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.

Should You Punish Employees for Failing Phishing Simulations?

Many organizations punish employees who make cybersecurity mistakes and fail phishing simulations but punishing employees for failing phishing simulations is often not effective and can have unintended negative consequences.

Actions taken by companies when employees fail phishing simulations

Studies suggest that around 40% of companies punish employees for failing phishing simulations and for making other security mistakes. The actions taken can range in severity from naming and shaming employees, removing access privileges, losing other privileges and benefits, locking computers or blocking email until training has been completed, and disciplinary action, such as verbal and written warnings, and termination.

There naturally needs to be consequences if employees fail phishing simulations or make security mistakes, as if there are none, there will be no incentive for change. However, there are risks with using the stick rather than the carrot. Punishing employees for non-malicious security failures and failed phishing simulations often does not work.

Do you really want to create a culture of fear?

If you want to create a security culture in your organization you need to motivate your employees to become security titans, and that is unlikely to happen if the motivation comes from the threat of being fired if a mistake is made. Employees can become stressed and anxious if they are scared of severe punishments for security failures, especially if they have already failed a phishing simulation. That is unlikely to be beneficial for the company and could lead to the creation of a hostile work environment and loss of productivity. It could also serve to demonize the security team which is never a good thing.

If employees are scared about making mistakes, they may not report them when they happen

When employees make a mistake, such as clicking a link in a real phishing email or installing malware, and recognize the mistake, it is essential that they report it. Prompt action by the security team can be the difference between neutralizing the threat before any harm is caused and suffering an incredibly costly ransomware attack or data breach. If employees are worried about losing their jobs for making a mistake or suffering other serious consequences, they may avoid reporting the error.

Businesses need to be careful with punishing employees for non-malicious actions or security failures and should ensure that they make it clear to employees that the failure to report a known security mistake is a serious issue that could result in termination and will have far more serious consequences than the actual error.

Security awareness training should not be viewed as a punishment

If employees make security mistakes or fail phishing simulations it can be due to many reasons. The training provided has clearly not been effective has not been effective with certain employees and this could be due to the training material or the different needs of employees – It may not be a case of employees not paying attention or sloppy working practices.

When security mistakes are made or phishing simulations are failed, there is clearly a need for further training, but it is important that security awareness training is not seen as a punishment. It should be a positive experience and be explained that it is part of an ongoing educational process.

Consider real-time security awareness training

You should be providing security awareness training during the onboarding process, and annual training sessions are important, but if you want to create a security culture you need to go further. Cybersecurity newsletters, reminders, and additional training can be useful if they are not provided too regularly. Daily emails will be ignored, whereas monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly updates are more likely to be read and assimilated.

One of the best approaches to training is to provide basic training to everyone and then to provide behavior-driven, real-time security awareness training. When an employee makes a mistake, falls for a phishing simulation, or is discovered to have engaged in a risky behavior, an alert can be triggered and immediate training can be provided. This is bite-sized training that is relevant and specific to an action that was taken, that explains how the mistake was made, why it is a problem, and how it could have been avoided. Mistakes serve as educational triggers and can be turned into teachable moments and training provided in this way is likely to be much more effective than making an employee go through the same standard training program again.

The SafeTitan security awareness and phishing simulation platform

SafeTitan is the only behavior-driven security awareness platform that delivers training in real-time, allowing businesses to mitigate the growing problem of social engineering and advanced phishing attacks. The platform includes an extensive library of training courses, videos, and quizzes that businesses can use for greater general and custom training campaigns, and provides gamified, interactive, and enjoyable security awareness training sessions with short and efficient testing.

Training can be automatically generated in response to specific employee behaviors to ensure errors and risky behaviors are immediately tackled. The platform also includes fully automated simulated phishing attacks, using regularly updated phishing templates to match current attack trends. The training and simulations have been shown to reduce susceptibility to phishing by up to 92%. Users also benefit from enterprise-level reporting in an easily digestible format that demonstrates the ROI.

Contact TitanHQ today for more information and to sign up for a free trial of SafeTitan.

January 21, 2022: Free Livestream Event for MSPs Looking to Grow Their Business

January 21, 2022, will see the 2nd ever Channel Pitch Livestream Event – An opportunity for forward-thinking managed service providers, Internet service providers, value-added resellers, and IT service providers to discover new software solutions from some of the most existing and innovative technology vendors that can help them grow their business.

The event serves as an introduction to a carefully curated selection of companies that have developed solutions that can help service providers improve protection against cyber threats, manage Microsoft 365 and Azure workloads more effectively, and streamline back-office processes to improve efficiency.

At this year’s event, hosted by Serial Tech Entrepreneur Kevin Lancaster and Channel Evangelist Matt Solomon, attendees will have the opportunity to hear from 7 companies about their MSP solutions, with each presentation lasting only 7 minutes. During those presentations, attendees will learn about the features and benefits of those solutions, and how they can be deployed in MSP environments to grow revenue and improve profitability. After the presentations, attendees will be able to engage directly with any of the vendors to discover more about the solutions, and feedback can be provided to each of the vendors with 100% anonymity.

TitanHQ is proud to be presenting at this Exclusive Livestream MSP event. Conor Madden, TitanHQ Director of Sales, will explain how TitanHQ’s award-winning email security and web security solutions can be used by MSPs, MSSPs, and ISPs to improve protections against the most common threats faced by MSPs and their clients, how the solutions are quick and easy to deploy, effortless to manage, and can help to improve profitability and win new business.

TitanHQ’s solutions have been adopted by more than 3,000 MSPs and are trusted by over 14,500 businesses worldwide to improve email and web security, with the feature-rich solutions offering multiple integrations via the advanced API set, granular policy controls, with a comprehensive suite of reports. The solutions identify more than 100,000 new malware sites every day through threat intelligence delivered from more than 650 million users worldwide.

The Livestream event is free of charge to register and attend and is a great opportunity for MSPs, MSSPs, ISPs, VARs, IT service providers, and consultants.

LiveStream Event Details

Date: January 21, 2022
Time: 4.00 p.m. GMT ¦ 11 a.m. EST ¦ 8 a.m. PST
Hosts: Kevin Lancaster and Matt Solomon
Presentations:

  • TitanHQ – Email and Web Security
  • Hook Security – Security Awareness Training
  • Nerdio – Azure
  • Nuvolex – XaaS Management
  • Speartip – SOC
  • Threatlocker – Application Whitelisting
  • Zomentum – Sales Automation

Register Your FREE Place Here!

Tardigrade Malware Used in Targeted Attacks on Vaccine Manufacturers and Biomedical Firms

Biomedical firms and their partners are being targeted by an Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actor in a campaign that delivers Tardigrade malware. Initial analyses of Tardigrade malware suggest it is a sophisticated threat from the SmokeLoader malware family. SmokeLoader is a generic backdoor that provides threat actors with persistent access to victims’ networks and gives them the ability to download additional modules or other stealthier malware variants onto systems.

Tardigrade malware is a much stealthier and more dangerous malware variant than SmokeLoader. It is far more sophisticated and has greater autonomy. The malware can make decisions about the files to modify and can move laterally within victims’ networks without requiring communication with a command-and-control server. The malware is also capable of immediate privilege escalation to the highest level.

Tardigrade malware is thought to be used for espionage purposes but has far greater capabilities. In addition to exfiltrating sensitive data from pharmaceutical and biomedical firms and vaccine chain companies, the malware is capable of causing major damage to IT systems to disrupt critical processes, including preparing systems for ransomware attacks after sensitive data have been exfiltrated. The analysis of the malware is ongoing, and no specific threat actor has been identified as conducting the attacks, but the attacks are believed to be conducted by a nation-state threat actor.

BIO-ISAC warns of Targeted Attacks on the Biomanufacturing Sector

The Bioeconomy Information Sharing and Analysis Center (BIO-ISAC) has recently issued a warning about Tardigrade malware due to the threat it poses to vaccine manufacturing infrastructure, even though relatively little is currently known about the malware. The early disclosure is believed to be in the public interest.

All firms in the biomanufacturing sector and their partners have been warned that they are likely targets and should assume that attacks will occur. Steps should therefore be taken to ensure that appropriate cybersecurity measures have been implemented to block attacks and limit the damage that can be caused should n attack be successful.

It is too early to tell how many methods are being used to distribute Tardigrade malware, but from the infections detected so far, the APT group behind the attacks is known to be using phishing emails to deliver Tardigrade, with infected file attachments the most likely method of delivery. Hyperlinks in emails that direct individuals to malicious websites where infected files or malware installers are downloaded could also be used.

An analysis of the attacks also indicates the malware could infect USB drives and transfer the malware automatically when those storage devices are used on uninfected computers. That means that if USB drives are used on devices isolated from the network, they too could be infected.

Defending Against Tardigrade Malware

Defending against attacks requires an advanced antispam solution that is not reliant on antivirus engines to detect malicious files. Antivirus engines are effective at blocking known malware variants, but not against previously undetected variants. Since Tardigrade malware is metamorphic, machine learning technology and sandboxing are required to block samples that are not detected as malicious by AV engines. Antivirus software should be installed on all devices which is capable of behavioral analysis, as the malware itself may not be detected as malicious.

A web filter should be installed and should be configured to block downloads of executable files from the Internet, such as .js, .com, .exe, and .bat files. It is also important to raise awareness of the threat of malicious messages with the workforce and teach all employees how to identify phishing emails. Training should cover cybersecurity best practices and inform employees about the procedures to follow if a suspicious email is received. Spear phishing attacks will likely be conducted on key targets. It is therefore recommended to review LinkedIn and other social media posts to identify individuals who may be targeted.

Network segmentation is vital for preventing the spread of Tardigrade malware. In the event of a device being compromised, network segmentation will limit the harm that can be caused. Tests should be run to ensure that corporate, guest, and operational networks are properly segmented. All firms in the biomanufacturing sector should identify their most sensitive data and ensure that it is appropriately protected, and all key infrastructure should be regularly backed up, with backups stored offline. BIO-ISAC also recommends inquiring about lead times for key bio-infrastructure components that need to be replaced

Wi-Fi Security Threats You Should be Aware of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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WiFi Security Threats Everyone Should be Aware of

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

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

Evil Twins – Rogue Wi-Fi Hotspots

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

Packet Sniffers

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

File-Sharing

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

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Shoulder Surfing

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

Malware and Ransomware

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

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

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

Contact TitanHQ today to find out how you can protect your customers from online threats, control the content that can be accessed via your Wi-Fi network, and discover how quick and easy it is to create a family-friendly Wi-Fi environment.

Why is Internet and WiFi Filtering in Hospitals Important?

Hospitals often invest heavily in solutions to secure the network perimeter, although the importance of Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals is often misunderstood. Network and software firewalls are essential, but alone they will not provide protection against all attacks. As healthcare IT security staff know all too well, the actions of employees can see cybersecurity defenses bypassed.

A look at the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Rights breach portal shows just how many cyberattacks on hospitals are now occurring. Cybercriminals are targeting healthcare organizations due to the value of protected health information (PHI) on the black market. PHI is worth ten times as much as credit card information, so it is no surprise that hospitals are in cybercriminals’ crosshairs. Even a small hospital can hold the PHI of more than 100,000 individuals. If access is gained to a hospital network, the potential rewards for a hacker are considerable.

There has also been a massive increase in ransomware attacks. Since hospitals need access to patients’ PHI, they are more likely to pay a ransom to regain access to their data than in other industry sectors. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 for the keys to unlock its files following a ransomware attack in February 2016. It was one of several hospitals to give in to attackers’ demands following ransomware attacks.

A Web Filter is an Important Extra Security Layer to Protect Against Phishing Attacks

Phishing is one of the main threats for healthcare organizations, so it is vital for the email system to be secured with an advanced spam filtering solution and for security awareness training to be provided to employees. However, layered defenses are required to reduce the threat of phishing to a reasonable and acceptable level.

A web filtering solution is an important additional control in the fight against phishing. If an employee clicks on a hyperlink in a phishing email that has made it past email security defenses, the phishing website can be blocked. Instead, the user will be directed to a block screen and a potential account compromise can be avoided. A web filter will also help to protect users from malicious redirects when browsing the internet.

