Network Security

Our news items relating to network security have a very common theme running through them – too many companies are ill-prepared against online threats and vulnerabilities. The failure of organizations to optimize their online defenses – and train their employees on network security – is demonstrated by the huge number of systems that get infected.

A considerable number of network infections are the result of employees downloading infected software onto their computers and mobile devices without authorization. This scenario would be avoided – and network security improved generally – with the implementation of an Internet content filter. Speak with us for more information.

Worst Passwords of 2018 and Password Best Practices Revealed

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:

Top 25 Worst Passwords of 2018

1) 123456
2) password
3) 123456789
4) 12345678
5) 12345
6) 111111
7) 1234567
8) sunshine
9) qwerty
10) iloveyou
11) princess
12) admin
13) welcome
14) 666666
15) abc123
16) football
17) 123123
18) monkey
19) 654321
20) !@#$%^&*
21) charlie
22) aa123456
23) donald
24) password1
25) qwerty123

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

University Research Theft: A Major Cause for Concern

Educational institutions are being targeted by cybercriminals for all manner of nefarious purposes: To obtain the personal information of staff and students for identity theft and tax fraud, to steal university funds, and to steal university research.

University research theft is an easy income stream for hackers. Research papers can command high prices on the black market and are highly sought after by nation state governments and businesses.

This fall, the UK’s Daily Telegraph revealed Iranian hackers were selling research papers that had been stolen from top British Universities including Oxford and Cambridge. Several Farsi websites were identified advertising free access to university research papers, including an offer of university research theft to order. Provide the details and, for a price, the research be found and sent through an encrypted channel.

There were papers for sale on highly sensitive subjects such as nuclear research and cybersecurity defenses. Even less sensitive subjects are valuable to foreign businesses. The research could help them gain a competitive advantage at the expense of universities. In the case of Iran, universities are being used to gain access to Western research that would otherwise be off limits due to current sanctions.

It is not just British universities that are being targeted. The hackers are infiltrating university research databases the world over, and it is not just Iranian hackers that have tapped into this income stream. University research theft is a growing problem.

How Are University Databases Breached?

One of the main ways access to research databases is gained is through phishing – A simple method of attack that requires no programming know-how and no malicious software. All that is required is a little time and the ability to create a website.

Phishing emails are sent to staff and students that request a visit a webpage where they are required to enter their credentials to academic databases. If the credentials are disclosed, the phishers have the same access rights as the user. The phishers then download papers or advertise and wait for requests to roll in. They then just search the database, download the papers, and provide them to their customers.

Various social engineering techniques are used to entice users to click the links. Requests are sent instructing the user that they need to reset their password, for instance. The web pages they are directed to are exact copies of the sites used by the universities. Apart from the URL, the websites appear perfectly genuine.

Unfortunately, once credentials have been obtained it can be difficult for universities to discover there has been a breach since genuine login credentials are used to access the research databases.

How to Prevent University Research Theft

No single cybersecurity solution will protect universities from all phishing attacks. The key to mounting an effective defense against phishing is layered phishing defenses.

  • The primary cybersecurity solution to implement is an advanced spam filter to ensure as many phishing emails as possible are blocked and messages containing malicious attachments do not reach inboxes. SpamTitan for instance, blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing messages and 100% of known malware. Even advanced spam filtering solutions will not block all phishing emails, so additional controls are required to deal with the <0.1% of phishing emails that are delivered.
  • While a web filter can be used to block access to categories of web content such as pornography, it will also block access to known malicious websites: Websites used for phishing and those that host malware.
  • End user security awareness training is also essential. End users are the last line of defense and will remain a weak link unless training is provided to teach them how to identify malicious emails. Staff and students should be conditioned to report threats to their security teams to ensure action can be taken and to alert first responders when the university is under attack.
  • Multi-factor authentication should also be implemented. If credentials are stolen and used to access a database, email account, computer, or server, from an unfamiliar device or location, a further form of authentication is required before access is granted.
  • Universities should have security monitoring capabilities. Logs of access attempts and should generated and network and user activity should be monitored for potential compromises.

For further information on anti-phishing defenses and cybersecurity solutions that can help prevent university research theft, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Dec 5, 2018 Webinar: A Perfect Cisco OpenDNS Alternative at a Fraction of the Price

Are you looking for a Cisco OpenDNS alternative that is both easier to use and much more cost effective? On Wednesday December 5, 2018, you can discover how you can save money on web filtering without cutting any corners on protection.

A web filter is now an essential cybersecurity solution to protect against web-based threats such as phishing, viruses, malware, ransomware, and botnets. A web filter also allows businesses to carefully control the online activities of employees by restricting access to NSFW web content such as pornography and curb productivity-draining Internet use.

In addition to offering threat protection and content control on wired networks, a DNS-based web filter offers protection for BYOD and company owned devices regardless where they connect to the Internet. Multiple locations can be protected through a central web-based console.

A DNS-based web filter is cost effective to implement as no hardware purchases are required and no software needs to be installed. A DNS-based filter is also easy to maintenance and requires no software updates or patches.

With DNS-based filters, content control and online threat protection is simple; but what about cost? Many businesses have looked at Cisco OpenDNS to meet their web filtering requirements but are put off due to the high cost. Fortunately, there is a more cost-effective way of filtering the Internet.

TitanHQ and Celestix are hosting a webinar on a WebTitan-powered Cisco OpenDNS alternative, Celestix WebFilter Cloud.

Celestix will be joined by by TitanHQ EVP of Strategic Alliances, Rocco Donnino, and Senior Sales Engineer, Derek Higgins, who will explain how Celestix WebFilter Cloud works, why it is an ideal Cisco OpenDNS alternative, and how you can have total protection against web-based threats at a fraction of the cost of running OpenDNS.

The webinar will be taking place on Wednesday December 5, 2018 at 10:00 AM US Pacific Time

Advance registration is required. You can register for the webinar on this link.

Massive Marriott Data Breach Discovered: 500 Million Guests Affected

A massive Marriott data breach has been detected which could affect as many as 500 million individuals who previously made bookings at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. While the data breach is not the largest ever reported – The 2013 Yahoo breach exposed around 3 billion records – it shares second place with the 2014 Yahoo data breach that also impacted around half a billion individuals.

Largest Ever Hotel Data Breach

The Marriott data breach may not have affected as many people as the 2013 Yahoo data breach but due to the types of information stolen it is arguably more serious. Approximately 173 million individuals have had their name, mailing address, email address stolen and around 327 million individuals have had a combination of their name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, gender, passport number, booking data, arrival and departure dates, and Starwood Guest Program (SPG) account numbers stolen. Further, Marriott also believes credit card details may have been stolen. While the credit card numbers were encrypted, Marriott cannot say for certain whether the two pieces of information required to decrypt the credit card numbers was also obtained by the hacker.

In addition to past guests at Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Starwood-branded timeshare properties, guests at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels, St. Regis, Aloft Hotels, Element Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and Four Points by Sheraton have been affected, along with guests at Design Hotels that participate in SPG program.

The data breach was detected by Marriott on September 8, 2018, following an attempt by an unauthorized individual to access the Starwood database. The investigation revealed the hacker behind the attack first gained access to the Starwood database in 2014. It is currently unclear how access to the database was gained.

The Marriott hotels data breach is naturally serious and will prove costly for the hotel group. Marriott has already committed to offering U.S. based victims free enrollment in WebWatcher, has paid for third party experts to investigate and help mitigate the data breach, and the hotel group will be bolstering its security and phasing out Starwood systems.

Even though the Marriott hotels data breach has only just been announced, two class action lawsuits have already been filed. One of the lawsuits seeks damages totaling $12.5 billion – $25 per breach victim.

There is also a possibility of a E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) fine. Fines of up to €20 million are possible, or 4% of global annual turnover, whichever is greater. That could place Marriott at risk of a $916 million (€807 million) fine. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office – the GDPR supervisory authority in the UK – has been notified of the breach and is making enquiries.

Harder to calculate is the damage to the Marriott brand. Share prices dropped by 8.7% following the Marriott data breach announcement, and they are currently around $5 down. While share prices will likely recovery over time, the breach will almost certainly result in loss of business.

Risk of Marriott Data Breach Related Phishing Attacks

Email notifications sent to breach victims by Marriott came from the domain: email-marriott.com. Rendition Infosec/FireEye researchers purchased the domains email-marriot.com and email.mariott.com shortly after the announcement to keep them out of the hands of scammers. Other similar domains may be purchased by less scrupulous individuals to be used for phishing.

A breach on this scale is also ideal for speculative phishing attempts that spoof the email domain used by Marriott. Mass email campaigns are likely to be sent randomly in the hope that they will reach breach victims or individuals that have previously stayed at a Marriott hotel or one of its associated brands.

Consequently, any email received that is related to the breach should be viewed as potentially malicious.

Business Email Account Compromises Soaring

Business email compromise (BEC) attacks cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and business email account compromises are soaring.

What is a Business Email Compromise Attack?

As the name suggests, these attacks involve the hijacking of business email accounts. The primary aim is to compromise the account of the CEO or CFO, which is usually achieved through a spear phishing attack. Once the email account has been compromised, it is used to send phishing emails to other employees in the company, most commonly, employees in the accounts, finance, and payroll departments.

The emails commonly request wire transfers be made to accounts under the control of the attackers. Requests are also made for sensitive information such as the W-2 Forms of employees.

Since the emails are sent from the CEO or CFO’s own account, there is a much higher chance of an employee responding to the request than to a standard phishing attempt from an external email address. Since the emails come from within an organization, they are also much harder to detect as malicious – a fact not lost on the scammers.

With access to the email account, it is much easier to craft convincing messages. The signature of the CEO can be copied along with their style of writing from sent messages. Email conversations can be started with employees and messages can be exchanged without the knowledge of the account holder.

Fraudulent transfers of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars may be made and the W-2 Forms of the entire workforce can be obtained. The latter can be used to submit fake tax returns in victims’ names to obtain tax refunds. The profits for the attackers can be considerable, and with the potential for a massive payout, it is no surprise that these attacks are on the rise.

Business Email Account Compromises Have Increased by 284% in a Year

FBI figures in December 2016 suggest $5.3 billion had been lost to BEC scams since October 2013. That figure had now increased to $12.5 billion. More than 30,000 complaints of losses due to BEC attacks were reported to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaints Center (IC3) between June 2016 and May 2018.

The specialist insurance service provider Beazley has been tracking business email account compromises. The firm’s figures show business email account compromises have increased each quarter since Q1, 2017. In the first quarter of 2017, 45 business email account compromises were detected. In Q2, 2018, 184 business email account compromises were detected. Between 2017 to 2018, there was a 284% increase in compromised business email accounts.

While the CEO’s email credentials are often sought, the credentials of lowlier employees are also valuable. Any email account credentials that can be obtained can be used for malicious purposes. Email accounts can be used to send phishing messages to other individuals in an organization, and to business contacts, vendors, and customers.

Beazley notes that once one account has been compromised, others will soon follow. When investigating business email account compromises, businesses often discover that multiple accounts have been compromised. Typically, a company is only aware of half the number of its compromised accounts.

The High Cost of Resolving Business Email Account Compromises

Business email account compromises can be extremely costly to resolve. Forensic investigators often need to be brought in to determine the full extent of the breach. Each breached email account must then be checked to determine what information has been compromised. While automated searches can be performed, manual checks are inevitable. For one client, the automated search revealed 350,000 document attachments had potentially been accessed, and each of those documents had to be checked manually to determine the information IT contained. The manual search alone cost the company $800,000.

How to Protect Your Organization from Business Email Compromise Attacks

A range of measures are required to protect against business email compromise attacks. An advanced spam and anti-phishing solution is required to prevent phishing and spear phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes.

SpamTitan is an easy-to-implement spam filtering solution that blocks advanced phishing and spear phishing attacks at source. In contrast to basic email filters, such as those incorporated into Office 365, SpamTitan uses heuristics, Bayesian analysis, and machine learning to identify highly sophisticated phishing attacks and new phishing tactics. These advanced techniques ensure more than 99.9% of spam and malicious messages are blocked.

The importance of security awareness training should not be underestimated. End users should be trained how to recognize phishing attempts. Training should be ongoing to ensure employees are made aware of current campaigns and new phishing tactics. Phishing simulation exercises should also be conducted to reinforce training and identify weak links.

Multi-factor authentication is important to prevent third parties from using stolen credentials to access accounts. If a login attempt is made from an unfamiliar location or unknown device, an additional form of identification is required to access the account.

Password policies should be enforced to ensure that employees set strong passwords or passphrases. This will reduce the potential for brute force and dictionary attacks. If Office 365 is used, connection to third party applications should be limited to make it harder for PowerShell to be used to access email accounts. A web filtering solution should also be implemented to block access to phishing accounts where email credentials are typically obtained.

Defense in depth is the key to protecting against BEC attacks. For more information about email and web security controls to block BEC attacks, give the TitanHQ team a call. Our experienced advisers will recommend the best spam and web filtering options to meet the needs of your business and can book a product demonstration and set you up for a free trial.

WPA3 WiFi Security Enhancements Will Not Block All WiFi Threats

WiFi networks are a potential security weak point for businesses, although the introduction of WPA3 will improve Wi-Fi security. WPA3 Wi-Fi security enhancements address many WP2 vulnerabilities, but WPA3 alone is not enough to block all WiFi threats.

WiFi Security Protocols

The WPA WiFi security protocol was introduced in 1999, and while it improved security, cracking WPA security is far from difficult. Security enhancements were introduced with WPA2 in 2004, but while more secure, WPA2 does not fix all vulnerabilities. Little has changed in the past 14 years, but at long last, WPA3 is here. Use WPA3 and Wi-Fi security will be significantly enhanced, as several important WP2 vulnerabilities have been fixed.

WPA3 WiFi Security Enhancements

One of the biggest WiFi security threats is open networks. These are WiFi networks that require no passwords or keys. Users can connect without entering a pre-shared key. All a user needs to know is the SSID of the access point to connect. These open networks are used in establishments such as coffee shops, hotels, and restaurants as it is easy for customers to connect. The problem is users send plain text to the access point, which can easily be intercepted.

WPA3 spells an end to open networks. WPA3 uses Opportunistic Wireless Encryption (OWE). Any network that does not require a password, will encrypt data without any user interaction or configuration. This is achieved through Individualized Data Protection or IDP. Any device that attempts to connect to the access point receives its own key from the access point, even if no connection to the AP has been made before. This control means the key cannot be sniffed and even if a password is required, having access to that password does not allow the data of other users to be accessed.

Another security enhancement that has been made in WP3 reduces potential for password cracking attacks such as the WPA2 KRACK Attack. WPA2 is vulnerable to brute force and dictionary-based attacks. That is because security relies on the AP provider setting a secure password and many establishments don’t. With WPA3, the Pre-Shared Key (PSK) exchange protocol is replaced with Simultaneous Authentication of Equals (SAE) or the Dragonfly Key Exchange, which improves security of the initial key exchange and offers better protection against offline dictionary-based attacks.

WPA3 also addresses security vulnerabilities in the WiFi Protected Setup (WPS) that made it easy to link new devices such as a WiFi extender. In WPA3, this has been replaced with Wi-Fi Device Provisioning Protocol (DPP).

Configuring IoT devices that lack displays has been made easier, the 192-bit Commercial National Security Algorithm is used for enhanced protection for government, defense and industrial networks, and better controls have been implemented against brute force attacks. These and other enhancements mean WPA3 is far more secure.

Unfortunately, at present, very few manufacturers support WPA3, although that is likely to change in 2019.

WPA3 WiFi Security Issues

Even with WPA3 WiFi security enhancements, WiFi networks will still be vulnerable. WPA3 includes encryption for non-password-protected networks, but it does not require authentication. That is up to hotspot providers to set. WPA3 it is just as susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks and offers no protection against evil twin attacks. The user must ensure they access the genuine access point SSID.

The connection to the AP may be more secure, but WPA3 does not offer protection against malware downloads. Users will still be at risk from malicious websites unless a DNS filtering solution is used – A web filter to protect WiFi networks.

Improve WiFi Security with a DNS-Based WiFi Filtering Solution

A DNS-based WiFi filtering solution such as WebTitan Cloud for WiFi protects users of a WiFi network from malware attacks, ransomware downloads, and phishing threats. The cloud-based filter also allows businesses that provide WiFi access points to carefully control the content that can be accessed by employees, customers, and other guest users.

By upgrading to WPA3 WiFi security will be improved. With WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, users will also be protected once they are connected to the network.

Further information on WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is detailed in the video below. For further information on WiFi security, including WebTitan pricing and to book a product demonstration, contact the TitanHQ team today.

WiFi Filtering Security Benefits

Businesses that fail to secure their WiFi networks are taking a huge risk, and one that could prove catastrophic. In this article we explain why WiFi security is so important and cover the main WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses.

What are the Consequences of Poor Cybersecurity?

Customers often feel loyal to a particular brand. The company gives them what they want, the prices are reasonable, the quality of products/services are good. One of the most important factors influencing customer loyalty is trust in a brand. If trust in a brand is lost, it can be difficult win customers back. They may be permanently lost. Those customers then speak to their friends and colleagues and word spreads and further business can be lost.

One of the easiest ways to lose the trust of customers is a data breach. Ask customers why they love a particular brand, and “The company keeps my data safe” will not make the top ten list. That said, if a company experiences a data breach, customers will leave in droves.

Some industries are more prone to high customer churn rates following a data breach than others. The healthcare and insurance industries do experience customer loss, but many breach victims are tied to those providers and leaving is not straightforward. The banking and retail industries on the other hand see high churn rates. There is usually plenty of choice and customers explore other options after a breach.

A study of 10,000 consumers by Gemalto in November 2017 showed 70% of customers would stop doing business with a company after a data breach. Could your business cope with an overnight loss of 70% of your customers?

