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.

Comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure

At face value, SpamTitan and VadeSecure may appear to be equivalent products. In this post we offer a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure to help managed service providers (MSPs) differentiate between the two solutions.

SpamTitan and VadeSecure

SpamTitan and VadeSecure are two email security solutions that block productivity-draining spam emails, phishing emails, and malspam – spam emails that deliver malware or malware downloaders. These cloud-based solutions assess all incoming emails and determine whether they are genuine communications, unwanted spam, or malicious messages and deal with them accordingly to prevent employees from opening the messages.

TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs that serve the SMB market and has been providing email security for MSPs for more than 2 decades. SpamTitan is TitanHQ’s email security offering, which has been developed for SMBs and MSPs that serve the SMB market.

VadeSecure is a French company that has developed an email security solution for the SMB market. As is the case with SpamTitan, VadeSecure offers protection from email-based threats and provides an important extra layer of security, especially for Office 365 environments. The company is now venturing into the MSP market and has recently raised an additional $79 million in venture capital to help it make inroads into the MSP market. However, at present, the solution is primarily geared toward SMBs rather than MSPs that serve them.

Enhanced Phishing Protection for Office 365 Accounts

Office 365 is the most widely used cloud service by user count and 2019 figures show that Office 365 cloud services are used by 1 in 5 corporate employees, with Office 365 email being the most common. With so many businesses using Office 365 for email, it should come as no surprise that Office 365 email accounts are being heavily targeted by hackers and scammers.

Microsoft does have measures in place to block spam and phishing emails, but the level of protection provided by Exchange Online Protection (EOP) is not sufficient for many businesses. A large percentage of phishing emails manage to sneak past Microsoft’s defenses. According to research from Avanan, 25% of phishing emails are delivered to Office 365 inboxes.

Consequently, additional protection is required, and many businesses choose to implement an anti-phishing solution provided by third parties such as SpamTitan and VadeSecure. MSPs also offer third party solutions to block phishing attacks on Office 365 accounts, not only to better protect their customers, but also to reduce the amount of time they spend mitigating phishing attacks that have not been blocked by EOP.

SpamTitan and VadeSecure have been developed to work on top of Office 365 and add an important extra layer of protection for Office 365 email.

Here we will concentrate on a comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure with a specific focus on the features and benefits for MSPs rather than SMBs.

Comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for MSPs Serving the SMB Market

Since VadeSecure has historically focused on the Telco market, the email security solution lacks many features to make MSP’s lives easier and does not provide the level of control, flexibility, or the management tools and reports that MSPs seek. SpamTitan has been developed by MSPs for MSPs, so important features for MSPs have always been offered. We will cover these features below, but initially it is useful to include an infographic that summarizes some of the basic features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure for comparison purposes.

Basic Features of SpamTitan and VadeSecure

Comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure

SpamTitan Features for MSPs Not Offered by VadeSecure

This comparison of SpamTitan and VadeSecure may seem a little one-sided, and that is because VadeSecure is very much focused on end users rather than MSPs. No doubt the solution will be updated to incorporate more MSP-friendly features over time as the company tries to move into the MSP market, but at present, the features below are provided by SpamTitan but are not offered by VadeSecure.

Configuration Flexibility and Customization Potential

One of the biggest bug bears with VadeSecure is the inability to configure the solution to suit the needs of MSPs. It is not possible to create custom rules for instance, and MSPs must therefore use the Exchange Admin functionality of Office 365.

With SpamTitan, MSPs can create rules based on their own requirements and the needs of each individual client, and those rules can be highly granular and can easily be applied to specific groups, users, and for specific domains. That level of granularity and the ease of customization allows MSPs to fine-tune filtering policies to maximize the detection of threats while minimizing false negatives. MSPs can easily select more permissible or more aggressive policies for each client, but with VadeSecure there is no option for customization for each customer.

True Multi-Tenancy

SpamTitan includes a full multi-tenancy view of all customers, with multiple management roles. This allows MSPs to easily monitor their entire customer base and trial base, assess the health of the deployments, view activity volumes across all customers, and quickly identify issues that require attention. With VadeSecure, there is no possibility of integrating with PSAs and RMMs, and there is no customer-wide view of the entire system.

Highly Granular Reporting

MSPs can tell their clients how important it is to improve their security defenses, but they must also be able to demonstrate that the solutions are proving effective at blocking threats to ensure they can continue to provide those services and receive regular, repeating revenue.

With SpamTitan, MSPs have highly granular reports that give them full visibility into what is happening and a detailed view of system performance. Client reports can easily be generated to show them how effective the solution is and why it is important to keep it in place. Furthermore, this level of reporting – per domain, per group, and at the group domain level – gives MSPs the information they need to identify potential issues and obtain detailed information on spam emails. The solution also has the management capabilities to allow any issues to be quickly identified and corrected to ensure the solution remains effective over time. With VadeSecure, visibility and control options are lacking and there are no options for demonstrating how effective the solution is and to demonstrate that to clients.

High Margins and Significant Revenue Potential

As previously mentioned, the flexibility and scope for customization is a real benefit for MSPs as it allows them to add more value through superior management capabilities. That means MSPs can build solutions that really benefit their clients and it helps them become more of a strategic partner rather than an IT service provider. It is much harder for clients to change a strategic partner than switch IT service providers. VadeSecure lacks this customization which means it is not possible for MSPs to add value to generate reliable, recurring revenue.

Further, with VadeSecure you get one product, but TitanHQ offers a trio of solutions for MSPs to better protect their clients and add more recurring revenue streams. Through the TitanShield for Service Providers program, MSPs also have access to WebTitan DNS filtering and ArcTitan email archiving. This allows MSPs to maximize revenue from each client by cross-selling new services, while also offering a layered security package to protect clients from the full range of email- and web-based threats.

Fully Transparent Pricing

When it comes to pricing, VadeSecure (and many other email security solutions) lack transparency and the pricing model is complex and expensive. Several features are not included as standard with VadeSecure and come at an additional cost. This makes it hard to perform a SpamTitan and VadeSecure pricing comparison.

For instance, with VadeSecure the solution is priced per module, so the Greymail, Spam, and Virus Protection options are not provided as standard and have to be added onto the cost. Based on feedback we have received from MSPs the solution is expensive, which reduces MSP profits and makes the email security solution more difficult to sell to SMBs.

With VadeSecure, the total number of users is not aggregated, which shows a lack of experience of working with MSPs. An MSP with 100 x 10-seat licenses will have that pay at 10 seats each rather than 1,000 seats overall. As such, discounts will be far lower.

With SpamTitan there is just one price which includes all features, including sandboxing, full support, dual anti-virus protection, all security modules, and updates. Furthermore, the price is exceptionally competitive (less than $1 per user). The pricing model was created to incorporate the flexibility for dealing with fluctuating numbers of customers, which often happens when providing managed email services.

Effectiveness at Blocking Threats

Price, usability, and flexibility are all important for MSPs, but features and benefits are the icing on the cake. Email security solutions are used to protect against threats, so the effectiveness of a solution is critical. SpamTitan and VadeSecure are effective at blocking threats and will provide an important additional layer of security for Office 365 users, but feedback we have received from MSPs show there is a clear winner.

VadeSecure includes ‘time-of-click’ protection against embedded hyperlinks, which rewrites URLs and sends them to a scanner. However, MSPs have reported that it can take a long time for phishing emails to be detected, even after threats would be blocked by Chrome. That means that phishing emails are being delivered and there is a window during which a successful attack could occur. This URL click feature only appears to work in OWA or the Outlook client as it is an API integration with Office 365.

SpamTitan includes more advanced detection methods to ensure that malicious URLs are detected and phishing emails are filtered out. SpamTitan includes SURBL filtering and other malicious URL detection mechanisms that complement the default mechanisms in Office 365 such as Recipient Verification Protocols, Sender Policy Frameworks, and Content Filter Agents. This means end users are better protected and there is a much lower probability of a phishing email evading detection.

Dual anti-virus protection is also provided and SpamTitan features a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be safely analyzed for malicious actions. This provides superior protection against malware, ransomware, and zero-day threats that are not detected by the two AV engines.

Benefits of SpamTitan for MSPs

Points about SpamTitan and VadeSecure for MSPs to Consider

How to Improve Restaurant Cybersecurity and Thwart Hackers

Any business that processes card payments is a target for cybercriminals, but restaurants in particular are favored by hackers. Over the past few weeks, cybercriminals have stepped up their efforts to attack these businesses and several restaurant chains have had their systems compromised. In all cases, malware has been installed on point-of-sale systems that steals payment card information when diners pay for their meals.

Many of the attacks have hit restaurant chains in the Midwest and East, with credit card data from diners recently having been listed for sale on the underground marketplace, Joker’s Stash. A batch of approximately 4 million credit and debit cards is being offered for sale, which comes from malware attacks at Moe’s, McAlister’s Deli, Krystal, and Schlotzsky’s.

The cyberattack on Krystal was detected in November, with the other three chains, all owned by Focus Brands, attacked in August. In total, the above chains have more than 1,750 restaurants and almost half of those locations, mostly in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina, were affected.

Catch Hospitality Group also announced in November that it had suffered a cyberattack which had seen malware installed on its point-of-sale system that scraped and exfiltrated payment card data as diners paid for their meals. The data breach affected customers of Catch NYC, Catch Roof, and Catch Steak restaurants. Fortunately, the devices used to process the majority of payments were unaffected. Malware was on the Catch NYC and Catch Roof devices between March 2019 and October 2019, with Catch Steak affected between September 2019 and October 2019.

Church’s Chicken restaurants were also attacked in a separate incident in October. The majority of its 1,000+ restaurants were not affected, but at least 160 restaurants in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas had malware installed on their POS system.

Other restaurant chains that have been attacked in 2019 include Checker’s Drive-In, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Huddle House, Applebee’s, Chilli’s, and Earl Enterprises (Buca di Beppo, Chicken Guy, Tequila Taqueria, Mixology, Planet Hollywood). Malware n the systems of Earl Enterprises had been present for almost a year before it was detected.

How to Improve Restaurant Cybersecurity

Restaurants process many thousands of card transactions which makes them an attractive target for hackers. Restaurants often use out-of-date operating systems, have vulnerability-ridden legacy hardware, and their cybersecurity solutions often leave a lot to be desired. Consequently, cyberattacks on restaurants are relatively easy to perform, at least compared to many other types of businesses.

In order to infect the POS system, the attackers will need network access. That is most commonly gained via phishing emails, drive-by malware downloads, or by abusing remote access tools. Direct attacks are also possible using techniques such as SQL injection and weak passwords can be easily guessed using brute force tactics.

The malware that sits on systems and exfiltrates data tends to have a very small footprint and is often stealthy as it needs to be present for long periods of time to collect payment card data. That can make it hard to detect when it has been installed. The key to security is therefore improving defenses to make sure the malware is not installed in the first place, which means preventing the attackers from gaining access to the network.

Listed below are some easy-to-implement steps that will help restaurants improve their security posture and block attacks. The key is defense in depth through layered security.

  • Use an enterprise-grade firewall –Ensure an enterprise-grade firewall is purchased. A firewall will prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access to your network resources.
  • Patch promptly and update all software and firmware – Ensure patches are applied promptly and software and firmware updates are implemented when they are released. That includes all systems and networked devices, not just your POS.
  • Upgrade hardware – When your hardware is approaching end of life it is time to upgrade. Unsupported hardware (and software) will no longer be updated and vulnerabilities will no longer be fixed.
  • Lockdown your POS: Use whitelisting or otherwise lock down POS systems to make it harder for malware to operate. Only allow trusted apps to run on your POS systems.
  • Install powerful antivirus software – Ensure all devices are protected by a powerful anti-virus solution and that it is set to update virus definitions automatically. Regularly scan the network for malware, especially your POS.
  • Implement an intrusion detection system – These systems monitor the network for unusual activity that could indicate a malware infection, attackers searching the network for the POS system, and unusual traffic that could indicate data exfiltration.
  • Change all default passwords and set strong passwords – To protect against brute force attacks, ensure strong passwords are set on all systems and all default passwords are changed. Also implement rate limiting to block attempts to access a system or device after a set number of failed password attempts.
  • Implement a powerful spam filtering solution – A powerful email security solution, such as SpamTitan, is required to prevent spam and malicious emails from being delivered to end users. Even if you have Office 365, you will need a third-party email security solution to block email-based threats.
  • Restrict Internet access with a DNS filter – A DNS filter such as WebTitan provides protection against drive-by malware downloads and web-based phishing attacks. WebTitan will block all known malicious websites and those with a low trust score. The solution can also be configured to prevent employees from accessing categories of websites where malware downloads are more likely.
  • Disable Remote Access if Possible – Disable Remote Desktop Protocol and all remote access tools. If remote access tools are required to allow essential maintenance work to be completed, ensure they can only used via a VPN and restrict the people who can use those tools.

Beware of Black Friday Phishing Scams and Malware Attacks!

Black Friday phishing scam are rife this year. With almost a week to go before the big discounts are offered by online retailers, scammers are stepping up their efforts to defraud consumers.

Spam email campaigns started well ahead of Black Friday this year and the scams have been plentiful and diverse. Black Friday phishing emails are being sent that link to newly created websites that have been set up with the sole purpose of defrauding consumers or spreading malware and ransomware. It may be a great time of year to pick up a bargain, but it is also the time of year to be scammed and be infected with malware.

A wide range of spam emails and scam websites have been detected over the past few weeks, all of which prey on shoppers keen to pick up a bargain. This year has seen the usual collection of almost too-good-to-be-true offers on top brands and the hottest products, free gift cards, money off coupons, and naturally there are plenty of prize draws.

Anyone heading online over the next few days to kick start their holiday shopping spree needs to beware. The scammers are ready and waiting to take advantage. With legitimate offers from retailers, speed is of the essence. There is a limited supply of products available at a discount and shoppers are well aware that they need to act fast to secure a bargain. The scammers are playing the same game and are offering limited time deals to get email recipients to act quickly without thinking, to avoid missing out on an exceptional deal.