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The Hospital WiFi Environment is a Potential Gold Mine for Cybercriminals

Another common weak point is the WiFi network. IT security teams may have endpoint protection systems installed, but often not on mobile devices that connect to WiFi networks. The increasing number of wireless devices that are now in use in hospitals increases the incentive for cybercriminals to attempt to gain access to WiFi networks. Not only do physicians use mobile phones to connect to the networks and communicate PHI, but there are also laptops, tablets, and an increasing number of medical devices connected to WiFi networks. As the use of mobile and IoT devices in healthcare continues to grow, the risk of attacks on the WiFi environment will increase.

Patients also connect to hospital WiFi networks, as do visitors to hospitals. They too need to be protected from malware and ransomware when connected to hospital guest WiFi networks. One of the easiest ways to protect the devices that connect to WiFi networks is a web filtering solution. A web filter allows IT teams to carefully control the types of content that can be accessed on hospital WiFi networks, block malware downloads, and prevent all users from visiting malicious websites. Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals should be included in cybersecurity defenses to reduce the risk of malware downloads from the internet and is an important additional control against insider breaches.

Internet and WiFi filtering in Hospitals is Not Just About Blocking Cyberthreats

Malware, ransomware, hacking, and phishing prevention aside, there are other important reasons for implementing Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals.

Guest WiFi access in hospitals is provided to allow patients and visitors to access the Internet; however, there is only a certain amount of bandwidth available. If Internet access is to be provided, all patients and visitors should be able to gain access. Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals can be used to restrict access to Internet services that consume large amounts of bandwidth, especially at times when network usage is heavy. Time-based controls can be applied at busy times to block access to video streaming sites, for example, to ensure all users can enjoy reasonable Internet speeds.

It is also important to prevent patients, visitors, and healthcare professionals from accessing inappropriate website content.  Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals should include a block on adult content and other inappropriate or illegal material. Blocks can easily be placed on illegal file-sharing websites, gambling or gaming sites, or any other undesirable category of web content.

Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals ensures WiFi networks can be used safely and securely by all users, including minors. Blocking illegal, undesirable, and age-inappropriate content is not just about protecting patients and visitors. It also reduces legal liability.

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Internet and WiFi Filtering in Hospitals Made Simple

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is an ideal solution for Internet and WiFi filtering in hospitals. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is cost-effective to implement, the solution requires no additional hardware or software installations, and there is no latency. Being DNS-based, setup is quick and simple. A change to the DNS settings is all that is required to start filtering the Internet.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is ideal for hospital systems. The solution is highly scalable and can be used to protect any number of users in any number of locations. Multiple sites can be protected from one easy-to-use web-based user interface. Separate filtering controls can be applied for different locations, user groups, or even individuals. Since the solution links in with Active Directory setting up controls for different users and departments is quick and simple. Separate content controls can easily be set for guests, visitors, and staff, including filtering controls by role.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi supports blacklists, whitelists, and allows precision content control via category or keyword, and blocks phishing websites and sites known to host exploit kits and malware. In short, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi gives you control over what users can do when connected to your WiFI network.

To find out more about WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, details of pricing, contact the TitanHQ team today.

Why Secure Guest WiFi for Business is So Important

Regardless of whether you run a hotel, coffee shop, or retail outlet, Internet access is expected by customers, but make sure you secure guest WiFi for business visitors. Providing business visitors and customers with access to the Internet brings many benefits, but if you do not secure guest WiFi for business visitors you will be exposing yourself – and them – to considerable risk. If you offer secure guest WiFI access, all users will be protected from malware, ransomware, and phishing when connected to the network. That can be a good selling point for businesses. It also shows you care about your customers.

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Why Is Providing Internet Access so Important?

In 2013, one study revealed that 80% of customers in retail outlets felt the provision of free WiFi access would influence their purchasing decisions. If retailers provide guest WiFi access, they are likely to encourage more potential customers into their stores and get more sales opportunities.

With more people purchasing online, businesses need to adapt. Customers want to be able to check online before making a purchase or signing up for a service, such as reading online reviews. Fail to offer Internet access and customers are more likely to leave and make a purchase at another time. Chances are that sales will be made elsewhere. Keep them in your store and allow them to access the internet and your chances of achieving a sale will be increased. Of course, if you are unable to compete with online retailers – Amazon for example – you could provide free WiFi but block access to that website.

Why is Secure Guest WiFi for Business So Important?

There are considerable benefits to be gained from offering customers free Internet access. It is what customers want, it provides businesses with an opportunity to communicate with customers, it allows businesses to collect contact details for future marketing programs, and by monitoring the use of the Internet in-store, businesses can gain valuable customer insights and find out more about the interests of their customers. Businesses should note however that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires consent to be obtained before any personal information is collected and used.

Giving customers and guests access to the Internet opens a business up to considerable risks. If those risks are not mitigated, guest WiFi access can prove incredibly costly. You may have trained your employees to be security-aware and have introduced policies covering allowable Internet usage, but guests, customers, and other visitors are likely to have different views about the content that can be accessed on your WiFi network.

Guests and customers could take advantage of a lack of restrictions to access inappropriate material such as pornography. Individuals could engage in morally or ethically questionable activities on a business network or even illegal activity such as copyright-infringing downloads. They may also accidentally install malware or ransomware or visit phishing websites.

Secure guest WiFi for business means protecting yourself and your customers and guest users. Secure guest WiFi for business visitors and it will ensure they are protected when connected to your network. You will be able to block man-in-the-middle attacks, malware downloads and protect against phishing attacks. By providing secure guest internet access, you will also be able to reduce legal liability.

5 Things to Consider About Secure Guest WiFi for Business Customers

If you are going to open up your network to guests, security cannot be an afterthought. Secure guest WiFi for business is a must. Before providing WiFi access, be sure to consider the points below:

Network Segmentation

Segmenting your network is important for two reasons. Secure guest WiFi for business means visitors should not be able to gain access to parts of the network used by your employees. Your business guest wireless network should be kept totally separate from the internal network used by your employees. Guest users should not be able to log on and see your network assets and confidential files and resources. Use a network firewall or create a separate VLAN for guest use and use a software firewall to protect servers and workstations from traffic from the guest network. Secondly, in the event of a malware or ransomware infection, if you segregate your network, it will greatly limit the harm caused.

Always Change Default Passwords and SSIDs

This is one of the most basic security practices, yet because of that, it is easy to forget. The Internet is littered with reports of data breaches that have occurred as a result of the failure to change default passwords. All network peripherals should have strong, unique passwords set.

It is also important to change your SSID for your WiFi network. The SSID should reflect the name of your business and it should be quite clear to your customers which is your network. Fail to do this and you make it too easy for malicious individuals to set up "evil twin" access points and lure guests onto those rogue access points and conduct man-in-the-middle attacks. You can post the SSID and password internally to make it easy for legitimate users to gain access to your network. Be sure to change your password regularly.

Keep Your Firmware Updated!

Firmware updates are issued for a reason. They correct vulnerabilities that could easily be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to your devices and network. If those vulnerabilities are exploited, configurations can be changed for a variety of nefarious purposes. You should have policies in place that require firmware updates to be installed promptly, with checks performed monthly to ensure that all devices have been updated and no firmware updates have been missed.

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Encrypt Your Wireless Signals

You want to make it as easy as possible for your guest WiFi network to be accessed by your customers and visitors, but don’t make it too easy for hackers to spy on individuals connected to the network. Make sure you encrypt your wireless network with WPA2/WPA3 encryption.

If your router does not support WPA2 as a minimum it is time to upgrade your router’s firmware or, if that is not possible, you should buy a modern router that supports WPA3 encryption. If you fail to encrypt your WiFi, it is too easy for your bandwidth to be stolen and for data to be intercepted.

Secure Guest WiFi for Business Means Content Filtering

Secure guest WiFi for business means adding controls to limit the content that can be accessed on your WiFi network.

You should block access to adult content – which includes pornography, gambling sites, and dating sites, and also web content that is ethically or morally questionable or illegal.

A web filtering solution will also protect your customers from accidental malware and ransomware downloads and is an important anti-phishing control.

Consider using a cloud-based web filter as these require no additional hardware to be purchased. They can also be configured and maintained remotely and will not require software or firmware upgrades. In contrast to appliance-based web filters, cloud-based filters are more scalable and are more adaptable to the changing needs of your business.

Wireless Guest Network Best Practices

There are many benefits to be gained from setting up a wireless guest network but doing so introduces risks. If those risks are not managed, guest users could gain access to network resources and view or steal sensitive information. Malware may be accidentally or deliberately installed, and vulnerabilities could be introduced that could expose the network to hackers. Fortunately, following some simple wireless guest network best practices will help you with securing the WiFi network, mitigating risks, and making your wireless network as - or more - secure than your wired network.

  • Separate your wireless guest network from the business network – Set up a second SSID specifically for guests to use. It should not be possible for guest users to access your internal WiFi network.
  • Choose the SSID wisely – Choose a name that does not advertise the fact that the network belongs to your business if you want to make it harder for hackers to attack your WiFi network.
  • Set a secure password for guests to use – Make sure the default password is changed to ensure only authorized guests can access the network.
  • If possible, ensure each guest user can be identified on the network. Use a management solution that collects guest credentials as this will allow you to monitor guest behavior and gain valuable insights into how your customers are using the network. Be aware there are restrictions under GDPR and CCPA that require you to obtain consent to collect personal data and explain why the data is being collected.
  • Communicate your Internet usage policies to guests so they know what is allowed and prohibited while connected to your WiFi network
  • Use the most advanced encryption available – All modern routers and access points support WPA2 encryption. Make sure this is enabled – or WPA3 if it is supported. Avoid using WPS as it is vulnerable to brute force attempts to guess the password.
  • Disable admin access on wireless networks – if a hacker succeeds in gaining access to your WiFi network, this will limit the harm that can be caused.
  • Implement a web filtering solution – A web filter should be configured to prevent users from accessing inappropriate and malicious websites while connected to the WiFi network
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WebTitan Cloud for WiFi – Secure Guest WiFi for Business Users

TitanHQ has made it easy to secure guest WiFi for business users. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a 100% cloud-based web filter that allows businesses to carefully control the categories of web content that can be accessed by guest users.

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi allows businesses to block access to 53 different predefined categories of web content, including pornography, gambling, dating, news, and social media websites. Within those 53 categories are more than 500 million websites in 200 languages that have been assessed for content and categorized. A cloud-based lookup also ensures accurate and flexible filtering based on-page content.

Secure guest WiFi for business means effective malware, ransomware, and phishing protection. With WebTitan Cloud for WiFi deployed, access to compromised websites, phishing sites, and other malicious websites will be blocked.

Flexible policy creation means control over the filter can be delegated to different departments, and controls can be applied for different types of users. Cloud Keys can also be created to allow specific users to bypass policy rules.

A full suite of reports ensures detailed information is always available, with email notifications alerting administrators to attempted policy violations and a real-time browsing view is available.

If you want to take control of your WiFi network or are an MSP looking for an easy-to-use multi-tenant solution to allow you to provide a web filtering service to your clients, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi is a quick, easy to use, and low-cost way of providing secure guest WiFi for business users.

Contact TitanHQ today for further information on WiFI guest network security and to find out how WebTItan can protect your business. Our knowledgeable sales staff will be able to advise you on the best way to improve guest WiFi security and will help you choose the best deployment option. If you want to see WebTitan in action before you make a purchase decision, our sales staff will be happy to schedule a product demonstration and help set up a free trial of the solution.

Guest Wi-Fi Security FAQs

How can I improve guest Wi-Fi security?

You must ensure your guest Wi-Fi network is properly configured. You should set a password for access, ensure traffic is encrypted to prevent interception by selecting WPA2 or WPA3 on the router, ensure guest users cannot access and change the router settings, and you should use a content filtering solution to prevent malware downloads and restrict access to inappropriate website content.

What content can I block on guest Wi-Fi networks?

You have full control over the content that guests can access via your Wi-Fi network. With WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi, you can block content using 53 pre-defined categories and can create up to 10 categories of your own using your own keywords. Access to specific websites can be allowed or blocked using whitelists and blacklists. All known malicious websites will be automatically blocked.

Can I see what websites guest users are accessing?

A web filtering solution gives you full visibility into the web content that your employees and guest users are viewing, including providing real-time views of Internet access. This information can give you valuable insights into customer behavior which can guide your marketing efforts. You can also run reports to find out the URLs that users have attempted to visit but were blocked by the web filter.