Further, the cost of a data breach report revealed the average cost of a data breach has now risen to $3.86 million. A 70% loss of customers and a $3.86 million data breach bill would prove catastrophic for many businesses. It is therefore no surprise that the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 60% of SMBs go out of business within 6 months of a data breach.

Defense in Depth is Essential

The Gemalto study found that 62% of consumers felt that a company that holds their data is responsible for security, highlighting the importance customers place on the privacy of their data.

For businesses, ensuring systems and data are kept secure can be a major challenge. The only way to meet that challenge is through defense in depth. A range of cybersecurity solutions are required to secure systems and data, block cyberattacks, and prevent data breaches.

The best place to start is by performing a risk assessment to highlight all potential risks to your systems and data. Consider all possible ways that an attack can occur, assess the risk of each, and develop a risk management plan to address those risks, addressing the highest risk areas first.

While many companies implement a host of network and email security solutions, one area of security that is often overlooked is the WiFi network, even though WiFi poses a considerable risk, not only to the business but also to customers that are allowed to connect to the WiFi network. Some of the important WiFi filtering security benefits are detailed in the section below.

Important WiFi Filtering Security Benefits for Businesses

There are many WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses. Implementing a WiFi filter will not only improve security for the business and its customers, it can also help to improve the productivity of the workforce.

Some of the most important WiFi security benefits are detailed below:

Block Malware and Ransomware Downloads

One of the most important WiFi filtering security benefits for businesses is protection from malware and ransomware downloads. Malware allows hackers to steal customer data, intellectual property, and obtain credentials to plunder corporate bank accounts. Malware infections can prove incredibly costly to resolve and ransomware attacks can bring businesses to a grinding halt. A WiFi filter help improve security by blocking access to sites hosting exploit kits and preventing drive-by malware downloads.

Prevent WiFi Users from Visiting Phishing Websites

Phishing is a major risk for all businesses. While most phishing attacks start with an email, they invariably link to websites that harvest credentials. A WiFi filter ensures that employees and guest users cannot access websites known to be used for phishing.

Stop Users from Accessing Illegal Website Content

Businesses have a responsibility to ensure that their WiFi networks cannot be used to access illegal content such as child pornography or to perform copyright-infringing file downloads. In addition to the potential for these actions to lead to legal problems for employers, these illegal online activities increase the risk of a malware infection.

Prevent Users from Accessing Inappropriate Websites

Businesses should take steps to prevent employees and guest WiFi users from accessing inappropriate websites – Websites that have no work purpose and those that are likely to cause offense to other individuals – adult content for example. Inappropriate internet use is a major drain of productivity and poses a security risk.

Other Important WiFi Filtering Benefits

All companies must take steps to reduce legal liability and employee Internet access is one area where companies can experience legal problems. Web content that seems funny to some employees could be highly offensive to others and lead to the creation of a hostile working environment and subsequent legal action by employees. Any company that fails to block illegal online activities such as copyright-infringing downloads, could be found to be vicariously liable for the actions of its WiFi users.

Businesses can use a WiFi filter to control bandwidth use. By blocking access to bandwidth heavy activities such as video streaming at busy times, business can ensure all users can enjoy fast Internet speeds.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi: WiFi Filtering Made Simple

Gaining the above WiFi filtering security benefits is easy with TitanHQ’s innovative WiFi filtering solution – WebTitan Cloud for WiFi.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is easy to implement, simple to use, and effortless to maintain. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows businesses to carefully control Internet access, reduce risk, make important productivity gains, and improve their security posture.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi can be implemented in minutes, requires no hardware purchases and needs no software downloads. An intuitive user interface can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and no technical skill is required to configure and maintain the solution.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows business of all sizes to gain the WiFi filtering security benefits with no slowing of Internet speeds.

WebTitan WiFi Filtering Security Benefits

  • Blocks access to web pages hosting malware
  • Blocks ransomware, malware, virus, and botnet downloads
  • Prevents employees and guests from accessing phishing websites
  • Requires no user updates or patches
  • Blocks the use of anonymizers
  • Inspects all Internet traffic, including encrypted content
  • Reports can be generated to show which employees are attempting to bypass filtering controls
  • Policies can be created for different users, departments, or locations
  • Different filtering controls can be set for employees and guest WiFi users

For further information on WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, details of pricing, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free 14-day trial of the full solution, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Wi-Fi Security Threats You Should be Aware of

Many employees access their work emails and work networks via public Wi-Fi hotspots, even though there is a risk that sensitive information such as login credentials could be intercepted by hackers. Many employees are unaware of the Wi-Fi security threats that lurk in their favorite coffee shop and fail to take precautions. Even employees who are aware of the Wi-Fi security threats often ignore the risks.

This was highlighted by a 2017 survey by Symantec. 55% of survey participants said they would not hesitate to connect to a free Wi-Fi hotspot if the signal was good and 46% said they would rather connect to a free, open wireless network than to wait to get a password to a secure access point.

60% of survey participants believed public Wi-Fi networks are safe and secure but even though 40% are aware of the Wi-Fi security threats, 87% said that they would access financial information such as their online banking portal or view their emails on public Wi-Fi networks.

The majority of users of public Wi-Fi networks who were aware of the Wi-Fi security threats said they ignored the risks. Millennials were the most likely age group to ignore Wi-Fi security threats: 95% of this age group said they had shared sensitive information over open Wi-Fi connections.

Consumers may be willing to take risks on public Wi-Fi networks, but what about employees? According to a 2018 Spiceworks survey, conducted on 500 IT professionals in the United States, employees are also taking risks.

61% of respondents to the survey said their employees connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, hotels, and airports to work remotely. Only 64% of respondents said their employees were aware of the Wi-Fi security threats. A similar percentage said their employees were aware of the risks and connect to their work networks using a VPN, which means that 4 out of 10 workers were unaware of the importance of establishing a secure connection.

Even though 64% of respondents were confident that employees were aware of the risks, only half were confident that data stored on mobile devices was adequately protected against threats from public Wi-Fi hotspots. 12% of respondents said they have had to deal with a public Wi-Fi related security incident, although a further 34% were not sure if there had been a security breach as many incidents are never reported.

WiFi Security Threats Everyone Should be Aware of

All employers should now be providing security awareness training to their employees to make the workforce more security aware. Employees should be trained how to identify phishing attempts, warned of the risk from malware and ransomware, and taught about the risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks.

Five threats associated with open public Wi-Fi hotspots are detailed below:

Evil Twins – Rogue Wi-Fi Hotspots

One of the most common ways of obtaining sensitive information is for a cybercriminal to set up an evil twin hotspot. This is a fake Wi-Fi access point that masquerades as the legitimate access point, such as one offered by a coffee shop or hotel. An SSID could be set up such as “Starbuck Guest Wi-Fi” or even just state the name of the establishment. Any information disclosed while connected to that hotspot can be intercepted.

Packet Sniffers

Using a packet sniffer, a hacker can identify, intercept, and monitor web traffic over unsecured Wi-Fi networks and capture personal information such as login credentials to bank accounts and corporate email accounts. If credentials are obtained, a hacker can gain full control of an account.

File-Sharing

Many people have file-sharing enabled on their devices. This feature is useful at home and in the workplace, but it can easily be abused by hackers. It gives them an easy way to connect to a device that is connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot. A hacker can abuse this feature to drop malware on a device when it connects to a hotspot.

Shoulder Surfing

Not all threats are hi-tec. One of the simplest methods of obtaining sensitive information is to observe someone’s online activities by looking over their shoulder. Information such as passwords may be masked so the information is not visible on a screen, but cybercriminals can look at keyboards and work out the passwords when they are typed.

Malware and Ransomware

When connecting to a home or work network, some form of anti-malware control is likely to have been installed, but those protections are often lacking on public Wi-Fi hotspots. Without the protection of AV software and a web filter, malware can be silently downloaded.

Employers can reduce risk by providing comprehensive training to employees to make sure they are aware of the risks from public Wi-Fi hotspots and make sure that employees are aware they should only connect to public Wi-Fi networks if they use a VPN. Employers can further protect workers with WebTitan Cloud – An enterprise-class web filter that protects workers from online threats, regardless of where they connect.

Hotspot providers can protect their customers by securing their Wi-Fi hotspots with WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi. WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi is a powerful web filter that protects all users of a hotspot from malware and phishing attacks, and can also be used to control the types of sites that can be accessed. If you offer Wi-Fi access, yet are not securing your hotspot, your customers could be at risk. Contact TitanHQ today to find out how you can protect your customers from online threats, control the content that can be accessed, and create a family-friendly Wi-Fi environment.

New Phishing Campaign Bypasses Office 365 Anti-Phishing Defenses

A new phishing campaign is bypassing Office 365 anti-phishing defenses and arriving in employees’ inboxes; one of several recent campaigns to slip through the net and test end users’ security awareness knowledge.

The aim of this campaign is not to obtain login credentials or install malware. It is a sextortion scam that aims to get email recipients to make a payment to the scammers.

Sophisticated Sextortion Scam Bypasses Office 365 Anti-Phishing Controls

The scam itself is straightforward. The sender of the email claims to be a hacker who has gained access to the victim’s computer and has installed malware. That malware allowed full access to the user’s device, including control of the webcam. The email claims that the webcam was used to record the victim while he/she was accessing adult web content. The attacker claims to have spliced the webcam recording with the images/videos that were being viewed at the time. The attacker claims the video will be sent to the user’s contacts on social media and via email.

Several similar sextortion scams have been conducted in the past few months, but what makes this campaign different is the extent of the deception. In this campaign, the attacker includes the user’s password in the email body.

“Hello!
I’m a hacker who cracked your email and device a few months ago.
You entered a password on one of the sites you visited, and I intercepted it.
This is your password from [user’s email] on moment of hack: [user’s password]

The password may not be the one currently used, but it is likely to be recognized as it has been taken from a previous data breach. However, its inclusion will be especially worrying for any user who does not regularly change their password and for users that share passwords across multiple sites or reuse old passwords. Changing the password will not block access, according to the email

“Of course, you can and will change it, or already have changed it.
But it doesn’t matter, my malware updated it every time.”

For anyone who has viewed adult content on a laptop or other device with a webcam, this message will no doubt be extremely concerning. Especially, as the email contains ‘evidence’ of email compromise. The From field of the email displays the user’s own email address, indicating that the attacker has sent it from the user’s email account.

The attacker notes in the email, “Do not try to contact me or find me, it is impossible, since I sent you an email from your account.”

While scary, the attacker does not have access to the user’s email account. The From field has been spoofed. This is actually straightforward with a Unix computer set up with mail services. Mass emails can be sent out using the same email address in the From field as the Address field, giving the impression that the messages have been sent from the users’ accounts.

The hacker notes that this is not his/her usual modus operandi. “You are not my only victim, I usually lock computers and ask for a ransom. But I was struck by the sites of intimate content that you often visit.” That will be a particular worry for some users.

To prevent distribution of the video, the user must pay $892 in Bitcoin to the specified address and many email recipients have chosen to pay to avoid exposure. The Bitcoin wallet used for the scam has received 450 payments totaling 6.31131431 BTC – around $27,980. Multiple Bitcoin wallets are often used by scammers, so the actual total is likely to be far higher.

Bypassing of Office 365 Anti-Phishing Defenses a Cause for Concern

This scam may not have any direct impact on a business, as no credentials are compromised, and malware is not installed; however, what is of concern is how the messages have bypassed Office 365 phishing defenses and are arriving in inboxes. The scam was first identified in late September and the messages continued to be delivered to Office 365 inboxes, even those with Advanced Threat Protection that companies pay extra for to provide greater protection against spam and phishing emails.

This is of course just one scam. Others have similarly breached Office 365 anti-phishing defenses, many of which are much more malicious in nature and pose a very real and direct threat to businesses. Office 365 anti-phishing protections do block a lot of threats, and protection is improved with Advanced Threat Protection, but the controls are not particularly effective at blocking sophisticated phishing attempts and zero-day attacks.

The volume of phishing attacks on businesses that are now being conducted, the sophisticated nature of those attacks, and the high cost of mitigating a phishing attack and data breach mean businesses need to improve Office 365 anti-phishing defenses further. That requires a third-party spam solution.

For more than 20 years, TitanHQ has been developing security solutions to protect inboxes and block web-based attacks. During that time, our spam filtering solution, SpamTitan, has been gathering threat intelligence, analyzing spamming and phishing tactics, and protecting end users. Over the years, SpamTitan has receive many updates to improve protection against new threats and phishing tactics. Independent tests have shown SpamTitan now has a catch rate in excess of 99.9%.

The incorporation of a range of predictive techniques ensure SpamTitan is not reliant on signatures and can detect never-before seen phishing attempts and zero-day attacks, and provide superior protection against spam, phishing, malware, viruses, ransomware, and botnets for Office 365 users.

To better protect your email channel and keep your Office 365 inboxes threat free, contact TitanHQ today to schedule a full personalized demo of SpamTitan and to find out just how cost effective the solution is for SMBs and enterprises.

DNS Filtering for MSPs: Better Protect Your SMB Clients and Improve Your Bottom Line

Why is DNS filtering for MSPs so important? Find out how you can better protect your clients against web-based attacks and the MSP benefits of offering this easy to implement cybersecurity solution.

A recent survey conducted by Spiceworks has revealed that DNS filtering is now considered an essential element of cybersecurity defenses at the majority of large firms. A survey was conducted on companies with more than 1,000 employees which revealed 90% of those firms are using a solution such as a DNS filter to restrict access to the internet to protect against malware and ransomware attacks.

89% of firms use DNS filters or other web filtering technology to improve productivity by blocking access to sites such as social media platforms, 84% of firms block access to inappropriate websites, and 66% use the technology to avoid legal issues.

Given the risk of a malware or ransomware download over the Internet and the high cost of mitigating such an attack, it is no surprise that so many large firms are using web filtering technology to reduce risk.

Why DNS Filtering is so Important for SMBs

Phishing attacks and ransomware/malware downloads are major risks for large businesses, but SMBs face the same threats. SMBs are also less likely to have the resources to cover the cost of such an attack. For example, the average cost of a ransomware attack on an SMB is $46,800, according to Datto, and many SMBs fold within 6 months of experiencing a data breach.

DNS filtering is an important control to prevent malware and ransomware attacks over the Internet, both by blocking downloads and preventing employees from visiting malicious websites where malware is downloaded. Web filters are also essential as part of phishing defenses.

According to the Spiceworks survey, 38% of organizations have experienced at least one security incident as a result of employee Internet activity. By restricting access to certain categories of website and blocking known malicious websites, SMBs will be much better protected against costly attacks.

Add to that the amount of time that is lost to casual internet surfing and web filtering is a no-brainer. 28% of employees waste more than 4 hours a week on websites unrelated to their work, but the percentages rise to 45% in mid-sized businesses and 51% of employees in small businesses.

There is no latency with DNS filtering, plus controls can be implemented to restrict certain bandwidth heavy activities to improve network performance.

DNS Filtering for MSPs – The Ideal Web Filtering Solution

DNS web filtering is a low-cost cybersecurity solution that actually pays for itself in terms of the productivity gains and the blocking of cyber threats that would otherwise lead to data breaches. Further, in contrast to appliance-based web filters, DNS filtering requires no hardware purchases or software installations which means no site visits are required. DNS filtering can be set up for clients remotely in a matter of minutes.

DNS filtering is ideal for MSPs as it is hardware and software independent. It doesn’t matter what devices and operating systems your clients have because DNS filtering simply forwards web traffic to a cloud-based filter without the need to install any clients or agents on servers or end points.

TitanHQ’s DNS filtering for MSPs has a low management overhead, so there is little in the way of ongoing maintenance required. A full suite of customizable reports can be automatically generated and sent to clients to show them what threats have been blocked, and who in the organization has been trying to access restricted content, and the employees who are the biggest drain on network performance.

MSPs can easily add in web filtering to existing security packages to provide greater value or offer web filtering as an add-on service to generate extra, recurring monthly revenue and attract more business.

If you are yet to offer web filtering to your clients, call TitanHQ today for more information on our DNS filtering for MSPs and for further information on the MSP Alliance program.

New HookAds Malvertising Campaign Redirects to Sites that Deliver Banking Trojans, Info Stealers and Ransomware

One of the ways that threat actors install malware is through malvertising – The placing of malicious adverts on legitimate websites that direct visitors to websites where malware is downloaded. The HookAds malvertising campaign is one such example and the threat actors behind the campaign have been particularly active of late.

The HookAds malvertising campaign has one purpose. To direct people to a website hosting the Fallout exploit kit. An exploit kit is malicious code that runs when a visitor lands on a web page. The visitor’s computer is probed to determine whether there are any vulnerabilities – unpatched software – that can be exploited to silently install files.

In the case of the Fallout exploit kit, users’ devices are checked for several known Windows vulnerabilities. If one is identified, it is exploited and a malicious payload is downloaded. Several malware variants are currently being delivered via Fallout, including information stealers, banking Trojans, and ransomware.

According to threat analyst nao_sec, two separate HookAds malvertising campaigns have been detected: One is being used to deliver the DanaBot banking Trojan and the other is delivering two malware payloads – The Nocturnal information stealer and GlobeImposter ransomware via the Fallout exploit kit.

Exploit kits can only be used to deliver malware to unpatched devices, so businesses will only be at risk of this web-based attack vector if they are not 100% up to date with their patching. Unfortunately, many businesses are slow to apply patches and exploits for new vulnerabilities are frequently uploaded to EKs such as Fallout. Consequently, a security solution is needed to block this attack vector.

HookAds Malvertising Campaign Highlights Importance of a Web Filter

The threat actors behind the HookAds malvertising campaign are taking advantage of the low prices offered for advertising blocks on websites by low quality ad networks – Those often used by owners of online gaming websites, adult sites, and other types of websites that should not be accessed by employees. While the site owners themselves are not actively engaging with the threat actors behind the campaign, the malicious adverts are still served on their websites along with legitimate ads. Fortunately, there is an easy solution that blocks EK activity: A web filter.