This time of year always sees a major uptick in spam and scams, but this year has seen much more sophisticated scams conducted than in previous years. Not only are the scammers insisting on a quick response, several campaigns have been identified that get users to help snag more victims. In order to qualify for special offers or get more deals, the scammers require users to forward messages and share social media posts with their friends and contacts. This tactic is highly effective, as people are more likely to respond to a message or post from a friend.

So how active are the scammers in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday? According to an analysis by Check Point, the number of e-commerce phishing URLs has increased by 233% in November. Those URLs are being sent out in mass spam campaigns to direct people fake e-commerce sites that impersonate big name brands. Those sites are virtual carbon copies of the legitimate sites, with the exception of the URL.

While consumers must be wary of Black Friday phishing scams and potential malware and ransomware downloads, businesses should also be on high alert. With genuine offers coming and going at great speed, employees are likely to be venturing online during working hours to bag a bargain. That could easily result in a costly malware or ransomware infection.

The scams are not limited to the run up to Black Friday. Cyber Monday scams can be expected and as holiday season fast approaches, cybercriminals remain highly active. It’s a time of year when it pays to increase your spam protections, monitor your reports more carefully, and alert your employees to the threats. A warning email to employees about the risks of holiday season phishing scams and malicious websites could well help to prevent a costly data breach or malware infection.

Its also a time of year when a web filtering solution can pay dividends. Web filters prevent employees from visiting websites hosting exploit kits, phishing kits, and other known malicious sites. They can also be configured to block downloads of malicious files. A web filter is an important extra layer to add to your phishing defenses and protect against web-based attacks.

If you have yet to implement a web filter, now is the ideal time. TitanHQ is offering a free trial of WebTitan to let you see just how effective it I at blocking web-based threats. What’s more, you can implement the solution in a matter of minutes and get near instant protection from web-based phishing attacks and holiday season malware infections.

What is the Ideal Security Stack for MSPs?

According to research from Channel Futures, security is the fastest growing service for 73% of managed service providers (MSPs). If you have yet to start offering security services to your clients, you are missing out on a steady income stream that could really boost your profits. But where should you start? What services should you be offering? In this post we will be exploring the ideal security stack for MSPs and the essential services that should form the core of your security offering.

Why is Managed Security is so Important?

As an MSP, you should be aware of the importance of security. Companies are being targeted by cybercriminals and data breaches are occurring at an alarming rate. It is no longer a case of whether a business will be attacked, it is a case of when and how often.

Many SMBs do not have sufficiently skilled staff to handle IT and it is far easier, and often more cost effective, to outsource their IT to MSPs. The same is true for security, but even more so due to the difficulty finding sufficiently skilled cybersecurity staff. With so many positions available and a national shortage of cybersecurity staff, cybersecurity professionals can afford to pick and choose there they work. SMBs must ensure they are well protected against cyberattacks, so they look to MSPs to provide security-as-a-service either as a stop gap measure while they try to fill internal positions or so they can forget about security and let an MSP look after that side of the business.

If you are not providing security services to your clients, they will most likely search for another MSP that can protect their business from threats such as malware, ransomware, phishing, botnets, and prevent costly data breaches.

What do SMBs Want?

SMBs may be aware of the need for security, but they may not be so clued up about the solutions they need to protect them from cyber threats. You may need to explain to them exactly what they need and why. What is vital when explaining cybersecurity to SMBs is to emphasize the need for layered security. No single solution will provide protection against all threats and you will need to educate your clients about this.

Layered security is essential for protecting against ever increasing cybersecurity threats. No single solution will provide total protection. You need overlapping layers so that if one layer is bypassed, others are there to block the attack.

You should certainly be initiating conversations with your clients about security. Many SMBs only look for security services after they experience a costly data breach. By being proactive and approaching your clients and offering security services, you will not only have a much greater opportunity for increasing sales quickly, you will help them avoid a costly data breach and will not have to clear up the mess that such a breach causes.

What is the Ideal Security Stack for MSPs?

The best place to start is with a cybersecurity package that includes the core security services that all businesses need to protect them from a broad range of threats. Different packages can be offered based on the level of protection your clients need and their level of risk tolerance. Extra services can always be provided as add-ons.

There are four key security services you should be offering to your clients to give them enterprise-grade protection to secure their networks and protect against the main attack vectors. The ideal security stack for MSPs will differ from company to company, depending on the kind of clients that each MSP has. It may take some time to find the ideal security stack, but a good place to start is with core security services that every business will need.

Core Security Services for MSPs

  • Firewalls
  • Email security
  • DNS filtering
  • Endpoint security

Firewalls are essential for securing the network perimeter and separating trusted from untrusted networks. They will protect network resources and infrastructure against unauthorized access.  It may even be necessary to implement multiple firewalls.

Email security is essential as this is the most common attack vector. Without email security, malware and phishing emails will hit inboxes and employees’ security awareness will be regularly put to the test. The threat of email attacks cannot be understated.

Email security must be explained to clients to ensure they understand its importance and why standard email security such as that provided by Microsoft through Office 365 simply doesn’t cut in anymore. Too many threats bypass Office 365 defenses. A study by Avanan showed that 25% of phishing emails bypass Office 365 security and are delivered to inboxes.

DNS filtering is also a requirement to protect against web-based attacks such as malvertising, drive-by downloads, and exploit kits. Even the best email security solutions will not block all phishing threats. DNS filtering provides an additional layer of security to protect against phishing attacks. While email was once the primary method of delivering malware, now malware is most commonly delivered via web-based attacks. The average business user now encounters three malicious links per day and 80% of malware is downloaded via the internet. Further, with more and more employees spending at least some of the week working remotely, protection is needed for public Wi-Fi hotspots. DNS filtering provides that protection when they are off the network.

Endpoint security solutions add another layer to the security stack. If any of the above solutions fail and malware is downloaded, endpoint security solutions will provide extra protection. This can include basic protection such as antivirus software or more advanced solutions such as intrusion detection systems.

When choosing solutions for your security stack, it is important to make sure they work seamlessly together. This can be difficult if you purchase security solutions from a lot of different vendors.

Additional Services to Add to your Security Stack.

The above security services should form the core of your security offering, but there are many additional services you can easily provide to ensure your clients are better protected. These can be offered as addons or as part of more comprehensive security packages.

  • Data loss protection
  • Security helpdesk
  • Email archiving and backup services
  • Vulnerability scanning and patch management
  • Security policy management
  • Security information and event management (SIEM)
  • Incident response and remediation
  • Security awareness training and phishing email simulations

How TitanHQ Can Help

TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market. TitanHQ products are consistently rated highly by MSPs for the level of protection, ease of use, ease of admin, and the level of support provided.

The TitanHQ portfolio of cybersecurity products consists of three core solutions:

  • SpamTitan Email Security
  • WebTitan DNS Filtering
  • ArcTitan Email Archiving

Each of these solutions has a 100% cloud-based architecture and has been developed for MSPs to easily incorporate into their security stacks. TitanHQ offers seamless deployments and easy incorporation into MSP’s management portals via RESTful API.

The above solutions can be supplied with multiple hosting options. You can host with TitanHQ, on your existing infrastructure or in the cloud with AWS, Azure or any other system.

SMBs want to know they are protected, but many don’t care about what solutions are used. This gives you an opportunity to reinforce your brand. This is easily achieved with TitanHQ as the above solutions can be provided in white label form, ready for you to add your own branding. You can even customize the user interface and only include the features that you need to reduce complexity.

Need reports for your clients? No problem. TitanHQ has an extensive range of pre-configured reports that can be scheduled to ease your admin burden, including board-level reports with scope to create your own reports to meet you and your clients’ needs.

Other key features for MSPs include:

  • Multi-tenant dashboard
  • Automated policy management
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Full visibility of usage
  • Flexible, affordable, and transparent pricing with monthly billing
  • Set and forget solutions to ease the admin burden
  • World-class customer support included with all solutions
  • AD integration
  • Generous margins for MSPs
  • Excellent MSP program – TitanShield – with dedicated account managers, assigned sales engineers, scalable pre-sales and technical support, and sales and technical training

TitanHQ has made it as easy as possible for MSPs to start offering security services to their clients. These solutions will also help established security-as-a-service providers ease their management burden and improve their margins.

To find out more about the TitanShield program and for further information on any or all of TitanHQ’s security solutions for MSPs, get in touch with the channel team today. Product demonstrations can be arranged and free 14-day trials are available to allow you to see for yourself why TitanHQ is the leading provider of email and web security solutions for MSPs.

Meet the TitanHQ Team at Connect IT Europe (Kaseya) Amsterdam on Nov 5-7, 2019

The 2019 Connect IT Europe (Kaseya) conference will be taking place in Amsterdam on November 5th, 6th, and 7th at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel, Krasnapolsky.

The event will be attended by thousands of IT professionals, business owners, and industry leaders who will be discussing the IT industry, recent advances in information technology, and the latest trends affecting MSPs. The conference provides an excellent opportunity for learning, networking, and collaboration and boasts an extensive program of interactive sessions, keynotes, and in-depth training sessions. The event also showcases the latest IT solutions and provides tips and tricks to ensure every ounce of value is squeezed from those tools.

This year’s event promises to be bigger and better than ever before, thanks to an all-star cast of thought leaders and industry professionals who will provide practical advice to help you improve every aspect of your business.

Connect IT Europe covers the entire Kaseya universe and the diverse ecosystem of solutions that serve IT professionals. The conference will help attendees find new revenue streams, increase their profit margins, and simplify IT management through educational presentations, workshops, roundtables, and interactive challenges.

As the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs serving the SMB market, TitanHQ is proud to be a Silver sponsor of the event. Attendees will have the opportunity to discover why TitanHQ is the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs servicing the SMB marketplace and the features and benefits of SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving that make the solutions such a hit with MSPs and IT professionals.

The event will be attended by TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager Marc Ludden and Alliances/MSP Partner Manager Eddie Monaghan. Marc and Eddie will be explaining the recently launched TitanShield program for MSPs and how TitanHQ solutions can help MSPs improve efficiency, profitability, and security of their operations and enhance their customers’ security postures.

If you would like further information on TitanHQ products, feel free to reach out to Marc and Eddie ahead of the event:

Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn

Further information on the Connect IT Europe (Kaseya) conference is available on this link.

TitanHQ Heads to Paris for DattoCon19 to Help MSPs Succeed

TitanHQ is proud to be a platinum sponsor of DattCon19, Paris – The leading event for MSPs looking to keep up to date on the latest industry trends, learn best practices, form new and profitable partnerships, and obtain invaluable advice that will help them grow their business and become more successful.

The event gives the TitanHQ team an opportunity to meet with leading MSPs, MSSPs, and ISPs and explain why TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for the MSP that services the SMB market.

The team will be available to explain the benefits of the TitanShield MSP program and show just how easy it is to integrate TitanHQ products into your service stacks and start rolling out spam filtering, web filtering, and email archiving to your customers… and the best way to sell those services, reduce the time you spend on providing support, and improve the profitability of your business.

The event will be attended by Rocco Donnino, TitanHQ VP of Strategic Partnerships, Marc Ludden, TitanHQ Strategic Alliance Manager, and Eddie Monaghan. Alliances/MSP Partner Manager.

On Tuesday October 22 between 11:15am and 11:35am, Rocco Donnino will be explaining Email & Web Security for the SMB Market. Rocco will talk about the trends TitanHQ are seeing in the email and web security for SMB markets globally, drawing on the experience from working with over 2,200 MSP customers worldwide.

Marc Ludden and Eddie Monaghan will be on hand to meet with MSPs and ISPs to explain the benefits of joining the TitanShield MSP Program and how best to take advantage of TitanHQ’s proven technology and deliver our advanced network security solutions directly to their client base.  The pair will be helping MSP partners push TitanHQ products downstream to their customers and grow their businesses.

The event will be attended by more than 1000 MSPs, ITSPs, and industry leaders. Over the three days of the conference, attendees will get to hear from the most successful MSPs and MSSPs and discover what they are doing differently and how they are driving growth.

The sessions, keynotes, and networking opportunities will help you get better at running your business with Datto Solutions and discover how the addition of key products such as SpamTitan email security, WebTitan DNS filtering, and ArcTitan email archiving can improve profitability and add greater value.

The keynotes will be bigger and better than ever before and will be taken by 80 of the best and brightest business tycoons, MSPs, and Datto executives, who will share valuable real-world insights and best practices.

The Peer Forums are more intimate small-group roundtable sessions that provide high-value networking on key topics. These sessions are driven by attendees who will share pain points, success stories, and best practices that have been proven to help MSPs grow their business. This year’s Peer Forums are on the following topics:

  • Business Strategy
  • Service Delivery: Driving Efficiency & Automation
  • Selling Networking as a Managed Service
  • Women in Tech
  • French Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
  • Service Delivery: Service Desk & Professional Services
  • M&A: How Do I Acquire or Be Acquired?
  • Security: Securing Your MSP First
  • German Language Peer Forum: Business Strategy
  • Service Delivery: Client Engagement & vCIO

Add to that the networking opportunities and the stunning location and you have an invaluable event that is not to be missed.

DattoCon19 Paris will be taking place on October 21st, 22nd and 23rd at the Palais des congrès de Paris, 2 Place de la Porte Maillot, 75017 Paris, France.

Further Information on DattoCon19 Paris.

TitanHQ Announces Fall Schedule of Trade Shows and Conferences

Over the next three months, TitanHQ will be travelling throughout Europe and the United States to meet with managed services providers (MSPs) at some of the biggest trade shows serving the MSP community.

The trade shows and conferences bring together the best MSPs from around the world and gives them the opportunity to learn about new industry trends, best practices, and proven tactics for increasing growth. The shows provide a tremendous opportunity for networking and bring together MSPs and companies offering MSP-focused cybersecurity solutions.

For the past 20 years, TitanHQ has been developing cybersecurity solutions for MSPs and the SMBs marketplace. From humble beginnings, the company has grown into a leading provider of cloud-based email security, web security, and email archiving solutions for MSPs. TitanHQ products have now been adopted by more than 7,500 businesses and 2,000 MSPs around the globe.