Will a cloud-based web filter for guest Wi-Fi work on all devices?

There is no software to download onto devices and no restrictions on the devices that can connect to your secure Wi-Fi network. WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi works with all operating systems and all devices and allows businesses to offer clean, filtered Internet access for customers on Wi-Fi access points. If required, different filtering controls can be set up for different user groups.

Is SSL inspection necessary?

If you have a web filter that does not have SSL inspection, traffic to and from HTTPS websites will be invisible to the filtering solution. That means files downloaded from HTTPS websites cannot be scanned by the AV engines of the web filter. Since many malicious websites have SSL certificates, a web filter with SSL inspection is essential.

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How Can I Restrict Internet Access at Work?

There are many reasons why businesses want to restrict internet access at work. Allowing employees to have unrestricted access to the internet can result in a major drain on productivity. Unfettered internet access can also increase the risk of malware and ransomware downloads, while inappropriate internet access at work can lead to a range of legal issues. Due to the risks involved, it is unsurprising that many firms choose to use a technological solution to enforce acceptable Internet usage policies and block access to malicious websites. This post explores some of the key benefits that come from using a web filter to limit internet access in the workplace and some of the potential problems that can be caused by using content-control software.

The Problem of Personal Internet Use at Work

It is inevitable that employees will slack off from time to time, regardless of whether they have access to the internet but internet access makes slacking off much easier. Simply placing restrictions on the websites that can be accessed will not eradicate time-wasting, but it can allow businesses to make significant gains in productivity. Some employees spend a considerable percentage of the working day on personal internet use, playing online games, or accessing their social media accounts. If every employee in an organization was to spend an hour a day on personal internet use, the productivity losses would be considerable. A company with 100 employees would lose 100 hours a day – That’s a loss of 26,100 working hours a year – and many employees spend much longer each day on personal internet use.

There are other issues that can result from excessive personal internet use at work. When employees use streaming services, download files via P2P networks, or engage in other bandwidth-heavy activities, it will naturally have an impact on internet speeds across the entire organization. Using a web filter to restrict internet access at work and limiting access to certain bandwidth draining activities allows businesses to ensure sufficient bandwidth is available for all employees.

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The Danger of Malware and Ransomware Downloads

If employees are accessing social media websites, downloading files, or are visiting questionable websites, the risk of malware or ransomware downloads increases significantly.

Exploit kits probe for vulnerabilities in browsers and plugins, which are then exploited to silently download malware.  Traffic is usually directed to these websites through malicious adverts – termed malvertising – although high-traffic websites are constantly being compromised by hackers who add malicious content such as phishing webpages and malware.

Certain types of websites carry a high risk of resulting in malware infections. Allowing employees to access these sites, many of which are not suitable for work, could easily result in a malware or ransomware download.

The operators of legitimate pornographic websites usually take great care to ensure their sites are not compromised or infected with malware. They are, after all, legitimate businesses. However, pornographic content is often used as a lure to spread malware and there are many disreputable adult sites whose purpose is solely to infect visitors with malware or harvest credit card information. Blocking these NSFW sites not only helps to improve productivity and avoid legal issues, but it also reduces the risk of malware infections.

One of the riskiest online activities is the use of torrents sites and P2P file-sharing networks. There are few – if any – controls over the content that is shared via torrents sites and pirated music and video files are often seeded with malware, spyware, and adware. Illegal software downloads are incredibly risky as malware is often bundled in the executable files used to install the software, or in the accompanying Keygen tools that generate product keys to allow the software to be used.

A malware or ransomware attack can prove incredibly costly. Many companies have experienced ransomware attacks that have resulted in systems being taken out of action for several days or even weeks, causing massive losses as the business grinds to a halt. A ransomware attack can result in an entire network being taken out of action, as was the case with the WannaCry attacks in 2017. The NHS in the UK suffered major disruption as a result of the installation of the malware and mitigating the attacks cost £92 million. The NotPetya wiper malware campaign conducted soon after caused widespread damage. The shipping firm Maersk had its systems infected and the clean-up bill has been estimated to be $300 million.

A web filter will not prevent all malware and ransomware attacks, but it is possible to prevent certain categories of ‘risky’ websites from being visited by employees, the filtering solution can be configured to block the downloading of certain file types, and websites known to contain malware or exploit kits can be blocked. Any attempt to visit one of those websites will direct a user to a block screen. Many businesses decide to restrict internet access at work primarily to protect against malware and ransomware downloads.

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Additional Protection Against Phishing Attacks

Phishing is the number one cyber threat faced by businesses. It has been estimated that more than 90% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email. One of the best protections against phishing is a spam filtering solution, which will prevent the majority of malicious messages from being delivered to end users. However, no spam filter is 100% effective and some malicious messages will end up in employees’ inboxes. Employees can be trained how to identify phishing emails and be taught cybersecurity best practices that will reduce susceptibility to phishing attacks, but sooner or later an employee will likely be fooled into clicking a link in an email and will arrive at a phishing website.

When a user is directed to a website and discloses their login credentials, an attacker can gain access to their email account and all the sensitive data contained in that account. The compromised account can also be used to send further phishing emails to other employees in the organization or to customers and business contacts. It is common for a single response to a phishing email to result in several email accounts being compromised.

Phishing attacks are some of the costliest cyberattacks to resolve. Each email in a compromised account must be checked for personally identifiable information and other sensitive data. Manually checking thousands of emails can take weeks and can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A web filter is an additional layer of security that helps organizations improve their defenses against phishing by providing time-of-click protection and blocking attempts to visit malicious websites. When an employee clicks a link to a website that has been added to a blacklist due to past use in phishing campaigns, the user will be directed to a block screen. TitanHQ’s web filtering solution, WebTitan, blocks attempts to access around 60 million malicious websites a week.

Preventing Inappropriate Web Content from Being Accessed

While most employees do not use the internet to access illegal and not-suitable-for-work content, there are always a few bad apples. The problem of accessing pornography at work is a real issue, and could be much worse than you think.

In 2014, a survey conducted by the Barna Group showed 63% of men and 36% of women have viewed pornography at work. A survey in Forbes in 2013 revealed 25% of adults have viewed porn at work, while in another survey, 28% of employees admitted to downloading porn at work. Not only is the accessing of pornography at work a major drain of productivity, but it can also lead to the development of a hostile working environment. Pornography can be used to harass and degrade employees, especially women. There have been cases of employees taking legal action against their employers over the failure to implement content controls in the workplace and prevent pornography from being accessed by coworkers.

Many businesses feel the best way to tackle the problem of pornography access in the workplace is through acceptable usage policies and greater oversight of employees by line managers. When individuals are discovered to be abusing the internet, action can be taken against individuals without having to restrict internet access at work for everyone. This does not always prove effective. Further, when pornography use at work is discovered, employees usually face instant dismissal. That carries a cost to the HR department and productivity losses while new employees are hired and trained.

The easiest solution is to use a web filter to restrict internet access at work. A web filter can be used to block access to specific websites or categories of website content such as pornographic sites and enforce acceptable usage policies. This is one of the most common reasons why businesses restrict internet access at work.

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Problems with Using a Web Filter to Restrict Internet Access at Work

A web filter may seem like a quick and easy solution to solve the above issues, but it should be explained that companies that restrict internet access at work with web filters can encounter problems. If you restrict internet access at work using an appliance-based web filtering solution it can result in latency. Each website must be inspected before it is accessed which delays the loading of websites. In the case of secure (HTTPS) sites, each webpage must be decrypted, inspected, and re-encrypted. This places a considerable strain on resources. As more sites switch to HTTPS the problem of latency becomes a real issue.

The solution is to use a DNS-based filtering solution. With DNS-filtering, all filtering occurs in the cloud and there is no latency. There are other benefits too. Cloud-based web filters are more flexible, scalable, and do not require the purchase of any hardware which results in considerable cost savings.

When web filters are used to restrict internet access at work and they lack highly granular controls, there can be issues with the overblocking of website content. Websites that need to be accessed for work purposes may be blocked, which requires the IT support team to spend time whitelisting websites. The solution is to choose a web filter with highly granular controls, which allows content to be easily blocked without also blocking websites that need to be accessed for work purposes.

Should Companies Restrict Internet Access?

While content control software may seem like an ideal way of preventing employees from cyberslacking to make productivity gains, care must be taken when applying those controls otherwise the productivity gains may not be realized. If you restrict internet access at work, employees who were only accessing the occasional personal site may be unhappy with the new restrictions. This can have a negative effect on productivity and create a hostile working environment. Why should all employees be made to suffer because of the actions of a few? Care must therefore be taken when deciding what types of websites to block. With careful and intelligent control, you can make productivity gains and can avoid any staff issues.

How to Control Internet Usage in Office and Avoid Staff Problems

One of the easiest ways to improve productivity while applying controls over internet access is to use a web filtering solution that allows time-based filtering controls to be applied. Employers can use this feature to restrict internet access at work during busy times and relax controls at others. It is easy to block access to certain sites 100% of the time and others only some of the time. With WebTitan, administrators can set standard controls during busy times such as mornings, and relax controls during breaks or outside of office hours.

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How Can I Block Internet Access on an Employee’s Computer?

There are several ways to block internet access on an employee’s computer. If you want to block internet access totally for a specific employee, be that a temporary or permanent block, you can use your existing network hardware or a firewall rule to block a specific IP address.

A web filter allows much more granular controls to be applied, such as blocking specific websites or categories of websites for a specific employee or group of employees. This option is much easier and less time-consuming if you need to block internet access – or implement partial blocks – for more than one employee. With a cloud-based web filter, these controls can be applied quickly and easily through a web portal that can be accessed by the administrator from any computer.

How to Limit Employee Internet Access Selectively

Many businesses want to know how to restrict internet access for employees without totally blocking access to the internet. With WebTitan it is easy to limit employee internet access selectively. Different controls can be set for different employees or groups of employees. If you have sales staff, you may want to do as much as possible to make sure they are always on the phone, and internet controls may need to be more restrictive. The marketing department may require much more lax controls since they will be required to access a broader range of websites for work. Since the filter integrates with LDAP and Active Directory, setting controls for different users and user groups is simple. You can implement organization-wide controls (e.g. adult content), department controls (social media), and individuals controls through LDAP/AD.

Speak to TitanHQ About Controlling Internet Access In the Workplace

Internet content control is quick, easy, and cost-effective with WebTitan. The solution allows you to easily restrict internet access at work and avoid problems associated with web filtering. If you are interested in curbing personal internet use at work and improving your organization’s security posture, contact TitanHQ today for advice. You can also sign up for a free trial and evaluate WebTitan in your own environment before you commit to a purchase and can schedule a product demonstration to see WebTitan in action.

FAQs about Restricting Internet Access at Work

Should I set up a guest Wi-Fi network?

Guest Wi-Fi networks allow visitors to access the Internet through the same equipment as your employees but will ensure that both networks are separated. If a guest user’s device is infected with malware, it will not spread to your primary business network. Guest users will also not be able to access any internal resources or data.

What are the most important guest Wi-Fi security best practices?

Ensure a password is set for the guest network. Make sure that traffic is encrypted using Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA or WPA2) to prevent data interception. Control the content that can be accessed using a web filter for your Wi-Fi network, and monitor what your guest network is being used for.

What is the cost of a content filter for a Wi-Fi network?

Content filtering for Wi-Fi networks is not expensive considering the protection it provides. Some solutions will cost around $2.50 per user, per month. These tend to be aimed at large enterprises with complex needs. For most businesses, you can get the protection you need for around $1 per user, per month.

Does a web filter work for HTTPS websites?

A web filter will block access to all websites in blacklists, which includes HTTPS websites known to be malicious. A web filter with SSL inspection will decrypt, inspect, then re-encrypt HTTPS sites in real-time and will block access to those sites if they violate user-defined policies.

Is Internet content filtering difficult?

Internet content filtering need not be complicated. With a cloud-based web filter you just make a simple change to point your DNS to your service provider. Log in to your web-based user interface and use the checkboxes to select the content you want to permit or block. All malicious websites will automatically be blocked through the blacklists used by the solution.

SharePoint Phishing Scam You Should be Aware Of

A new SharePoint phishing scam has been detected which attempts to steal Office 365 credentials from business users. those credentials are subsequently used to gain access to sensitive company information stored in the cloud and email accounts which can be used in phishing and business email compromise attacks.