TitanHQ has developed WebTitan to allow businesses to carefully control employee Internet access. Once WebTitan has been installed – a quick and easy process that takes just a few minutes – the solution can be configured to quickly enforce acceptable Internet usage policies. Content can be blocked by category with a click of the mouse.

Access to websites containing adult and other NSFW content can be quickly and easily blocked. If an employee attempts to visit a category of website that is blocked by the filter, they will be redirected to a customizable block screen and will be informed why access has been prohibited.

WebTitan ensures that employees cannot access ‘risky’ websites where malware can be downloaded and blocks access to productivity draining websites, illegal web content, and other sites that have no work purpose.

Key Benefits of WebTitan

Listed below are some of the key benefits of WebTitan

  • No hardware purchases required to run the web filter
  • No software downloads are necessary
  • Internet filtering settings can be configured in minutes
  • Category-based filters allow acceptable Internet usage policies to be quickly applied
  • An intuitive, easy-to-use web-based interface requires no technical skill to use
  • No patching required
  • WebTitan Cloud can be applied with impact on Internet speed
  • No restriction on devices or bandwidth
  • WebTitan is highly scalable
  • WebTitan protects office staff and remote workers
  • WebTitan Cloud includes a full suite of pre-configured and customizable reports
  • Reports can be scheduled and instant email alerts generated
  • Suitable for use with static and dynamic IP addresses
  • White label versions can be supplied for use by MSPs
  • Multiple hosting options are available
  • WebTitan Cloud can be used to protect wired and wireless networks

For further information on WebTitan, for details of pricing, to book a product demonstration, or register for a free trial, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Further information on WebTitan is provided in the video below:

How to Improve Restaurant Cybersecurity and Prevent Data Breaches

Hackers are targeting healthcare organizations, educational institutions, hotels, and organizations in the financial sector, but restaurants are also in hackers’ cross-hairs. If restaurant cybersecurity solutions are not deployed and security vulnerabilities are not addressed, it will only be a matter of time before hackers take advantage.

Cyberattacks on restaurants can be extremely profitable for hackers. Busy restaurant chains process hundreds of credit card transactions a day. If a hacker can gain access to POS systems and install malware, customer’s credit card details can be silently stolen.

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Applebee’s, PDQ, Chili’s, B&BHG, Zaxby’s, Zippy’s, Chipotle, and Darden restaurants have all discovered hackers have bypassed restaurant cybersecurity protections and have gained access to the credit card numbers of large numbers of customers.

One of the biggest threats from a data breach is damage to a restaurant’s reputation. The cyberattack and data breach at Chipotle saw the brand devalued by around $400 million.

A restaurant data breach can result in considerable loss of customers and a major fall in revenue. According to a study by Gemalto, 70% of the 10,000 consumers surveyed said that they would stop doing business with a brand if the company suffered a data breach. Most restaurants would not be able to recover from such a loss.

Restaurant Cybersecurity Threats

Listed below are some of the common restaurant cybersecurity threats – Ways that hackers gain access to sensitive information such as customers’ credit card numbers.

Malware

The primary goal of most restaurant cyberattacks is to gain access to customers’ credit card information. One of the most common ways that is achieved is through malware. Malicious software is installed on POS devices to silently record credit card details when customers pay. The card numbers are then sent to the attacker’s server over the Internet.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing is a type of social engineering attack in which employees are fooled into disclosing their login credentials and other sensitive information. Phishing emails are sent to employees which direct them to a website where credentials are harvested. Phishing emails are also used to install malware through downloaders hidden in file attachments.

Web-Based Threats

Whenever an employee or a customer accesses the Internet they will be exposed to a wide range of web-based threats. Websites can harbor malware which is silently downloaded onto devices.

Unsecured Wi-Fi

Restaurants often have Wi-Fi access points that are used by employees and guests. If these access points are not secured, it gives hackers an opportunity to conduct attacks and gain access to the restaurant network, install malware, intercept web traffic, and steal sensitive information.

Restaurant Cybersecurity Tips

Listed below are some of the steps you should take to protect your customers and make it harder for hackers to gain access to your systems and data.

  • Conduct a risk analysis to identify all vulnerabilities that could potentially be exploited to gain access to networks and customer data
  • Develop a risk management plan to address all vulnerabilities identified during the risk assessment
  • Ensure all software and operating systems are kept up to date and are promptly patched
  • Become PCI compliant – All tools used to accept payments must comply with PCI standards
  • Implement security controls on your website to ensure customers can use it securely. Sensitive data such as loyalty program information must be protected.
  • Ensure you implement multi-factor authentication on all accounts to protect systems in case credentials are compromised
  • Ensure all default passwords are changed and strong, unique passwords are set
  • Ensure all sensitive data are encrypted at rest and in transit
  • Secure Wi-Fi networks with a web filter to block malware downloads and web-based threats
  • Implement a spam filter to block phishing attempts and malware
  • Provide cybersecurity training to staff to ensure they can recognize the common restaurant cybersecurity threats

Restaurant Cybersecurity Solutions from TitanHQ

TitanHQ has developed two cybersecurity solutions that can be implemented by restaurants to block the main attack vectors used by hackers. SpamTitan is a powerful email security solution that prevents spam and malicious emails from reaching end users’ inboxes.

WebTitan is a cloud-based web filtering solution that prevents staff and customers from downloading malware and visiting phishing websites. In addition to blocking web-based attacks, WebTitan allows restaurants to prevent customers from accessing illegal and unsuitable web content to create a family-friendly Wi-Fi zone.

Both solutions can be set up in a matter of minutes on existing hardware and require no software downloads.

To find out more about TitanHQ’s restaurant cybersecurity solutions, call the TitanHQ sales team today.

Z Services Expands TitanHQ Partnership with New WebTitan and ArcTitan Integrations

TitanHQ has expanded its partnership with Z Services, the leading SaaS provider of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions in the MENA region.

UAE-based Z Services operates 17 secure data centers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Morocco and is the only company in the Middle East and North Africa to offer an in-country multi-tenant cloud-based cybersecurity architecture.

In February 2017, Z Services partnered with TitanHQ and integrated TitanHQ’s award-winning email filtering technology into its service stack and started offering SpamTitan-powered Z Services Anti-Spam SaaS to its clients. TitanHQ’s email filtering technology now helps Z Services’ clients filter out spam email and protect against sophisticated email-based threats such as malware, viruses, botnets, ransomware, phishing and spear phishing.

The integration has proved to be a huge success for Z Services, so much so that the firm has now taken its partnership with TitanHQ a step further and has integrated two new TitanHQ-powered SaaS solutions into its service stack. TitanHQ’s award-winning web filtering technology – WebTitan – and its innovative email archiving solution – ArcTitan have both been incorporated into Z Services’ MERALE SaaS offering.  MERALE is a suite of cybersecurity, threat protection, and compliance solutions specifically developed to meet the needs of small to medium sized enterprises.

“With cybersecurity growing as a critical business concern across the region, there is a clear need to make security an operational rather than a capital expense. Hence the paradigm shift in the delivery of effective security solutions from the traditional investment and delivery model to an agile SaaS model through the primary connectivity provider of SMEs – the ISPs,” said Nidal Taha, President – Middle East and North Africa, Z Services. “MERALE will be a game-changer in how small and medium businesses in the region ensure their protection, and as a subscription-based service, it removes the need for heavy investments and long-term commitments.”

“We are delighted to continue our successful partnership with Z Services and share their vision for serving the SME segment with leading edge SaaS based security solutions,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO of TitanHQ. “With this development Z Services is strengthening its leadership position as an innovative cloud-based cybersecurity solutions provider in the Middle East and North Africa.”

TitanHQ’s cloud-based cybersecurity solutions have been developed from the ground up specifically to meet the needs of Managed Service Providers. The email filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions are currently being used by more than 7,500 businesses around the world and more than 1,500 MSPs are now offering TitanHQ solutions to their clients.

In contrast to many cybersecurity solution providers, TitanHQ offers its products with a range of hosting options – including within an MSP’s own infrastructure – as full white label solutions ready for MSPs to apply their own branding. By protecting clients with TitanHQ solutions MSPs are able to significantly reduce support and engineering costs by blocking a wide range of cyber threats at source. MSPs also benefit from generous margins and industry-leading customer service and support.

If you are a managed service provider and have yet to incorporate email filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions into your service stack, if you are unhappy with your current providers, or are looking to increase profits while ensuring your clients have the best protection against email and web-based threats, contact TitanHQ today for further information.

Why is DNS Filtering for Businesses so Important?

DNS filtering for businesses is essential for all companies to protect against web-based threats such as phishing and malware and is particularly important for any business that allows employees to work remotely. In this post we explain the risks, features, and benefits of DNS filtering and how a DNS filter can protect employees and their portable devices from Wi-Fi threats.

Why is DNS Filtering for Businesses so Important?

DNS filtering for businesses can no longer be considered an optional cybersecurity solution due to the high risk of web-based attacks. Phishing attacks on businesses are increasing with many thousands of new phishing web pages created each day. Exploit kits probe for vulnerabilities and silently download malware, and ransomware attacks are rife.  DNS filtering for businesses offers an additional layer of protection that prevents employees from visiting websites known to be used for malicious purposes.

DNS filters also allow businesses to enforce acceptable Internet usage policies and block access to illegal website content, websites containing content unsuitable for the workplace and categories of sites that are a major drain on productivity.

It is easy to set up DNS filtering for businesses’ internal networks and apply content controls and block online threats; however, a DNS filter is not restricted to one physical location. DNS filtering for businesses is not bound to a single location and works on wired networks, internal WiFi networks and even public WiFi hotspots.

The Dangers of Public WiFi Networks

A recent survey conducted by Purple revealed more than 90% of businesses that offer Wi-Fi have open networks without any filters or security applied. Connecting to open Wi-Fi networks without any filtering controls in place increases the risk of virus, malware, and ransomware downloads.

To a certain extent, risk can be reduced if anti-malware software is installed on mobile devices. However, the software is only capable of detecting malware variants if their signatures are in the database. If the database is out of date, malware will not be detected. Anti-malware software also does not provide protection against zero-day malware – new malware variants that have yet to be identified – and offers no protection against phishing attacks.

Further, hackers take advantage of open Wi-Fi networks to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to intercept sensitive data such as banking credentials and other login information. Mobile workers often connect to their work networks and on portable devices via open Wi-Fi networks such as those offered in coffee shops, even though doing so may be a violation of company policy.

DNS Filtering for Businesses Protects Off-Site Workers from Wi-Fi Threats

A business that issues mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets or laptops to employees can struggle to secure those devices outside the office. DNS filtering for businesses is one solution that can be used to improve security.

DNS filtering solves the security challenge as it acts as a barrier between the end user’s device and the Internet that blocks web-based threats. When a remote worker uses their laptop to connect the Internet through a web browser, a DNS lookup must be performed. Before the website can be loaded it must be found. That requires the fully qualified domain name (FQDN) – google.com for instance – to be matched with an IP address by a DNS server. Only then can the content be displayed.

With DNS filtering, instead of the IP address being identified and the web browser displaying the content of a web page, before any content is displayed certain checks are performed. The requested site/web page is checked against Real Time Blacklists (RBLs). RBLs contain lists of websites and web pages that host illegal web content, are used for phishing, or host malware or exploit kits.  Content controls are also applied. If content violates corporate policies or a match is found in an RBL, the content will not be downloaded. Instead the user will be directed to a block page where they are informed that access to the web page/site has been blocked.

Any business that fails to implement DNS filtering is taking a significant risk if workers can use company-issued smartphones and laptops to access the Internet and web applications outside the protection of the office environment.

WebTitan Cloud – DNS Filtering for Businesses Made Simple

TitanHQ offers DNS filtering for businesses and MSPs through WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi. WebTitan requires no software downloads or hardware purchases and can be used to protect wired and wireless business networks and remote workers using portable devices on public Wi-Fi hotspots.

WebTitan uses six Real Time Blacklists that are constantly updated with new malicious webpages. Any request to access a web page must pass checks on all six RBLs before the URL can be accessed. These checks are performed with no latency – the speed of accessing web content is unaffected.

Once businesses are signed up they can quickly and easily configure the solution to match their requirements through a web-based interface, through which content controls can be applied. WebTitan uses 53 different categories of web-content and has 10 customizable categories. Those categories include 100% of Alexa’s 1 million most visited websites and more than 500 million websites in 200 languages – which equates to 6 billion web pages.

The solution supports whitelists – for companies that want maximum control – and additional blacklists. It is also easy to set custom controls for different workers and user groups, as well as apply controls at the organization level.

An extensive suite of reporting options keeps businesses 100% up to date on user behavior, including sites that have been visited and attempts by employees to access restricted web content.

In short, WebTitan is an invaluable tool that provides protection from web-based threats and allows businesses to have total control over the content that can be accessed on desktop computers and portable devices, regardless of where the employee is located.

Contact TitanHQ for a Product Demonstration and No-Obligation Free Trial

If you are not yet using DNS filtering to block web-based threats and exercise control over the content your employees can access, contact the TitanHQ team today. TitanHQ’s experienced sales staff will answer your questions, provide details of pricing, and can book you in for a product demonstration.

You can also sign up for a 14-day free trial to evaluate WebTitan in your own environment. The free trial includes full use of the product and experienced sales engineers are on hand to help make sure you get the most out of your free trial.

Secure Hotel Wi-Fi Access Points and Gain a Competitive Advantage

Business and leisure travelers looking for secure hotel Wi-Fi access in addition to fast and reliable Internet access. If you take steps to secure hotel WiFi access points, you can gain a significant competitive advantage.

The Importance of Hotel Wi-Fi to Guests

The number one hotel amenity that most travelers can simply not do without is fast, free, reliable, Internet access. In 2013, a joint study conducted by Forrester Research and Hotels.com revealed that 9 out of ten gusts rated Wi-Fi as the top hotel amenity. 34% of respondents to the survey said free Wi-Fi was a ‘deal breaker.’ Now four years on, those percentages will certainly have increased.

Wi-Fi access is essential for business travelers as they need to be able to stay in touch with the office and be able to communicate with their customers. Leisure travelers need free Internet access to keep in touch with friends, look up local attractions, and enjoy cheap entertainment in the comfort of their rooms. Younger travelers need constant access to social media accounts and online games such as Fortnite as they get at home.

It doesn’t matter whether you run a small family bed and breakfast or a large chain of hotels, Wi-Fi access for guests is essential. Any hotel that doesn’t have reliable and fast Wi-Fi will lose business to establishments that do.

It is now easy for potential guests to check if an establishment has Wi-Fi and even find out about the speed and reliability of the connection. The hotelwifitest.com website lets travelers check the speed of Internet access in hotels before booking.

Guests don’t post rave reviews based on the speed of Internet connections, but they will certainly make it known if Internet access is poor or nonexistent. Many of the negative comments on hotel booking websites and TripAdvisor are related to Wi-Fi. Put simply, you will not get anywhere near the same level of occupancy if your Wi-Fi network isn’t up to scratch.

Secure Hotel Wi-Fi is Now as Important as Offering Wi-Fi to Guests

Businesses are now directing a considerable percentage of their IT budgets to cybersecurity to prevent hackers from gaining access to their networks and sensitive data. Securing internal systems is relatively straightforward, but when employees have to travel for work and access networks remotely, hackers can take advantage.

When employees must travel for business, their hotel is often the only place where they can connect to the office network and their email. They need to know that they can login securely from the hotel and that doing so will not result in the theft of their credentials or a malware infection. A hotel will be failing its business customers if it does not offer safe and secure Wi-Fi access.

All it takes is for one malware infection or cyberattack to occur while connected to a hotel Wi-Fi network for the reputation of the hotel to be tarnished. Hotels really cannot afford to take any risks.

Multiple Levels of Wi-Fi Access Should be Offered

Parents staying in hotels will want to make sure that their children can access the Internet safely and securely and will not accidentally or deliberately be able to gain access to age-inappropriate websites. If a hotel claims to be family-friendly, that must also extend to the Wi-Fi network. Any hotel that fails to prevent minors from accessing obscene images while connected to hotel Wi-Fi cannot claim it is family-friendly.

Hotels can offer Wi-Fi access for families that blocks adult websites and anonymizers, which are commonly used to bypass filtering controls. Safe Search can also be enforced, but not all users will want that level of control.

To cater to the needs of all guests, different levels of Wi-Fi access are likely to be required. Some guests will want to be able to access the types of websites they do at home without restrictions and business travelers will certainly not want anonymizers to be blocked. Some customers insist on the use of VPNs when employees connect to their business network or email.

Hotels that implement a web filtering solution can easily create different tiers of Internet access. One for families and a less restrictive level for other users. Free internet access could be limited to a basic level that includes general web and email access but blocks access to video streaming services such as YouTube and Netflix. Those services could be offered as part of a low-cost Wi-Fi package to generate some extra revenue. These tiers can easily be created with a web filtering solution.

How to Easily Secure Hotel Wi-Fi

Offering secure hotel Wi-Fi to guests does not require expensive hardware to be purchased. While appliance-based web filters are used by many businesses, there is a much lower cost option that is better suited for hotel use.

A cloud-based web filter for Wi-Fi – such as WebTitan for Wi-Fi -is the easiest to implement secure hotel Wi-Fi solution. With WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi, your Wi-Fi network can be secured with just a simple change to your DNS records. No hardware is required and there is no need to install any software. One solution will protect all Wi-Fi access points and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. There is no limit on the number of access points that can be protected by WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi.

Once your DNS is pointed to WebTitan, you can apply your content controls – which is as simple as clicking on a few checkboxes to block categories of web content that your guests shouldn’t be allowed to access.