TitanHQ products are much loved by MSPs as they have been developed specifically to meet their needs. The solutions are quick and easy to implement and maintain and they save MSPs a considerable amount of support and engineering time by blocking email and web-based cyberattacks at source.

At these MSP events you will be able to find out more about the benefits of cloud-based spam filtering and the importance of adding web filtering to your service stack. The TitanHQ team will be on hand to answer questions about the products and will explain how the solutions can be seamlessly integrated into your client management platforms and how they can make your life easier and improve your bottom line.

Come and Meet the TitanHQ Team at these fall MSP Trade Shows and Conferences

Date Event Location
September 17, 2019 Datto Dublin The Alex Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
September 18, 2019 MSH Summit 155 Bishopsgate, London, UK
October 6-10, 2019 Gitex Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai, UAE
October 7-8, 2019 CompTIA EMEA Show Park Plaza Westminster Bridge,

London, UK

October 16-17, 2019 Canalys Cybersecurity Forum SOFIA Barcelona, Spain
October 21-23, 2019 DattoCon Paris Palais des Congrès de Paris, Paris, France
October 30, 2019 MSH Summit North Hilton Hotel, Manchester, UK
October 30, 2019 IT Nation Evolve (HTG 4) Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida, USA
October 30, 2019 IT Nation Connect Hyatt Regency, Orlando, Florida, USA
November 5-7, 2019 Kaseya Connect NH Collection Amsterdam Gran Hotel Krasnapolsky, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you are planning on attending any of the above events this fall, be sure to come and visit the TitanHQ team to discuss your options and feel free to reach out in advance of the event to arrange a meeting.

Rocco Donnino, Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, LinkedIn
Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn

If you are unable to attend any of these exciting events, give the team a call for further product information, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free trial of SpamTitan, WebTitan, and ArcTitan.

 

Ransomware Attacks on Businesses Have Doubled in 2019

The year 2018 saw a reduction in ransomware attacks on businesses as cybercriminals opted for alternative means to make money. Major ransomware attacks were still occurring, just at a slightly lower rate than in 2017.

Some reports were released that suggested ransomware was no longer such a massive threat as it was in 2016 and 2017, but the number of reported attacks in 2019 have shown that is definitely not the case. Any business that has not implemented defenses to protect against ransomware attacks could well be the next victim and have to pay millions to recover from an attack.

Make no mistake. Ransomware is one of the most dangerous threats faced by businesses. If ransomware is installed on the network, all files, including backups, could be encrypted. That could prove catastrophic, as one small Michigan medical practice discovered.

The two-doctor practice in Battle Creek, MI suffered an attack that resulted in the encryption of all patient data. A ransom demand was issued by the attackers, but as there was no guarantee that files could be recovered after the ransom was paid, the decision was taken not to pay up. The hackers then deleted all the encrypted files. Faced with having to rebuild the practice from scratch, the doctors decided to call it quits and took early retirement.

Ransomware attacks on healthcare providers are now being reported at an alarming rate and government entities, cities, and municipalities are being extensively targeted. The city of Baltimore suffered a major attack in May involving a ransomware variant called RobbinHood. The attack brought down the city’s servers and systems, causing major disruption across the city. A ransom of $6 million was paid for the keys to regain access to the encrypted files.

Two small cities in Florida also suffered major attacks. Lake City was forced to pay a ransom of $460,000 and Riviera Beach paid a ransom of $600,000, while Jackson County in Georgia paid $400,000 after its court system was attacked.

As the year has progressed, the attacks have increased. A report from Malwarebytes indicates there was a 195% increase in ransomware attacks in Q1, 2019. Figures from Kaspersky Lab show ransomware attacks almost doubled in Q2, 2019, with 46% more attacks reported than the corresponding period in 2018.

The increase in attacks means businesses need to be prepared and have the necessary security tools in place to make it difficult for the attacks to succeed.

There is no one cybersecurity solution that can be implemented to eliminate the threat of attack, as hackers are using a variety of methods to gain access to networks and download their malicious payloads. Layered defenses are key to repelling an attack.

Email is the primary method of delivering ransomware. All it takes if for a malicious email to arrive in an inbox and for an employee to be fooled into opening a malicious attachment or clicking on a hyperlink for ransomware to be installed. An advanced email filtering solution such as SpamTitan Cloud is therefore needed to block malicious emails and ensure they do not reach employees’ inboxes.

SpamTItan includes Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) to block email impersonation attacks and a sandbox where suspicious attachments can be executed in safety and studied for malicious activity. Sandboxing is essential as it allows zero-day ransomware threats to be identified and blocked.

Not all attacks occur via email. Attacks over the Internet are also common. A web filtering solution should therefore be implemented to block these web-based attacks. A web filter will prevent employees from accessing known malicious sites where ransomware is automatically downloaded. With these two technical measures in place, businesses will be well protected from attacks. Along with security awareness training for staff and the adoption of good data backup practices, businesses can mount a strong defense against ransomware attacks.

Phishers Use Google Drive Links to Bypass Office 365 Anti-Phishing Controls

A new phishing campaign has been detected that uses Google Drive links to avoid detection by Office 365 Exchange Online Protection and ensure messages are delivered to inboxes.

The emails, reported through Cofense Intelligence, impersonated the CEO of the company who was attempting to share an important document. The document had been shared via Google Drive and came with the message, “Important message from – CEO.”

Google Drive allows files and collaboration requests to be easily sent to other individuals. The account holder chooses who to share a file with and the system generates an email alert containing a link to the shared file.

In this case, the name of the CEO was correct, but the email address used was different to the format used by the company. While this is a clear sign that the emails are not what they seem, some employees would likely be fooled by the message.

Importantly, the messages are not detected as malicious by EOP and are delivered to inboxes. A scan of the message would reveal nothing untoward, as the embedded URL is a legitimate shared link to a genuine cloud service operated by Google.

The shared document itself is not malicious, but it does link to another Google Docs document and a phishing URL. Any anti-phishing solution that only assesses the embedded hyperlink in the email to determine whether it is malicious would allow the email to be delivered. Only a deeper inspection would reveal the true nature of the URL.

If the link is visited by an end user, a fake login window is presented. If login credentials are entered, they are captured and stored on the attacker’s server.

This campaign highlights the importance of multi-layered anti-phishing defenses and the risks of relying on EOP to provide protection against phishing attacks.

An advanced spam filtering solution should be implemented on top of Office 365 to provide greater protection from phishing and other email-based attacks. This will ensure more sophisticated phishing attacks are blocked.

If a malicious message is delivered and a link is clicked, the connection to the malicious webpage could be blocked using a web filtering solution.

WebTitan is a DNS-based content filtering solution that serves as an additional layer in organization’s anti-phishing defenses.  Should an attempt be made by an employee to visit a malicious website or suspicious domain, the attempt would be blocked before any content is downloaded. WebTitan assesses each website when the DNS query is made. Malicious websites and those that violate an organization’s content control policies are blocked.

To find out more about how a DNS filter can improve your defenses against phishing attacks and malware downloads, contact TitanHQ today.

La Porte County Latest Victim in String of Ransomware Attacks on Municipalities

There has been a spate of ransomware attacks on cities, municipalities, mayor’s offices, and local government facilities in recent weeks.

The latest attack was on La Porte County in Indiana. The attack started on July 6, 2019, but prompt action by the IT department allowed the ransomware to be contained. That rapid response meant only 7% of the laptops used by the county were affected. However, two domain controllers were also affected and that rendered the network unavailable.

Experts were brought in to try to restore files from backups and bring the network back online, but those attempts failed as the backup servers had also been infected with the ransomware. La Porte County was left with no alternative other than to pay the ransom demand. The Bitcoin ransom equated to around $130,000, $100,000 of which was covered by an insurance policy.

This attack involved Ryuk ransomware – The same ransomware variant that was used in the attack on Lake City in Florida on June 10, 2019.  For Lake City, Ryuk ransomware was delivered by the Trickbot Trojan, which was in turn deployed by the Emotet Trojan. Lake City paid approximately $500,000 to the attackers to obtain the keys to unlock the encryption. Riviera Beach in Florida was also attacked and paid a ransom of around $600,000.

These are just three cases out of several recent attacks. Those three attacks alone have resulted in more than $1,200,000 being paid to cybercriminals. That sends a very clear message to other cybercriminals that these attacks can be extremely profitable. That is the reason the FBI advice is never to pay.

2018 saw a decline in ransomware attacks as cybercriminals pursued other strategies for attacking businesses, but ransomware is now certainly back in favor and is being used in an increasing number of attacks.

Something that several of the targets in the recent ransomware campaigns have in common is they are relatively small cities that have limited resources to devote to cybersecurity. They have hardware and software that has reached end of life and, due to limited funds, security gaps have started to appear.

Riviera Beach, for instance, is a city of 35,000 people with limited resources. It had recently undergone a period of turmoil in management, had suffered scandals, and during the upheaval its cybersecurity contract had been allowed to lapse. That left the door wide open to attack.

These attacks have proven incredibly costly, yet they could have been prevented with a very small spend on a select number of security solutions. The attacks on Rivera Beach and Lake City could have been prevented with an advanced email security solution such as SpamTitan. The ransomware was installed in both of these attacks as a result of employees opening malware-infected email attachments.

SpamTitan incorporates dual anti-virus engines to detect malicious software and a Bitdefender-powered sandbox for deep analysis of suspicious email attachments. SpamTitan incorporates DMARC email authentication to counter email impersonation attacks and a host of other anti-spam and anti-phishing controls.

SpamTitan can be deployed as a gateway solution on existing hardware or as a cloud-based solution, and can be easily layered on top of Office 365 to improve protection against phishing and ransomware attacks.

Further, the cost of protection against ransomware and phishing attacks is likely to be much lower than you think. For more information, contact TitanHQ today.


 

Monroe College Ransomware Attack: $2 Million Ransom Demand Issued

There has been a spate of ransomware attacks on cities and government agencies in recent months and the healthcare industry sees more than its fair share of attacks, but they are not the only industries being targeted.

Schools, colleges, and universities are prime targets for hackers and ransomware attacks are common. One recent attack stands out due to its scale and the massive ransom demand that was issued. The attackers demanded $2 million (170 BTC) for the keys to unlock the encryption.

Monroe College in New York City was attacked at 6:45am on Wednesday, July 10, 2019. The ransomware quickly spread throughout the network, shutting down the computer systems at its campuses in Manhattan, New Rochelle and St. Lucia and taking down the college website.

The college has switched to pen and paper and is finding workarounds to ensure students taking online courses receive their assignments. No mention has been made about whether files will be recovered from backups or if the ransom will need to be paid.

This is one of many recent ransomware attacks in the United States. Ransomware may have fallen out of favor with cybercriminals in 2018, but it now appears to be back in vogue and attacks are rising sharply. So too have the ransom demands.

$2 million is particularly high, but there have been several recent attacks involving ransom demands for hundreds of thousands of dollars. In several cases, the ransom has been paid.

Riviera Beach City in Florida was attacked and was forced to pay a $600,000 ransom to regain access to its files and bring its computer systems back online. Lake City in Florida also paid a sizeable ransom – $500,000. Jackson County was also attacked and paid a $400,000 ransom.

There have been several cases where ransoms have not been paid. The City of Atlanta was attacked and around $51,000 in Bitcoin was demanded. Atlanta refused to pay. Its cleanup bill has already reached $3 million. With such high costs it is clear to see why many choose to pay up.

In all of the above cases, the cost of implementing cybersecurity solutions to protect against the main attack vectors would have cost a tiny fraction of the cost of the ransom payment or the mitigation costs after an attack.

For less than $2 per employee, you can ensure that the email network is secured and you are well protected against web-based attacks. To find out more, call TitanHQ today.

Sodinokibi Ransomware Poised to Become New GandCrab

As one ransomware-as-a-service operation shuts down, another is vying to take its place.  Sodinokibi ransomware attacks are increasing and affiliates are trying to carve out their own niche in the ransomware-as-a-service operation.

Developing ransomware and staying one step ahead of security researchers is important, but what made the GandCrab operation so successful were the affiliates conducting the campaigns that generated the ransom payments. The GandCrab developers have now shut down their operation and that has left many affiliates looking for an alternative ransomware variant to push.

Sodinokibi ransomware could well fill the gap. Like GandCrab, the developers are offering their creation under the ransomware-as-a-service model. They already have a network of affiliates conducting campaigns, and attacks are on the increase.

As is the case with most ransomware-as-a-service operations, spam email is one of the most common methods of ransomware delivery. One Sodinokibi ransomware campaign has been detected that uses spoofed Booking.com notifications to lure recipients into opening a Word document and enabling macros. Doing so triggers the download and execution of the Sodinokibi payload.

Download websites are also being targeted. Access is gained the websites and legitimate software installers are replaced with ransomware installers. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have also been targeted. The MSP attacks have exploited vulnerabilities in RDP to gain access to MSP management consoles.

Two cases have been reported where an MSP was compromised and malicious software was pushed to its clients through the client management console. In one case, the Webroot Management Console and the Kaseya VSA console in the other.

Recently, another attack method has been detected. Sodinokibi ransomware is being distributed through the RIG exploit kit. Malvertising campaigns are directing traffic to domains hosting RIG, which is loaded with exploits for several vulnerabilities.

With so many affiliates pushing Sodinokibi ransomware and the wide range of tactics being used, no single cybersecurity solution will provide full protection against attacks. The key to preventing attacks is defense in depth.

TitanHQ can help SMBs and MSPs secure the email and web channels and block the main attack vectors. Along with security awareness training and good cybersecurity best practices, it is possible to mount a formidable defense against ransomware, malware, and phishing attacks.

Find out About Web and Email Security for MSPs at DattoCon2019

The excitement is building as DattoCon19 draws ever closer. Starting on June 17, 2019 in San Diego and running for three days, DattoCon19 is an unmissable event for managed service providers (MSPs).

