the most important security measures is to segment your network and this is especially important for Wi-Fi. You should not allow any untrusted device to connect to your network, such as those used by visitors. You should have a separate SSID for your employees and guests. This will keep guests away from your primary network.
Ensure Your Wi-Fi Network is Encrypted
You should ensure that your Wi-Fi network is encrypted with WPA as an absolute minimum. Without encryption your network will be open and hackers will be able to intercept wireless traffic. Currently the encryption standard is WPA2, although this will change to WPA3 in 2019. If you are planning on replacing your Wi-Fi router, make sure the new model supports WPA3. If your router only supports WEP it is time to upgrade.
Hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses. These 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses can be implemented to improve security, prevent successful cyberattacks, and avoid costly data breaches.
Many small business owners misguidedly think that their company is too small to be a target for hackers but cyberattacks on small businesses are common and they are increasing. A successful attack on a Fortune 500 company is likely to be far more profitable for the hacker, but also much harder. Small businesses are relatively easy targets and attacks can be highly profitable.
Small business owners cannot afford to take cybersecurity lightly. A successful cyberattack could prove catastrophic. With this in mind, we have compiled 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses that can easily be implemented to improve security.
Top Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses
Implement a Robust Firewall
A firewall is a cybersecurity solution that sits between a small business network and the outside world and prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the network and stored data. Not all firewalls are created equal. Extra investment in a next generation firewall is money well spent. Don’t forget to also protect remote workers. Ensure that they are also protected by a firewall.
Create and Enforce Password Policies
You should implement password policies that require all users to set strong, secure passwords. A strong, unique password should be used for all systems. Passwords should include capitals, lower-case letters, a number, and a special character, and should be at least 10 digits long. Teach employees how to create secure passwords and enforce your password policies. Consider using a password manager so passwords do not need to be remembered. Consult NIST for the latest password guidance.
Security Awareness Training
Make sure you provide the workforce with regular security awareness training. This is the only way that you can create a culture of cybersecurity. Be sure to cover the security basics, safe Internet use, how to handle sensitive data, creation of passwords, and mobile device security. You should provide training to help employees avoid phishing attacks and consider phishing simulation exercises to test the effectiveness of your training program.
Multi-factor authentication involves the use of a password and at least one other method of authentication. If login credentials are compromised, an additional factor is required to gain access to an account or the network such as an SMS message to a user’s smartphone.
It is essential to have a good backup policy. In the event of disaster, such as a ransomware attack, you need to be able to recover critical data. Backups must also be tested to make sure files can be recovered. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test whether data can be recovered. A good strategy is the 3-2-1 approach. Three backup copies, on two different types of media, with one copy stored securely offsite.
Software and Firmware Updates
Vulnerabilities are regularly found in computer software. Patches are released to correct those vulnerabilities, including those that are being actively exploited. Make sure patches are applied promptly, software is kept 100% up to date, and the most up to date firmware has been installed. Implement automatic updates where possible and create a schedule for updates if they need to be performed manually.
It is a standard best practice to segment networks and split them into subnetworks. Not only will this improve security it can also improve performance. By preventing access between segments, if one part of the network is compromised, an attacker will not have access to all systems and data. Also make sure you limit access to sensitive data and restrict the use of admin credentials. Apply the rule of least privilege. Do not give employees access to data, networks, and software that they do not need for day to day work duties.
Implement a Spam Filter
Arguably the biggest cyber threat that small businesses face is phishing. A single phishing email could allow an attacker to bypass your perimeter defenses and obtain login credentials or install malware. An advanced spam filter will allow you to improve productivity by blocking non-malicious spam emails and prevent phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes.
Secure Wi-Fi Networks
If you have a wireless network in your workplace it needs to be protected. Ensure that it is secured, data are encrypted, and that it is hidden and does not broadcast its SSID. Use WPA2 for encryption (or WPA3 if possible). Change default passwords and ensure your wireless router cannot be accessed from outside the network.