The scam emails used in this campaign are similar to those used in countless Google Docs phishing scams. The messages appear at face value to be genuine attempts by employees and contacts to collaborate through the sharing of files. Most of these scams are concerned with spreading malware. The documents usually contain malicious macros which download the malware payload if allowed to run. JavaScript and VB scripts are also used to achieve that aim.  However, due to the value of Office 365 accounts, hackers are increasingly conducting attacks to gain access to Office 365 credentials.

The latest scam uses messages that appear to be standard quests to collaborate on SharePoint. This SharePoint phishing scam includes a hyperlink to a genuine SharePoint document, which may not be flagged as malicious since the file itself does not contain malware.

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

After clicking the link, the user is presented with a login window for Office 365 and their Microsoft Office 365 credentials must be entered to proceed. Entering Office 365 credentials at this point will see them harvested by the scammers running this campaign. The user is unlikely to realize that they have been successfully phished as after entering their credentials they will be directed to the genuine Office 365 web page.

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This SharePoint phishing scam is being used in targeted attacks on businesses. SharePoint is commonly used by businesses for collaboration, so there is a high probability that employees will be used to receiving such requests. Finding email addresses for business users is also straightforward. Lists can be purchased on darknet marketplaces and hacking forums, or they can be obtained from professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn.

This SharePoint phishing scam, Google Docs phishing scams, and similar campaigns spoofing Dropbox are commonplace and are highly effective. They take advantage of familiarity with these collaboration services, trust in the brands, and the lack of security awareness of employees. These brand impersonation attacks use email formats that are identical to those used in genuine collaboration requests, including correct logos, formatting and genuine-looking links, and can be difficult for end users to identify as malicious.

Preventing these SharePoint spoofing scams requires technological solutions to stop the messages from being delivered and links from being followed. Standard Office 365 anti-phishing protections are not particularly effective at blocking threats such as these. Businesses will be better protected using a dedicated anti-phishing solution on top of Office 365. SpamTitan is an award-winning anti-spam and anti-phishing solution that works seamlessly with Office 365 and provides superior protection against phishing attacks. SpamTitan uses a wide range of innovative techniques to identify malicious emails and block them at source to prevent them from reaching end users’ inboxes.

Security awareness training is also vitally important to condition employees to stop and think before taking any action requested in an email and to raise awareness of the use of collaboration requests in phishing campaigns.

If you want to improve email security and better defend your organization against phishing attacks, contact the TitanHQ team today and request further information on SpamTitan. Product demonstrations can be arranged on request, free trials of the full product are available with full support during the trial, and a range of deployment options are available to suit the needs of your business. Also consider using a web filter such as WebTitan, which will block attempts to block websites used for phishing and malware distribution.

Cybersecurity Selling Techniques for MSPs

Small businesses often lack the budget to employ full time IT staff, so instead rely on Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to meet their IT and cybersecurity needs. Small businesses know about the importance of having good IT support and will also likely be aware of the need to have some cybersecurity defenses in place, but it can sometimes be difficult to get clients to commit to purchasing the cybersecurity solutions they need to block cyberattacks that could cripple the business.

MSPs therefore need to communicate the importance of cybersecurity and the solutions that are necessary to reduce risk to protect their clients. Without the right solutions in place, clients will be at risk of suffering a costly data breach, and potentially regulatory fines and litigation. It will also be the MSP that will most likely be required to put the time and effort into getting the business back up and running following a cyberattack, and an MSP may also be blamed for not preventing the breach in the first place.

So how can MSPs sell cybersecurity solutions to their clients? What techniques can be used to get clients to commit to purchasing the solutions they need to protect their networks and infrastructure from attack?

Cybersecurity Selling Techniques for MSPs to Improve Customers’ Defenses and Monthly Revenue

Many small businesses will have little in the way of cybersecurity defenses, so this presents MSPs with an opportunity to increase their revenue, but first they must make sure that a client is aware of the importance of cybersecurity and having the right infrastructure and security solutions in place. It is up to the MSP to communicate the need for cybersecurity defenses to block credible threats, as many businesses will not understand the risks they face and the true cost of a data breach.

One of the most important elements of selling cybersecurity to clients is to have a good understanding of the risks a business faces and the level of risk each business is prepared to tolerate. Each business will be different and, most likely, there will be different risks within each business that need to be addressed.

It pays to take some time to audit and review those risks, and then to develop a cybersecurity strategy for the business that is tailored to its needs, rather than trying to sell a standard package of security solutions.

It is unlikely that a small business will be effective at conducting their own cybersecurity risk assessments. By becoming proficient in conducting risk assessments, MSPs will be able to gain a competitive advantage. If an MSP can present an accurate risk assessment to a customer, along with cybersecurity solutions that will reduce all risks identified to a reasonable an acceptable level, it will be much easier to get clients to buy in and sign up for the products and services they need to reduce those risks.

When selling cybersecurity solutions, it pays to focus more on the risks and how they will be addressed, rather than the technical aspects of each solution. That information can naturally be shared if required, but it is better to explain how the solutions meet the needs of the business and the benefits they provide. Cybersecurity solutions are expensive for small businesses, so before a business commits to a purchase – which can involve a significant upfront cost – they need to know the benefits the investment will bring and how it will likely save them considerable costs in the long run by preventing costly data breaches and the resultant downtime.

Customer Support Needs to Include Cybersecurity

Having the right cybersecurity solutions in place is only part of the story. It is also important to ensure that there is adequate monitoring in place. Cybersecurity solutions must be correctly configured and maintained so MSPs will need to make sure the staff is on hand to identify and respond quickly to any threat and neutralize it. Cybersecurity support also needs to be sold to clients.

You must be clear about the different between IT support and cybersecurity support. Clients are likely to need an MSP to provide basic IT support but may also expect the MSP to deal with cybersecurity issues as well. It is vital to communicate the difference and to cover cybersecurity support when onboarding a new client.

By explaining the need for cybersecurity and providing tailored solutions and the right level of support, MSPs will be able to earn the trust of their clients and be able to reassure them that their infrastructure and data will be kept safe and secure. As the business grows, that trust will be invaluable in getting the business to buy into more advanced cybersecurity solutions as their risk profile changes.

When it comes to finding solutions to meet the needs of MSP clients, TitanHQ can help. TitanHQ provides reasonably priced, powerful and effective cybersecurity solutions to block the most common attack vectors, along with a solution for backing up and archiving business critical data.

For more information on these solutions give the TitanHQ team a call and ask about TitanHQ email security, DNS filtering, and email archiving, and the TitanShield Partner Program. MSPs that join the TitanShield Program will be provided with extensive tools, marketing resources, and training aids to help them sell cybersecurity solutions to their clients more effectively.

Remote Working and the Dangers of Public Wi-Fi

The dangers of public Wi-Fi are well documented, but the increase in remote working means the threat has grown. During the pandemic, many businesses had little option other than to allow their employees to work remotely. Remote working during the pandemic meant employees working from home, but now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing the dangers of public Wi-Fi have reared their head one again. Many businesses have seen benefits to remote working and are continuing to allow employees to work from home, while many others are considering adopting a hybrid working model, where employees can work remotely for at least some of the week.

The Dangers of Public Wi-Fi

There are a variety of risks when accessing the Internet over public Wi-Fi networks, one of the most serious being the Wi-Fi access point that people connect to is not actually the Wi-Fi network of the establishment where employees are working. It is all too common for threat actors to set up rogue access points that resemble the legitimate Wi-Fi access points that they spoof. Through those access points – often referred to as evil twins – connections are monitored, and no communicated data are secure.

Attackers often inject malicious proxies, eavesdrop on network traffic, and use redirects to send Wi-Fi users to malicious websites. While perhaps unlikely in a local coffee shop, it is possible to compromise wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Near Field Communication (NFC), and these tactics are commonly used, especially in foreign countries. If Bluetooth and NFC are enabled, an attacker could scan for nearby devices and gain information that could allow them to identify and target a particular individual.

How to Reduce Risk

There are various steps that remote workers should take to ensure they do not unwittingly fall victim to a malware infection, disclose their credentials in a phishing attack, or otherwise compromise their device, and in turn, the network of their employer. The most straightforward of these measures is to simply not use public Wi-Fi networks, although that is not always possible for travelling employees.

If it cannot be avoided, it is important to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot that has encryption and strong authentication, as security will be greater. It is never a good idea to connect to any Wi-Fi network that has no security and does not require a password to connect, but it can be difficult to determine how good Wi-Fi security actually is.

It is important to remember that having a password on a Wi-Fi access point does not mean there is data encryption, so any transmitted data may be intercepted. Even with encryption, if an attacker knows the pre-shared key, the encryption is rendered useless as data can easily be decrypted.

It is also possible to force a network into using unsecure protocols or obsolete algorithms, and there are widely available open-source tools that can easily be used to capture credentials and other sensitive data.

It is therefore important to take precautions. For employees, the steps are straightforward. Avoid public Wi-Fi networks if at all possible and avoid disclosing any sensitive data on websites that do not start with HTTPS. Bear in mind that hackers can set up HTTPS websites just as easily as anyone else so be sure not to place too much reliance on https for providing security.

Employees should avoid disclosing any sensitive data or accessing their email or work network entirely over public Wi-Fi if possible, and to ensure that tools supplied by employers – such as a VPN – are used.

Employers should ensure a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is available to employees and there is sufficient capacity to allow all workers to connect. Employers can – and should – extend the protection of their web filtering solution to remote workers’ devices. Web filters will block access to known malicious websites and can block malware downloads. Solutions such as WebTitan are easy to configure to protect remote workers’ devices, and filtering controls will then be applied just as if the employees are in the office.

Standard cybersecurity best practices should also be followed, such as ensuring patches and software are kept up to date, including VPNs. Multifactor authentication should be enabled and anti-malware software installed. Anti-spam solutions – SpamTitan for example – should also be implemented to block email attacks, and firewalls should be used to prevent unauthorized inbound and outbound connections.

It is also recommended to disable Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) and Netbios Name Service (NBT-NS) on Windows laptops and to configure Web-Proxy Autodiscovery Protocol (WPAD) to use only corporate proxy servers and to turn off device file and printer sharing on public networks.

Two New Ransomware-as-a-Service Operations Emerge: BlackMatter and Haron

Following the ransomware attacks on critical infrastructure in the United States, several ransomware-as-a-service operations went quiet. The attacks attracted a lot of heat for ransomware gangs and several groups responded by either implementing new restrictions on the types of entities that their affiliates could attack, shutting down entirely and releasing the keys to allow victims to recover, or simply disappeared from the Internet.

Following the attack on Colonial Pipeline in May 2021 by a DarkSide ransomware affiliate, the DarkSide ransomware gang disappeared from the Internet. The REvil ransomware gang that had been so prolific also went quiet. The gang was behind the attack on JBS Foods which caused the temporary shutdown of two meat processing plants in the United States, and most recently, attacked Kaseya and up to 60 of its customers – mostly MSPs – and 1,500 downstream businesses. Shortly after that attack, its web presence disappeared and the gang went deathly silent.

Then there was Avaddon, another prolific operation. After the DarkSide attack on Colonial Pipeline, the Avaddon and REvil operators announced that they would be preventing their affiliates from conducting attacks on critical infrastructure, healthcare, and others. Avaddon later released the keys to allow 2,934 victims to recover and appeared to have walked away from ransomware attacks. Popular hacking forums took the decision to distance themselves from ransomware, even going as far as banning ransomware actors from posting on their forums.

Following the critical infrastructure attacks, the United States government has taken several steps to allow it to target ransomware gangs more effectively and has demanded Russia take action to stop ransomware gangs that are operating within Russia’s borders. The heat has certainly been turned up and RaaS operations are being scrutinized.

There has been considerable speculation about whether government agencies have succeeded in taking down some of these RaaS operations, even though none have announced that they are part of any takedown. That is not to say that there was no law enforcement or government action, only that if there was it has all been done on the quiet.

While it would be nice to think that these shutdowns were permanent and ransomware attacks would be slowing, that is unlikely. It is natural for RaaS operators to lie low for a while following such major attacks, especially when governments are now laser focused on tackling the ransomware problem. It is likely that these ransomware operations are just taking a break, and the operators – and certainly the affiliates that conducted attacks under the RaaS programs – will return. The return may well have already happened.