At the conference, attendees benefit from practical advice and best practices to grow their businesses, increase sales, and boost monthly recurring revenue (MRR). A huge range of vendors will be on hand to offer information on exciting products and attendees will have the opportunity to learn strategies to increase business impact growth, boost profitability, and broaden their service stacks.

Sessions will be taken by industry experts and leading MSPs who will share tips and tricks to take back home and apply at the office. On average, attendees at DattoCon achieve 41% sales growth year-over-year as a result of attending the conference.

TitanHQ is sponsoring DattoCon19 and is excited about having the opportunity to meet new MSPs and help them grow their businesses. As a Datto Select Vendor, TitanHQ offers MSPs three cloud-based solutions that can be easily integrated into existing MSPs service stacks: Anti-phishing and anti-spam protection, DNS-based web filtering, and email archiving. All three solutions are available through the TitanShield program for MSPs.

MSPs can meet the TitanHQ team at booth 23 at DattoCon19 to find out more about the TitanShield program and the exciting opportunities for MSPs that work with TitanHQ. TitanHQ will be on hand to help MSPs that support Office 365 to improve protection against phishing attacks and malware. MSPs can also find out more about the TitanHQ threat intelligence that protects Datto DNA and D200 boxes, and how TitanHQ’s DNS filter is a direct swap out for Cisco Umbrella and the cost advantages of doing so.

TitanHQ Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, Rocco Donnino, is one of the panel members for the Datto Select Avendors event on Monday. The event brings together experts from different fields to help come up with solutions for some of the major problems faced by MSPs in today’s marketplace.

TitanHQ at DattoCon19

  • TitanHQ will be at booth 23
  • Special Show Pricing available
  • Daily TitanHQ vintage Irish whiskey raffle
  • TitanHQ and BVOIP are sponsoring a GasLamp District Takeover Party on Monday 6/17 and Wed, 6/19.

DattoCon19 will be taking place in San Diego, California on June 17-19, 2019. If you are not yet registered for the event you can do so here

Contact the TitanHQ team in advance:

  • Rocco Donnino, Executive Vice President-Strategic Alliances, LinkedIn
  • Eddie Monaghan, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn
  • Marc Ludden, MSP Alliance Manager, LinkedIn


 

TitanHQ Claims Top Spot in 2019 G2 Best Software in EMEA List

The leading review website, G2, has published its 2019 Best Software Companies in EMEA list. This is the first time that the company has produced the list, which ranks the best software companies doing business in EMEA based on the feedback provided by users of those products.

G2 is one of the most well-respected business software review websites. Software solutions may appear to tick all the right boxes, but in practice the solutions can be time consuming and difficult to use and fail to live up to expectations. Since the G2 reviews are from registered users of the products, businesses can not only rely on the reviews but can also use them to make smarter buying decisions.

To compile the list, G2 compiled the reviews of over 66,000 users in the software category. More than 900 companies were represented, but only those that performed best in the reviews have made the cut in their respective categories.

TitanHQ has been awarded top spot in the list of the best software companies of 2019 in EMEA.

TitanHQ has developed powerful cybersecurity solutions to meet the needs of businesses and MSPs, but the solutions have also been developed to be easy to use. The solutions are versatile, flexible,and scalable, and can be managed via an intuitive web-based management console with a full reporting suite. A full range of APIs are supplied to allow the solutions to be integrated into existing management software and industry-leading customer support ensures that help is always available to resolve any customer issues.

“TitanHQ is delighted to have been included in the 2019 Best Software Companies in EMEA list. The inclusion shows the value our customers place on the uncompromised security and real-time threat detection we provide,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from on G2 Crowd is indicative of our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of customer success.”

“With 750,000+ user reviews, 80,000+ products and 1,600+ tech and service categories on G2, TitanHQ’s recognition on the prestigious Best Software Companies in EMEA list is an exceptional achievement: One that can only be earned through the endorsement of its users,” said CEO Godard Abel.

TitanHQ Announces New TitanShield Partner Program

TitanHQ Announces New TitanShield Partner Program

TitanHQ, the leading provider of cloud security solutions for SMBs, has announced a new partner program has been launched to support Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs), Cloud Distributors, Wi-Fi Providers, OEM Partners and Technology Alliance Partners..

TitanHQ started its journey in 1999. Initially, the company provided anti-spam solutions to local businesses in Ireland. Over the next two decades, the company expanded its range of products to include DNS filtering and email archiving solutions and is now a leading global player of cloud-based cybersecurity solutions.

While TitanHQ initially focused on meeting the needs of the SMB market, its products have been developed to meet the needs of MSPs. For instance, TitanHQ solutions are available with a range of hosting options, including the ability to host the solution within the MSPs own environment, and they can be provided in white-label form ready to take MSP’s branding.

TitanHQ’s cloud-based solutions have been developed to be easy to implement, use, and manage and are already a firm favorite with MSPs.

To make TitanHQ cloud security solutions even more attractive for MSPs, the existing partner program has been significantly enhanced and relaunched as TitanShield.

The TItanShield Partner Program makes it even easier to offer TitanHQ cloud security products to clients. Partners benefit from access to engineers, a highly capable support team that understands the needs of MSPs, and a dedicated account manager.

Partners have access to APIs to allow them to easily sell, onboard, manage and deliver advanced network security solutions directly to their client base from within their own user interfaces. In addition, partners receive free access to sales and technical resources, deal registration and lead generation resources, and benefit from flexible, volume-based monthly pricing models and profitable margins.

Under the new, enhanced partner program, customers are separated into their specific areas of expertise to ensure that each can be provided with focused information for the markets and customers they serve.

“Our program takes a unique and strategic approach for our partners and can be customized to fit all business models,” said Rocco Donnino, Executive VP of Strategic Alliances at TitanHQ.

If you want to become a highly valued member of the TitanHQ TitanShield Partner Program, enrollment is now open. Call TitanHQ today or email partners@titanhq.com for further information.

 

Web Filtering for MSPs (Part 2): Why WebTitan Cloud is the Best Web Filtering Service for MSPs

In our previous post we explained why managed service providers (MSPs) should be offering a web filtering service to their customers and the benefits that can be gained by customers and MSPs alike. In this post we explain what makes WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs and why so many MSPs have chosen TitanHQ as their web filtering partner.

Why WebTitan Cloud is the Best Web Filter for MSPs

One problem MSPs face before they can start offering a web filtering service to their clients is how to incorporate the solution into their service stacks and their existing cloud offerings. While there are many providers of web filtering services, not all solutions have been developed with MSPs in mind. TitanHQ differs in that respect.

TitanHQ’s web filtering solution, WebTitan Cloud, has been developed specifically to meet the needs of MSPs and make it as easy as possible for the solution to be added to their existing cloud offerings. WebTitan Cloud seamlessly integrates within existing workflows regardless of whether MSPs self-host, use AWS, Azure, or other cloud platforms.

How Does WebTitan Cloud Integrate into MSPs Management Systems?

To make integration as easy as possible, TitanHQ uses RESTful API, which allows fast and risk-free integration into MSPs management systems. WebTitan Cloud uses the OAuth 1.0 protocol for authentication and has a full set of keys and secrets in the WebTitan Cloud user interface (UI). Once an MSP has signed up, no further registration or authentication is necessary. The API client provides the appropriate oauth_signature to authorize requests to protected resources.

Best Web Filtering Service for MSPs

 

Overly complex user interfaces are a problem with many cloud-based solutions. With WebTitan Cloud, the UI is made as clean and easy to use as possible. MSPs can remove all elements from the UI that are not required to keep the UI clean and simple. WebTitan Cloud can also be integrated into MSP cloud interfaces to create a better user experience and greater consistency for customers.

Having information at your fingertips is important when customers send in requests or when reports are required on web use and blocking. WebTitan Cloud allows MSPs to create and integrate a full suite of high-level system and customer reports into their own management consoles.

Onboarding new customers is also a quick and simple process, which can be integrated into current MSP on-boarding processes. New customer accounts can easily be created (or deleted) from within an MSP’s own UI, in addition to performing updates and listing all current customer accounts.

Onboarding customers with WebTitan Cloud

 

MSPs can connect to WebTitan Cloud to manage their customers settings, including locations, whitelists, and blacklists. Customers that would prefer to manage their own settings can perform a limited number of operations themselves using APIs. Since WebTitan Cloud is available in a full white label, customers who do access their own settings can be given a UI with MSP branding rather than TitanHQ’s to maintain consistency and help reinforce the MSPs brand.

TitanHQ also operates an extremely competitive pricing strategy with generous margins for MSPs and aligned monthly billing cycles through the TitanShield MSP Program.

Onboarding Customers with WebTitan Cloud APIs

WebTitan APIs for MSPs

The full set of APIs available to MSPs can be found on this link: https://apidoc.webtitancloud.com/

If you have yet to start offering web filtering to your clients as part of your service stack or if you are unhappy with your current provider’s product, contact TitanHQ today and as about becoming a member of the TitanShield MSP Program. Product demonstrations can also be scheduled on request.
 

Web Filtering for MSPs (Part 1): Why Web Filtering is so Important

A web filtering service allows Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to better protect their clients from accidental malware downloads and phishing attacks while improving their bottom lines. Further, by preventing phishing attacks and malware infections, they can reduce the amount of time they spend fighting fires. For busy MSPs, the latter will be especially beneficial.

Why is Web Filtering Important?

There are several reasons why MSP clients will benefit from a web filtering service. First and foremost, a web filter will help to prevent their customers’ employees from visiting phishing websites and malicious URLs. Most phishing attacks start with a phishing email, so a powerful spam filtering solution is essential. While commercial spam filters such as SpamTitan will block more than 99% of spam and phishing emails, additional protections are required to protect against the 1% that bypass spam defenses.

Naturally end user security awareness training will help in this regard, but as the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report shows, 30% of delivered phishing messages are opened by end users and 12% of those users also click on malicious links in the messages.

A web filter is an additional layer of anti-phishing and anti-malware defenses that kicks in when malicious links are clicked and when end users attempt to visit other malicious sites while browsing the Internet. With a web filter in place, when an employee attempts to access a malicious web page, that attempt will be blocked before any content is downloaded. Instead of displaying the web page, a block page will be displayed.

Web filters also allow companies to carefully control the types of content their employees can access. This allows them to enforce acceptable internet usage policies with ease. Employers can prevent their employees from accessing NSFW content such as pornography, illegal content and, if tighter controls are required to improve productivity, other categories of web content such as dating sites, social media networks, gambling sites, and gaming sites.

With a web filter in place, security and productivity can both be quickly improved and the gains in both of those areas is likely to more than pay for the cost of the web filtering package provided by their MSP.

Cloud Based Web Filtering Solutions for MSPs

Convincing customers to implement a web filtering solution should be straightforward given the number of phishing attacks that are now being conducted and the cost of mitigating phishing attacks and malware infections. The cost of web filtering is tiny by comparison.

For MSPs, cloud-based filtering solutions are the natural choice. They can be implemented in minutes once a customer request has been received, no hardware is required, there is no software to install, and patching is handled by the service provider. All that is required from the MSP is a brief set up and configuration for each customer and ongoing management and reporting.

Web Filtering for MSPs

However, not all cloud-based web filtering solutions make set up, management and reporting simple. WebTitan Cloud differs in this respect. Not only does the solution offer excellent protection, the solution has been developed specifically with MSPs in mind. The ease of integration into MSP’s back-end systems and management has made WebTitan Cloud the go-to web filtering solution for MSPs.

In our next post we will explain how WebTitan Cloud differs from other web filtering solutions, why it is the easiest solution for MSPs to integrate into their existing cloud offerings, and how TitanHQ makes getting started, provisioning new customers, and managing customer accounts a quick and easy process requiring the minimal management overhead.

Click here for Web Filtering for MSPs (Part 2)
 

Fake Game of Thrones Video Files Embedded with Malware

For many people, Game of Thrones Season 8 is the TV highlight of the past 12 months, but not all fans of the series are keen to pay for the channel to watch the latest installments of this hugely popular series.

Some fans are turning to P2P file sharing sites to download the latest episodes, but hackers are ready and waiting. Many illegal video files of Game of Thrones episodes have been embedded with malware, most commonly adware and Trojans.

Research from Kaspersky Lab revealed Trojans to be the most common form of malware to be embedded in rogue video files. A third of all fake TV show downloads that have been impregnated with malware include a Trojan.

When one of these infected files is opened after it has been downloaded, the Trojan is launched and silently runs in the background on the infected device.

Many of the Trojans embedded into video files are brand new. These zero-day malware variants are not detected by traditional AV solutions as their signatures are not present in malware definition lists. That means malware infections are likely to go undetected. When signatures are updated, the malware may continue to run until a full system scan is completed. Either way, during the time that the malware is active it could be collecting a range of sensitive data including usernames and passwords.

Malware can also be installed that gives the attacker access to an infected device and the ability to run commands, change programs, download further malware variants, and add the infected device to a botnet.

File sharing websites offer an easy way of distributing malware. Users of the platforms voluntarily download the files onto their computers. However, only a small percentage of internet users visit P2P file sharing sites. Hackers therefore have turned to other methods to get users to execute their infected video files.

Prior to the release date of Game of Thrones Season 8, offers of free access to the TV show were being distributed via email. Campaigns were also detected offering episodes in advance of the release date to tempt GOT fans into installing malicious software or visiting malicious websites.

It is no surprise that fake Game of Thrones video files have been embedded with malware, given the huge popularity of the show. However, Game of Thrones fans are not the only people targeted using this tactic of malware distribution. In the past few months, malware has been detected in fake videos files claiming to be the latest episodes of the Walking Dead, Suits, and the Vikings to name but a few.

Some people feel the risk of a malware infection from downloading pirated video files to be low, or they do not even consider the risks. That is bad news for businesses. When employees ignore the risks and download illegal files at work, they risk infecting their network with malware.