You can create multiple accounts with different controls – one for business users, one for families, and one for employees for example. No training is required to administer the solution as it has been developed to require no technical skill whatsoever. All of the complex elements of web filtering are handled by TitanHQ.

If you run a hotel and you are not currently filtering the internet, talk to TitanHQ about how you can your secure your hotel Wi-Fi access points, protect your guests, and ensure all users can access the Internet safely and securely.

Failure to Control Employee Internet Use Results in Malware Download on Government Computer

An IT security audit conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) at its Earth Resources Observation and Science Center has highlighted the importance of implementing technical solutions to control employee internet use.

Most organizations and businesses have strict rules covering acceptable use of the Internet on work computers. Those rules are usually explained when a new employee starts work. A document must be signed that confirms that the Rules have been understood and the employee is aware of the repercussions if the rules are violated.

For many organizations and businesses, those measures are deemed to be sufficient. Most employees understand the rules and adhere to them, but even though rule violations will likely result in termination, some employees take the risk as they believe they will not be caught.

Security Audit Reveals Extensive Policy Violations

During a recent USGS IT security audit, suspicious Internet traffic was identified. The discovery prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General (OIG) to determine the source of the suspicious traffic.

The OIG investigation revealed malware had been installed on an employee’s computer and that the malware was the source of the suspicious communications. Further investigation revealed the employee had been routinely visiting adult websites, which routed through Russian websites that hosted malware. As a result of visiting those websites, the employee had inadvertently downloaded malware onto the work computer. Pornographic images had been downloaded, which were then transferred to an Android mobile and portable USB drive. The mobile was similarly infected with malware.

The employee was discovered to have viewed over 9,000 adult websites, even though USGS Rules of Behavior had been explained and a document was signed confirming those rules had been understood. Annual security training had also been provided in which the Rules of Behavior were reinforced.

Had USGS implemented a technical solution to control employee internet use and enforce its Rules of Behavior, the malware infection would have been avoided.

OIG made several recommendations to prevent future malware infections and similar abuses of its Rules of Behavior, which included enforcing a strong blacklist of URLs and to regularly monitor employee Internet use. Additionally, it was recommended that USGS implement controls that prevent employees from using unauthorized USB devices on their work computers.

In addition to implementing an advanced intrusion detection system and firewall, USGS is now enhancing its preventative countermeasures by detecting and blocking known pornographic websites and other websites with suspicious origins.

This is not the first time that the U.S. government has discovered employees have accessed pornography at work and it certainly will not be the last.

The problem is believed to be so widespread that Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC11) proposed the Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act on three occasions. The Act was prompted by the discovery that an Environmental Protection Agency had been accessing pornography at work. In that case, the employee had viewed pornography for 252 hours in a single year without detection.

The Easy Way to Control Employee Internet Use and Block Web-Based Threats

These cases show that organizations and businesses that rely on internal policies to control employee internet use are taking a considerable risk. It is not just the visiting of adult websites that carries an increased risk of malware infections. Malware can be downloaded from an extensive range of websites, even seemingly ‘legitimate’ sites.

Only by implementing a web filtering solution to control employee internet use will organizations and businesses be able to effectively reduce risk. A web filter is an appliance, virtual appliance, or cloud-based solution that prevents employees from accessing website content that violates acceptable Internet usage policies and blocks the accessing of websites that are known to be used for malicious purposes or have been infected with malware and exploit kits.

Control Employee Internet Use with WebTitan

WebTitan is a lightweight but powerful web filtering solution that allows organizations and businesses to carefully control employee internet use and block access to websites known to host pornography and other unsuitable for work content. A comprehensive reporting suite also allows employee internet use to be carefully monitored, including attempts to view prohibited content even if those attempts are not successful.

WebTitan can be deployed as a gateway solution on existing hardware or hypervisors or as a cloud-based solution hosted on TitanHQ servers. The solution is quick and easy to implement and configure and can be up and running in a matter of minutes. In addition to category-based filtering controls, the solution can block by keyword or keyword score and supports whitelists and blacklists.

If you want to control employee internet use and manage risk, call TitanHQ today for further information on WebTitan and find out how it can reduce the risk from web-based threats at your place of work.

Stealthy sLoad Downloader Performs Extensive Reconnaissance Before Delivering Payload

The past few months have seen an increase in new, versatile malware downloaders that gather a significant amount of data about users’ systems before deploying a malicious payload. That payload is determined on the users’ system.

Marap malware and Xbash are two notable recent examples. Marap malware fingerprints a system and is capable of downloading additional modules based on the findings of the initial reconnaissance. XBash also assesses the system, and determines whether it is best suited for cryptocurrency mining or a ransomware attack and deploys its payload accordingly.

Stealthy sLoad Downloader Used in Highly Targeted Attacks

A further versatile and stealthy malware variant, known as the sLoad downloader, can now be added to that list. SLoad first appeared in May 2018, so it predates both of the above malware variants, although its use has been growing.

The primary purpose of sLoad appears to be reconnaissance. Once downloaded onto a system, it will determine the location of the device based on the IP address and performs several checks to ascertain the type of system and the software that is running and will determine whether it is on a real device or in a sandbox environment. It checks the processes running on the system, compares against a hardcoded list, and will exit if certain security software is installed to avoid detection.

Provided the system is suitable, a full scan of all running processes will be performed. The sLoad downloader will search for Microsoft Outlook files, ICA files associated with Citrix, and other system information. sLoad is capable of taking screenshots and searches the browser history looking for specific banking domains. All of this information is then fed back to the attackers’ C2 server.

Once the system has been fingerprinted, further malware variants are downloaded, primarily banking Trojans. Geofencing is used extensively by the threat actors using sLoad which helps to ensure that banking Trojans are only downloaded onto systems where they are likely to be effective – If the victim uses one of the banks that the Trojan is targeting.

In most of the campaigns intercepted to date, the banking Trojan of choice has been Ramnit. The attacks have also been highly focused on specific countries including Canada, and latterly, Italy and the United Kingdom – Locations which are currently being targeted by Ramnit. Other malware variants associated with the sLoad downloader include the remote desktop tool DarkVNC, the Ursnif information stealer, DreamBot, and PsiBot.

The sLoad downloader is almost exclusively delivered via spam email, with the campaigns often containing personal information such as the target’s name and address. While there have been several email subjects used, most commonly the emails relate to purchase orders, shipping notifications, and missed packages.

The emails contain Word documents with malicious macros in ZIP files, or alternatively embedded hyperlinks which will download the ZIP file if clicked.

The sLoad downloader may be stealthy and versatile, but blocking the threat is possible with an advanced spam filter. End user training to condition employees never to click on hyperlinks from unknown senders nor open attachments or enable macros will also help to prevent infection.  Web filtering solutions provide an additional layer of protection to block attempts to download malicious files from the Internet.

Why WiFi Filters for Coffee Shops are Now Essential

Find out why WiFi filters for coffee shops are so important and how the failure to filter the Internet could prove to be extremely harmful to your brand.

Serving the best coffee in town will certainly bring in the crowds, but there is more to a successful coffee shop than providing patrons with a morning jolt of caffeine and comfy chairs. Coffee is big business and there is stiff competition when it comes to providing jitter juice to the masses.

In addition to free newspapers, high quality flapjacks and a fine blend of beans, patrons look for the other necessity of modern life: Free Internet access.  Establishments that offer free, reliable WiFi access with decent bandwidth stand a much better chance of attracting and retaining customers.

However, simply setting up a WiFi router is no longer enough. Coffee shops also need to make sure that the WiFi network that their customers connect to is safe and secure. Just as the provision of free WiFi can translate into positive TripAdvisor and Yelp reviews, coffee shops that fail to secure their connections and exercise control over the content that can be accessed can easily get the reverse. WiFi filters for coffee shops ensure that customers’ activities online can be carefully controlled.

Why Unfiltered WiFi Networks Can Result in Bad Reviews

It is important for all shops to ensure that their WiFi networks cannot be used for any illegal or unsavory activities. If a webpage is not suitable for work, it is not suitable for a coffee shop. While there all manner of sites that should be blocked with WiFi filters for coffee shops, one of the most important categories of content is Internet porn.

While enjoying a nice coffee, patrons should not be subjected to obscene videos, images or audio. All it takes is for one patron to catch a glimpse of porn on another customer’s screen to trigger a bad review. The situation would be even worse if a minor caught a glimpse or even deliberately accessed adult content while connected to the WiFi network. A bad TripAdvisor review could easily send potential customers straight to the competition and a social media post could all too easily go viral.

What are the chances of that happening? Well, it’s not just a hypothetical scenario, as Starbucks discovered. In 2011, Starbucks received a warning that minors had been subjected to obscene content in its coffee shops and the chain did little about the complaints. The following year, as the bad feedback continued, the story was picked up by the media.

The bad feedback mounted and there were many calls for the public to boycott Starbucks. In the UK, Baroness Massey announced to the House of Lords that she had boycotted the brand and heavily criticized the chain for failing to set an example. Naturally, competitors – Costa Coffee for example – were more than happy to point out that they had been proactive and already provided filtered Internet to prevent minors from accessing adult content on their WiFi networks.

It was not until 2016 when Starbucks took action and implemented WiFi filters for coffee shops in the UK and started providing family-friendly WiFi access. A chain the size of Starbucks could weather the bad press. Smaller coffee shops would no doubt fare far worse.

WiFi Filters for Coffee Shops are Not Only About Blocking Adult Content

WiFi filters for coffee shops are important for blocking obscene content, but that is far from the only threat to a brand. The Internet is home to all manner of malicious websites that are used to phish for sensitive information and spread malicious software such as malware and ransomware. WiFi filters for coffee shops can be used to carefully control the content that can be accessed by consumers, but they can also keep them protected from these malicious sites.

Just as users have safe search functionality on their home networks, they expect the same controls on public WiFi access points. Phishing attacks and malware infections while connected to coffee shop WiFi networks can also be damaging to a brand. With WiFi filters for coffee shops, instead of being phished, a user will be presented with a block screen that explains that the business has blocked access to a malicious site to keep them protected and that will send a positive message that you care about your customers.

Once WiFi filters for coffee shops have been implemented, it is possible to apply to be assessed under the government’s Friendly Wi-Fi scheme. That will allow a coffee shop to display the friendly WiFi symbol and alert potential customers that safe, secure, family-friendly filtered Internet access is provided.

WebTitan – TitanHQ’s Easy to Implement WiFi Filters for Coffee Shops

Fortunately, WiFi filters for coffee shops are not expensive or difficult to implement. If you use a cloud-based solution such as WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, you will not need to purchase any hardware or install any software. Your WiFi network can be secured in a matter of minutes. A simple change to point your DNS to WebTitan is all that is required (you can be talked through that process to get you up and running even faster).

Since the controls are highly granular, you can easily block any type of web content you wish with a click of a mouse, selecting the categories of content you don’t want your users to access through the web-based control panel. Malicious sites will automatically be blocked via constantly updated blacklists of known malicious and illegal web pages.

With WebTitan you are assured that customers cannot view adult and illegal content, you can block illegal file sharing, control streaming services to save bandwidth, and enforce safe search on Google and apply YouTube controls.

To find out more about the features and benefits of WebTitan, details of pricing, and to sign up for a demo and free trial, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Massive Midterm Elections SEO Poisoning Campaign Identified

The U.S. midterm elections have been attracting considerable attention, so it is no surprise that cybercriminals are taking advantage and are running a midterm elections SEO poisoning campaign. It was a similar story in the run up to the 2016 presidential elections and the World Cup. Whenever there is a major newsworthy event, there are always scammers poised to take advantage.

Thousands of midterm elections themed webpages have sprung up and have been indexed by the search engines, some of which are placing very highly in the organic results for high-traffic midterm election keyword phrases.

The aim of the campaign is not to influence the results of the midterm elections, but to take advantage of public interest and the huge number of searches related to the elections and to divert traffic to malicious websites.

What is SEO Poisoning?

The creation of malicious webpages and getting them ranked in the organic search engine results is referred to as search engine poisoning. Search engine optimization (SEO) techniques are used to promote webpages and convince search engine algorithms that the pages are newsworthy and relevant to specific search terms. Suspect SEO practices such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, and backlinking are used to fool search engine spiders into rating the webpages favorably.

The content on the pages appears extremely relevant to the search term to search engine bots that crawl the internet and index the pages; however, these pages do not always display the same content. Search engine spiders and bots see one type of content, human visitors will be displayed something entirely different. The scammers are able to differentiate human and bot visitors through different HTTP headers in the web requests. Real visitors are then either displayed different content or are redirected to malicious websites.

Midterm Elections SEO Poisoning Campaign Targeting 15,000+ Keywords

The midterm elections SEO poisoning campaign is being tracked by Zscaler, which notes that the scammers have managed to get multiple malicious pages ranking in the first page results for high traffic phrases such as “midterm elections.”

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. The scammers are actually targeting more than 15,000 different midterm election keywords and are using more than 10,000 compromised websites in the campaign. More sites are being compromised and used in the campaign each day.

When a visitor arrives at one of these webpages from a search engine, they are redirected to one of many different webpages. Multiple redirects are often used before the visitor finally arrives at a particular landing page. Those landing pages include phishing forms to obtain sensitive information, host exploit kits that silently download malware, or are used for tech support scams and include various ruses to fool visitors into installing adware, spyware, cryptocurrency miners, ransomware or malicious browser extensions. In addition to scam sites, the campaign is also being used to generate traffic to political, religious and adult websites.

This midterms elections SEO poisoning campaign poses a significant threat to all Internet users, but especially businesses that do not control the content that can be accessed by their employees. In such cases, campaigns such as this can easily result in the theft of credentials or malware/ransomware infections, all of which can prove incredibly costly to resolve.

One easy-to-implement solution is a web filter such as WebTitan. WebTitan can be deployed in minutes and can be used to carefully control the content that can be accessed by employees. Blacklisted websites will be automatically blocked, malware downloads prevented, and malicious redirects to phishing websites and exploit kits stopped before any harm is caused.

For further information on the benefits of web filtering and details of WebTitan, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Webinar: How MSPs Can Create Bulletproof Managed Networks

TitanHQ, the leading provider of spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) recently partnered with Datto Networking, the leading provider of MSP-delivered IT solutions to SMBs.

The partnership has seen TitanHQ’s advanced web filtering technology incorporated into the Datto Networking Appliance to provide secure internet access to all users connected the network.

The new technology providing enhanced protection against web-based threats while allowing administrators to carefully control the web content that can be accessed by employees and guest users.

On October 18, 2018, Datto and TitanHQ will be hosting a webinar that will explain the new functionality of the Datto Networking Appliance to MSPs, including a deep dive into the new web filtering technology.

Webinar: Datto Networking & Titan HQ Deliver Enhanced Web Content Filtering

Date: Thursday, October 18th

Time: 11AM ET | 8AM PT | 4PM GMT/BST 

Speakers:

  • John Tippett, VP, Datto Networking
  • Andy Katz, Network Solutions Engineer
  • Rocco Donnino, EVP of Strategic Alliances, TitanHQ

Click here to sign up for the webinar

MSPs unable to attend live can request a recording of the webinar through the above link.

Fake Adobe Flash Updates Used to Install XMRig Cryptocurrency Miner

The use of fake software updates to spread malware is nothing new, but a new malware campaign has been detected that is somewhat different. Fake Adobe Flash updates are being pushed that actually do update the user’s Flash version, albeit with an unwanted addition of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner on the side.

The campaign uses pop-up notifications that are an exact replica of the genuine notifications used by Adobe, advising the user that their Flash version needs to be updated. Clicking on the install button, as with the genuine notifications, will update users’ Flash to the latest version. However, in the background, the XMRig cryptocurrency miner is also downloaded and installed. One installed, XMRig will run silently in the background, unbeknown to the user.

The campaign was detected by security researchers at Palo Alto Network’s Unit 42 team. The researchers identified several Windows executable files that started with AdobeFlashPlayer that were hosted on cloud servers not controlled by Adobe.

An analysis of network traffic during the infection process revealed most of the traffic was linked to updating Adobe Flash from an Adobe controlled domain, but that soon changed to traffic through a domain associated with installers known to push cryptocurrency miners. Traffic was later identified over TCP port 14444 that was associated with the XMRig cryptocurrency miner.

Further analysis of the campaign revealed it has been running since mid-August, with activity increasing significantly in September when the fake Adobe Flash updates started to be distributed more heavily.

End users are unlikely to detect the downloading and installation of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner, but there is likely to be a noticeable slowdown in the speed of their computer. The installation of the XMRig cryptocurrency miner may be stealthy, but when it runs it uses almost all of the computer’s CPU for cryptocurrency mining. Any user that checks Task Manager will see Explorer.exe hogging their CPU. As with most cryptocurrency miners, XMRig mines Monero. What is not currently known is which websites are distributing the fake Adobe Flash updates, or how traffic is being generated to those sites.

Any notification about a software update that pops up while browsing the internet should be treated as suspicious. The window should be closed, and the official website of that software provider should be visited to determine if an update is necessary. Software updates should only ever be downloaded from official websites, in the case of Adobe Flash, that is Adobe.com.

The Palo Alto researchers note “Organizations with decent web filtering and educated users have a much lower risk of infection by these fake updates.”

TitanHQ Fall Schedule of MSP Industry Events and Conferences

Its conference season and the TitanHQ team is hitting the road again. The TitanHQ team will be travelling far and wide and will be attending the major MSP industry events in the United States and Europe throughout October and November.

The conferences give new and current MSP partners the chance to meet the TitanHQ team face to face, get answers to questions, pick up tips and tricks to get the most out of TitanHQ products, and find out about the latest innovations for MSPs from TitanHQ.