Consider Implementing a Web Filter
A web filter provides protection against web-based attacks by preventing employees from visiting phishing websites and sites that host malware. A DNS-based web filter can protect wired and wireless networks and even remote workers. It will block malware downloads and prevent users from accessing dangerous websites and those that serve no work purpose thus improving productivity.
The news headlines frequently warn businesses of the need to improve cybersecurity protections to thwart hackers, but not all threats come from outside the company. There are various types of insider threats that need to be managed and mitigated, yet these are all too often overlooked or insufficient controls are put in place to reduce the risk of a deliberate or accidental breach.
What are Insider Threats?
An insider threat is one that comes from within the company, typically an employee who accidentally or deliberately takes an action that causes harm or loss to the company.
Hackers attack companies to gain access to their networks to spy on companies, obtain secrets, steal data or sabotage systems. Breaking through perimeter defenses can be time consuming and difficult but if an insider wants to steal data or sabotage a system, it is far easier as they already have network access.
Not all insider threats involve intentional malicious actions by employees. An employee can also act in a way that negatively affects their company without intending to cause any harm.
This could be intentionally violating company policies in a non-malicious manner. An example would be the installation of software to save the employee time or to allow them to work more efficiently. Installing unauthorized software carries a risk of a malware or spyware infection. An employee could violate company policies which could lead to an accidental data breach. Then there is human error, such as sending an email containing sensitive information to the wrong person. Such actions could prove costly.
Businesses need to protect against all insider threats if they are to avoid costly data breaches. A great many data breaches result from too little focus on cybersecurity defenses to block the threat from within.
Malicious Acts by Employees
Anyone that has access to sensitive company data could potentially abuse their access rights to view or steal data. There is no particular profile of a malicious insider. Everyone could decide one day to steal information or sabotage systems, but you can protect against malicious insiders and manage the risk.
Cover insider threats in security awareness training and encourage employees to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. Provide them with an easy way to report their concerns.
Implement tools that monitor for anomalous behavior
Implement controls to prevent the use of portable storage devices such as thumb drives
Implement tools that prevent employees from downloading and running certain files types – Executable files for instance.
Apply the rule of least privilege – Don’t let employees access data/systems that they do not need to access to complete their day to day work duties
Accidents Will Happen…
The insider threats that can be the hardest to defend against are mistakes by employees. These types of insider threats include responding to a phishing email and disclosing login credentials, sending sensitive data to the wrong email recipient, accidentally visiting malicious websites, and inadvertently downloading malware. These threats need to be managed and mitigated through policies and procedures, training, and software solutions.
…But You Can Minimize Risk!
Phishing is arguably the biggest threat. Hackers know all too well that people make mistakes and can easily be fooled. Priority number one should be blocking phishing emails and making sure they are not delivered. For that you need an advanced spam filter. The more phishing emails that are blocked, the lower the risk of a click.
Security awareness training is also essential. When a phishing email lands in an inbox, employees need to have the skills to recognize it as such. Provide training and make the training interesting to engage employees. Interactive training courses can help in that respect. Make sure you test your employees’ knowledge afterwards with phishing email simulations. They will let you know who has taken the training on board and who needs further training.
Training needs to cover all security threats, not just phishing. Teach employees security best practices, including checking badges before allowing someone into the building, password security, keeping credentials private, and safe use of WiFi.
Another important technical control to implement is a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control what employees can do online. They block access to phishing websites, block drive-by malware downloads, and prevent employees from visiting questionable websites that carry a high risk of malware infections or malvertising redirects: Adult sites and torrents/P2P file sharing sites for instance. Some web filters will also keep employees safe and secure when working remotely.
The important thing for businesses is not to leave things to chance or to assume they are too small to worry about insider threats and data breaches. Every business is at risk, regardless of size.
For further information on software solutions that can protect against data security threats give the TitanHQ team a call.
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.
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.