The easiest solution to prevent illegal downloads at work and the visiting of other malicious websites is to use a web filtering solution. A web filter – WebTitan for instance – can be configured to prevent users from accessing file sharing and torrents websites. WebTitan uses a continuous stream of ActiveWeb URLs from over 550 million end users, which provides important threat intelligence to TitanHQ’s machine learning technology. This allows new, malicious URLs to be identified, and users are then prevented from visiting those malicious URLs.

Blocking email attacks is simple with SpamTitan. SpamTitan blocks 99.97% of spam emails to prevent malicious messages from reaching end users, including messages offering free access to Game of Thrones and other TV shows. In addition to dual AV engines to protect against known malware, SpamTitan also now has a sandboxing feature. Suspicious attachments can be safely executed and analyzed in the sandbox to identify potentially malicious actions. The sandboxing feature provides superior protection against zero-day malware which AV software does not block.

With both of these solutions in place, businesses will be well protected against malware, ransomware, botnets, viruses, and phishing attacks.

Each solution is available with a range of different deployment options to suit the needs of all businesses. For a product demonstration and further information, contact the TitanHQ team today.

MSPs Targeted as Hackers Realize Potential for Profit in Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain attacks allow cybercriminals to attack businesses through weak links in the supply network. Smaller companies are attacked, which gives hackers access to larger and better secured businesses: Businesses that would be harder to attack directly.

This attack method was used to spread NotPetya malware in Ukraine. A software supply company was breached which allowed the malware to be spread to the software supplier’s clients. The massive data breach at Target in 2014 was made possible by first attacking an HVAC system provider. The attack allowed hackers to install malware on the Target’s POS system and obtain the credit card numbers of millions of its customers. According to Symantec, supply chain attacks doubled in 2018.

There are many different types of supply chain attacks, but all serve a similar purpose. By attacking one company it is then possible to attack a bigger fish, or in the case of attacks on cloud service providers and managed service providers, a single attack will give a hacker access to the networks of all MSP clients.

Large businesses often have the budgets to hire their own IT and security staff and can implement robust defenses to prevent attacks. Smaller businesses often struggle to recruit security professionals as they are in high demand. With the shortage of skilled cybersecurity staff and an inability to pay the large salaries that skilled cybersecurity professionals demand, SMBs often turn to MSPs to provide those services.

In order to be able to provide those services, managed service providers are given remote access to their client’s networks. Many of the tasks that need to be performed by MSPs require administrative privileges. Managed service providers also hold login credentials to their clients’ routers and cloud accounts. All of those credentials are extremely valuable to hackers.

Given the typical number of clients each MSP has, a successful attack on an MSP could prove very profitable for a hacker. It is therefore no surprise that there has been an increase in cyberattacks on MSPs and CSPs.

While MSPs are usually good at securing their clients’ networks and ensuring they are well protected, they also need to ensure their own house is in order. Patches must be applied promptly, vulnerabilities must be addressed, and security solutions must be put in place to protect MSPs systems.

MSP staff should be security aware, but when they are busy resolving their clients’ problems, mistakes can easily be made such as responding to a well-crafted spear phishing email. All it takes is for one MSP employee to respond to such an email for a hacker to gain a foothold in the network.

Naturally, security awareness training should be provided to all MSP employees and security solutions need to be deployed to protect against email and web-based attacks.

This is an area where TitanHQ can help. TitanHQ’s anti-spam solution, SpamTitan, offers advanced protection against phishing and spear phishing attacks. A recent update has also seen DMARC email authentication and sandboxing features added to better protect users from phishing and malware attacks.

TitanHQ’s DNS-based content filtering solution further enhances protection against phishing attacks and prevents MSP employees from visiting malicious websites. Being DNS-based, malicious websites are blocked before any content can be downloaded.

In addition to helping MSPs protect their own networks, both solutions are ideal for MSPs to offer to their SMB clients and have been developed to perfectly meet the requirements of MSPs.

If you are an MSP and you have yet to implement a web filter or you are looking for an advanced spam filtering solution for you or your clients, give the MSP team at TitanHQ a call today to find out more about both solutions and how they can protect your business and better protect your clients.
 

Webinar: New SpamTitan DMARC and Sandboxing Features Explained

Traditional email security solutions are effective at keeping inboxes free from spam email, but many fall short when it comes to blocking phishing and spear phishing attacks. Cybercriminals are conducting ever more sophisticated campaigns that manage to bypass traditional email security defenses by impersonating legitimate companies and spoofing their domains.

In addition to phishing attacks that attempt to obtain sensitive information, email is often used to spread malware, ransomware and botnets. Traditional anti-virus solutions are effective at blocking known malware threats, but signature-based AV solutions are not effective at blocking never-before-seen malware variants.

Today, new malware variants are being released at record pace. To block these zero-day malware attacks, an advanced email security solution is required which does not rely on signatures to identify malicious file attachments.

SpamTitan was already a powerful email security solution for SMBs and MSPs serving the SMB market and was capable of blocking sophisticated phishing emails and new malware threats. However, new features have now been added that improve detection rates further still and provide superior protection against zero-day malware and phishing attacks that spoof legitimate domains.

TitanHQ has updated SpamTitan to include a DMARC email authentication feature which is capable of detecting and blocking spoofed emails to better protect users from sophisticated phishing attacks.

To better protect against malware, ransomware, botnets, and zero-day attacks, TitanHQ has incorporated a new Bitdefender-powered sandboxing feature into SpamTitan. Email attachments that pass standard checks are safely detonated in the sandbox and are analyzed for malicious activity. The sandboxing feature provides an additional layer of security and greatly enhances protection against malicious attachments. This feature also helps to ensure that more legitimate emails and attachments are delivered to end users.

To explain how these new features work and the benefits to users, TitanHQ is running a webinar. In the webinar, TitanHQ will cover the new features in detail and will explain how SpamTitan can protect against the full range of email-based threats.

Webinar Information:

 Date:     Thursday, April 4, 2019

Time:    12pm, EST

The webinar will last 30 minutes and advance registration is necessary.

You register for the webinar here

Cybersecurity Protections for SMBs Found to Be Lacking

A new report has confirmed the need for robust, multi-layered cybersecurity protections for SMBs to prevent successful cyberattacks. SMBs are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals as security is often weak and attacks are easy to pull off.

While large corporations are an attractive target for cybercriminals, large corporations tend to have mature cybersecurity programs and they are usually very well protected. A successful attack could prove extremely profitable but breaking through the cybersecurity defenses of large corporations is difficult and attacks can be extremely time consuming and labor intensive.

Cybercriminals often choose the path of least resistance, even though the potential for profit may not be so high. Cyberattacks on SMBs are much easier and hackers are concentrating their efforts on SMB targets. This was clearly demonstrated in the latest cybersecurity report from Beazley Breach Response (BBR) Services.

BBR Services analyzed all of the data breaches that it investigated in 2018. 9% of the successful attacks involved ransomware and 71% of those ransomware attacks were on SMBs. The healthcare industry suffered the highest number of ransomware attacks, and accounted for one third of successful attacks. Companies in the professional and financial services sectors accounted for 12% of ransomware attacks each, followed by the retail industry with 8% of attacks.

The costs of those ransomware attacks can be considerable. If companies are unable to recover data from backups, a sizable ransom must be paid to recover encrypted data. In 2018, the average ransom demand was $116,400 and the median ransom demand was $10,310. One client was issued a ransom demand of $8.5 million. The highest ransom demand paid was $935,000.

Massive demands for payment for the keys to unlock encrypted files may not be the norm, but even at the lower end of the spectrum SMBs may struggle to find the money to pay. The ransom demand is also likely to be considerably higher than the cost of cybersecurity protections for SMBs to prevent ransomware attacks.

One of the main ways that hackers gain access to the networks of SMBs is by exploiting flaws in Remote Desktop Protocol. SMBs that leave RDP ports open are at a much higher risk of being attacked. RDP is required by many SMBs because they outsource IT to managed service providers, which need to use RDP to access their systems. In such cases it is essential for default RDP ports to be changed and for very strong passwords to be implemented to reduce the risk of brute force attacks succeeding.

There was also an increase in sextortion scams in 2018. These scams attempt to extort money by threatening to expose victims’ use of adult websites. While these scams usually contain empty threats, they are often successful. In addition to attempting to extort money, the scams are used to install malware or ransomware.  Email attachments are sent which claim to contain videos of the victim accessing adult websites, which the scammers claim to have been recorded using the computer’s webcam. When the files are opened to be checked, malware or ransomware is installed.

2018 also saw a 133% increase in Business Email Compromise attacks. These attacks spoof the email address of a senior executive to make the emails and requests seem more plausible. These scams are usually conducted to obtain sensitive information or to get employees to make fraudulent wire transfers. BEC attacks accounted for 24% of all breaches investigated by BBR Services in 2018.

One of the most important cybersecurity protections for SMBs to implement to prevent these attacks is an advanced email filtering solution – One that is capable of detecting spoofed emails. SpamTitan, TitanHQ’s cloud-based spam filtering solution, has recently been updated to include DMARC authentication to detect email impersonation attacks such as BEC scams. The solution also now includes a new sandboxing feature that allows potentially malicious attachments to be analyzed in detail in the sandbox where no harm can be caused. This helps to identify more malicious attachments and better protect SMBs from zero-day malware and other malicious files.

TitanHQ’s powerful cybersecurity protections for SMBs can greatly improve email security and block a wide range of web-based attacks. For further information on effective cybersecurity protections for SMBs to deploy to improve security posture and block costly attacks, contact TitanHQ today.

SpamTitan Email Security Now Includes Sandboxing and DMARC Authentication

TitanHQ has announced its award-winning anti-spam solution, SpamTitan, has been updated and now has two powerful new features to better protect users from phishing, spear phishing, malware, ransomware, botnets, and APT threats.

SpamTitan has long been the go-to solution for SMBs to improve email security and the solution is popular with managed service providers serving the SMB market. SpamTitan is quick and easy to install, simple to use, and provides excellent protection against a wide range of email threats.

As email threats have become more sophisticated and zero-day attacks and new malware variants have skyrocketed, new features are needed to keep end users protected.

To maintain pace and better protect SpamTitan users, two important new features have now been rolled out with the latest release of SpamTitan: Sandboxing and DMARC authentication.

Sandboxing Feature Added to SpamTitan Product Suite

Blocking known threats is one thing, but detecting and blocking brand new threats that evade AV solutions is another matter, yet businesses need protection from these zero-day threats as well. SpamTitan already incorporates a range of mechanisms to detect these new threats but the latest feature takes protection to the next level.

SpamTitan now incorporates a new next-gen sandboxing feature. The Bitfedender-powered sandbox is a virtual environment that is totally separate from other systems. When an email is sent to a SpamTitan user, the message will be subjected to a range of checks to determine whether it is genuine, benign, and should be delivered or if it is malicious and needs to be rejected. If the message contains a suspicious attachment that is not picked up as a threat from those checks, it is sent to the sandbox.

The SpamTitan sandbox service has been designed to appear as a normal endpoint. Malicious files are opened or executed in the sandbox and any malicious code is run as it would on a standard machine. Its actions are logged and subjected to an in-depth analysis, including its self-protection mechanisms and attempts to evade detection. All actions are then assessed by advanced machine learning algorithms and the results of the analysis are then checked against a wide range of online repositories.

Opening potentially malicious files on an endpoint is dangerous, but in the isolated sandbox all risks are eliminated. Once the analysis is complete, which takes just a few minutes, if the file is determined to be benign it will be released and can be delivered to the end user. If it is malicious, the sandbox solution will automatically report the file to Bitdefender’s cloud threat intelligence service. That threat will then be blocked for all SpamTitan users, so the file will not need to be analyzed again.

This new feature greatly increases detection of elusive threats, provides end users with even greater protection, and it also helps to ensure that more genuine messages are delivered.

Businesses that want sandboxing technology usually need to purchase a separate solution. With SpamTitan, advanced emulation-based malware analysis is provided free of charge.

DMARC Email Authentication Now Included in SpamTitan

Email impersonation attacks are a major threat. They abuse trust in a known contact, company, or government organization to fool end users into taking a specific action – disclosing sensitive information, installing malware, or visiting a phishing webpage, for instance.

While SpamTitan already incorporates several mechanisms to identify email impersonation attacks, DMARC authentication has now been added to block even more threats. DMARC is a powerful tool for identifying the true sender of an email to determine if that individual is authorized to use a particular domain.

Detailed checks of the email header are performed and the sender is checked against DMARC records. If the checks are passed, the message can be delivered. If DMARC authentication fails, the message is rejected.

The new anti-spoofing feature protects SMBs and MSPs against data loss, date breaches, zero-day threats, and highly sophisticated email threats, while the sandboxing feature protects against malware, advanced persistent threats (APTs), malicious URLs, and offers insight into new threats to help mitigate risks.

Both of these features have been made available to current and new TitanHQ customers at no extra charge.

Risk of Phishing Attacks and Malware Downloads from Visiting Adult Websites

The threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites has long been thought to be a major risk; however, not all studies on the subject have demonstrated that the risk is any higher than visiting other types of websites. The owners of adult websites, as legitimate business owners, have a vested interest in keeping their sites malware free.

However, new research from Kaspersky suggests the threat of malware downloads from visiting adult websites is real, and adult-themed phishing attacks increased in 2018.

Is There a High Risk of Malware Downloads from Visiting Adult Websites?

According to its latest report, there is a real risk of malware downloads from visiting adult websites. Naturally for consumers who visits adult websites, the risk is theirs to take. For businesses however, risks taken by employees can prove incredibly costly.

One of the major stories to be covered in the media on this theme in 2018 involved a government employee with a prolific thirst for such content. He was discovered to have accessed more than 9,000 adult websites and had inadvertently downloaded malware onto his work computer and the network. After visiting so many sites, that is perhaps understandable, but there have been many such malware downloads from far less prolific surfing of adult sites.

Kaspersky Lab’s research indicates that most malware downloads from malicious websites involves malware disguised as videos. Oftentimes, users are required to download a supposedly benign but malicious file in order to access the video.