Conference season kicks off with the third annual Kaseya Connect Europe Conference in Amsterdam (October 2-4) at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam. Kaseya is the leading provider of complete IT infrastructure management solutions for MSPs, offering best-in-class solutions to help MSPs efficiently manage and secure IT environments for their clients.

TitanHQ is an Emerald Sponsor for the event and will be showcasing its SpamTitan spam filtering and WebTitan web filtering solutions for MSPs. TitanHQ will be at booth 4 at the event, next to Datto and Bitdefender – both of which are TitanHQ partners.

Next stop for the TitanHQ tour bus is the CompTIA EMEA Member & Partner Conference at Etc. Venues County Hall on the south bank of the Thames in London (October 16-17). The Computing Technology Industry Association is the world’s leading tech association, providing education, training, certification, advocacy, philanthropy and market research. The conference brings together members and thought leaders from the entire tech industry with panel discussions, keynote speeches, and the latest news and advice about the key trends and topics impacting the tech industry.

TitanHQ is a key sponsor of the event and will be on hand give product demonstrations and explain about the opportunities that exist for MSPs to add web filtering, spam filtering, and email archiving services to their client offerings.

At the end of October, the TitanHQ team will be heading to sunny Spain for DattoCon18 at the Fairmont Rey Juan Carlos I in Barcelona (October 29-31). The conference is focused on helping business owners run their businesses more effectively through the use of Autotask + Datto solutions. There will be a host of educational sessions and keynote speeches at the event, with plenty of opportunities for networking. TitanHQ will be showcasing its security solutions for MSPs at the conference.

At the start of November, TitanHQ will be in attendance at the leading conference for the WiFi industry. The WiFi Now Europe conference is being held in Berlin ((November 6-8) at the Holiday Inn Berlin City-West. The event offers three full days dedicated to all things WiFi. Attendees will find out about key developments in WiFi and the latest industry trends, with opportunities to learn from industry experts, meet key industry influencers, and discover new business opportunities.

TitanHQ will be showcasing its WebTitan Cloud for WiFi solution at the event and will be explaining how MSPs can incorporate web filtering into their service stacks to provide greater value to their clients and improve their bottom lines

Next comes a quick hop across the Atlantic to the HTG Peer Groups Q4 conference in at the Omni Orlando Resort in Orlando, Florida (October 10-16). HTG is an international consulting, coaching and peer group organization that helps business by igniting personal, leadership, business and legacy transformation to get companies to achieve their full potential.

There will be a full program of events throughout the week including peer group meeting and opportunities for learning and building relationships. TitanHQ will be in attendance and will be showcasing its innovative business security solutions.

Summary of TitanHQ Conference Schedule 2018

  • October 2-4: Kaseya Connect Europe, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Booth #4
  • October 16-17: CompTia EMEA Member & Partner Conference; London, UK. Booth #28
  • October 29-31: DattoCon18, Barcelona, Spain.
  • November 6-8: WiFi Now, Berlin, Germany.
  • November 10-16: HTG Peer Groups Q4 Conference, Orlando, FL, USA.

Fallout Exploit Kit Used to Deliver New GandCrab v5 Ransomware Variant

A new version of GandCrab ransomware (GandCrab v5) has been released. GandCrab is a popular ransomware threat that is offered to affiliates under the ransomware-as-a-service distribution model. Affiliates receive a cut of the profits from any ransoms payed by individuals they manage to infect.

GandCrab was first released in January 2018 and fast grew into one of the most widely used ransomware variants. In July it was named the top ransomware threat and is regularly updated by the authors.

There have been several changes made in GandCrab v5, including the change to a random 5-character extension for encrypted files. The ransomware also uses an HTML ransom note rather than dropping a txt file to the desktop.

Bitdefender released free decryptors for early versions of the ransomware, although steps were taken by the authors to improve security for version 2.0. Since version 2.0 was released, no free decryptors for GandCrab ransomware have been developed.

Recovery from a GandCrab v5 infection will only be possible by paying the ransom – approximately $800 in the Dash cryptocurrency – or by restoring files from backups. Victims are only given a limited time for paying the ransom before the price to decrypt doubles. It is therefore essential that backups are created of all data and for those backup files to be checked to make sure files can be recovered in the event of disaster.

Since this ransomware variant is offered under the ransomware-as-a-service model, different vectors are used to distribute the ransomware by different threat actors. Previous versions of the ransomware have been distributed via spam email and through exploit kits such as RIG and GrandSoft. GandCrab v5 has also been confirmed as being distributed via the new Fallout exploit kit.

Traffic is directed to the exploit kit using malvertising – malicious adverts that redirect users to exploit kits and other malicious websites. These malicious adverts are placed on third party advertising networks that are used by many popular websites to provide an extra income stream.

Any user that clicks one of the malicious links in the adverts is redirected to the Fallout exploit kit. The Fallout exploit kit contains exploits for several old vulnerabilities and some relatively recent flaws. Any user that has a vulnerable system will have GandCrab ransomware silently downloaded onto their device. Local files will be encrypted as well as files on all network shares, not just mapped drives.

Whenever a new zero-day vulnerability is discovered it doesn’t take long for an exploit to be incorporated into malware. The publication of proof of concept code for a Task Scheduler ALPC vulnerability was no exception. Within a couple of days, the exploit had already been adopted by cybercriminals and incorporated into malware.

The exploit for the Task Scheduler ALPC vulnerability allows executable files to be run on a vulnerable system with System privileges and has been incorporated into GandCrab v5. The exploit is believed to be used to perform system-level tasks such as deleting Windows Shadow Volume copies to make it harder for victims to recover encrypted files without paying the ransom. Microsoft has now issued a patch to correct the flaw as part of its September Patch Tuesday round of updates, but many companies have yet to apply the patch.

The most important step to take to ensure that recovery from a ransomware attack is possible is to ensure backups are created. Without a viable backup the only way of recovering files is by paying the ransom. In this case, victims can decrypt one file for free to confirm that viable decryption keys exist. However, not all ransomware variants allow file recovery.

Preventing ransomware infections requires software solutions that block the main attack vectors. Spam filtering solutions such as SpamTitan prevent malicious messages from being delivered to inboxes. Web filters such as WebTitan prevent end users from visiting malicious sites known to host exploit kits. Remote desktop services are often exploited to gain system access, so it is important that these are disabled if they are not required, and if they are, they should only be accessible through VPNs.

Patches should be applied promptly to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited and advanced antimalware solutions should be deployed to detect and quarantine ransomware before files are encrypted.

Viro Botnet Malware Encrypts Files, Logs Keystrokes and Hijacks Email Accounts

A new malware threat – named Viro botnet malware – has been detected that combines the file-encrypting capabilities of ransomware, with a keylogger to obtain passwords and a botnet capable of sending spam emails from infected devices.

Viro botnet malware is one of a new breed of malware variants that are highly flexible and have a wide range of capabilities to maximize profit from a successful infection. There have been several recently discovered malware variants that have combined the file-encrypting properties of ransomware with cryptocurrency mining code.

The latest threat was identified by security researchers at Trend Micro who note that this new threat is still in development and appears to have been created from scratch. The code is dissimilar to other known ransomware variants and ransomware families.

Some ransomware variants are capable of self-propagation and can spread from one infected device to other devices on the same network. Viro botnet malware achieves this by hijacking Outlook email accounts and using them to send spam email containing either a copy of itself as an attachment or a downloader to all individuals in the infected user’s contact list.

Viro botnet malware has been used in targeted attacks in the United States via spam email campaigns, although bizarrely, the ransom note dropped on the victims’ desktops is written in French. This is not the only new ransomware threat to include a French ransom note. PyLocky, a recently detected new ransomware threat that masquerades as Locky ransomware, also had a French ransom note. This appears to be a coincidence as there are no indications that the two ransomware threats are related or are being distributed by the same threat group.

With Viro botnet, Infection starts with a spam email containing a malicious attachment. If the attachment is opened and the content is allowed to run, the malicious payload will be downloaded. Viro botnet malware will first check registry keys and product keys to determine whether its encryption routine should run. If those checks are passed, an encryption/decryption key pair will be generated via a cryptographic Random Number Generator, which are then sent back to the attacker’s C2 server. Files are then encrypted via RSA and a ransom note is dropped on the desktop.

Viro botnet malware also contains a basic keylogger which will log all keystrokes on an infected machine and send the data back to the attacker’s C2 server. The malware is also capable of downloading further malicious files from the attacker’s C2.

While the attacker’s C2 server was initially active, it has currently been taken down so any further devices that are infected will not have data encrypted. Connection to the C2 server is necessary for the encryption routine to start. Even though the threat has been neutralized this is expected to only be a brief hiatus. The C2 is expected to be resurrected and larger distribution campaigns can have been predicted.

Protecting against email-based threats such as Viro botnet malware requires an advanced spam filtering solution such as SpamTitan to prevent malicious messages from being delivered to end users.  Advanced antimalware software should be installed to detect malicious files should they be downloaded, and end users should receive security awareness training to help them identify security threats and respond appropriately.

Multiple backups should also be created – with one copy stored securely offsite – to ensure files can be recovered in the event of file encryption.

Xbash Malware: A Versatile New Malware Threat with Coin Mining and Ransomware Functionality

Xbash malware is one of several new malware threats to be detected in recent weeks that incorporate the file-encrypting properties of ransomware with the coin mining functionality of cryptocurrency mining malware.

This year, several cybersecurity and threat intelligence companies have reported that ransomware attacks have plateaued or are in decline. Ransomware attacks are still profitable, although it is possible to make more money through cryptocurrency mining.

The recent Internet Organized Crime Threat Report released by Europol notes that cryptojacking is a new cybercrime trend and is now a regular, low-risk revenue stream for cybercriminals, but that “ransomware remains the key malware threat”.  Europol notes in its report that a decline has been seen in random attacks via spam email, instead cybercriminals are concentrating on attacking businesses where greater profits lie. Those attacks are highly targeted.

Another emerging trend offers cybercriminals the best of both worlds – the use of versatile malware that have the properties of both ransomware and cryptocurrency miners. These highly versatile malware variants provide cybercriminals with the opportunity to obtain ransom payments as well as the ability to mine for cryptocurrency. If the malware is installed on a system that is not ideally suited for mining cryptocurrency, the ransomware function is activated and vice versa.

Xbash malware is one such threat, albeit with one major caveat. Xbash malware does not have the ability to restore files. In that respect it is closer to NotPetya than Cerber. As was the case with NotPetya, Xbash malware just masquerades as ransomware and demands a payment to restore files – Currently 0.2 BTC ($127). Payment of the ransom will not result in keys being supplied to unlock encrypted files, as currently files are not encrypted. The malware simply deletes MySQL, PostgreSQL, and MongoDB databases. This function is activated if the malware is installed on a Linux system. If it is installed on Windows devices, the cryptojacking function is activated.

Xbash malware also has the ability to self-propagate. Once installed on a Windows system it will spread throughout the network by exploiting vulnerabilities in Hadoop, ActiveMQ and Redis services.

Xbash malware is written in Python and compiled into a portable executable (PE) format using PyInstaller. The malware will run its file encrypting/deletion routine on Linux systems and use JavaScript or VBScript to download and run a coinminer on Windows systems. Palo Alto Networks’ Unit42 has attributed the malware to a threat group known as Iron Group, which has previously been associated with ransomware attacks.

Currently, infection occurs through the exploitation of unpatched vulnerabilities and brute force attacks on systems with weak passwords and unprotected services.  Protection against this threat requires the use of strong, unique non-default passwords, prompt patching, and endpoint security solutions. Blocking access to unknown hosts on the Internet will prevent communication with its C2 if it is installed, and naturally it is essential that multiple backups are regularly made to ensure file recovery is possible.

Kaspersky Lab determined there has been a doubling of these multi-purpose remote access tools over the past 18 months and their popularity is likely to continue to increase. This type of versatile malware could well prove to be the malware of choice for advanced threat actors over the course of the next 12 months.

Bristol Airport Ransomware Attack Sees Computer Displays Taken Out of Action

A Bristol Airport ransomware attack has resulted in its customer display screens being taken offline for two days. Staff at the airport have had to resort to using dry markers and whiteboards to display flight arrival and departure information while the malicious software was removed and files were decrypted.

Ransomware was installed on its administrative computer system in the early hours on Friday, 14 September. As a result of the attack, several applications had to be taken offline as part of the airport’s efforts to contain the attack and prevent critical airport systems from being affected. The application used to display arrival and departure information throughout the airport was one of the casualties.

A statement was provided to the media confirming that a ransom demand had been received but the decision was taken not to give in to the attacker’s demand. Instead, IT staff at the airport chose to restore affected systems from backups. That process continued throughout the weekend. Screens in key locations throughout the airport were slowly brought back online on Sunday and efforts are continuing to restore files on all other affected computers at the airport.

Bristol Airport spokesman, James Gore, said initial investigations suggest this was a speculative rather than a targeted attack on the airport and that it was an online attack on its administrative systems. The exact nature of the Bristol Airport ransomware attack has not yet been disclosed and it is not known what variant of ransomware was used.

The recovery process has taken longer than was expected as the airport has adopted a particularly cautious approach due to the number of critical and security systems at the airport which could potentially have been affected. As it was, customer and airport safety were not affected by the ransomware attack and flights were not delayed.

Ransomware Still Poses a Major Threat to Businesses

Ransomware attacks have declined in recent months as many cybercriminals have turned to cryptocurrency mining as an easier way of generating an income, but the Bristol Airport ransomware attack shows that the threat of ransomware attacks is ever present. Cybercriminals have certainly not totally abandoned ransomware and it remains a serious threat.

Ransomware can be installed via a variety of methods. Speculative attacks often involve attackers sending massive volumes of spam emails containing malicious attachments. Word Documents containing malicious macros are common, as are JavaScript and PowerShell scripts embedded in attachments. These scripts download the ransomware payload.

Online attacks are also common. Ransomware is still widely distributed via exploit kits – Software loaded onto compromised websites that probes for vulnerabilities in browsers and plugins. When vulnerabilities are identified, they are exploited and ransomware is silently downloaded.

How to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Protecting against ransomware attacks requires layered security solutions to block the key attack vectors. Spam filtering software will block the majority of malicious emails and prevent them from being delivered to end users’ inboxes. Security awareness training will help to ensure that employees can identify any malicious emails than make it past perimeter email security controls.

One of the most effective solutions for blocking web-based attacks is a web filter.  Web filters can be configured to prevent end users from visiting malicious websites and will block drive-by downloads of malware. Naturally, all software, including browsers and browser plugins, should be kept up to date and fully patched to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited. Anti-virus software on all servers and end points is also a must.

As was the case with the Bristol airport ransomware attack, files could be recovered from backups without the need to pay the ransom demand. To ensure file recovery is possible, regular backups must be made.

A good backup practice will see at least three backup copies created, on at least two separate media, with one copy stored securely offsite on a device that is not connected to a network or the Internet.

For more information on anti-ransomware solutions for businesses, speak to TitanHQ today. TitanHQ offers award-winning spam filtering and web filtering technology that blocks malware and ransomware attacks and other email and web-based threats.

Security is the Fastest Growing Service for MSPs

There are many new services that managed service providers (MSPs) can add to their service stacks, such as cloud migration and digitization services, but the biggest area for growth is currently cybersecurity services.

The number of cyberattacks on SMBs and enterprises has increased substantially in recent years. More attacks are now being conducted than ever before, and many of those attacks are succeeding.

A successful attack can prove extremely profitable for an attacker and extremely costly for an enterprise. When a network or email account is breached, sensitive information can be stolen, such as the personal data of customers and employees and corporate secrets and proprietary data.

When customer information is stolen, the damage to a company’s reputation can be considerable. Customer churn rate increases, business is lost, and there may be regulatory fines to cover and lawsuits to fight. Notifications need to be issued and credit monitoring and identity theft protection services may need to be provided to customers. When proprietary data is stolen, a company’s competitive advantage can easily be lost.

Following any security breach, hours must be committed to forensic analyses to search for possible backdoors and malware. The breach cause must be identified and security holes must be plugged. All those costs (and more) add up. This year’s Cost of a Data Breach study conducted by the Ponemon Institute/IBM Security revealed the average cost of a data breach of up to 100,000 personal records has risen to $3.86 million in 2018 – a 6.4% increase since 2017.

The massive disruption to businesses caused by cyberattacks and the considerable cost of mitigating data breaches means SMBs and enterprises need to take precautions and invest in cybersecurity defenses. However, the shortage of skilled staff in this area and already overworked IT departments has meant many companies have had to turn to MSPs and managed security service providers (MSSPs) to help shore up their defenses, monitor for potential intrusions, and respond to breaches when they occur.

Many MSPs have responded to the demand and are now offering security services to their clients to meet the demand. That demand is so great, that managed security services are now a huge growth area for MSPs.

Each year, Channel Futures conducts its MSP 501 survey, which evaluates the revenue growth, service deliverables, and business models and strategies adopted by the most progressive and forward-thinking MSPs around the globe. This year, the survey revealed that the biggest growth area is security services. 73% of all surveyed MSPs said security was their fastest growing service. As a point of comparison, the next biggest growth area was professional services (55%), followed by Office 365 (52%) and consulting (51%).

With huge demand for managed security services, it is no longer a question of whether they should be added to MSPs service stacks, but more a question of how they can be integrated, how to architect those services, and how to package security services together to meet customers’ needs.

What Security Services are Being Offered by MSPs?

Many enterprises and SMBs that attempt to go it alone end up deploying dozens of different security solutions at considerable cost, only to discover they are still attacked and suffer network breaches. Most businesses do not have the staff to commit to implementing, monitoring, and managing large numbers of cybersecurity solutions. This creates an opportunity for MSPs.

Some MSPs have opted to provide clients with a suite of cybersecurity solutions from a single provider, as the solutions work seamlessly together and there is less potential for security gaps to exist. While this has worked for some MSPs, the problem with this approach is clients could approach that vendor and decide to go direct. MSPs that have succeeded with this model are adding considerable value – such as their expertise in running those solutions.