Two new ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) groups have appeared this month – Haron and BlackMatter – that threat intelligence firms have been investigating. Several have reported this week that they have identified connections with some of the RaaS operations that have recently gone quiet – Avaddon, REvil, and DarkSide.

While no concrete evidence has been found linking the new operations with any of the RaaS operations that have recently disappeared, there are many similarities which suggest that either the Avaddon, REvil, and DarkSide RaaS operations have already rebranded, that affiliates of those operations have branched out and are going it alone, or some members of the shutdown RaaS operations are involved in Haron and BlackMatter to some degree.

Despite the forum bans on advertising RaaS operations, the BlackMatter RaaS has been advertising for affiliates on Russian speaking cybercrime forums, albeit by not stating that they are running a RaaS operation. A user named “BlackMatter” registered an account on July 19 on both the XSS and Exploit criminal forums seeking assistance: Access to the networks of U.S., UK, Australian, or Canadian networks of companies with over $100 million in annual revenues. They also stipulated that they would not be buying access to state institutions or any targets in the healthcare sector, as both REvil and Avaddon announced they would not after the colonial pipeline attack.

The BlackMatter operator also created an Escrow account – used in cases of disputes over payments – and deposited $120,000 – a not insignificant sum. The group is offering between $3K and $100K for access or a share in any ransoms generated in exchange for access. The BlackMatter operators claim their operation incorporates the best features of DarkSide, REvil, and LockBit, all three of which are believed to have operated from within Russia.

Similarities were found between BlackMatter and REvil and DarkSide by several cybersecurity firms, with Recorded Future declaring BlackMatter the successor to DarkSide and REvil, although evidence is circumstantial.  For instance, BlackMatter is very similar to BlackLivesMatter, which was the name of the Windows registry used by REvil. Mandiant reports that it has found evidence which points to at least one member of the DarkSide operation being involved with Black Matter, although that individual may simply be an affiliate that has jumped ship when the operation went silent.

S2W Lab has found similarities between Haron ransomware and Avaddon, notably a largely copy and pasted ransom note, similar appearances and wording on the ransom negotiation sites, the same structures on the data leak sites, and identical sections of JavaScript code for chat. However, while the Avaddon gang developed its own ransomware, Haron is based on Thanos ransomware.

The similarities may be coincidence, or the operator may have just saved some time by stealing content and code that had already been created. There are other notable differences between the two in many areas, and no solid proof has been found that suggests Avaddon and Haron are one and the same.

Researchers are still conducting investigations into the new groups, but regardless of who is involved in the operations, their aims appear to be very similar. Both are targeting large organizations with deep pockets and if the RaaS operations that have gone quiet remain out of action, there will be any affiliates looking for a new RAAS operation to join.

These two new RaaS operations could therefore completely fill the gap left by the likes of Avaddon, REvil, and DarkSide and ransomware attacks could well continue at pre-May 2021 levels. What is certain is the ransomware threat is far from over.

New MosaicLoader Malware Distributed via Online Ads for Pirated Software

A new malware variant has appeared that is being pushed out via malicious search engine advertisements that appear at the top of the listings for searches related to cracked software. The new malware has been dubbed MosaicLoader by Bitdefender researchers, who have seen increasing numbers of the malware appear in recent weeks.

As the name suggests, MosaicLoader is a malware downloader. It has been developed to deliver a range of different payloads onto victims’ devices, with the ‘Mosaic’ part of the name coming from the intricate internal structure of the malware, which was developed to hamper attempts by security researchers to analyze and reverse engineer the malware.

The malware is complex and uses a variety of methods to evade detection and hamper attempts at analysis, including code obfuscation with the code broken into small chunks, shuffling the execution order and creating a mosaic-like structure. The malware also mimics the file information of legitimate software.

The current campaign delivering MosaicLoader targets individuals looking for cracked software, with the adverts appearing in the search engine listings for a variety of keywords and terms associated with pirated software. The initial malware droppers masquerade as executables for a legitimate software, including using company names and descriptions within the metadata and similar icons and file info as legitimate software.

The initial droppers use a variety of names linked to pirated software, including mirc-7-64-keygen-plus-crack-fully-version-free-download, officefix-professional6-122-crack-full-version-latest-2021, and setup-starter_v2.3.1. One of the droppers mimics a legitimate NVIDIA process, although the digital signature is unrelated to NVIDIA. Once users start processes with names in the word cloud of installers, the infection chain commences and will run in the background without alerting the user, with no visible windows displayed.

What makes MosaicLoader particularly dangerous is it can be used to deliver any payload onto a victim’s system. The malware has been observed delivering a broad range of malicious payloads, such as Remote Access Trojans (RATs) and backdoors, cookie stealers, and cryptocurrency miners. Based on the payloads delivered it is likely that, at least initially, MosaicLoader is being operated and used by one threat group, but it could easily be used under the malware-as-a-service model as a malware delivery service.

Protecting against MosaicLoader is straightforward in principle. Users should avoid downloading any cracked software. Not only is it illegal to download cracked software, but there is also a reasonable likelihood that doing so will install malware such as MosaicLoader, spyware, adware, and many potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). It is also necessary to have up to date antivirus/antimalware software installed.

Employees are always looking for ways to make their lives easier and installing unauthorized software – shadow IT – is common. Shadow IT may save an employee time during their working day, but it also carries risks, especially the installation of pirated software.  This has become even more of a risk in the COVID-19 era with so many employees working from home.

Businesses can improve protection against MosaicLoader and other malware variants by carefully controlling the websites that employees can access on their corporate devices and under BYOD. Content filters, such as WebTitan, can be configured to restrict access to websites not required for work or block certain categories of website, as well as known malicious URLs.

Web filters can also be configured to block downloads of specific file types, such as software installers and other executable files often used to install malware. It should also be made clear to all staff that the downloading of unauthorized software onto corporate devices is prohibited, and that the installation of cracked software is illegal.

For further information on content filtering with a DNS filter and other cybersecurity measures you can implement to protect against malware, contact TitanHQ today. The WebTitan web filter is available on a free trial and can be implemented in minutes, and showing positive results in under an hour.

Webinar: June 30, 2021: Best Practices to Combat Phishing and Ransomware

The pandemic forced businesses to adopt different working practices. Rather than having employees working from the office, restrictions introduced to combat COVID-19 meant businesses had to allow their employees to work from home. Protecting business networks when virtually all workers are accessing those networks remotely was a major challenge and it was inevitable that vulnerabilities would be introduced that could potentially be exploited by threat actors.

Those vulnerabilities were exploited, with cybercriminals and APT groups targeting at-home workers mostly by exploiting vulnerabilities in remote access systems and through phishing attacks to obtain credentials to allow networks to be accessed. While these attacks had many different goals, one of the most common was to encrypt files using ransomware to prevent them from being accessed, usually with data theft prior to file encryption.

According to Osterman Research, the three main priorities for cybersecurity in 2021 are protecting endpoints, educating users about ransomware and stopping them becoming victims of attacks, and protecting backups from ransomware. The fact that two of the three main priorities are related to ransomware show just how serious the threat has become.

Protecting endpoints requires a combination of cybersecurity solutions, one of the most important being an advanced email security solution. Email is the attack vector of choice in cyberattacks and is commonly the initial attack vector in ransomware attacks. Phishing campaigns are easy to conduct and they target the weakest link in cybersecurity – employees. Further, with many employees working from home, phishing has become even easier. Studies have shown at-home employees have been taking security shortcuts, with many also admitting to clicking links in phishing emails and opening potentially malicious email attachments. When errors such as this are made, many employees fail to report the matter to their IT department out of fear of reprisals.

Cybersecurity training is important to teach and reinforce cyber hygiene best practices and raise awareness of the threat from ransomware. If employees are not taught how to identify phishing emails and ransomware, they cannot be expected to avoid those threats. With training, susceptibility to phishing can be greatly reduced. However, even with training employees will make mistakes and will fail to recognize every threat.

A recent study conducted by Osterman Research and TitanHQ looked into the main cybersecurity threats faced by security professionals in 2021. The biggest threats were found to be business email compromise (BEC) attacks that tricked employees, phishing messages that result in malware infections, and phishing messages that result in account compromises. The latter is usually the first step in a BEC attack. 85% of interviewed organizations said they had experienced at least one security incident in the past 12 months, and while security professionals were aware of the dangers of phishing and ransomware attacks, only 37% rated their defenses as highly effective.

Due to the lack of confidence in defenses against phishing and ransomware attacks identified by the study, TitanHQ and Osterman Research are hosting a webinar in which attendees will discover the most effective mitigations against phishing and ransomware attacks and will learn best practices they need to adopt to avoid those threats.

Webinar attendees will also learn about the full findings of the in-depth cybersecurity study into the rising threat from phishing and ransomware and how risk can be reduced to a low and acceptable level.

The webinar will be taking place on June 30, 2021:

Webinar Details:

How to Reduce the Risk of Phishing and Ransomware Attacks

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Time:

  • 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. BST
  • 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST
  • 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST

The webinar will be conducted by Michael Sampson, Senior Analyst at Osterman Research and Sean Morris, Chief Technology Officer at TitanHQ.

You Can Register Your Place Here

Most Common Wireless Network Attacks

In this post, we explore some of the common wireless network attacks and offer advice on simple steps that can be taken to secure wireless networks and prevent costly data breaches.

Many Businesses are Neglecting WiFi Security

Many businesses have moved from wired to wireless technologies which has had a negative impact on their security posture. Wired networks are generally a lot easier to secure than wireless networks, and poor implementation often introduces vulnerabilities in WiFi networks. Many businesses also fail to perform a thorough risk analysis which means those vulnerabilities are not identified and addressed. Because of these security flaws, and the ease of exploiting them, wireless networks attacks are common.

The Importance of WiFi Security

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

The quality of the WiFi on offer is not just a question of there being enough bandwidth and fast internet speeds. Parents often choose to visit establishments that provide secure WiFi with content control, for instance, businesses that have been verified under the Friendly WiFi scheme. In order to be accredited under the scheme, businesses must have implemented appropriate filtering controls to ensure minors are prevented from accessing age-inappropriate material.

The massive rise in cyberattacks via public WiFi networks coupled with warnings about WiFi risks in the mainstream media has seen many consumers favor establishments that offer secure WiFi access.

If you run a business and are providing WiFi to customers or if you are considering adding a WiFi hotspot to attract more customers, be sure to consider the security of the network. The past couple of years have seen many attacks on WiFi networks and customers who use those wireless services. The increase in WLAN attacks means WiFi security has never been so important.

Before covering some of the most common wireless attacks, it is worthwhile exploring some of the common wireless network vulnerabilities that can be exploited to eavesdrop on traffic, infect users with malware, and steal sensitive information.

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Common Wireless Vulnerabilities

Listed below are some of the most common wireless network vulnerabilities and steps that can be taken to prevent the vulnerabilities from being exploited. These wireless network vulnerabilities could easily be exploited in real-world attacks on wireless networks to steal sensitive data, take control of a router or connected device, or install malware or ransomware.

Use of Default SSIDs and Passwords

WIFi access points are shipped with a default SSID and password which need to be changed, but all too often, those default passwords are left in place. That makes it easy for an attacker to log in and take control of the router, change settings or firmware, load malicious scripts, or even change the DNS server so that all traffic is directed to an IP owned by the attacker. Default passwords must be changed to prevent anyone within range of the signal from connecting and sniffing traffic.

If wireless controllers are used to manage WiFi access points via web interfaces, make sure the default passwords are also changed. These default passwords can be easily found online and can be used to attack wireless networks.

Placing an Access Point Where Tampering Can Occur

If the access point is placed in a location where it can be physically accessed, tampering can occur. It takes just seconds to revert the access point to factory default settings. Make sure the access point is located in a secure location, such as a locked closet.

Use of Vulnerable WEP Protocol

The Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol was the first protocol used to encrypt wireless traffic. WEP, as the name suggests, was intended to make wireless networks as secure as their wired counterparts, but that does not make WEP wireless networks secure.

WEP is based on the RC4 cypher, which is secure. The problem is how RC4 is implemented in WEP. WEP allows an initialization vector to be re-used, and the re-use of keys is never a good idea. That allows an attacker to crack the encryption with ease. Several other vulnerabilities have been identified in WEP which make it far from secure.