Cybercriminals are also using black-hat techniques to poison the search results and get malicious sites appearing high up in the listings. The top 20% of porn-related search terms accounted for 80% of malware disguised as porn. Kaspersky’s tracking indicated 87,227 users had downloaded malware-disguised as porn and 8% of those did so via their work network.

The use of these porn tags is also common to get users to download non-malware threats such as adware and downloaders, although the latter are often capable of downloading much more malicious files.  While the number of these attacks decreased by 36% year-over-year, attacking people searching for adult content is still common.

The most common threats associated with adult content were Trojan downloaders (45%) and Trojans (20%), followed by adware (9%) and worms (8%).

Adult-Themed Phishing Attacks Increased by 1,000% in Q4, 2018

While it was previously uncommon for phishing scams to use porn as a lure, that changed in 2018. It is still common for cybercriminals to use impersonate or create fake hookup sites to lure people into divulging credentials but there was also a 1,000% increase in phishing attacks using websites that masquerade as porn websites. Most commonly these were spoofed versions of the top 10 adult sites on the web. The rise in these types of phishing scams could be indicative of a trend that will grow in 2019.

The research shows that malware downloads from visiting adult websites is still a risk and the threat from adult-themed phishing attacks has grown at an alarming rate. Businesses should take note and take steps to limit risk.

The easiest way to do that is with a DNS web filter – A solution that allows businesses to carefully control the web content that can be accessed on work devices and via their wireless networks. With a DNS web filtering solution in place, businesses can block access to adult websites, commonly spoofed hookup and dating sites, and web-based phishing threats.

Not only will a DNS web filter provide protection against phishing, ransomware, and malware downloads, by blocking access to these adult sites, legal liability can be reduced and staff issues can be avoided.

If you have yet to start filtering the internet and preventing your users from accessing adult websites, other NSFW web content, and sites that are a drain on productivity, TitanHQ can help.

For a very low cost, businesses can protect all users of their wired and wireless networks and block a wide range of web-based threats. MSPs can also start providing filtered internet service to better protect their clients.

For further information, contact TitanHQ today and ask about WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – TitanHQ’s award winning web filtering solution for businesses.

TitanHQ Kicks Off 2019 MSP Roadshow Campaign

TitanHQ has launched a busy campaign of MSP roadshows and conferences with two Valentine’s Day events in London and Tampa, Florida.

Over the coming five months, the TitanHQ team will be attending 15 events in Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA, and will be meeting with managed service providers (MSPs), Wi-Fi providers, ISPs, and technology partners to introduce and explain about TitanHQ’s award-winning suite of email security, web filtering, and email archiving solutions.

The 2019 roadshow campaign started in London where Alliance Manager Eddie Monaghan met with current and prospective MSP partners at the IT Nation Q1 EMEA Meeting. Eddie will be at the event all week and will be discussing TitanHQ’s MSP solutions and finding out more about what is happening in the MSP world. TitanHQ has learned a great deal since joining the IT Nation community two years ago and has really enjoyed the experience thus far.

TitanHQ Alliance Manager, Eddie Monaghan

On the other side of the Atlantic, Alliance Manager Patrick Regan has been meeting with MSPs from Florida and beyond at the TitanHQ-sponsored Datto Roadshow in Tampa. Since joining the Datto community as a strategic partner, TitanHQ has worked closely with Datto MSP partners helping them to integrate email security, DNS filtering, and email archiving into their product offerings and providing tips and tricks to help them to get the most out of the products.

TitanHQ has been increasing its technology partners over the past year and is now working closely with industry giants Comcast, BitDefender, Microsoft, Kaseya, and ViaSat and is a proud member of IT Nation (HTG Peer Groups), Datto Roadshows, COMPTIA, and ASCII.

From humble beginnings as an indigenous Irish company providing anti-spam appliances to the local market, over the following 20 years TitanHQ has developed an innovative range of cloud-based solutions and has matured into a global provider of network security solutions for enterprises, SMBs, and MSPs. TitanHQs award-winning cybersecurity solutions are now offered by a network of more than 1,500 MSP partners and have been adopted by several thousand businesses in 200 countries around the globe.

The TitanHQ product suite has been developed to meet the exacting needs of MSP partners and are delivered via the TitanShield Program. The products help MSPs to protect themselves and their clients, while saving valuable time and effort by blocking threats at source before they can cause any harm.

TitanHQ’s spam filtering solution – SpamTitan – and web filtering solution – WebTitan – help MSPs keep their clients protected from malware, ransomware, viruses, botnets, phishing attacks and other email and web-based threats.

The cloud-based solutions are easy for MSPs to slip into their service stacks to build a high-margin security practice offering clients world-class network security services.

If you are already a TitanHQ TitanShield partner or want to find out more about the MSP program and TitanHQ products, be sure to attend one of the upcoming events and come and meet the TitanHQ team.

We look forward to meeting you at one of the upcoming roadshow events in 2019.

TitanHQ 2019 MSP Roadshow Dates

February 2019

Date Event Location
February 14, 2019 IT Nation (HTG) Q1 EMEA Meeting London, UK
February 14, 2019 Datto Roadshow Tampa, FL, USA

March 2019

Date Event Location
March 5, 2019 CompTIA UK Channel Community Manchester, UK
March 7, 2019 Datto Roadshow EMEA Dublin, IE
March 11, 2019 CompTIA Community Forum Chicago, IL, USA
March 12, 2019 Datto Roadshow NA Norwalk, CT, USA
March 19, 2019 Datto Roadshow EMEA London, UK
March 26, 2019 Datto Roadshow EMEA Houten, Netherlands
March 26, 2019 Datto Roadshow NA Toronto, Canada

April 2019

Date Event Location
April 25, 2019 Datto Roadshow Long Island, NY, USA
April 29, 2019 IT Nation Evolve (HTG 2) Dallas, TX, USA

May 2019

Date Event Location
May 6, 2019 Connect IT Global (Kaseya Connect) Las Vegas, NV, USA
May 13, 2019 IT Nation (HTG) Q1 EMEA Meeting Birmingham, UK
May 14, 2019 Wifi Now Washington DC, USA

June 2019

Date Event Location
June 17, 2019 DattoCon San Diego, CA, USA

An Easy Solution for Web Filtering Multiple Locations

Web filtering at multiple locations can be a headache but it is a necessity. Human error can easily result in an email account breach, malware download, or ransomware attack. Every employee is a potential security risk, so it is important for controls to be implemented to reduce the risk of mistakes leading to a costly security incident.

One of the main ways that data breaches occur is through phishing. The web pages used in phishing attacks host phishing kits that collect login credentials and send them to the scammers. The web pages usually contain identical copies of the login boxes used by the likes of Microsoft Office 365, Google, and Facebook. The web pages are incredibly realistic and can be difficult for employees to identify as malicious.

Hyperlinks in emails also direct employees to websites containing exploit kits which probe for vulnerabilities and silently download malware. A user could visit a website for a couple of seconds, yet still trigger a malware download. Even general web surfing can see users redirected to malicious websites.

The solution is to implement a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control the web content that users can visit, and it also blocks access to malicious web sites.

Web Filtering at Multiple Locations

While a web filter is easy to implement on premises, protecting mobile workers and multiple offices can be more of a challenge. Traditionally, web filters were physical appliances through which all Internet traffic flowed. Rules were applied to the appliance to control what sites can be visited by employees.

One of the main disadvantages when web filtering multiple locations, is a separate appliance needs to be used at each location. Not only is this costly, installing and maintaining the appliance requires technicians to be available on site. For many businesses running multiple offices, IT is managed remotely. IT staff are not available at each site. An appliance-based filter at each site is far from ideal.

An alternative is to backhaul Internet traffic to the corporate office, but this has a major impact on Internet speed. The latency issued can cause major problems for remote offices so this option is also not ideal.

The best solution is a cloud-based DNS web filter. A DNS web filter can be applied, configured and maintained remotely without the need for site visits or on-site support staff. No hardware is required and no software needs to be downloaded. All that is required is for a change be made to internal DNS servers or DNS settings.

Not only does this approach eliminate the need for any costly hardware purchases, with a cloud-based DNS filter there is no latency. The DNS-filter can be applied for all locations and managed through a single web-based interface. Controls can also be applied for different locations via an AD/LDAP client.

A cloud-based DNS filter is ideal for web filtering multiple locations, but what about protecting employees on the move? When employees travel for business, their mobile devices similarly need to be protected. A DNS filter can protect those employees online no matter where they access the Internet without the need to backhaul traffic.

Cloud-based DNS web filters are also the ideal solution for managed service providers (MSPs) who want to offer web filtering to their clients. The filters are highly scalable, and they offer multitenant management for MSPs and allow all clients settings to be configured and managed through a single pane of glass. Separate polices can be applied for each clients and reports can be easily generated. There is no need for any site visits, no need for patching, and web filtering can be offered no matter where the client is based.

WebTitan Cloud – Web Filtering Multiple Locations Made Simple

TitanHQ is a leading provider of DNS-based web filtering for businesses. WebTitan Cloud is an enterprise-class DNS-based web filtering solution that makes web filtering multiple locations effortless.  The solution takes minutes to implement and requires no training to use. All web filtering controls can be applied remotely via an intuitive user interface.

If you run a business in multiple geographical locations, want to protect remote workers, or if you are a managed service provider that wants to add web filtering to your service stack, contact TitanHQ for further information on WebTitan Cloud.
 

Anatova Ransomware: A Serious New Malware Threat for 2019

Anatova ransomware is a new cryptoransomware variant that appears to have been released on January 1, 2019. It is stealthy, can infect network shares, has already been used in attacks in many countries around the world. It could well prove to become a major ransomware threat in 2019.

Ransomware has somewhat fallen out of favor with cybercriminals as cryptocurrency mining malware offers greater potential for profit. The development of new ransomware variants has slowed, but new variants are still emerging and the threat from ransomware is not going away any time soon. Ransomware attacks are still profitable for cybercriminals and as long as that remains the case the attacks will continue.

Anatova ransomware was identified and named by security researchers at McAfee. The name was taken from the name on the ransomware note. The previously unknown ransomware variant has been used in at least 10 countries, with over 100 Anatova ransomware attacks identified in the United States, more than 65 in Belgium, and over 40 in France and Germany.

Not only does the ransomware variant employ a range of techniques to avoid detection, infection can cause major damage and widespread file encryption. Further, the modular design allows the developers to easily add new functionality in the future.

Most of the strings in Anatova ransomware have been encrypted and different keys are required to decrypt them. Those keys have been embedded in the executable. 90% of calls are dynamic and use non-suspicious Windows APIs and standard C-programming language.

Once downloaded and executed, the ransomware performs a check of the name of the logged in user against a list of encrypted names and will exit if there is a match. Names that prompt an exit include tester, lab, malware, and analyst. These names are commonly used on virtual machines and sandboxes. A check will also be performed to determine the country in which the device is located. The ransomware will exit if the device is in any CIS country, Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Iraq, or India.

Anatova ransomware scans for files smaller than 1MB and checks for network shares, although care is taken not to disrupt the operating system during this process and raise a flag before files are encrypted. Once files have been identified, the encryption routine starts. The ransomware uses its own key, so each victim requires a separate key to unlock the encryption.

Once the encryption process has run, the ransom note is dropped on the desktop, the memory is cleaned, and volume shadow copies are overwritten 10 times to ensure files cannot be recovered from local backup files.

The ransom demand is relatively high – Around $700 (10 DASH) per infected machine. Since multiple devices can be infected with a single installation, the total ransom demand could well be considerable.

What is not 100% certain is how the ransomware is being distributed. McAfee detected one sample on a P2P file sharing network which masquerades as a free software program complete with game/application icon to encourage users to download and run the installer. Other attack vectors may also be used. Based on the current distribution vector, a web filter will offer protection against attacks if P2P file sharing/torrents sites are blocked.

The researchers believe Anatova ransomware has been created by highly skilled malware authors who are currently distributing a prototype of the ransomware. More widespread attacks are to be expected once this testing phase has been completed.

How Small Businesses Can Improve Wi-Fi Security

Hackers are taking advantage of poor Wi-Fi security to attack small businesses. This post covers simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security to block cyberattacks.

Small businesses can implement a robust firewall to protect against cyberattacks, but the Wi-Fi router is often a weak point. A Wi-Fi router providers wireless coverage for your business and it is a likely attack vector if security is lax. By attacking wireless routers, hackers can bypass your firewall.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve Wi-Fi security and block attacks. Seven simple steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security have been listed below.

Simple Steps for Small Businesses to Take to Improve Wi-Fi Security

Some of the steps below are obvious security measures, but there have been many instances when small businesses have overlooked these simple protections, only for them to be exploited by hackers.

  1. Change Router Admin Credentials

Changing default credentials is one of the easiest but most important steps to take to improve Wi-Fi security. Because it is so simple, no business should be guilty of this security faux pas, but many are, even large businesses. In November, a school system discovered that its WAN provider had not changed the passwords on routers that had been in use for years. This is not the login for Wi-Fi, but the password for the router itself. These default administrator passwords can be found with a simple Internet search.

  1. Disable Remote Administration on Your Router

Many wireless routers allow users to access and change router settings from outside the network. For the majority of businesses, remote administration is not necessary so it should be disabled. While this setting can be convenient, there are other more secure ways to access router settings remotely such as using a VPN. Allowing remote administration makes it far too easy for hackers to access your router.

  1. Monitor Your DNS Settings

In January 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued an emergency directive to all government agencies instructing them to perform an urgent audit of their DNS records after it was discovered that a threat group was targeting government agencies and changing their DNS records. By hijacking the DNS, all employees could be directed to malicious websites – clones of legitimate sites. Businesses that do not have an internal DNS server often use their wireless routers for this. Businesses should regularly monitor their DNS settings to ensure that no changes have been made.

  1. Limit the Range of Your Wi-Fi Signal

You will want to make sure that everyone on the premises can access your Wi-Fi network, but it is important that no one outside your offices can do so too. If your Wi-Fi signal is too strong, it could be accessed by someone outside your offices and out of sight – In a car parked in your lot for instance. An overly strong Wi-Fi signal makes it easy for an attacker to conduct brute force attacks without being seen.