Logicalis, ranked #10 in the MSP 501 list, has taken a different approach and is bundling together a range of solutions that can be easily managed together and match customers’ needs exactly. “We pick our swim lanes, we pick our areas that are most relevant to our skills, to our customers, and we make sure we have the disciplines and domain expertise to deliver against that,” said Logicalis’ chief sales officer Mike Houghton.

Clients often get the best value – and protection – when MSPs package together cybersecurity products from a wide range of cybersecurity solution providers to provide a comprehensive security service, as Tom Clancy, CEO of Valiant Technology and #206 in Channel Future’s MSP 501 list explained. “Providing a bundle of offerings from different vendors that work well together is the most effective way for an MSP to retain its role as a trusted adviser.”

Valiant Technology has even taken this a step further and is moving towards making security a ‘non-optional’ offering. Clancy explained to Channel Futures that, “Our managed services plans will say, ‘It costs this much per seat, and it’s this much if you want the security package. And by the way, you really want the security package, otherwise here’s my limitation of liability.”

Naturally, putting together a package of security services requires considerable research and planning, new staff may need to be hired, and training on the products must be provided. It is a lot of work, but the potential rewards are considerable.

How Can TitanHQ Help?

TitanHQ has developed a suite of security products that are ideally suited for MSPs, offering a winning combination of easy deployment, remote management, superb protection against a wide range of threats, and excellent margins. The solutions mitigate the threat from web and email-based attacks integrate seamlessly into MSPs existing service stacks.

SpamTitan provides world-class protection from spam and malicious emails, preventing malware, ransomware, and phishing emails from reaching end users’ inboxes. The solution is complimented by WebTitan, a powerful web filtering solution that prevents end users from visiting malicious websites, blocks drive-by downloads of malicious software, and enforces acceptable Internet usage policies.

To find out more about how these two solutions benefit MSPs and their clients, and the tools available to seamlessly integrate these technology-agnostic security services into MSPs security packages, contact the TitanHQ team today.

New Fallout Exploit Kit Delivering GandCrab Ransomware

A new exploit kit has been detected that is being used to deliver Trojans and GandCrab ransomware. The Fallout exploit kit was unknown until August 2018, when it was identified by security researcher Nao_sec. Nao_sec observed the Fallout exploit kit being used to deliver SmokeLoader – a malware variant whose purpose is to download other types of malware.

Nao_sec determined that once SmokeLoader was installed, it downloaded two further malware variants – a previously unknown malware variant and CoalaBot – A HTTP DDoS Bot that is based on August Stealer code. Since the discovery of the Fallout exploit kit in August, it has since been observed downloading GandCrab ransomware on vulnerable Windows devices by researchers at FireEye.

While Windows users are being targeted by the threat group behind Fallout, MacOS users are not ignored. If a MacOS user encounters Fallout, they are redirected to webpages that attempt to fool visitors into downloading a fake Adobe Flash Player update or fake antivirus software. In the case of the former, the user is advised that their version of Adobe Flash Player is out of date and needs updating. In the case of the latter, the user is advised that their Mac may contain viruses, and they are urged to install a fake antivirus program that the website claims will remove all viruses from their device.

The Fallout exploit kit is installed on webpages that have been compromised by the attacker – sites with weak passwords that have been brute-forced and those that have out of date CMS installations or other vulnerabilities which have been exploited to gain access.

The two vulnerabilities exploited by the Fallout exploit kit are the Windows VBScript Engine vulnerability – CVE-2018-8174 – and the Adobe Flash Player vulnerability – CVE-2018-4878, both of which were identified and patched in 2018.

The Fallout exploit kit will attempt to exploit the VBScript vulnerability first, and should that fail, an attempt will be made to exploit the Flash vulnerability. Successful exploitation of either vulnerability will see GandCrab ransomware silently downloaded.

The first stage of the infection process, should either of the two exploits prove successful, is the downloading of a Trojan which checks to see if certain processes are running, namely: filemon.exe, netmon.exe, procmon.exe, regmon.exe, sandboxiedcomlaunch.exe, vboxservice.exe, vboxtray.exe, vmtoolsd.exe, vmwareservice.exe, vmwareuser.exe, and wireshark.exe. If any those processes are running, no further action will be taken.

If those processes are not running, a DLL will be downloaded which will install GandCrab ransomware. Once files are encrypted, a ransom note is dropped on the desktop. A payment of $499 is demanded per device to unlock the encrypted files.

Exploit kits will only work if software is out of date. Patching practices tend to be better in the United States and Europe, so attackers tend to rely on other methods to install their malicious software in these regions. Exploit kit activity is primarily concentrated in the Asia Pacific region where software is more likely to be out of date.

The best protection against the Fallout exploit kit and other EKs is to ensure that operating systems, browsers, browser extensions, and plugins are kept fully patched and all computers are running the latest versions of software. Companies that use web filters, such as WebTitan, will be better protected as end users will be prevented from visiting, or being redirected to, webpages known to host exploit kits.

To ensure that files can be recovered without paying a ransom, it is essential that regular backups are made. A good strategy is to create at least three backup copies, stored on two different media, with one copy stored securely offsite on a device that is not connected to the network or accessible over the Internet.

CamuBot Trojan Used in Targeted Attacks on Businesses

The CamuBot Trojan is a new malware variant that is being used in vishing campaigns on employees to obtain banking credentials.

Cybercriminals Use Vishing to Convince Employees to Install CamuBot Trojan

Spam email may be the primary method of delivering banking Trojans, but there are other ways of convincing employees to download and run malware on their computers.

In the case of the CamuBot Trojan the method used is vishing. Vishing is the voice equivalent of phishing – The use of the telephone to scam people, either by convincing them to reveal sensitive information or to take some other action such as downloading malware or making fraudulent bank transfers.

Vishing is commonly used in tech support scams where people are convinced to install fake security software to remove fictitious viruses on their computers. The campaign used to install the CamuBot Trojan is a variation on this theme and was uncovered by IBM X-Force researchers.

The attack starts with some reconnaissance. The attackers identify a business that uses a specific bank. Individuals within that organization are then identified that are likely to have access the bank accounts used by the business – payroll staff for example. Those individuals are then contacted by telephone.

The attackers claim that they are calling from the bank and are performing a check of security software on the user’s computer. The user is instructed to visit a webpage where a program will run a scan to find out if they have an up-to-date security module installed on their computer.

The fake scan is completed, and the user is informed that their security module is out of date. The caller then explains that the user must download the latest version of the security module and install it on their computer.

Once the file is downloaded and executed, it runs just like any standard software installer. The user is advised of the minimum system requirements needed for the security module to work and the installer includes the bank’s logo and color scheme to make it appear genuine.

The user is guided through the installation process, which first requires them to stop certain processes that are running on their computer. The installer displays the progress of the fake installation, but in the background, the CamuBot Trojan is being installed. Once the process is completed, it connects to its C2 server.

The user is then directed to what appears to be the login portal for their bank where they are required to enter their login credentials. The portal is a phishing webpage, and the credentials to access the users bank account are captured by the attacker.

Many banks require a second factor for authentication. If such a control is in place, the attackers will instruct the user that a further installation is required for the security module to work. They will be talked through the installation of a driver that allows a hardware-based authentication device to be remotely shared with the attacker. Once that has been installed and approved, the attackers are able to intercept any one-time passwords that are sent by the bank to the user’s device, allowing the attackers to take full control of the bank account and authorize transactions.

The CamuBot Trojan shows that malware does not need to be stealthy to be successful. Social engineering techniques can be just a effective at getting employees to install malware.

The CambuBot Trojan campaign is primarily being conducted in Brazil, but the campaign could be rolled out and used in attacks in other countries. The techniques used in this campaign are not new and have ben used in several malware campaigns in the past.

Consequently, it is important for this type of attack to be covered as part of security awareness training programs. Use of a web filter will also help to prevent these attacks from succeeding by blocking access to the malicious pages where the malware is downloaded.

Security Awareness Training Best Practices

Security awareness training best practices to help your organization tackle the weakest link in the security chain: Your employees.

The Importance of Security Awareness Training

It doesn’t matter how comprehensive your security defenses are and how much you invested on cybersecurity products, those defenses can all be bypassed with a single phishing email. If one such email is delivered to an end user who does not have a basic understanding of security and they respond to that message, malware can be installed, or the attacker can otherwise gain a foothold in your network.

It is the risk of such an attack that has spurred many organizations to develop a security awareness training program. By teaching all employees cybersecurity best practices – from the CEO to the lowest level workers – security posture can be greatly enhanced and susceptibility to phishing attacks and other cyberattacks will be greatly reduced.

However, simply providing employees with a training session when they join the company is not sufficient. Neither is it enough to give an induction in cybersecurity followed by an annual refresher training session. Employees cannot be expected to retain knowledge for 12 months unless frequent refresher training sessions are provided. Further, cybercriminals are constantly developing new tactics to fool end users. Training programs must keep up with those changing tactics.

To help organizations develop an effective security awareness training program we have compiled a list of security awareness training best practices to follow. Adopt these security awareness training best practices and you will be one step closer to developing a security culture in your organization.

Security Awareness Training Best Practices

Listed below are some security awareness training best practices that will help you develop an effective training program that will ultimately help you to prevent data breaches.

C-Suite Involvement is a Must

It is often said that the weakest link in the security chain are an organization’s employees. While that is undoubtedly true, the C-Suite is also a weak link. If the C-Suite does not take an active interest in cybersecurity and does not realize the importance of the human element in security, it is unlikely that sufficient support will be provided and unlikely that appropriate resources are made available. C-suite involvement can also help with organization-wide collaboration. It will be very difficult to create a security culture in an organization if there is no C-Suite involvement in cybersecurity.

An Organization-Wide Effort is Required

A single department will likely be given the responsibility for developing and implementing a security awareness program, but it will not be easy in isolation. Assistance will be required from other departments. The heads of different departments can help to ensure that the security awareness training program is given the priority it deserves.

To ease the burden on the IT department, members of other departments can be trained and can assist with the provision of support or may even be able to assist with the training efforts. Other departments, such as marketing, can help developing content for newsletters and other training material. The HR department can help by setting policies and procedures.

Creation of Security Awareness Training Content

There is no need to develop training content for employees from scratch as there are many free resources available that can give you a head start. Many firms offer high quality training material for a price, which is likely to be lower than the cost of developing training material in-house. Take advantage of these resources but make sure that you develop a training program that is specific to the threats faced by your organization and the sector in which you operate. Your training program must be comprehensive. If any gaps exist, they are likely to be exploited sooner or later.

Diversity of Training

A one-size-fits-all approach to training will ultimately fail. People respond differently to different training methods. Some may retain more knowledge through classroom-based training, others may need one-to-one training, and many will benefit more from CBT training sessions. Your training program should include a wide range of different methods to help with different learning styles. The more engaging your program is, the more likely knowledge will be retained. Use posters, newsletters, email security alerts, games, and quizzes and you will likely see major improvements in your employees’ security awareness.

Simulation Exercises

You can develop a seriously impressive training program for your employees that looks perfect on paper, but if your employees only manage to retain 20% of the content, your training program will not be very effective. The only way you can determine how effective your training program is through attack simulations. Phishing simulation exercises and simulations of other attack scenarios should be conducted before, during, and after training. You will be able to assess how effective all elements of the training program have been, and it will give you the feedback you need to identify weak links and take action to improve your training program.

Security Awareness Training Needs to be a Constant Process

Security awareness training is not a checkbox item that can be completed and forgotten about for another year. Your program should be running constantly and should consist of an annual training session for all employees, semi-annual training sessions, and other training efforts spread throughout the year. The goal should be to make sure security issues are always fresh in the mind.

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Restaurants

Cybersecurity best practices for restaurants that you can adopt to make your network more secure and prevent hackers from gaining access to your POS system and customers’ credit card information.

Cybercriminals are Targeting Restaurants’ POS Systems

If you run a busy restaurant you will most likely be processing thousands of credit and debit card transactions every month. Every time someone pays with a card you have a legal responsibility to ensure that the card details that are read through your point of sale (POS) system remain private and cannot be stolen by your employees or obtained by cybercriminals.

So far this year there have been several major cyberattacks on restaurants that have resulted in the credit and debit card numbers of customers being stolen.  In August, Darden Restaurants discovered that hackers gained access to the POS system used in its Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen restaurants and potentially stole over half a million payment card numbers.

Applebee’s, PDQ, Zippy’s, and Chili’s have all experienced cyberattacks in 2018 which have resulted in hackers gaining access to customers’ payment cards. Last year also saw several cyberattacks on restaurants, including attacks on Shoney’s, Arby’s, Chipotle, and the Sonic Drive-In chain. These restaurant cyberattacks are notable due to the amount of card numbers that were stolen. The cyberattack on Cheddar’s is thought to have resulted in the theft of more than half a million payment card numbers, expiry dates and CVV codes, while the Sonic data breach has been estimated to have impacted millions of customers.

Not all cyberattacks on restaurants are conducted on large restaurant chains. Smaller restaurants are also being attacked. These smaller establishments may not process anywhere near as many payment card transactions as a chain the size of Applebee’s, but the attacks can still prove profitable for criminals. Card details sell for upwards of $7, so the theft of 1,000 card numbers from a small restaurant will still generate a decent profit and the effort required to conduct cyberattacks on small restaurants is often far less than an attack on a large chain.

All restaurants are at risk of hacking. Steps must therefore be taken by all restaurants to make it as hard as possible for hackers to gain access to the network, POS systems, and customer data. With this in mind we have listed cybersecurity best practices for restaurants to adopt to avoid a data breach.

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Restaurants

Listed below are some cybersecurity best practices for restaurants to adopt to make it harder for hackers to gain access to your network and data. There is no silver bullet that will stop all cyberattacks, but these cybersecurity best practices for restaurants will help to improve your security posture.

Network Segmentation is a Must

You will most likely have multiple computers in use in your restaurant as well as many other devices that connect to your network via an ethernet connection or WiFi. Every device that connects to your network is a possible entry point that could be exploited by a hacker. It is therefore important to stake steps to ensure that if one device is compromised, access cannot be gained to your entire network. Your POS system needs to be segregated from other parts of the network and users should only be permitted to access parts of the network that are required to complete their assigned duties.

Patch Management and Vulnerability Scanning

All it takes is for one vulnerability to remain unaddressed for you to be vulnerable to attack. It is therefore essential to maintain an inventory of all devices that connect to your network and ensure that patches and software updates are applied on all those devices as soon as they are released. You should also conduct regular vulnerability scans to identify possible weak points and take prompt action to ensure those weak points are addressed.

Secure the Perimeter with a Firewall

One of the most important cybersecurity solutions to implement to prevent hackers from gaining access to your network is a firewall. A firewall monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic and serves as a barrier between a trusted internal network and an untrusted external network. A firewall is also an important element of PCI compliance.

Implement a Spam Filter to Block Malicious Emails

Email is the most common vector used to install malware. Phishing attacks are commonplace and are an easy way for hackers to gain login credentials and get a foothold in the network. Use a spam filter such as SpamTitan to prevent malicious messages from being delivered to end users’ inboxes and block all malware-laced emails.

Protect Your WiFi Network with a Web Filtering Solution

Your WiFi network is a potential weak spot and must be secured. If you provide WiFi access to your customers, ensure they are only provided with access to a guest network and not the network used by your staff. Implement a web filter to control what users can do when connected to your network. A web filter will help to prevent malware from being downloaded and can be configured to block access to risky websites. WebTitan is an ideal web filter for restaurants to improve WiFi security.

Purchase Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is one of the most basic software solutions to protect against malware. Malware is commonly installed on POS systems to record and exfiltrate payment card information. Not only should you ensure that a powerful antivirus solution is installed, you should also ensure regular scans of the network are performed.

Provide Security Awareness Training to Staff

Your employees are a potential weak point in your security defenses. Don’t assume that your employees are security aware. Teach your staff cybersecurity best practices for restaurants, provide anti-phishing training, and explain about risky behaviors that could easily lead to a data breach.

Backup and Backup Again

You should perform regular backups of all your essential data to protect against saboteurs and provide protection against ransomware attacks. If disaster strikes, you will need to record all your data. Adopt the 3-2-1 approach to creating backups. Create three copies, on two separate media, and store one copy securely off site on an air-gapped device that is not connected to the Internet.

Vet your Vendors

Access to your network may be gained through your vendors. The cyberattack on PDQ restaurants occurred via a remote access tool used by one of its technology vendors. If a vendor is able to connect to your network, it is essential that they have appropriate security controls in place. Be sure to check how secure your vendor is and what controls they have in place to prevent hacking before giving them network access.

Adopt these cybersecurity best practices for restaurants and you will make it harder for hackers to gain access to your network and you should be able to avoid a costly data breach.

Beware of This SharePoint Phishing Scam

A new SharePoint phishing scam has been detected that attempts to steal Office 365 credentials. The scam emails being sent in this campaign are similar to those used in countless Google Docs phishing attacks, which appear at face value to be attempts to collaborate through the sharing of files. These scams are often used to spread malware, with the documents often containing malicious macros or links to websites where malware is silently downloaded.

These brand impersonation attacks use an email format that is identical to those used in genuine messages. The phishing emails contain logos, formatting and links that makes the messages identical to legitimate messages requesting collaboration on a project.

This SharePoint phishing scam includes a hyperlink to a genuine SharePoint document, which may not be flagged as malicious since the file itself does not contain malware.

The SharePoint file advises the user that the content they are looking for has been uploaded to OneDrive for Business and a further click is necessary to access the file. A hyperlink named “Access Document” is included in the SharePoint file along with the genuine OneDrive for Business logo and appropriate graphics. At face value the document does not appear malicious, although checking the destination URL of the link will reveal that it directs the user to a suspect website.