Managed Service Providers can spend a significant amount of time dealing with phishing attacks and other security breaches. While MSPs provide an invaluable service and help their clients deal with cyberattacks, by providing security services, MSPs can not only protect their clients and prevent attacks, but also save themselves a considerable amount of time and improve their bottom lines.
The Devastating Consequences of an SMB Cyberattack
Successful cyberattacks on businesses can be catastrophic. The average cost of a data breach has now risen to $3.86 million, according to the Ponemon Institute. Such a high cost means many SMBs struggle to stay in business following a major breach.
A data breach can cause a significant drop in share price. While many businesses see share prices return to near pre-breach levels around 6 months after a major breach, many SMBs do not survive that long. Figures from the National Cyber Security Alliance show that up to 60% of SMBs permanently close their doors within 6 months of suffering a data breach.
Not only do businesses have to cover the cost of remediating a breach, they can lose market share which can be difficult to recover. Customers can also be very unforgiving. If customers’ personal information is exposed as a result of a data breach, the loss of business can be considerable. The damage caused to the reputation of a business by a cyberattack can take a very long time to repair.
Many SMBs believe they are too small to be worth hacking, yet the National Cyber Security Alliance’s figures show that is far from the case. 70% of cyberattacks target small businesses, and while not all of those attempts are successful, nearly 50% of SMBs around the globe report that they have experienced at least one successful cyberattack.
Cybersecurity Solutions for MSPs
MSPs that start offering cybersecurity to their clients can prevent the majority of these cyberattacks, providing the right solutions are chosen. Businesses will naturally need a robust firewall to prevent direct attacks, but many attackers are able to bypass this perimeter control by targeting the weakest link in security: Employees.
Cybercriminals are able to bypass perimeter controls by sending phishing emails to employees. Two recent examples have clearly demonstrated this. The San Diego School District discovered a hacker had gained access to its network and a database of 500,000 staff and student records with phishing emails. 50 email accounts were compromised in that attack. Cape Cod Community College also experienced a phishing attack targeting the finance department, the end result of which was fraudulent transfers being made to criminal-controlled bank accounts totaling more than $800,000. End user training could have made all the difference, as could an advanced spam filtering solution – both of which could easily be provided by MSPs.
Why Web Filtering Should be Part of Your Security Stack
Email security is an area often lacking at SMBs, even though email is the most common attack vector. Web-based attacks are also common, and this is an area where many SMBs are particularly vulnerable. This is another area where MSPs can help improve security.
Web filtering is often overlooked as traditionally this has been a security control that is difficult for MSPs to implement. Appliance-based filters require hardware purchases and site visits. Standard web filters require content to be downloaded before access is blocked and that they can cause major latency problems. DNS filtering solves these problems. Since filtering takes place at the DNS level, controls are applied before any content is downloaded and latency issued are avoided and web-based threats are blocked at source. Since there is no need for hardware to be purchased, it is cost effective for most businesses to implement. There are also no software downloads and deploying the solution is a quick and easy Process. Everything can be set up remotely in a matter of minutes and clients can be protected from malware attacks, phishing, and ransomware downloads while also controlling content and blocking illegal and unacceptable web activity.
WebTitan: MSP-Friendly Web Filtering to Protect Wired and Wireless Networks
In contrast to many DNS-based web filtering solutions, WebTitan has been developed to meet the needs of MSPs. One of the main problems with most DNS-based web filters for MSPs is the inability to add MSP branding. It is abundantly clear it is a third-party solution.
WebTitan can be totally rebranded, allowing MSPs to add their own logos and reinforce their brand image. WebTitan can be hosted on TitanHQ’s servers or within an MSPs own environment. WebTitan also has a well-established channel program and offers special pricing packages specifically for MSPs with generous margins and monthly billing. No other web filtering solution is as MSP friendly.