  1. Keep Firmware Updated

New router firmware will be periodically released by the manufacturer and, as with all other software updates, they should be applied as soon as possible. Firmware updates are issued to improve security and functionality. They address known vulnerabilities for which exploits exist. Some routers will be set to update automatically, others may require a manual update through the web-based interface. Be sure to check the manufacturers web page, as your router may no longer be supported, which means it is time for an upgrade.

  1. Make Use of Your Guest Network

One of the most important security measures is to segment your network and this is especially important for Wi-Fi. You should not allow any untrusted device to connect to your network, such as those used by visitors. You should have a separate SSID for your employees and guests. This will keep guests away from your primary network.

  1. Ensure Your Wi-Fi Network is Encrypted

You should ensure that your Wi-Fi network is encrypted with WPA as an absolute minimum. Without encryption your network will be open and hackers will be able to intercept wireless traffic. Currently the encryption standard is WPA2, although this will change to WPA3 in 2019. If you are planning on replacing your Wi-Fi router, make sure the new model supports WPA3. If your router only supports WEP it is time to upgrade.
 

10 Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Hackers are increasingly targeting small businesses. These 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses can be implemented to improve security, prevent successful cyberattacks, and avoid costly data breaches.

Many small business owners misguidedly think that their company is too small to be a target for hackers but cyberattacks on small businesses are common and they are increasing. A successful attack on a Fortune 500 company is likely to be far more profitable for the hacker, but also much harder. Small businesses are relatively easy targets and attacks can be highly profitable.

Small business owners cannot afford to take cybersecurity lightly. A successful cyberattack could prove catastrophic. With this in mind, we have compiled 10 cybersecurity tips for small businesses that can easily be implemented to improve security.

Top Cybersecurity Tips for Small Businesses

Implement a Robust Firewall

A firewall is a cybersecurity solution that sits between a small business network and the outside world and prevents unauthorized individuals from gaining access to the network and stored data. Not all firewalls are created equal. Extra investment in a next generation firewall is money well spent. Don’t forget to also protect remote workers. Ensure that they are also protected by a firewall.

Create and Enforce Password Policies

You should implement password policies that require all users to set strong, secure passwords. A strong, unique password should be used for all systems. Passwords should include capitals, lower-case letters, a number, and a special character, and should be at least 10 digits long. Teach employees how to create secure passwords and enforce your password policies. Consider using a password manager so passwords do not need to be remembered.  Consult NIST for the latest password guidance.

Security Awareness Training

Make sure you provide the workforce with regular security awareness training. This is the only way that you can create a culture of cybersecurity. Be sure to cover the security basics, safe Internet use, how to handle sensitive data, creation of passwords, and mobile device security. You should provide training to help employees avoid phishing attacks and consider phishing simulation exercises to test the effectiveness of your training program.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication involves the use of a password and at least one other method of authentication. If login credentials are compromised, an additional factor is required to gain access to an account or the network such as an SMS message to a user’s smartphone.

Backups

It is essential to have a good backup policy. In the event of disaster, such as a ransomware attack, you need to be able to recover critical data. Backups must also be tested to make sure files can be recovered. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to test whether data can be recovered. A good strategy is the 3-2-1 approach. Three backup copies, on two different types of media, with one copy stored securely offsite.

Software and Firmware Updates

Vulnerabilities are regularly found in computer software. Patches are released to correct those vulnerabilities, including those that are being actively exploited. Make sure patches are applied promptly, software is kept 100% up to date, and the most up to date firmware has been installed. Implement automatic updates where possible and create a schedule for updates if they need to be performed manually.

Network Segmentation

It is a standard best practice to segment networks and split them into subnetworks. Not only will this improve security it can also improve performance. By preventing access between segments, if one part of the network is compromised, an attacker will not have access to all systems and data. Also make sure you limit access to sensitive data and restrict the use of admin credentials. Apply the rule of least privilege. Do not give employees access to data, networks, and software that they do not need for day to day work duties.

Implement a Spam Filter

Arguably the biggest cyber threat that small businesses face is phishing. A single phishing email could allow an attacker to bypass your perimeter defenses and obtain login credentials or install malware. An advanced spam filter will allow you to improve productivity by blocking non-malicious spam emails and prevent phishing emails from being delivered to inboxes.

Secure Wi-Fi Networks

If you have a wireless network in your workplace it needs to be protected. Ensure that it is secured, data are encrypted, and that it is hidden and does not broadcast its SSID. Use WPA2 for encryption (or WPA3 if possible). Change default passwords and ensure your wireless router cannot be accessed from outside the network.

Consider Implementing a Web Filter

A web filter provides protection against web-based attacks by preventing employees from visiting phishing websites and sites that host malware. A DNS-based web filter can protect wired and wireless networks and even remote workers. It will block malware downloads and prevent users from accessing dangerous websites and those that serve no work purpose thus improving productivity.
 

Types of Insider Threats that SMBs Need to Manage

The news headlines frequently warn businesses of the need to improve cybersecurity protections to thwart hackers, but not all threats come from outside the company. There are various types of insider threats that need to be managed and mitigated, yet these are all too often overlooked or insufficient controls are put in place to reduce the risk of a deliberate or accidental breach.

What are Insider Threats?

An insider threat is one that comes from within the company, typically an employee who accidentally or deliberately takes an action that causes harm or loss to the company.

Hackers attack companies to gain access to their networks to spy on companies, obtain secrets, steal data or sabotage systems. Breaking through perimeter defenses can be time consuming and difficult but if an insider wants to steal data or sabotage a system, it is far easier as they already have network access.

Not all insider threats involve intentional malicious actions by employees. An employee can also act in a way that negatively affects their company without intending to cause any harm.

This could be intentionally violating company policies in a non-malicious manner. An example would be the installation of software to save the employee time or to allow them to work more efficiently. Installing unauthorized software carries a risk of a malware or spyware infection. An employee could violate company policies which could lead to an accidental data breach. Then there is human error, such as sending an email containing sensitive information to the wrong person. Such actions could prove costly.

Businesses need to protect against all insider threats if they are to avoid costly data breaches. A great many data breaches result from too little focus on cybersecurity defenses to block the threat from within.

Malicious Acts by Employees

Anyone that has access to sensitive company data could potentially abuse their access rights to view or steal data. There is no particular profile of a malicious insider. Everyone could decide one day to steal information or sabotage systems, but you can protect against malicious insiders and manage the risk.

  • Cover insider threats in security awareness training and encourage employees to be vigilant and report suspicious activity. Provide them with an easy way to report their concerns.
  • Implement tools that monitor for anomalous behavior
  • Implement controls to prevent the use of portable storage devices such as thumb drives
  • Implement tools that prevent employees from downloading and running certain files types – Executable files for instance.
  • Apply the rule of least privilege – Don’t let employees access data/systems that they do not need to access to complete their day to day work duties

Accidents Will Happen…

The insider threats that can be the hardest to defend against are mistakes by employees. These types of insider threats include responding to a phishing email and disclosing login credentials, sending sensitive data to the wrong email recipient, accidentally visiting malicious websites, and inadvertently downloading malware. These threats need to be managed and mitigated through policies and procedures, training, and software solutions.

…But You Can Minimize Risk!

Phishing is arguably the biggest threat. Hackers know all too well that people make mistakes and can easily be fooled. Priority number one should be blocking phishing emails and making sure they are not delivered. For that you need an advanced spam filter. The more phishing emails that are blocked, the lower the risk of a click.

Security awareness training is also essential. When a phishing email lands in an inbox, employees need to have the skills to recognize it as such.  Provide training and make the training interesting to engage employees. Interactive training courses can help in that respect. Make sure you test your employees’ knowledge afterwards with phishing email simulations. They will let you know who has taken the training on board and who needs further training.

Training needs to cover all security threats, not just phishing. Teach employees security best practices, including checking badges before allowing someone into the building, password security, keeping credentials private, and safe use of WiFi.

Another important technical control to implement is a web filter. A web filter allows businesses to control what employees can do online. They block access to phishing websites, block drive-by malware downloads, and prevent employees from visiting questionable websites that carry a high risk of malware infections or malvertising redirects: Adult sites and torrents/P2P file sharing sites for instance.  Some web filters will also keep employees safe and secure when working remotely.

The important thing for businesses is not to leave things to chance or to assume they are too small to worry about insider threats and data breaches. Every business is at risk, regardless of size.

For further information on software solutions that can protect against data security threats give the TitanHQ team a call.
 

Mongolock Ransomware Deletes Files and Demands Ransom

A new form of MongoLock ransomware is actively being used in a global campaign. A 0.1 BTC ransom is demanded, although file recovery may not be possible. The ransomware immediately deletes files and formats backup drives and a recoverable copy may not be retained by the attackers.

MongoLock ransomware was first detected in January 2017. A major campaign involving the ransomware was detected in September 2018 with the latest attacks having been ongoing since December 2018. The attackers are gaining access to unprotected or poorly protected MongoDB databases and are deleting data and replacing the databases with a new database. Inside the database is a file called readme that contains the ransom demand.

The attackers claim to have exported the database before encrypting it. Victims are required to make a 0.1 BTC payment to a supplied Bitcoin wallet or contact the attackers via email.  Many victims have chosen to pay the ransom; however, there is no guarantee that data can be recovered. It is unclear whether the attackers are making a copy of the database or are simply deleting it.

The attacks are automated and scripts are used to delete the database and create the ransomware note, but the scripts are not always effective. Even if it is the intention of the attackers to obtain a copy of the database, that may not always happen.

The latest version of MongoLock ransomware also conducts a scan of local drives and deletes important data, including files saved to the Desktop, My Documents folder, Recent files, favorites, and any backup files that can be located. The drives are then formatted. This makes payment of the ransom all the more likely. Users are advised they have just 24 hours to make payment before the database is permanently deleted.

The file deletion routine is executed after the files have been uploaded to the attackers’ C2 server, so they can potentially be recovered if the ransom payment is made. However, if the computer is taken offline, file deletion continues but no copy of the file will be obtained by the attackers.

These attacks are primarily conducted on exposed MongoDB databases, which can easily be found using the Shodan search engine. Any businesses that uses MongoDB should ensure that the databases are properly secured, and that authentication is required to gain access. It is also important to ensure the databases cannot be accessed remotely over the Internet.

It is also essential to adopt a good backup strategy. The 3.2.1 approach is recommended. Make three backups, stored on two separate devices, with one copy stored securely off site on a non-networked device.

Malvertising Campaign Delivers New Vidar Information Stealer and GandCrab Ransomware

A malvertising campaign has been detected that delivers two forms of malware: The new, previously unknown Vidar information stealer and subsequently, the latest version of GandCrab ransomware.

The packaging of multiple malware variants is nothing new of course, but it has become increasingly common for ransomware to be paired with information stealers. RAA ransomware has been paired with the Pony stealer, njRAT and Lime ransomware were used together, and Reveton ransomware is used in conjunction with password stealers.

These double-whammy attacks help threat actors increase profits. Not everyone pays a ransom, so infecting them with an information stealer can make all infections profitable. In many cases, information can be obtained and sold on or misused and a ransom payment can also be obtained.

The latest campaign uses the Vidar information stealer to steal sensitive information from a victim’s device. The Vidar information stealer is used to obtain system information, documents, browser histories, cookies, and coins from cryptocurrency wallets. Vidar can also obtain data from 2FA software, intercept text messages, take screenshots, and steal passwords and credit/debit card information stored in browsers. The information is then packaged into a zip file and sent back to the attackers’ C2 server.

The Vidar information stealer is customizable and allows threat actors to specify the types of data they are interested in. It can be purchased on darknet sites for around $700 and is supplied with an easy to use interface that allows the attacker to keep track of victims, identify those of most interest, find out the types of data extracted, and send further commands.

Vidar also acts as a malware dropper and has been used to deliver GandCrab ransomware v5.04 – The latest version of the ransomware for which no free decryptor exists.

While many ransomware variants are delivered via spam email or are installed after access to systems is gained using brute force tactics on RDP, this campaign delivers the malicious payload through malvertising that directs traffic to a websites hosting the Fallout or GrandSoft exploit kits. Those EKs exploits unpatched vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer and Flash Player. The campaign targets users of P2P file sharing sites and streaming sites that attract large amounts of traffic.

Infection with the Vidar information stealer may go undetected. New malware variants such as this may be installed before AV software malware signatures are updated, by which time highly sensitive information may have been stolen, sold on, and misused. If GandCrab ransomware executes, files will be permanently encrypted unless a ransom is paid or files can be recovered from backups.

Businesses can protect against attacks such as these by ensuring that all operating systems and software are promptly patched. Drive-by downloads will not occur if the exploits for vulnerabilities used by the exploit kit are not present.

An additional, important protection is a web filter. Web filters prevent users from visiting websites known to host exploit kits and also sites that commonly host malicious adverts – torrents sites for instance. By carefully controlling the sites that employees can access, businesses can add an extra layer of protection while avoiding legal liability from illegal file downloads and improving productivity by blocking access to non-work-related websites.

For further information on web filters for businesses and MSPs, contact the TitanHQ team today.
 

Department of Homeland Security Issues Warning Over Targeted MSP Cyberattacks

The U.S. government has issued a warning following a spate of MSP cyberattacks by nation-state sponsored hackers.

Homeland Security Warns of Targeted MSP Cyberattacks

Managed service providers (MSPs), cloud service providers (CSPs), and managed security service providers (MSSPs) have been warned about an increase in malicious cyber activity and targeted attacks on IT service providers. Nation-state sponsored hackers are targeting IT service providers in an attempt to gain access to their networks, and ultimately, those of their clients.

It is not difficult to see why MSPs, CSPs, and MSSPs are such an attractive target. These IT service providers usually have administrator access to their clients’ networks or certainly elevated privileges that could allow an attacker to gain access to servers, security appliances, and databases of multiple clients.

The threat of attack is theoretical. There has been an increase in MSP cyberattacks in recent months, so much so that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a warning to all IT service providers specifically due to an increase in attacks on IT service providers by Chinese government-backed hackers.

The DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has issued cybersecurity guidance for IT service providers on steps that need to be taken to improve security, detect attacks quickly, and prevent threat actors from gaining access to their clients’ networks. Since companies that use IT service providers have also been warned of the risk of attack through their IT companies, MSPs, MSSPs and CSPs are likely to be contacted by clients wanting reassurances.

IT service providers should therefore be proactive and n ensure that CISA guidance is being followed to better protect themselves and their clients.

Feds Launch Campaign to Raise Awareness of Cyber Risks

CISA is not the only government agency to issue a warning in the past few days. The Trump administration has launched a new campaign to raise awareness of cyber risks in all industry sectors. The “Know the Risk, Raise your Shield campaign is being spearheaded by the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The campaign has been launched in response to increased cyberattacks from state sponsored hackers in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea and independent hackers.

The aim of the campaign is to ensure that cybersecurity best practices are being followed to make it much harder for the attackers to succeed. The NCSC is aware that improved cybersecurity comes at a cost, but explains that investment in cybersecurity defenses is money very well spent and reminds businesses that an ounce of security equates to a pound of protection.

How Can Businesses and MSPs Improve Their Defenses?

With MSP cyberattacks on the increase it is essential that defenses are improved. While there are many ways that MSPs and businesses can be attacked, one of easiest ways is phishing. Phishing targets a weak link in security defenses: Employees. If a phishing email is delivered to an inbox and an employee responds, credentials will be obtained by the attacker that gives them a foothold to launch further attacks on other employees and MSP clients.

It is therefore important to improve awareness of the risks and train employees how to recognize email threats and how to react. It is also important to ensure that technical spam defenses are implemented to make sure phishing threats are blocked on the server and are not delivered to end users’ inboxes or local spam folders. SpamTitan is an ideal solution for MSPs to implement to block these phishing attacks on their employees and their clients.

A DNS based web filter should also be implemented to ensure that should a malicious email make it past the spam defenses, employees are prevented from visiting malicious websites. A DNS-based web filter blocks attempts to access malicious sites during the DNS lookup process and adds an extra layer of security against phishing.

For further information on spam filtering and web filtering for businesses and MSPs, speak to the TitanHQ team today.

Other important steps to take to improve security include:

  • Use of strong password policies
  • Applying the principle of least privilege
  • Ensuring network and host-based monitoring systems are implemented and logs are regularly checked for signs of malicious activity
  • Performing regular vulnerability scans to identify security weaknesses before they are exploited.

2018 Has Seen a 4,000% Increase in Cryptocurrency Mining Malware

New figures released by anti-virus firms McAfee and Symantec have shown the extent to which hackers are using cryptocurrency mining malware in attacks on consumers and businesses.

Cryptocurrency mining malware hijacks system resources and uses the processing power of infected computers to mine cryptocurrencies – Validating transactions so they can be added to the blockchain public ledger. This is achieved by solving difficult computational problems. The first person to solve the problem is rewarded with a small payment.

For cryptocurrency mining to be profitable, a lot of processing power is required. Using one computer for mining cryptocurrency will generate a few cents to a few dollars a day; however, hackers who infect thousands of computers and use them for cryptocurrency mining can generate significant profits for little work.

The use of cryptocurrency mining malware has increased considerably since Q4, 2017 when the value of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies started to soar. The popularity of cryptocurrency mining malware has continued to grow steadily in 2018. Figures from McAfee suggest cryptocurrency mining malware has grown by 4,000% in 2018.

McAfee identified 500,000 new coin mining malware in the final quarter of 2017. In the final quarter of 2018, the figure had increased to 4 million. Figures from Symantec similarly show the scale of the problem. In July 2018, Symantec blocked 5 million cryptojacking events. In December, the firm blocked 8 million.

There are many different ways of infecting end users. Hackers are exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities to silently download the malware. They package coin mining malware with legitimate software, such as the open-source media player Kodi, and upload the software to unofficial repositories.

One of the easiest and most common ways of installing the malware is through email. Spam emails are sent containing a hyperlink which directs users to a website where the malware is silently downloaded. Links are similarly distributed through messaging platforms such as Slack, Discord, and Telegram. One campaign using these messaging platforms included links to a site that offered software that claimed to fix coin mining malware infections. Running the fake software installer executed code on the computer which silently downloaded the malware payload.

Unlike ransomware, which causes immediate disruption, the presence of cryptocurrency mining malware may not be noticed for some time. Computers infected with coin mining malware will slow down considerably. There will be increased energy usage, batteries on portable devices will be quickly drained, and some devices may overheat. Permanent damage to computers is a possibility.

The slowdown of computers can have a major impact for businesses and can result in a significant drop in productivity if large numbers of devices are infected. Businesses that have transitioned to cloud computing that are charged for CPU usage can see their cloud bills soar.

Anti-virus software can detect known coin mining malware, but new malware variants will be unlikely to be detected. With so many new malware variants now being released, AV software alone will not be effective. It is therefore important to block the malware at source. Spam filters, such as SpamTitan, will help to prevent malicious emails from reaching end users’ inboxes. Web filters, such as WebTitan, prevent users from accessing infected websites, unofficial software repositories, and websites with coin-mining code installed that uses CPU power through browser sessions.

 

Capitalinstall: A New Malware Threat Targeting the Healthcare Industry

A new variant of capitalinstall malware is being used in targeted attacks on a variety of organizations, in particular those in the healthcare and retail industries.

The main purpose of capitalinstall malware is to install an adware package named Linkury that is used to hijack browser sessions on Windows devices. When Linkury adware has been installed, web search results can be altered to display results which would otherwise not be displayed. An infected machine will display unwanted adverts but could also download unwanted programs, some of which may pose a security risk.

Capitalinstall malware has been linked to various malicious websites, although the adware package is actually being hosted on Azure blog storage which is often trusted by organizations and is often whitelisted.

The malware is installed via an executable file that has been packaged inside an ISO file, with the ISO file hosted on websites that offer keys to unlock popular software such as Adobe Creative Cloud.

Upon running the file, a crack for the software claims to be installing and the user is directed to a website where they are urged to install other programs and browser add-ons, such as cryptocurrency miners, with various enticing reasons provided for installing those programs.

This method of distributing unwanted and potentially harmful software is likely to grow in popularity as it offers a way of bypassing security solutions by taking advantage of inherent trust in cloud storage providers.

A web filtering solution can offer protection against downloads of unwanted programs by preventing end users from visiting potentially malicious websites. WebTitan scans and assesses web pages in real time and prevents users from accessing malicious websites and other sites that violate corporate Internet usage policies. With WebTitan in place, users can be prevented from visiting websites that are used for distributing potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) and malware.

In addition to technical controls, it is important to cover the risks of installing unauthorized software in security awareness training, especially the use of software license cracks. These executable files commonly have spyware, adware, and other forms of malware packaged into the installers.
 

Content Filtering and Wi-Fi Security for Busses

Local authorities and private sector bus companies are now adding Wi-Fi services to their bus fleets, but without appropriate Wi-Fi security for busses, bus fleet operators can run into problems.

There is no doubt that Wi-Fi is a big hit with passengers, especially for long distance travel. Business commuters can connect to email and their work network without having to use their own data and all passengers can enjoy a variety of digital entertainment, such as Internet-based games, online crosswords, YouTube videos, or all manner of Internet based applications, all without eating into their monthly data allowance.

In locations where people have a choice of different transport, the provision of a reliable Wi-Fi network can be a big attraction that can win more business.

Wi-Fi Security for Busses

There are some considerations when providing Wi-Fi on busses. Wi-Fi security for busses is important to ensure that the Wi-Fi network cannot be used for malicious purposes. Over the summer, it was clearly demonstrated how this can easily happen. A hacker was able to hack into the Wi-Fi network on planes and view the Internet activity of passengers, as well as gain access to other important devices on airplanes – All from the ground.

Appropriate Wi-Fi security for busses should be implemented to protect the privacy of passengers, but also to ensure they can use the Wi-Fi network safely. Bus companies should be taking steps to protect passengers from harmful content, such as sites hosting malware and phishing websites.

Content Control for Busses

A third-party Wi-Fi network offers anonymity and some users take advantage and access types of content that they would not access on their home networks. Bus fleet operators have a responsibility to block illegal activity on their Wi-Fi networks.

If a passenger accesses adult content on the Wi-Fi network of a bus, there is a risk that other passengers will catch a glimpse of the screen and children could be exposed to obscene content. It is the responsibility of bus fleet operators to implement content controls to prevent passengers from accessing inappropriate content.

Controlling Bandwidth Use on Busses

There is also the issue of bandwidth. Ensuring all users have decent bandwidth and can connect to the network and enjoy reasonable Internet speeds comes at a cost. If several passengers are using applications or visiting websites that require a considerable amount of bandwidth, that will naturally have an impact on other users of the Wi-Fi network. Limiting what users can do while connected to Wi-Fi networks can save bandwidth and costs. Preventing, or restricting, high bandwidth applications such as video streaming, online games such as Fortnite, and large file downloads can help to conserve bandwidth.

DNS-Level Content Filtering

All of the above issues can be easily solved with a single, cost effective solution – A web filter. A web filter allows network administrators to carefully control what users can do online. It offers both content control and Wi-Fi security for busses by blocking access to illegal content, preventing malware downloads, and offering protection from phishing. Categories of web content can be blocked to create a family-friendly Wi-Fi network and control bandwidth use.

Traditional web filters require an appliance through which Internet traffic is routed. This is a costly way of adding Wi-Fi security for busses. A DNS-level filter on the other hand is a low cost, flexible solution that serves the same purpose. When a user connects to the Wi-Fi network, the DNS process sends domain names to the name server and the name server returns the IP address associated with the application server. When content is filtered at the DNS level, no software needs to be downloaded and no appliances need to be purchased.

Not only do DNS-level filters offer excellent Wi-Fi security for busses, they also save on bandwidth as content is not downloaded before the decision is taken to block the content.

WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi – Content Filtering and Wi-Fi Security for Busses

WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi is an ideal web filtering solution for bus fleets. Since it is DNS-based it is easy to implement, highly scalable, and is cost-effective to set up and run. WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi can protect entire bus fleets, in multiple cities, and licenses can be easily scaled up and down to meet bus operators’ needs.

Some of the key features of WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi are detailed below:

  • No hardware purchases or software downloads required
  • No patching or software updates required
  • Protects multiple Wi-Fi routers from a single, web-based administration control panel
  • Protects against malware with dual anti-virus engines
  • Protects users from phishing and other malicious websites
  • Allows network administrators to protect the Wi-Fi network from unauthorized users
  • Highly granular controls allow precise content control without overblocking content
  • Block content by category with a single click
  • No latency – Internet speeds are unaffected
  • Supports static and dynamic IPs
  • Supports whitelists and blacklists
  • No restriction on bandwidth, number of devices, or the number of hotspots
  • Full suite of reports gives network administrators full visibility into their Wi-Fi networks and user activity

If you are looking to improve Wi-Fi security for busses and want to implement content controls to keep your Wi-Fi networks family-friendly, contact TitanHQ today for further information on WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi.

Guest Wi-Fi Best Practices

Many businesses now offer their customers free access to their Wi-Fi networks, but if guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, opening up Wi-Fi networks to guest users is not without risk. You may have provided security awareness training to your employees, but guest users are unlikely to be as careful while connected to your network. Customers and guests may accidentally download malware or visit malicious websites, or even engage in illegal activities due to the anonymity offered by someone else’s Wi-Fi network.

If guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, there will be people that take advantage of your lax security. They could launch an attack on your business network, explore your network assets, change router settings, or even gain access to confidential data.

If you run a hotel, restaurant, shop, or another business that provides Wi-Fi access to customers, it is important to create a safe browsing environment for all Wi-Fi users and take steps to secure your access points and control the activities that users can engage in while connected.

Guest Wi-Fi Best Practices for Hotspot Providers

Create A Separate Wi-Fi Network for Guests and Employees

You will no doubt have a Wi-Fi network that is used by your employees. It is important that this is totally separate from the one used by guests and customers. Guest users should access a totally separate network. Ideally, there should be a network firewall that separates guest users from employees. If you use enterprise switches, create a separate VLAN for access points that broadcast the guest wireless SSID. Also make sure you use a software firewall to block traffic from the guest network from your company’s servers and computers. Also make sure guest users can only access the Internet while connected.

Naming Your SSID

An SSID is the name you give to your Wi-Fi network that identifies it as belonging to your business. Care should be taken when choosing a name. Your choice should depend on the nature of your business and who the Wi-Fi network serves. If you run a coffee shop, for instance, you should make it clear which is your Wi-Fi network and prominently display that information. That will make it harder for rogue hotspots to be created to fool customers into connecting to an evil twin – A hotspot set up and controlled by a hacker to fool customers into connecting in the belief it is your hotspot.

Encrypt your Wireless Signals

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks may be easier to set up and use, but they also allow anyone within range to connect, even if they are not in your establishment.  To connect, it should be necessary for a password to be entered. You should also encrypt your wireless network to make it harder for hackers to intercept users’ data. Secure your wireless network with WPA2 encryption or, even better, WPA3 if it is supported by your access point.

Create a Safe Browsing Experience and Control the Internet Content That Can be Accessed

You should develop and implement a guest Wi-Fi access policy covering what is and is not permitted on your Wi-Fi network. You should also enforce that policy with technical controls. A cloud-based web filter is ideal for this.

It is easy to deploy and configure and will allow you to carefully control the content that can be accessed while connected. You should block access to known malicious sites and illegal web content through blacklists. Category based filters are useful for blocking access to inappropriate content such as pornography and restricting bandwidth-heavy activities that can slow down Internet speeds for all users. By filtering content, not only will you keep your Wi-Fi users protected, you will also reduce legal liability and ensure that your Wi-Fi network is family friendly.

Adopt these guest Wi-Fi best practices to improve safety and security, keep your customers protected, and make it harder for cybercriminals to attack your network or your guest users.

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.