It is that website where the phishing attempt takes place. After clicking the link the user is presented with a login window for Office 365 and their Microsoft login details must be entered. Entering Office 365 credentials at this point will pass them to the criminals behind this campaign. The user is unlikely to realize that they have been successfully phished as after entering credentials they will be directed to a genuine Office site.

This SharePoint phishing scam appears to target businesses. Business users are likely to be used to collaborating using SharePoint and are therefore more likely to respond. Gaining access to a business Office 365 account is more lucrative for the attackers, allowing them to access to email accounts to use in further phishing campaigns and access to data stored in those accounts and other sensitive data.

Email addresses for business users can easily be located through sites such as LinkedIn or lists of business email addresses could be purchased on the dark web and hacking forums.

This SharePoint phishing scam, Google Docs phishing scams, and similar campaigns spoofing Dropbox are commonplace and highly effective. They take advantage of familiarity with these collaboration services, trust in the brands, a lack of security awareness, and business employees that do not stop and think before clicking.

Preventing these attacks requires technological solutions to stop the messages from being delivered. Security awareness training can be highly effective at conditioning employees to stop and think before taking any action, while web filters can block these attacks by preventing malicious URLs from being visited. Without these controls in place, businesses will be vulnerable.

The Importance of Web Filtering for Businesses

The importance of web filtering for businesses cannot be understated. Businesses can install a range of perimeter defenses, but if controls are not implemented to restrict the activities of employees, malware can easily be downloaded onto work devices. The cost of mitigating malware infections can be considerable. The NotPetya malware attacks last year cost Maersk around $300 million. The Ponemon Institute annual cost of a data breach study suggests the average cost of a data breach is now $3.6 million for large businesses.

There is no single software solution that can provide total protection for businesses. A range of security solutions are required to reduce risk to an acceptable level, and web filters are one such control that should now be used by all businesses.

A new campaign has been detected this week that demonstrates the importance of web filtering for businesses, highlighting one of the methods used to install malicious software on corporate devices. In this case, the aim of the campaign is to install adware, unwanted browser extensions, and PuPs, although this tactic is often used to install much more malicious software.

The individuals behind this campaign are using autogenerated content to create large quantities of websites that incorporate commonly used keywords related to popular celebrities and adult industry actors. The aim of the campaign is to get these webpages indexed by the search engines and appearing in the organic search engine listings.  Individuals who search for these keywords are likely to be presented with these webpages.

Upon opening these webpages, a popup is launched that advises the user that their computer lacks the codecs and software necessary to play the video. To get the videos to play, they need to install a media player. If the end user chooses to install the media player, rather than the media player being installed, a bundle of other programs is downloaded and installed on their device. The campaign also directs users to webpages where they are encouraged to install browser extensions.

If an employee is actively searching for inappropriate website content, it is easy to see how that individual would proceed with a download, and in doing so, install any number of potentially malicious programs.

This is not a hypothetical situation – many employees do just that. A recent survey conducted by Spiceworks delved into the reasons why companies are increasingly using web filters. The primary reason was to prevent the installation of malware. Further, when asked about whether employees had caused problems by accessing inappropriate website content, 38% of respondents said they had experienced a data breach in the past 12 months as a result of employees visiting websites that were not necessary for work.

The survey also revealed the extent that employees are using the Internet for personal reasons. Out of the companies that had not implemented a web filter, it was estimated that 58% of employees were wasting more than 4 hours a week on personal internet use, while 26% of employees were wasting 7 or more hours on non-work-related websites. That adds up to 26 days a year lost by each of those employees.

A web filter can allow a company to improve the productivity of the workforce. Employees will always slack off from time to time, but web filters can help to reduce the number of lost hours. The survey showed that the percentages fell to 43% spending more than 4 hours a week on non-work-related sites and 18% spending more than 7 hours a week slacking off online when a web filter was deployed – a significant reduction in lost hours.  Further, blocking social media websites saw the figure fall to 30% of employees wasting more than 4 hours a week on personal internet use.

Another important benefit of web filtering is to prevent the accessing of illegal website content. Companies can be legally liable for illegal activities by their employees, such as the downloading of copyright protected material through peer-to-peer file sharing networks. The survey revealed two thirds of companies were using their web filter to avoid legal liability and 84% were using a web filter to stop illegal activity online. Data leakage is also a serious concern. 57% of companies use web filters to prevent data leakage and hacking.

If you want to improve your security posture, reduce the potential for productivity losses, and reduce legal liability, a web filter and at least some form of content control is essential.

If you have yet to implement a web filter, are unhappy with your current provider, or would like further information on the importance of web filtering for businesses, call the TitanHQ team today for further information. A free trial is also available for WebTitan, the leading web filtering solution for businesses, to allow you to find out first hand the benefits that content control offers.

How Can You Prevent a Computer from Becoming Part of a Botnet?

What is a Botnet? How are they used? What harm can be caused, and how can you prevent a computer from becoming part of a botnet? These and other questions answered.

What is a Botnet?

A botnet is simply a collection of computers and other Internet-connected devices that are controlled by a threat actor. Usually that control is achieved via a malware installation, with the malware communicating with the threat actor’s command and control server.

Once malware has been installed on one device, potentially it can propagate to other devices on the same network, creating a mini-army of slave devices under the threat actor’s control. Any computer with the malware installed is part of the botnet and can be used on its own or collectively with other compromised devices for malicious purposes.

What are Botnets Used For?

Botnets are often used to conduct Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, with the devices in the botnet used to access a particular service simultaneously and flooding it with traffic making that service temporarily unavailable. The Mirai botnet, which mostly consists of vulnerable IoT devices, was used to take down large sections of the Internet, including some of the most popular websites such as Twitter and Netflix. DDoS attacks are now being conducted that exceed 1 terabits per second, largely due to sheer number of devices that are part of the botnet.

One of the biggest botnets ever assembled was made possible with Zeus malware, a banking Trojan that was particularly difficult to detect. In the United States, an estimated 3.6 million computers had been infected with the malware, making Zeus one of the biggest botnets ever created.

In addition to DDoS attacks, botnets are also used to send huge quantities of spam and phishing emails. The Necurs botnet is the world’s largest spamming botnet, delivering 60% of all spam emails. The Gamut spam botnet delivers around 37% of spam botnet traffic. These two spamming botnets are primarily used to send malicious messages containing email attachments with malicious macros that download malware such as the Dridex banking Trojan, and the ransomware variants Locky, Globelmposter, and Scarab.

Recently, the rise in the value of cryptocurrencies has made it highly profitable to use the processing power of botnets to mine cryptocurrency. When processing power is used for cryptocurrency mining, the performance of the computers will reduce significantly.

How Are Botnets Created?

Botnets can be created through several different methods. In the case of IoT devices, attackers often take advantage of weak passwords and default credentials that have not been changed. Since IoT devices are less likely to be updated automatically with the latest software and firmware, it is easier to exploit flaws to gain access to the devices. IoT Devices also rarely have antivirus controls, making infection easier and detection of malware much harder.

Computers are most commonly recruited into botnets through malware sent via spam email campaigns – such as those sent out by the spamming botnets. Malware is delivered via infected email attachments or links to malicious websites where malicious code is hosted. Messages can be sent via social media networks and chat apps, which also direct users to malicious websites where malware is downloaded.

Drive-by downloads are also common – Malware is downloaded by exploiting vulnerabilities in browsers, add-ons or browser plug-ins, often through exploit kits loaded on compromised websites.

Prevent a Computer from Becoming Part of a Botnet

It is much easier to prevent a computer from becoming part of a botnet than identifying a malware infection and eradicating it once it has been installed. To prevent a computer from becoming part of a botnet, it is necessary to use technological controls and adopt security best practices.

Businesses need to ensure all staff are trained to be more security aware and are told about the risks of opening email attachments or clicking links in emails from unknown senders. They should also be told not to automatically trust messages from contacts as their email accounts could have been compromised. Employees should be taught security best practices and risky behavior, such as connecting to public WiFi networks without using a VPN, should be eradicated.

All software must be kept up to date with patches applied promptly. This will reduce the risk of vulnerabilities being exploited to deliver malware. Antivirus software should be installed and configured to update automatically, and regular AV scans should be performed.

Firewalls should be used to implemented to prevent unauthorized network access and allow security teams to monitor internet traffic.

Spam filtering solutions should be implemented to block the majority of malicious messages from being delivered to end users’ inboxes. The more messages that are blocked, the less chance there is of an employee responding to a phishing email and inadvertently installing malware.

One way to prevent a computer from becoming part of a botnet that is often forgotten, is the use of a web filtering solution. A web filter, such as WebTitan, will prevent malware and ransomware downloads and block access to malicious websites sent via email or through web browsing.

Implement these controls and it will make it much harder for your organization’s computers to be infected with malware and added to a botnet.

WebTitan Incorporated into Datto’s Network Security Solutions

TitanHQ has announced as part of its strategic alliance with networking and security solution provider Datto, WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi have been incorporated into the Datto networking range and are immediately available to MSPs.

Datto is the leading provider of enterprise-level technology to small to medium sized businesses through its MSP partners. Datto offers data backup and disaster recovery solutions, cloud-to-cloud data protection services, managed networking services, professional services automation, and remote monitoring and management tools.

The addition of WebTitan to its range of security and networking solutions means its MSP partners can now offer their clients another level of security to protect them from malware and ransomware downloads and phishing attacks.

WebTitan is a 100% cloud-based DNS web filtering solution developed with MSPs in mind. In addition to allowing businesses to carefully control the types of websites their employees can access through corporate wired and wireless networks, the solution provides excellent protection against phishing attacks and web-based threats.

With phishing now the number one threat faced by SMBs and a proliferation of ransomware attacks, businesses are turning to their MSPs to provide security solutions to counter the threat.

Businesses that implement the solution are given real-time protection against malicious URLs and IPs, and employees are prevented from accessing malicious websites through general web browsing and via malicious URLs sent in phishing emails.

“We are delighted that Datto has chosen TitanHQ as a partner in web security. By integrating TitanHQ’s secure content and web filtering service, we are well positioned to offer Datto MSPs a best of breed solution for their small to mid-size customers,” said TitanHQ CEO, Ronan Kavanagh.

“We pride ourselves in equipping our community of Managed Service Provider partners with the right products and tools to allow each and every customer to succeed,” said John Tippett, VP, Datto Networking. “With that in mind, I’m delighted to welcome TitanHQ as a security partner and look forward to growing our partnership.”  

At the upcoming TitanHQ-sponsored DattoCon 2018 conference in Austin, TX – the largest MSP event in the United States – MSPs will be able to see WebTitan in action. TitanHQ’s full team will be in attendance, including Ronan Kavanagh – TitanHQ’s CEO, Conor Madden – Sales Director, Dryden Geary – Marketing Manager, and Eddie Monaghan – Alliance Manager.

MSPs can visit the TitanHQ team at booth #66 in the exhibition hall for a demonstration of WebTitan, SpamTitan – TitanHQ’s award -winning spam filtering solution – and ArcTitan, TitanHQ’s email archiving solution. All three solutions are MSP friendly and are easily added to MSP’s service stacks.

DattoCon 2018 runs all week from June 18, 2018. The TitanHQ team will be present all week and meetings can be arranged in advance by contacting TitanHQ ahead of the conference.

Your Router May Have Been Compromised: Urgent Action Required

A hacking group has succeeded in infecting hundreds of thousands of routers with VPNFilter malware. The scale of the malware campaign is astonishing. So far more than half a million routers are believed to have been infected with the malware, prompting the FBI to issue a warning to all consumers and businesses to power cycle their routers.

Power cycling the router may not totally eradicate the malware, although it will temporarily disrupt communications and will help to identify infected devices, according to a May 25 public service announcement issued by the FBI.

All users have been advised to change the password on their router, install firmware updates if they are available, and disable the router’s remote management feature.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the malware campaign is being conducted by the Sofacy Group, also known as Fancy Bear and APT28. The hacking group has ties to the Russian government with some believing the hacking group is directed by Russia’s military intelligence agency.

While most of the infected routers and NAS devices are located in Ukraine, devices in more than 50 countries are known to have been infected with the malware. VPNFilter malware is a modular malware with a range of different functions that include the ability to capture all information that passes through the router, block network traffic and prevent Internet access, and potentially, the malware can totally disable the router. The infected routers could also be used to bring down specific web servers in a DDoS attack.

Many common router models are vulnerable including Linksys routers (E1200, E2500, WRVS4400N), Netgear routers (DGN2200, R6400, R7000, R8000, WNR1000, WNR2000), Mikrotik RouterOS for Cloud Core Routers (V1016, 1036, 1072), TP-Link (R600VPN), QNAP (TS251, TS439 Pro and QNAP NAS devices running QTS software).

The motive behind the malware infections is not known and neither the method being used to install the malware. The exploitation of vulnerabilities on older devices, brute force attacks, and even supply chain attacks have not been ruled out.

The FBI has taken steps to disrupt the malware campaign, having obtained a court order to seize control of a domain that was being used to communicate with the malware. While communications have now been disrupted, if a router has been compromised the malware will remain until it is removed by the router owners.

How to Update Your Router

While each router will be slightly different, they can be accessed by typing in 192.168.1.1 into the browser and entering the account name and password. For many users this will be the default login credentials unless they have been changed during set up.

In the advanced settings on the router it will be possible to change the password and disable remote management, if it is not already disabled. There should also be an option to check the firmware version of the router. If an update is available it should be applied.

You should then either manually power cycle the router – turn it off and unplug it for 20 seconds – or ideally use the reboot settings via the administration panel.

DrayTek Discovers Actively Exploited Zero Day Vulnerability

The Taiwanese broadband equipment manufacturer DrayTek has discovered some of its devices are at risk due to a zero-day vulnerability that is being actively exploited in the wild. More than 800,000 households and businesses are believed to be vulnerable although it is unknown how many of those devices have been attacked to date.

The affected devices are Vigor models 2120; 2133; 2760D; 2762; 2832; 2860; 2862; 2862B; 2912; 2925; 2926; 2952; 3200; 3220 and BX2000, 2830nv2; 2830; 2850; and 2920.

The vulnerability allows the routers to be compromised via a Cross-Site Request Forgery attack, one where a user is forced to execute actions on a web application in which they are currently authenticated. While data theft is possible with this type of attack, the attackers are using this attack to change configuration settings – namely DNS settings. By making that change, the attackers can perform man in the middle attacks, and redirect users from legitimate sites to fake sites where credentials can be stolen.

A firmware update has now been released to correct the vulnerability and all users of vulnerable DrayTek devices are being encouraged to check their DNS settings to make sure they have not been altered, ensure no additional users have been added to the device configuration, and apply the update as soon as possible.

When accessing the router, ensure no other browser windows are open. The only tab that should be open is the one used to access the router. Login, update the firmware and then logout of the router. Do not just close the window. Also ensure that you set a strong password and disable remote access if it is not already disabled.

Many small businesses purchase a router and forget about it unless something goes wrong and Internet access stops. Firmware updates are never installed, and little thought is given to upgrading to a new model. However, older models of router can be vulnerable to attack. These attacks highlight the need to keep abreast of firmware updates issued by your router manufacturer and apply them promptly.

How Does WebTitan Work?

TitanHQ’s WebTitan is a powerful web filtering solution that helps businesses control the web content that can be accessed by its employees, but how does WebTitan work and how can the solution improve an organization’s security posture?

Why Are Web Filters Necessary?

Many businesses choose to implement a web filtering solution to prevent employees from accessing inappropriate web content such as pornography or to stop work computers from being used to download illegal content such as pirated films, music, and TV shows. A category-based web filter allows businesses to block certain types of web content with ease, such as adult material and P2P file sharing websites.

While content filters can achieve those aims, perhaps a more important function of web filters is to block web-based threats such as malware and phishing websites. Many businesses choose to deploy WebTitan to block these threats, but how does WebTitan work?

How Does WebTitan Work?

WebTitan Cloud is a 100% cloud-based web filtering solution that serves as a semi-permeable membrane between an organisation’s users and the Internet. When an end user attempts to access a particular URL that does not violate an organization’s acceptable Internet use policy, the request is honoured. Since there is no latency, the speed at which the website is loaded is the same as if no filtering mechanism is in place.

Unknown to the user, when an attempt is made to access a webpage, the DNS request is sent to WebTitan Cloud which determines whether the request should be allowed or denied.

If the user attempts to access a gambling website and the gambling category has been blocked through WebTitan Cloud, the user will be advised that their request has been denied and access to the site will be prevented. But how does WebTitan work as far as malicious websites are concerned? How are malicious URLs identified and blocked?

How Does WebTitan Block Access to Malicious Websites?

How does WebTitan determine which URLs are benign and which ones are malicious, and how are those checks performed in real-time?

To block malicious sites, WebTitan uses a crowd-sourced approach and obtains a constant stream of URLs for analysis. These ActiveWeb URLs come from websites actively visited by a global network of customers through high traffic markets such as subscriber analytics, networks security, IOT, and ad tech.

This traffic is used to train WebTitan’s human-supervised Machine Learning Systems to detect, monitor, and categorize threats. Using in house and third-party tools, WebTitan performs link, content, static, heuristic, and behavioural anomaly analyses to categorize threats. When threats are detected, the WebTitan team profiles, tests and validates those threats. Once threats have been validated, they are blocked with false positives used to train the system to improve future accuracy.

In contrast to many DNS-based systems, which only work at the domain level, WebTitan works at the path level and is capable of blocking individual webpages rather than entire domains. The majority of malicious URLs in the WebTitan database are marked as malicious at the path level – 99.7% of IP-based URLs and 88.35% of non-IP-based URLs.

WebTitan performs checks of websites that have previously been marked as malicious to determine whether they still contain malware or other threats. The WebTitan Malicious Detection Solution revisits up to 300,000 sites to check whether they are still infected or have been cleaned, and the database is updated accordingly. Sites previously marked as malicious can be accessed once they have been determined to be safe.