Other key features of WebTitan include:
Highly granular filtering controls: Filter by category, content, and keyword
Supports whitelists and blacklists
Intuitive control panel requiring no user training
Highly scalable solution with virtually no upper limit on number of clients or users
Embedded malware filter supported by dual AV engines
Extensive reporting suite and ability to brand and schedule client reports
Real time view of web activity
Remote management and monitoring via APIs and easy integration into billing and auto-provisioning systems
Flexible polices for different environments and users
Protection for wired and WiFi networks
Ability to provision new clients in minutes
Full product available on a free trial
Industry leading customer support
For further information on TitanHQ’s cybersecurity solutions for MSPs including WebTitan Cloud, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, and the TitanHQ spam filter, SpamTitan Cloud, contact the MSP Program Team today.
Local authorities and private sector bus companies are now adding Wi-Fi services to their bus fleets, but without appropriate Wi-Fi security for busses, bus fleet operators can run into problems.
There is no doubt that Wi-Fi is a big hit with passengers, especially for long distance travel. Business commuters can connect to email and their work network without having to use their own data and all passengers can enjoy a variety of digital entertainment, such as Internet-based games, online crosswords, YouTube videos, or all manner of Internet based applications, all without eating into their monthly data allowance.
In locations where people have a choice of different transport, the provision of a reliable Wi-Fi network can be a big attraction that can win more business.
Wi-Fi Security for Busses
There are some considerations when providing Wi-Fi on busses. Wi-Fi security for busses is important to ensure that the Wi-Fi network cannot be used for malicious purposes. Over the summer, it was clearly demonstrated how this can easily happen. A hacker was able to hack into the Wi-Fi network on planes and view the Internet activity of passengers, as well as gain access to other important devices on airplanes – All from the ground.
Appropriate Wi-Fi security for busses should be implemented to protect the privacy of passengers, but also to ensure they can use the Wi-Fi network safely. Bus companies should be taking steps to protect passengers from harmful content, such as sites hosting malware and phishing websites.
Content Control for Busses
A third-party Wi-Fi network offers anonymity and some users take advantage and access types of content that they would not access on their home networks. Bus fleet operators have a responsibility to block illegal activity on their Wi-Fi networks.
If a passenger accesses adult content on the Wi-Fi network of a bus, there is a risk that other passengers will catch a glimpse of the screen and children could be exposed to obscene content. It is the responsibility of bus fleet operators to implement content controls to prevent passengers from accessing inappropriate content.
Controlling Bandwidth Use on Busses
There is also the issue of bandwidth. Ensuring all users have decent bandwidth and can connect to the network and enjoy reasonable Internet speeds comes at a cost. If several passengers are using applications or visiting websites that require a considerable amount of bandwidth, that will naturally have an impact on other users of the Wi-Fi network. Limiting what users can do while connected to Wi-Fi networks can save bandwidth and costs. Preventing, or restricting, high bandwidth applications such as video streaming, online games such as Fortnite, and large file downloads can help to conserve bandwidth.
DNS-Level Content Filtering
All of the above issues can be easily solved with a single, cost effective solution – A web filter. A web filter allows network administrators to carefully control what users can do online. It offers both content control and Wi-Fi security for busses by blocking access to illegal content, preventing malware downloads, and offering protection from phishing. Categories of web content can be blocked to create a family-friendly Wi-Fi network and control bandwidth use.
Traditional web filters require an appliance through which Internet traffic is routed. This is a costly way of adding Wi-Fi security for busses. A DNS-level filter on the other hand is a low cost, flexible solution that serves the same purpose. When a user connects to the Wi-Fi network, the DNS process sends domain names to the name server and the name server returns the IP address associated with the application server. When content is filtered at the DNS level, no software needs to be downloaded and no appliances need to be purchased.
Not only do DNS-level filters offer excellent Wi-Fi security for busses, they also save on bandwidth as content is not downloaded before the decision is taken to block the content.
WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi – Content Filtering and Wi-Fi Security for Busses
WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi is an ideal web filtering solution for bus fleets. Since it is DNS-based it is easy to implement, highly scalable, and is cost-effective to set up and run. WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi can protect entire bus fleets, in multiple cities, and licenses can be easily scaled up and down to meet bus operators’ needs.