Even though WEP has been depreciated and there are much more secure wireless encryption protocols to use, many businesses continue to use WEP in the mistaken belief that it is secure. WEP is more secure than no encryption at all – bad security is better than no security – but there are much more secure options for encrypting WiFi traffic. If you want to improve security and prevent WLAN attacks, upgrade to WPA2 or WPA3, which use the much more secure Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) and lack the vulnerabilities of WEP.

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WPA2 Krack Vulnerability

WPA may be more secure than WEP, but it is not without its own wireless vulnerabilities. Two Belgian researchers – Mathy Vanhoef and Frank Piessens of the University of Leuven – identified a serious flaw in the WPA security protocol.  The flaw was named KRACK, short for Key Reinstallation Attack. The flaw can be exploited in a man-in-the-middle attack to steal sensitive data sent via the WPA encrypted WiFi connection. If the WPA flaw is exploited, an attacker could eavesdrop on traffic and obtain banking credentials, passwords, and credit card information.

The vulnerability exists in the four-way handshake. An encrypted WPA2 connection starts with a four-way handshake, but not all parts of that handshake are required. To speed up re-connections, the third part is retransmitted. That third part of the handshake may be repeated several times, and it is this step that could be used in a wireless network attack.

By repeatedly resetting the nonce transmitted in the third step of the handshake, an attacker can gradually match encrypted packets and discover the full keychain used to encrypt traffic.

A threat actor could set up a clone of a WiFi access point that a user has previously connected to – an evil twin. To the user, nothing would appear untoward as Internet access would be provided via that evil twin. An attacker can force a user to connect to the cloned WiFi network and all information sent via that evil twin WiFi network can be intercepted. While the attack will not work on sites with SSL/TLS encryption, tools can be used that make this possible by forcing a user to visit an HTTP version of the website.

In order to execute a KRACK WiFi attack, the WiFi network must be using WPA2-PSK or WPA-Enterprise and the attacker needs to be within range of the WiFi signal. Virtually all routers currently in use are vulnerable to KRACK WiFi attacks. The best defense is to keep routers up to date and for users to only connect to wireless networks using a paid-for, up-to-date VPN. The issue has been addressed in WPA3, which is supported by the latest wireless access points. However, even with this exceptionally common wireless network vulnerability, WPA2 is still far more secure than WEP.

NetSpectre – Remote Spectre Exploit

Spectre is a vulnerability that affects microprocessors that perform branch prediction. The vulnerability can be exploited to allow an attacker to access chosen virtual memory locations and thus obtain sensitive data. In order for the flaw to be exploited, an attacker would first need to convince a user to download and run malicious code or to visit a website where JavaScript is run in the browser. Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a new type of attack that can be performed via network connections, including WiFi networks. The attack – termed NetSpectre – is fortunately complex so there are far easier ways to attack an organization. The risk of exploitation is therefore low.

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What are the Most Common Wireless Network Attacks?

Many of the most common wireless network attacks are opportunistic in nature. WiFi hackers look for wireless networks that are easy to attack.

Hackers are more than happy to take advantage of poor security controls to gain access to sensitive information and distribute malware. Why waste time attacking well-secured WiFi networks when there are plenty with scant or no security?

Poorly secured WiFi networks are also targeted by more sophisticated cybercriminals and organized crime groups to gain a foothold in the network. The attacks can be extremely lucrative. Access to a business network can allow ransomware to be installed and if malware can be installed on POS systems, the credit/debit card numbers of tens or hundreds of thousands of customers can be stolen.

Types of Wireless Network Attacks

There are several different types of WiFi attacks that hackers use to eavesdrop on wireless network connections to obtain passwords and banking credentials and spread malware. The main types of WiFi attacks are detailed below.

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

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

Criminals can easily set up fake WiFi access points, often using the name of the establishment in the SSID. An SSID called ‘Free Airport WiFi’ would be enough to get many people to connect. When customers connect to these rogue WiFi networks they can still access the Internet, so are unlikely to realize anything is wrong. However, once connected to that network, everything they do online will be monitored by cybercriminals. Sensitive information entered online, such as email addresses and passwords, credit card numbers, or banking credentials, can and will be stolen.

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

Fake access points and evil twins are among the most common wireless network attacks. They are easy to conduct, require little technical skill, and are very effective. One study indicated more than a third of WiFi hotspot users take no precautions when accessing WiFi hotspots and frequently connect to unsecured networks.

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Packet Sniffing: Interception of Unencrypted Traffic

Research by Kaspersky Lab in 2016 showed more than a quarter of public Wi-Fi hotspots set up in malls were insecure and lacked even basic security controls. A quarter did not encrypt traffic at all, while research conducted by Skycure showed that five of the 10 busiest malls in the USA had risky WiFi networks.

One mall in Las Vegas was discovered to be operating 14 risky WiFi access points. Hackers can use packet sniffers to intercept traffic on unencrypted WiFi networks. Packet sniffing is one of the most common wireless attacks.

These common wireless network attacks are easy on older routers, such as those using WEP encryption. WPA offers better security, WPA2 is better still, or ideally, the new WPA3 encryption protocol should be used if it is supported by your access point.

Wardriving

Wardriving is a technique used to identify and map vulnerable access points. The name comes from the fact that attackers drive around a neighborhood and use a laptop with a GPS device, antenna to identify and record the location of wireless networks.  This technique is effective since many WiFi networks used by businesses extend beyond the confines of the building and poor security controls are applied to secure those networks.

Warshipping

Warshipping is a more efficient method of attacking WiFi networks as it allows attacks to be conducted remotely, even if the attacker is not within range of a WiFi network. The tactic was explained by IBM X-Force Red researchers at Black Hat USA. They used cheap (under $100) and easy-to-obtain components to create a single-board computer with WiFi and 3G capabilities that runs on a cell phone battery. The device can be used to locally connect to the WiFi network and send information back to the attackers via the 3G cellular connection.

Since the device is small, it can easily be hidden inside a small package, and getting that package into a building is easy. It can just be mailed. Since the package may be addressed to someone not working it the company, it could sit in the mailroom for a while before it is opened. Since the package can be tracked, the attackers will know when it is in the building. Alternatively, it could be hidden in any number of items from plant pots to teddy bears. If the device is within range of WiFi networks, it could be used to attack those networks.

Hashed network access codes can be sent back to the attackers to crack, and the device can then connect to WiFi networks in the building and harvest data. The device could be used in a man-in-the-middle attack by impersonating an internal WiFi network.

MAC Spoofing

Many businesses use MAC filtering to prevent specific devices from connecting to their WiFi networks. While this is useful for preventing individuals from taking advantage of free WiFi for customers, this method of blocking users can be easily bypassed. It is easy to spoof a MAC address and bypass this filtering control.

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Examples of WiFi Network Attacks

Attacks on wireless networks are not just theoretical. Listed below are some examples of common wireless networks attacks that have resulted in the installation of malware or theft of sensitive information. These latest wireless security attacks could easily have been prevented had appropriate security controls been implemented.

Latest Wireless Security Attacks

Tel Aviv Free WiFi Network Hacking Incident

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

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

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

Toasters Used to Hack Unsecured WiFi Networks

Perhaps not one of the most common WiFi network attacks, but notable nonetheless due to the rise in the use of IoT devices. IoT capability has been incorporated into all manner of devices from toasters to washing machines. These devices can be vulnerable to supply chain attacks – Where hardware is altered to allow the devices to be used to attack WiFi networks. In 2016, Russian officials discovered chips imported from China had been altered and were being used to spread malware that could eavesdrop on unsecured WiFi networks from a range of 200 meters. They were used to infect those networks with malware that could steal information.

In-Flight WiFi Network Hacking from the Ground

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

Orange Modems Leaking Wi-Fi Passwords

A vulnerability has been identified in Orange LiveBox ADSL modems that causes them to leak the SSID and WiFi passwords in plaintext. The flaw was identified by Bad Packets researchers who observed their honeypots being actively attacked. A search on Shodan showed there are nearly 20,000 vulnerable Orange modems that leak Wi-Fi passwords and SSIDs in plaintext. In many cases, the default credentials of admin/admin were still being used! The flaw means the WiFi networks could easily be attacked remotely. Attackers could change device settings, alter firmware, and even obtain the phone number and conduct a range of other attacks.

WeWork WiFi Security Flaws

WeWork, a provider of custom workspaces, private offices, and on-demand workspaces equipped with high-bandwidth WiFi, has made an error implementing those WiFi networks which makes them far from secure.

WeWork used the same WiFi password at many of its shared offices for several years. To make matters worse, that password was weak and regularly features in the top 25 lists of extremely poor passwords. However, there was no need to guess it as it was available through the WeWork app in plaintext. Such a simple yet serious error placed all users of those workspaces at risk for several years. The researchers investigated several locations in San Francisco and found the same weak password used at multiple locations. Further, the WiFi network was only protected with WPA2 Personal security.

Teemu Airamo checked the security of the workspace he had just moved into and found hundreds of other companies’ devices exposed. Subsequent scans on the WeWork network revealed an enormous amount of sensitive data had been exposed. Password reuse is never a good idea, and neither is using dictionary words or heaven forbid, any of the top 25 lists of shockingly awful passwords.

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WiFi Networks Can be Used to Gain Access to Business Data

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

How Can Businesses Prevent the Most Common Wireless Network Attacks?

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

Isolate the Guest Network

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

Encrypt WiFi Traffic with WPA2 or WPA3

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

Update Firmware Promptly

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

Create a Secure SSID

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

Restrict WiFi Access

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

Secure Your Infrastructure

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

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Use a Web Filter

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

TitanHQ offers a scalable, easy to deploy, granular web filter for WiFi networks. WebTitan Cloud for WiFi requires no hardware purchases or software downloads as it is 100% cloud-based, can be managed and monitored from any location, and can help protect you against the most common wireless network attacks.

How Does WebTitan Cloud for WiFi Work?

protection from the common wireless network attacks

Features of WebTitan Cloud for WiFi

  • No hardware or software installation required
  • Quick and easy to implement
  • Fast: DNS solution provides almost zero additional latency
  • Supports both static and dynamic IPs addresses
  • No specialist training required
  • Protects against all web-based threats
  • Precision control over the content that can be accessed over WiFi
  • Instant alerts about users trying to access restricted content
  • Can be integrated into existing systems for easy management
  • Available to MSPs and resellers in white-label form
  • Fully multi-tenanted platform

WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, live all TitanHQ solutions, is available on a free trial for you to evaluate the full solution in your own environment. During the trial, you will receive full product support to ensure you get the most out of your trial.

Contact TitanHQ today to arrange your trial, for details of pricing, or to book a product demonstration. Our Customer Service team will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the product.

Web Filtering FAQs

How can I make my guest Wi-Fi network secure?

You should change your SSID from the default, set a strong password, enable encryption (WPA2 or WPA3), prevent guests from accessing router settings and local network resources, and set up a web filtering solution to restrict access to potentially harmful web content.

How much does content filtering cost?

You can expect to pay between $1 and $3 per user, per month depending on the Wi-Fi content filtering solution you choose. At TitanHQ, we offer powerful content filtering at an affordable price for all businesses. WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi starts at $1.01 per user per month.

What is the best way to block phishing attacks?

Two anti-phishing solutions that businesses should implement are an email security gateway or spam filter to block malicious emails and a web filter to prevent employees from visiting phishing websites, either from links in malicious emails or through web browsing and redirects.

How easy is it to start filtering the Internet?

With WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi, content filtering is easy. Simply point your DNS to WebTitan, log in to your web-based user interface, then select the categories of content you want to block. It is that simple. Everything is intuitive and you have additional options if you want more precise control or need to implement different controls for different user groups. If ever you get stuck, you benefit from world-class customer support to get you back on track.

Should I enable SSL inspection?

SSL inspection allows you to inspect traffic to and from encrypted websites. Since most websites now secure the connection between the site and browser, this traffic will be invisible unless you enable SSL inspection. Malicious websites often have SSL certificates and will pose a serious threat if traffic is not inspected.

Ransomware Mitigations to Protect Your Business

It has been a particularly bad year for ransomware attacks on businesses. Many of the attacked businesses have been unprepared for a ransomware attack and did not implement sufficient ransomware mitigations. Had proactive steps been taken, many of the attacks could have been prevented.