What Web-Based Threats Does WebTitan Block?

There are ten main web-based threats that WebTitan protects against:

  • Malware distribution points
  • Ad fraud
  • Botnets
  • Spyware and questionable software
  • Phishing and other fraudulent sites
  • Command and Control (C2) servers
  • Malware call-home addresses
  • Compromised sites and links to malware
  • Spam URLs
  • Cryptocurrency mining

With WebTitan, businesses not only have highly granular control over the types of sites that can be visited by their employees, a wide range of malicious sites are also blocked, preventing malware and ransomware infections, data theft, data exfiltration and fraud.

You can view further information about WebTitan on this link. (PDF)

Most Common Wireless Network Attacks

Many businesses have moved from wired to wireless technologies which has had a negative impact on their security posture. Wired networks are easier to secure than wireless networks, and if vulnerabilities exist they can be exploited by cybercriminals. Because of these security flaws, and the ease of exploiting them, wireless networks attacks are common. In this post we explore some of the common wireless network attacks and offer advice on simple steps that can be taken to secure wireless networks and prevent costly data breaches.

Wi-Fi is Ubiquitous, Yet Many Businesses Neglect Security

Wi-Fi access used to be something you had to pay for, but now free WiFi is something that is taken for granted. Visitors to a hotel, coffee shop, bar, retail outlet, or restaurant now expect WiFi to be provided. The decision to use a particular establishment is often influenced by whether free WiFi is available, but increasingly the quality of the connection is a factor in the decision process.

The quality of the WiFi on offer is not just a question of there being enough bandwidth and fast internet speeds.

Parents often choose to visit establishments that provide secure WiFi with content control, such as those that have been verified under the Friendly WiFi scheme. In order to be accredited under the scheme, businesses must have implemented appropriate filtering controls to ensure that minors are prevented from accessing age-inappropriate material. The massive rise in cyberattacks via public WiFi networks has seen many consumers choose establishments that offer secure WiFi access.

If you run a business and are providing WiFi to customers or have yet to provide WiFi and are considering adding a WiFi hotspot to attract more customers, be sure to consider the security of your network. The past couple of years have seen many major attacks on WiFi networks and customers who use wireless services.

Some of the most common wireless network attacks are detailed below.

What are the Most Common Wireless Network Attacks?

Some of the most common wireless network attacks are opportunistic in nature. Businesses that fail to secure their WiFi networks leave the door wide open to scammers and hackers who would otherwise look for easier targets. Those scammers are happy to take advantage of poor security controls to steal sensitive information from WiFi users and distribute malware. Unsecured WiFi networks are also targeted by sophisticated cybercriminals and organized crime groups to gain a foothold in the network. The attacks can be extremely lucrative. If malware can be installed on POS systems, the credit/debit card numbers of tens or hundreds of thousands of customers can be stolen.

Fake WiFi Access Points, Evil Twins, and Man in the Middle Attacks

Visitors to hotels, coffee shops and malls often connect to the free WiFi on offer, but various studies have shown that care is not always taken when connecting. Customers often choose the WiFi access point based on the name without checking it is the wireless network set up by a particular establishment for customer use.

Criminals can easily set up fake WiFi access points, often using the name of the establishment in the SSID name. Calling it ‘Free Airport WiFi’ is a common ploy to get people to connect. When customers connect to these rogue WiFi networks they can still access the Internet and are likely to be unaware that anything is wrong. However, everything they do online is being monitored by cybercriminals. Sensitive information entered online, such as email addresses and passwords, credit card numbers, or banking credentials can be stolen.

How is this done? The attacker simply creates a hotspot on a smartphone and pairs it with a tablet or laptop. The hacker can then sit in the coffee shop drinking a latte while monitoring the traffic of everyone that connects. Alternatively they can use a router with the same name and password as the one currently in use. This may also have a stronger WiFi signal, which may see more people connect to it but it is an “evil twin” through which man in the middle attacks occur – the interception of data sent over the network.

This is one of the most common wireless network attacks and it is surprisingly effective. One study indicated more than a third of WiFi hotspot users take no precautions when accessing WiFi hotspots and frequently connect to unsecured networks.

Packet Sniffing: Interception of Unencrypted Traffic

Research by Kaspersky Lab in 2016 showed more than a quarter of public Wi-Fi hotspots set up in malls were insecure and lacked basic security controls. A quarter did not encrypt traffic at all, while research conducted by Skycure showed that five of the 10 busiest malls in the USA had risky WiFi networks. One mall in Las Vegas was discovered to be operating 14 risky WiFi access points. Hackers can use programs called packet sniffers to intercept traffic on unencrypted WiFi networks. These common wireless network attacks are easy on older routers, such as those using WEP encryption. WPA offers better security, although as a minimum WPA2 should be used, or better still, the recently released WPA3. Packet sniffing is one of the most common wireless network attacks.

Examples of WiFi Network Attacks

Listed below are some examples of common wireless networks attacks that have resulted in the installation of malware or theft of sensitive information. These attacks could easily have been prevented had appropriate security controls been implemented.

Tel Aviv Free WiFi Network Hacked

One notable example of how easy it can be for a hacker to take over a WiFi network comes from Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv offers a city-wide free WiFi network, which incorporates basic security controls to keep users secure on the network. However, it did not prove to be as secure as city officials thought.

While commuting home, Tel Aviv resident Amihai Neiderman noticed a new WiFi access point had appeared. The FREE_TLV access point was provided by the city and Neiderman decided to test its security controls. After determining the IP address through which WiFi clients accessed the Internet, he disconnected, scanned the router, and discovered the web-based login interface was run through HTTPS port 443.

While he found no major vulnerabilities, after extensive analysis he identified a buffer overflow vulnerability which he successfully exploited to take full control of the router. By doing so, if he was so inclined, he could have intercepted the traffic from tens of thousands of users.

Toasters Used to Hack Unsecured WiFi Networks

Perhaps not one of the most common WiFi network attacks, but notable none the less due to the rise in use of IoT devices. IoT capability has been incorporated into all manner of devices from toasters to washing machines. These devices can be vulnerable to supply chain attacks – Where hardware is altered to allow the devices to be used to attack WiFi networks. In 2016, Russian officials discovered chips imported from China had been altered and were being used to spread malware that could eavesdrop on unsecured WiFi networks from a range of 200 meters. They were used to infect those networks with malware that could steal information.

In Flight WiFi Network Hacked from the Ground

Cybersecurity expert Ruben Santamarta has demonstrated it is possible to hack into airline WiFi networks from the ground and view the internet activity of passengers and intercept their information. More worryingly, he was also able to gain access to the cockpit network and SATCOM equipment. He claims the same technique could be used for ships, industrial facilities and even military installations. He explained how he did it in his “Last Call for SATCOM security” presentation at the 2018 blackhat hacker conference.

WiFi Networks Used to Gain Access to Business Data

Creating a WiFi network for guests is simple. Ensuring it is secure and cannot be used for attacks on the business network or customers requires more thought and effort. Any business that allows customers to make purchases using credit and debit cards is a major target for hackers and poor WiFi security is likely to be exploited sooner or later. The past few years have seen many major attacks that have resulted in malware being installed on POS systems. These are now some of the most common wireless network attacks.

How Can Businesses Prevent the Most Common Wireless Network Attacks?

How can businesses protect against some of the most common wireless network attacks? While it is difficult to prevent the creation of fake WiFi hotspots, there are steps that can be taken to prevent many common wireless network attacks.

Isolate the Guest Network

If your business network is not isolated from your guest WiFi network, it could be used to gain access to business data and could place your POS at risk of compromise. Use a router that offers multiple SSIDs – most modern routers have that functionality. These routers often have a guest SSID option or separate guest portal. Make sure it is activated when it is deployed. Alternatively, your wireless router may have a wireless isolation feature which will prevent WiFi users from accessing your internal network and other client devices. If you require multiple access points throughout your establishment, you are likely to need a VLAN or EoIP tunnel configuration – A more complicated setup that will require you to seek professional advice on security.

Encrypt WiFi Traffic with WPA2 or WPA3

If you have an old router that does not support WPA2 encryption its time for an upgrade. WPA2 is the minimum standard for WiFi security, and while it can still be cracked, it is time consuming and difficult. WPA3 has now been released and an upgrade should be considered. You should also make sure that WPS is turned off.

Update Firmware Promptly

All software and devices contain vulnerabilities and require updating. Software should be patched and devices such as routers will need to have their firmware upgraded when new versions are released. Check your device manufacturers website periodically for details of firmware updates and ensure your device is updated.

Create a Secure SSID

Your router will have a default SSID name, but this should be changed to personalize it to your business. If you make it easily identifiable, it will reduce the potential for rogue access points to be confused with your own.  Ensure that you enforce WPA2 encryption with a shared key and post that information for your customers along with your SSID in a prominent place where they can see it.

Restrict WiFi Access

If your wireless router or access point is too powerful, it could be accessed from outside your premises. Choose a router that allows you to alter the strength of your signal and you can ensure only your customers will use your connection. Also ensure that your WiFi access point is only available during business hours. If your access points are left unsupervised when your business is closed, it increases the risk of an attack.

Secure Your Infrastructure

Administrator access can be abused, so ensure that your login name and your passwords are secure. If the default credentials are not changed, it will only be a matter of time before they are abused. Change the username from ‘admin’ or any other default username. Set a strong password that includes upper and lower-case letters, at least one number, and a special character. The password must be at least 8 characters although more is better.  Alternatively use a 14-character+ passphrase.

Use a Web Filter

A web filtering solution is an essential protection for all WiFi networks. Web filters will prevent users from visiting websites and web pages that are known to have been compromised or have been confirmed as malicious. This will protect your customers from web-based threats such as drive by downloads, exploit kits and phishing. A web filter will also allow you to prevent your network from being used to download or view unacceptable content such as pornography and lets you control bandwidth usage to ensure all customers can enjoy decent Internet speeds.

TitanHQ offers a scalable, easy to deploy, granular web filter for WiFi networks. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi requires no hardware purchases or software downloads, and being 100% cloud-based, can be managed and monitored from any location.

EITest Web-Based Malware Distribution Network Disrupted

A web-based malware distribution network that was redirecting around 2 million website visitors a day to compromised websites hosting exploit kits has been disrupted, crippling the malware distribution operation. The web-based malware distribution network – known as EITest – was using compromised websites to redirect web visitors to sites where exploits were used to download malware and ransomware, as well as redirect users to phishing websites and tech support scams that convinced visitors to pay for fake software to remove non-existent malware infections.

Due to the scale of the operation, removing the redirects from compromised websites is a gargantuan task. Efforts to clean up those sites are continuing, with national CERTs notified to provide assistance. However, the web-based malware distribution network has been sinkholed and traffic is now being redirected to a safe domain. Proofpoint researchers were able to seize a key domain that was generating C&C domains, blocking the redirects and re-routing them to four new EITest domains that point to an abuse.ch sinkhole.

The sinkhole has only been in operation for a month – being activated on March 15 – yet already it has helped to protect tens – if not hundreds of millions – of website visitors. In the first three weeks alone, an astonishing 44 million visitors had been redirected to the sinkhole from around 52,000 compromised websites and servers.

The majority of the compromised websites were running WordPress. Malicious code had been injected by taking advantage of flaws in the CMS and plugins installed on the sites. Vulnerabilities in Joomla, Drupal, and PrestaShop had also been exploited to install the malicious code.

The web-based malware distribution network has been in operation since at least 2011, although activity increased significantly in 2014. While previous efforts had been made to disrupt the malware distribution network, most failed and others were only temporarily successful.

The malicious code injected into the servers and websites primarily redirected website visitors to an exploit kit called Glazunov, and to a lesser extent, the Angler exploit kit.  Those exploit kits probed for multiple vulnerabilities in software to download ransomware and malware.

The threat actors behind EITest are believed to have responded and have attempted to gain control of the sinkhole, but for the time being those efforts have been thwarted.

How to Improve Security and Block Web-Based Malware Attacks

While it is certainly good news that such a major operation has been disrupted, the scale of the operation highlights the extent of the threat of web-based attacks. Spam email may have become the main method for distributing malware and ransomware, but organizations should not ignore the threat from web-based attacks.

These attacks can occur when employees are simply browsing the web and visiting perfectly legitimate websites. Unfortunately, lax security by website owners can easily see their website compromised. The failure to update WordPress or other content management systems and plugins along with poor password practices makes attacks on the sites a quick and easy process.

One of the best cybersecurity solutions to implement to reduce the risk of web-based attacks is a web filter. Without a web filter in place, employees will be permitted to visit any website, including sites known to host malware or be used for malicious purposes.

With a web filter in place, redirects to malicious websites can be blocked, downloads of risky files prevented, and web-based phishing attacks thwarted.

TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based web filtering solutions for SMBs and enterprises. WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allow SMBs and enterprises to carefully control the website content that can be accessed by their employees, guest network users, and WiFi users. The solution features powerful antivirus protections, uses blacklists of known malicious websites, and incorporates SSL/HTTPS inspection to provide protection against malicious encrypted traffic.

The solution also allows SMBs and enterprises to enforce their acceptable internet usage policies and schools to enforce Safe Search and YouTube for Schools.

For further information on how WebTitan can protect your employees and students and prevent malware infections on your network, contact TitanHQ today.

Common Web Filtering Myths Busted

If you have yet to implement a web filtering solution to control the content that your employees can access at work, you are taking an unnecessary risk that could result in a costly malware infection, ransomware being installed on your network, or a lawsuit that could have been prevented by implementing basic web filtering controls. Many SMBs have considered implementing a web filter yet have not chosen a solution due to the cost, the belief that a web filter will cause more problems than it solves, or simply because they do not think it offers enough benefits. In this post we explain some of the common misconceptions about web filtering and attempt to debunk some common web filtering myths.

Common Web Filtering Myths

Antivirus Solutions Provide Adequate Protection from Web-Based Malware Attacks

Antivirus software is a must, although products that use signature-based detection methods are not as reliable as they once were. While antivirus companies are still quick to identity new malware variants, the speed at which new variants are being released makes it much harder to keep up. Further, not all malware is written to the hard drive. Fileless malware remains in the memory and cannot easily be detected by AV software. Antivirus software is still important, but you now need a host of other solutions to mount a reasonable defense against attacks. Layered defenses are now a must.

Along with AV software you should have anti spam software in place to block email-based threats such as phishing. You need to train your workforce to recognize web and email threats through security awareness training. Firewalls need to be set with sensible rules, software must be kept updated and patches must be applied promptly, regular data backups are a must to ensure recovery is possible in the event of a ransomware attack, and a web filtering solution should be installed.

A web filter allows you to carefully control the web content that can be accessed by employees. By using blacklists, websites known to host malware can be simply blocked, redirects via malvertising can be prevented, and controls can be implemented to prevent potentially malicious files from being downloaded. You can also prevent your employees from visiting categories of sites – or specific websites – that carry a higher than average risk.

There are other benefits to web filtering that can help you avoid unnecessary costs. By allowing employees to access any content, organizations leave themselves open to lawsuits. Businesses can be held liable for activities that take place on their networks such as accessing illegal content and downloading/sharing copyright-protected material.

Web Filtering is Prohibitively Expensive

Many businesses are put off implementing a web filtering solution due to the perceived cost of filtering the Internet. If you opt for an appliance-based web filter, you need to make sure you have an appliance with sufficient capacity and powerful appliances are not cheap. However, there is a low-cost alternative that does not require such a major cash commitment.

DNS filtering requires no hardware purchases so there is no major capital expenditure. You simply pay for the licenses you need and you are good to go. You may be surprised to find out just how low the price per user actually is.

Web Filtering is Too Complicated to Implement

Some forms of web filters are complex, and hardware-based filters will take some time to install and configure, which will take IT staff away from important duties. However, DNS based filters could not be any easier to implement. Implementing the solution is a quick process – one that will take just a couple of minutes.  You just need to point your DNS to your web filtering service provider.

Even configuring the filter is straightforward. With WebTitan you are given a web-based portal that you can use to configure the settings and apply the desired controls. In its simplest form, you can simply use a checkbox option to select the categories of websites that you want to block.

Since WebTitan includes a database of malicious websites, any request to visit one of those websites will be denied. You can also easily upload third party blacklists, and for total control, use a whitelist to only allow access to specific websites.

Employees Will Just Bypass Web Filtering Controls

No web filtering solution is infallible, although it is possible to implement some basic controls that will prevent all but the most determined and skilled workers from accessing prohibited websites. Simple firewall rules can be easily set and you can block DNS requests to anything other than your approved DNS service. You can also set up WebTitan to block the use of anonymizers.

IT Support Will be Bombarded with Support Calls from Employees Trying to Access Blocked Websites

If you decide to opt for whitelisting acceptable websites, you are likely to be bombarded with support calls when users discover they are unable to access sites necessary for work. Similarly, if you choose to heavily filter the Internet and block most categories of website, then your helpdesk could well be swamped with calls.

However, for most companies, filtering the internet is simply a way of enforcing acceptable usage policies, which your employees should already be aware of. You are unlikely to get calls from employees who want access to porn at work, or calls from employees who want to continue gambling and gaming on the clock. Restrict productivity draining sites, illegal web content, phishing websites, and sites that are not suitable in the workplace, and explain to staff your polices in advance, and your support calls should be kept to a minimum.

Find Out More About DNS Filtering

If you have yet to implement DNS filtering in your organization, it is possible to discover the benefits of Internet filtering before committing to a purchase. TitanHQ offers a free trial of WebTitan Cloud (and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi) so you can try before committing to a purchase.

If you would like further information on getting started with web filtering, have technical questions about implementation, would like details of pricing or would like a demo or a free trial, contact the TitanHQ team today.