Some of the key features of WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi are detailed below:
No hardware purchases or software downloads required
No patching or software updates required
Protects multiple Wi-Fi routers from a single, web-based administration control panel
Protects against malware with dual anti-virus engines
Protects users from phishing and other malicious websites
Allows network administrators to protect the Wi-Fi network from unauthorized users
Highly granular controls allow precise content control without overblocking content
Block content by category with a single click
No latency – Internet speeds are unaffected
Supports static and dynamic IPs
Supports whitelists and blacklists
No restriction on bandwidth, number of devices, or the number of hotspots
Full suite of reports gives network administrators full visibility into their Wi-Fi networks and user activity
If you are looking to improve Wi-Fi security for busses and want to implement content controls to keep your Wi-Fi networks family-friendly, contact TitanHQ today for further information on WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi.
Many businesses now offer their customers free access to their Wi-Fi networks, but if guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, opening up Wi-Fi networks to guest users is not without risk. You may have provided security awareness training to your employees, but guest users are unlikely to be as careful while connected to your network. Customers and guests may accidentally download malware or visit malicious websites, or even engage in illegal activities due to the anonymity offered by someone else’s Wi-Fi network.
If guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, there will be people that take advantage of your lax security. They could launch an attack on your business network, explore your network assets, change router settings, or even gain access to confidential data.
If you run a hotel, restaurant, shop, or another business that provides Wi-Fi access to customers, it is important to create a safe browsing environment for all Wi-Fi users and take steps to secure your access points and control the activities that users can engage in while connected.
Guest Wi-Fi Best Practices for Hotspot Providers
Create A Separate Wi-Fi Network for Guests and Employees
You will no doubt have a Wi-Fi network that is used by your employees. It is important that this is totally separate from the one used by guests and customers. Guest users should access a totally separate network. Ideally, there should be a network firewall that separates guest users from employees. If you use enterprise switches, create a separate VLAN for access points that broadcast the guest wireless SSID. Also make sure you use a software firewall to block traffic from the guest network from your company’s servers and computers. Also make sure guest users can only access the Internet while connected.
Naming Your SSID
An SSID is the name you give to your Wi-Fi network that identifies it as belonging to your business. Care should be taken when choosing a name. Your choice should depend on the nature of your business and who the Wi-Fi network serves. If you run a coffee shop, for instance, you should make it clear which is your Wi-Fi network and prominently display that information. That will make it harder for rogue hotspots to be created to fool customers into connecting to an evil twin – A hotspot set up and controlled by a hacker to fool customers into connecting in the belief it is your hotspot.
Encrypt your Wireless Signals
Unsecured Wi-Fi networks may be easier to set up and use, but they also allow anyone within range to connect, even if they are not in your establishment. To connect, it should be necessary for a password to be entered. You should also encrypt your wireless network to make it harder for hackers to intercept users’ data. Secure your wireless network with WPA2 encryption or, even better, WPA3 if it is supported by your access point.
Create a Safe Browsing Experience and Control the Internet Content That Can be Accessed
You should develop and implement a guest Wi-Fi access policy covering what is and is not permitted on your Wi-Fi network. You should also enforce that policy with technical controls. A cloud-based web filter is ideal for this.
It is easy to deploy and configure and will allow you to carefully control the content that can be accessed while connected. You should block access to known malicious sites and illegal web content through blacklists. Category based filters are useful for blocking access to inappropriate content such as pornography and restricting bandwidth-heavy activities that can slow down Internet speeds for all users. By filtering content, not only will you keep your Wi-Fi users protected, you will also reduce legal liability and ensure that your Wi-Fi network is family friendly.
Adopt these guest Wi-Fi best practices to improve safety and security, keep your customers protected, and make it harder for cybercriminals to attack your network or your guest users.
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