Recently, the DarkSide ransomware operation attacked a critical infrastructure firm and brought fuel delivery to the Eastern Seaboard in the United States to a halt. The fuel pipelines that delivered 45% of the fuel required by the U.S. East Coast were shut down for 5 days due to the attack. Better preparation and more extensive ransomware mitigations could have prevented the attack or at least hastened recovery. The company could also have avoided the $5 million ransom payment and major losses from disruption to operations.

The DarkSide ransomware gang had also attacked the second largest chemical distribution firm in the United States earlier in May, again causing major disruption to operations. In that case, a ransom of around $4.4 million was paid to the gang for the keys to unlock files and to prevent the release of sensitive business data stolen in the attack. The ransom payment was negotiated down from $7.5 million, and as part of that negotiation and payment process, the attacker provided details about how network access was gained. The attacker had purchased stolen credentials from another threat actor. The DarkSide ransomware affiliate also provided some useful advice – Improve your antivirus software and implement multi-factor authentication. These are two important ransomware mitigations that could well have stopped the attack dead.

These are just two examples of recent attacks by one ransomware gang. There are currently more than 17 ransomware gangs that steal data prior to encrypting files and many more that simply encrypt files and demand a ransom for the keys to unlock the encryption. The threat from ransomware also continues to grow. The Verizon 2021 Data Breach investigations Report shows ransomware attacks increased by 6% in 2020 an accounted for 10% of all data breaches.

Ransomware gangs, and their affiliates that conduct the attacks, use a range of different method to get the network access they need. Vulnerabilities in software and operating systems are exploited, and attacks are conducted on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and remote access solutions such as VPNs. Phishing is commonly used to steal credentials that provide access to accounts, malware such as remote access Trojans are used to gain access to networks, along with several other tactics. Consequently, there is no single cybersecurity measure that can be implemented to block these attacks. Multiple ransomware mitigations are required to block each of the attack vectors.

Ransomware Mitigations to Prevent Attacks and Ensure a Fast Recovery

There are several ransomware mitigations that can be implemented to reduce the risk of ransomware attacks and limit the severity of an attack should a network be compromised.

Implement a robust spam filter – A robust spam filter will block phishing attacks and malware delivered via email. Phishing is one of the most common methods of gaining access to networks.

Implement multi-factor authentication – Stolen credentials, including those obtained in phishing attacks, allow ransomware actors to access networks. Multi-factor authentication is an effective measure for preventing stolen credentials from being used.

Conduct end user security awareness training – Ensure employees know how to identify phishing emails and are taught cybersecurity best practices and discourage risky behavior.

Filter network traffic with a web filter – Implement a web filter to block access to malicious websites and prevent communications with known malicious IP addresses.

Purchase top-grade AV software – Implement an advanced anti-virus solution, ensure it is set to update automatically, and conduct regular scans of all IT assets for malware.

Patch promptly and update software – Prompt patching is important to prevent the exploitation of vulnerabilities. Prioritize patching to address the most critical vulnerabilities first. Most vulnerabilities exploited in attacks are months old, yet patches were not applied. Also ensure software and operating systems are updated regularly.

Restrict access to network resources – Apply the principle of least privilege and severely limit administrative access and the ability to install and execute programs.

Restrict or block Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) – Assess whether RDP is required and block if possible. If needed, ensure originating sources are restricted and implement multi-factor authentication.

Disable macro scripts in Office files – Disable Office macros on all computers unless there is a business need for allowing them. Open Office files sent via email using Office Viewer software rather than the full Office application.

Use application allowlisting – Only permit applications and systems to execute programs allowed by your security policy. Block the execution of programs from commonly used ransomware locations such as temporary folders and the LocalAppData folder.

Implement a strong backup policy – Ensure backups of critical data are regularly created and tested to ensure file recovery is possible. Store a copy of the backup in a secure offline location.

Implement network segmentation – In the event of an attack, it is important that the attackers cannot access all systems and networks. Use network segmentation to limit the harm that can be caused.

Block inbound connections from Cobalt Strike servers – Also block the use of other post-exploitation tools as far as is possible.

Block inbound connections from anonymization services – Block access from Tor and other anonymization services to IP addresses and ports where external connections are not expected or necessary.

New WebTitan Cloud Release Includes Support for Azure Active Directory and Filtering for Chromebooks

A new version of WebTitan Cloud has been released – WebTitan Cloud 4.16 – that includes support for Azure Active Directory and introduces a new school web filtering solution – WebTitan OTG (on-the-go) for Chromebooks.

The new version of WebTitan Cloud includes DNS Proxy 2.06 which supports filtering of users in Azure Active Directory, in addition to on-premise AD and directory integration for Active Directory. Further directory services will be added to meet customer needs and ensure they can enjoy the benefits of per-user filtering with exceptional ease of management. – Further information on the Azure AD app is available here.

Existing WebTitan customers need do nothing to get the latest WebTitan Cloud release as the solution will be updated automatically.

WebTitan OTG for Chromebooks

Using WebTitan OTG for Chromebooks provides an effective way to apply filtering policies to your Chromebooks from the cloud.

WebTitan OTG for Chromebooks is a new web filtering solution for the education sector that allows schools to carefully control the websites that can be access by students both in the classroom and offsite, including in student’s homes.

Schools can easily devise filtering policies for all pupils or specific age groups and apply those filtering polices in the cloud. The solution allows schools to enforce the use of Safe Search and prevent access to age-inappropriate web content to keep students safe.

WebTitan OTG for Chromebooks delivers fast and effective user- and device-level web filtering and empowers students to discover the Internet in a safe and secure fashion, while also ensuring compliance with federal and state laws such as the U.S. Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

The solution is cost effective for schools to implement, setup and management is quick and easy, and administrators can schedule or run usage reports on demand and have full visibility into Chromebook users’ online activities and locations. It is also possible to lockdown Chromebooks to prevent students from circumventing the web filtering controls.

As with all WebTitan Cloud solutions, there is no need for any on-premises hardware, no proxies or VPNs required, and there is no impact on Internet speed as filtering takes place at the DNS-level before any content is downloaded.

“This new release comes after an expansive first quarter. The launch of WebTitan Cloud 4.16 brings phenomenal new security features to our customers,” Said TitanHQ CEO, Ronan Kavanagh. “After experiencing significant growth in 2020, TitanHQ expects these product enhancements and new features to make 2021 another record-breaking year.”

Discord Extensively Abused in Phishing and Malware Distribution Campaigns

Cloud-based instant messaging platforms have allowed individuals to easily communicate and collaborate, but cybercriminals are also benefitting from these platforms and are abusing the services for a range of malicious purposes. Discord is one such platform that has been favored by cybercriminals for several years and is now being extensively used for phishing and malware distribution.

Discord is a VoIP, instant messaging and digital distribution platform that has been extensively adopted by the gaming community and latterly by a much broader range of users. In 2019, Discord has amassed around 150 million users worldwide and usership has grown considerably since then. The platform has long been abused by cybercriminals who have used the platform’s live chat feature for selling and trading stolen data, such as gift cards and login credentials, for anonymous communications, and the platform has also been abused to act as C2 servers for communicating with malware-infected devices.

In 2021, the platform has been increasingly used for distributing a wide range of malware variants such as information stealers, cryptocurrency miners, Remote Access Trojans, and ransomware by abusing the cdn.discordapp.com service.

Discord, like other collaboration apps, use content delivery networks (CDNs) for storing shared files within channels. Cybercriminals can upload malicious files to Discord and create a public link for sharing, and that link can be shared with anyone, not just Discord users. The URL generated for sharing starts with https://cdn.discordapp.com/ so anyone receiving the link will see that the link is for a legitimate site. While there are controls to prevent malicious files from being uploaded, oftentimes cybercriminals can bypass those protections have get their malicious files hosted, and warnings are not always displayed to users about the risk of downloading files from Discord.  Since the malicious payloads are delivered via encrypted HTTPS, the downloads can be hidden from security solutions.

Further, once uploaded, the malware can be deleted from a chat, but it is still accessible using the public URL. Users are often tricked into downloading these malicious files under the guise of pirated software or games. Gamers have been targeted as their PCs typically have a high spec for gaming, which makes them ideal for cryptocurrency mining.

This method of malware distribution allows malware developers and distributers to easily distribute their malicious payloads with a high degree of anonymity. An analysis by Zscaler identified more than 100 unique malware samples from Discord in the Zscaler cloud in just a two-month period. Another analysis of Discord CDN results identified around 20,000 results on VirusTotal.

The Discord app is also easy to modify to perform malicious actions. Malicious JavaScript code can easily be added to the legitimated Discord client files and can be configured to run each time the client is launched or when specially crafted URLs are opened by the client.

Discord is far from the only communication and collaboration solution to be abused. Slack and Telegram are similarly being abused in phishing campaigns and for malware distribution.

How TitanHQ Can Improve Your Organization’s Security Posture

TitanHQ offers two cybersecurity solutions that can be configured to block the use of these legitimate platforms in the workplace and stop malicious links from being distributed to their employees. WebTitan is a powerful but easy-to-use DNS filtering and web security solution that can be configured to block access to sites such as Discord, thus preventing employees from visiting malicious content. Since WebTitan performs malware scans in real time, if malicious files are encountered, employees will be prevented from downloading them. WebTitan supports HTTPS (SSL) inspection so can decrypt, scan, then re-encrypt traffic to identify and block malicious content.

Malicious links to Discord are often distributed via phishing emails. SpamTitan Email Security prevents malicious emails from being delivered to inboxes, such as emails containing links to Discord, Telegram, or other services that are abused by cybercriminals and used to host phishing kits or malware.

Both solutions work seamlessly together to protect against email- and web-based cyberattacks and prevent credential theft, and malware and ransomware attacks. Both solutions are cost effective to implement and easy-to-use and are much loved by IT staff who benefit from a high level of protection coupled with a low management overhead.

If you want to improve protection from email and web-based attacks, contact TitanHQ today to find out more about these award-winning cybersecurity solutions. Both solutions are available on a free trial and a product demonstration can be arranged on request.

Further, these solutions have been developed to be MSP-friendly, with a range of benefits for managed service providers who want to want to improve email and web security for their clients.

Warnings Issued Following Spike in Ransomware Attacks on Schools

The disruption to learning from a pandemic that has lasted more than a year is bad enough, but many schools have experienced even more disruption just as many have opened their gates and allowed students back into classrooms.  The SARS-CoV-2 virus may have been brought under control thanks to lockdown measures and the rollout of vaccines, but another type of virus is proving to be a major threat – ransomware.

FBI Warns of Targeted Ransomware Attacks on K12 Schools and Higher Education

Ransomware attacks on schools have been stepped up in recent months and schools and higher education institutions are being actively targeted. In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently issued an alert to the education sector warning about the threat of attacks involving Pysa ransomware. The threat actors behind this ransomware variant have been actively targeting K12 schools, higher education, and seminaries. Buffalo City Schools were forced to close their schools in March following a ransomware attack that crippled their IT systems, just before students were about to return to classrooms as part of a phased reopening of schools.

The ransomware is deployed manually after compromising the network. The attack often starts with a phishing email, which gives the attackers the foothold in the network they need. They then conduct reconnaissance, move laterally, and compromise entire networks before deploying their ransomware.

Prior to running the encryption routine that cripple IT systems, the attackers steal sensitive data. Files containing student information are obtained and threats are issued to publish or sell the stolen data if the ransom is not paid. The gang, like many others, has a leak site and routinely follows through on the threat.

Spike in Ransomware Attacks on UK Schools

Ransomware attacks on schools are not confined to the United States. The Pysa ransomware gang is also targeting schools in the United Kingdom and many other countries, and the Pysa gang is not alone. Many other ransomware operations have been attacking schools.

Following a rise in ransomware attacks on UK schools, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued an alert to educational institutions about the growing threat of attacks. NCSC has observed an increase in ransomware attacks on schools from late February 2021, which coincides with students returning to classrooms after an extensive period of school closures due to the pandemic.

The NCSC said there is no reason to believe that these attacks are being conducted by the same criminal group. This appears to be the work of multiple threat groups. These attacks have caused varying levels of disruption, including rendering entire networks inoperable, disabling email and websites, and hampering the ability of students to learn. In some cases, students have lost coursework as a result of the attacks, records of COVID-19 tests have been rendered inaccessible, and school financial records have been lost.

Unfortunately, even paying the ransom is no guarantee of being able to recover encrypted files. While the attackers claim they have the keys to unlock the encryption, they may not be provided. There is also no guarantee that stolen data will be deleted when the ransom is paid. There have been many cases when further ransom demands have been issued after payment has been made.

Adopt a Defense in Depth Strategy to Block Ransomware Attacks

The Department for Education (DfE) has recently urged UK schools to review their cybersecurity defenses and take the necessary steps to harden their defenses against cyberattacks. The NCSC explained that there is no single cybersecurity solution that will provide protection against these attacks. What is required is a defense in depth approach to security.

Defense in depth means implementing multiple overlapping layers of security. If one layer fails to block an attack, others are in place to block the attack.

In practice this means good patch management – applying updates to software, firmware, and operating systems promptly. Antivirus software must be installed on all devices and be kept up to date. Spam filtering solutions should be implemented to block the phishing emails that give the attackers access to the network. These filters can also be used to block email attachments that are not typically received.

Web filters should be used to block access to malicious websites. These filters inspect the content of websites to determine if it is malicious. They also categorize web content, and the filters allow schools to carefully control the types of content that students and staff can access to reduce risk.

Multi factor authentication should be implemented on all remote access points and email accounts, remote access ports that are not being used should be blocked, and a VPN should be used for remote access. The rule of least privilege should be applied for remote access and all staff and student accounts.

It is also recommended to prevent all non-administrator accounts from being able to install software, office macros should be disabled, as should autorun on portable devices.

It is also vital that all files are backed up daily and backups tested to make sure file recovery is possible. Backups should be stored on non-networked devices and must not be accessible from the systems where the data resides. Ideally, multiple backup copies should be created with at least one stored on an air-gaped device.

TitanHQ Wins Big at Expert Insights’ 2021 Best-Of Awards

TitanHQ is proud to announce three of its innovative products have been named winners at the Experts Insights’ 2021 Best-Of Awards in the Web Security, Email Security Gateway, and Email Archiving categories.

Expert Insights helps businesses identify the most powerful, innovative, and ease to use cybersecurity solutions through its website, and helps clear up the confusion about cybersecurity solutions through objective reviews, industry analysis, and interviews with industry leaders. The top cybersecurity products are listed on the website along with reviews and ratings from genuine users of the solutions. Expert Insights now helps more than 40,000 businesses each month select the most appropriate cybersecurity solutions to meet their needs.

The leading cybersecurity companies and their products are recognized each year in the Expert insights’ “Best-Of” Awards. Products are assessed by technology experts and the Expert Insights’ Editorial Team based on many factors, including market presence, technical features of the products, ease-of-use, and ratings by verified users of the products. Winners are selected in a range of different categories such as email security, web security, endpoint security, multi-factor authentication, backup, and many more.

“2020 was an unprecedented year of cybersecurity challenges, with a rapid rise in remote working causing a massive acceleration in cybercrime,” said Craig MacAlpine, CEO and Founder, Expert Insights. “Expert Insights’ Best-Of awards are designed to recognize innovative cybersecurity providers like TitanHQ that have developed powerful solutions to keep businesses safe against increasingly sophisticated cybercrime.”

TitanHQ was recognized for the WebTitan DNS filtering solution, which was named a winner in the Web Security category, SpamTitan was named a winner in the Email Security category, and ArcTitan was named a winner in the Email Archiving category. In addition to the level of protection provided, each solution is consistently rated highly on price and ease of use by enterprises, SMBs, and Managed Service Providers. The solutions are used by more than 8,500 businesses and over 2,500 MSPs in more than 150 countries. In addition to the high ratings on Experts’ Insights, the solutions have received top marks on G2 Crowd, Capterra, GetApp, Software Advice, and Google Reviews.

“The recent pandemic and the growth of remote working initiatives have further highlighted the need for multiple layers of cybersecurity and our award-winning solutions form key pillars in this security strategy,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “We will continue to innovate and provide solutions that MSPs can use to deliver a consistent, secure and reliable experience to their customers.”

Half of Ransomware Attacks Now Involve Data Theft

The first known ransomware attack occurred in 1989, but in the years since this form of malware has not proven popular with cybercriminals. That started to change in 2013 with Cryptolocker and the number of attacks – and ransomware threats as continued to grow ever since.

Today, ransomware is one of the biggest malware threats faced by businesses. Ransomware attacks are no longer relatively small campaigns conducted by ransomware developers. Rather than conduct their own attacks, it is now common for ransomware developers to leave the distribution of the ransomware to a network of affiliates. Under the ransomware-as-a-service model, more attacks can be conducted and more ransoms will be paid as a result. Most ransomware operations now operate under this RaaS model and there is no shortage of affiliates willing to distribute the ransomware for a cut of the profits.

While ransomware was once used simply to encrypt files and prevent them from being accessed by businesses unless a ransom was paid for the keys to decrypt files, the Maze ransomware operators started stealing data in 2019 prior to file encryption to add an extra incentive for victims to pay up. Many other ransomware operations followed suit and either threatened to publish the stolen data or sell it on to other cybercriminals if the ransom is not paid.

Data theft prior to file encryption is fast becoming the norm. Coveware, a company that works with ransomware victims to resolve ransomware attacks (often entering into negotiations with the attackers on behalf of its clients), recently published a report that shows half of all ransomware attacks now involve data theft prior to file encryption. It may be possible to recover encrypted data from backups, but that will not prevent the publication or misuse of stolen data.

This tactic has proven to be effective for the ransomware gangs, but there have been many cases where payment of the ransom has not resulted in the deletion of stolen data. In the United States, several victims in the healthcare industry have paid the ransom demand only to receive a second demand for a payment to prevent stolen data from being released.

According to Coveware, the Sodinokibi ransomware gang is known to issue further demands after the initial payment is made, and it has been a similar case with Netwalker and Mespinoza ransomware. The operators of Conti ransomware provide proof that files are deleted after the ransom is paid, but that proof is faked.

Ransom demands are also increasing. The average ransom demand in Q3, 2020 was $234,000, up 31% from the previous quarter according to the Coveware Quarterly Ransomware Report.

The healthcare industry has been extensively targeted by ransomware gangs and attacks have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The healthcare industry is heavily reliant on data and attacks aim to encrypt patient data and steal medical records prior to encryption. If the ransom is not paid, the data has a high value and can be sold on easily.

Recently, a joint warning was issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), in conjunction with the FBI and the Department of Health and Human Services, warning of an increased and imminent threat of targeted ransomware attacks on the healthcare and public health sectors. A few days after the alert was issued, 6 healthcare providers were attacked with Ryuk ransomware in a single day.

Ransomware attacks are here to stay for the foreseeable future. They will only start to decline when they are no longer profitable. With attacks at record levels and no guarantee that stolen data will be returned even I the ransom is paid, it is more important than ever for businesses and healthcare organizations to ensure their defenses are hardened against ransomware attacks.

Ransomware can be delivered using a variety of techniques. Vulnerabilities in software and operating systems are commonly exploited to gain access to networks, so vulnerability scanning is important for identifying exploitable vulnerabilities to ensure they are promptly addressed before they can be exploited.

Email remains one of the most common attack vectors, not only for delivering ransomware, but delivering ransomware downloaders. Emotet and TrickBot are two Trojans commonly used to deliver ransomware as a secondary payload, and both are primarily delivered via email, as is BazarLoader, which has been used to deliver ransomware in many recent attacks.

To block this attack vector, an advanced AI-powered spam filter is required – one that is capable of not only detecting known malware threats, but zero-day malware and email attacks that have not been seen before. SpamTitan uses AI and machine learning techniques to identify these email threats at source and prevent them from being delivered to inboxes where employees unwittingly provide the attackers with access to their networks. In addition to dual anti-virus engines, SpamTitan has a sandboxing feature for identifying zero-day malware threats and SPF, DKIM, and DMARC to detect and block email impersonation attacks.

Ransomware, ransomware droppers, and other malware threats are often delivered via the Internet, so cybersecurity measures are needed to block this attack vector. WebTitan similarly uses AI and machine learning techniques to provide protection from websites used to deliver malware threats. The solution uses automation and advanced analytics to search through billions of URLs/IPs and phishing sites that could comprise a company and ensure those threats are blocked.

By implementing layered defenses, it is possible to block the majority of threats, but it is still important to ensure that your data is protected in the event that an attack succeeds. You should make sure that come what may, your data is secured.

A good approach to adopt is the 3-2-1 backup strategy, which involves making three backups, storing the copies on 2 different media (tape, disc, or cloud for instance), and ensuring one copy is stored securely off site. Should an attack succeed, you will not be at the mercy of the attackers and will at least be able to recover your data without paying the ransom.

If you want to improve your defenses against ransomware, give the TitanHQ team a call today for information and advice on the steps you can take to harden your defenses.

How Much Money Did WannaCry Make?

The WannaCry ransomware attacks that started on May 12, 2017 were blocked quickly when a kill switch was identified and activated, but how much money did WannaCry make during the time it was active?

WannaCry was a devastating global cyberattack, the likes of which had been predicted by many cybersecurity professionals but had yet to materialize. WannaCry was the fastest spreading ransomware ever created.

WannaCry combined ransomware with a worm, which allowed it to automatically spread and infect huge numbers of devices on a network. The ransomware exploited a vulnerability in Windows Server Message Block (SMBv1) using an NSA exploit called EternalBlue.

The flaw exploited by EternalBlue had been reported to Microsoft and a patch was issued in March 2017, two months before the attacks started. However, many businesses were slow to apply the patch and were vulnerable to attack. Within a matter of hours, around 200,000 computers had been attacked in 150 countries. It is worth noting here that there are still many computers that have not been patched more than 2 and a half years after the patch was released, in spite of widespread news coverage about the threat of attack and its huge cost. WannaCry is still one of the biggest ransomware threats and accounts for a significant percentage of all successful ransomware attacks in 2019.

WannaCry was blocked by a British security researcher who discovered the ransomware checked a domain name prior to encrypting data, but that domain name had not been registered. He purchased the domain name, thus preventing file encryption.

That said, the speed at which the ransomware spread meant many devices were infected and encrypted. Since businesses were not protected if the ransomware encryption had already started by the time the kill switch was activated, the attackers must have had a huge payday. So how much did WannaCry make?

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By today’s standards, the ransom demand was very small. Just $300 per infected device, which doubled to $600 if the payment was not paid within 3 days. It is actually easy to see how many payments were made, as the transactions are detailed in the blockchain. The recipient remains anonymous, but the payments can be seen.

The three Bitcoin addresses known to have been used in the WannaCry attacks currently show 430 payments have been made and 54.43228033 BTC has been sent to those accounts. The value of BTC is somewhat volatile and was much higher at points between now and the attacks, but at today’s exchange rate that equates to around $386,905. Most of the BTC payments have now been moved out of the accounts so the attackers have managed to cash out. Payments are also still being made to those accounts. The latest payments to one of the addresses were made in December 2019.

$386,905 may not seem like much of a payday considering the number of devices infected and the damage caused by the attack, and it’s not. Further, the attackers will need to convert that total to real money, and a considerable amount will be lost in that process. The payday was tiny considering the scale of the attack. However, the cost of the attack to businesses was colossal.

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom was hit bad and the cleanup operation, and loss of business while that occurred, has been estimated to have cost £92 million. That was just one victim, albeit a major one. The total cost of the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attacks has been estimated to be $4 billion globally; however, even though the kill switch was flicked to block the initial attacks, the threat from Wannacry has not gone away. In 2019, two years after the initial attacks, millions of computers were still at risk as the vulnerability that was exploited had still not been fixed and a new version of WannaCry was released that did not have the kill switch and continues to pose a threat. In 2019 Kaspersky said it was the most detected ransomware threat with the ransomware infecting 164,433 users, accounting for 21 percent of detected ransomware attacks that year and ESET reports that WannaCry was the most commonly detected ransomware threat in Q1, 2020, 3 years after the ransomware first appeared. The ransomware is still being used in attacks on unpatched systems in Thailand, Turkey, and Indonesia.

Next time you delay applying a patch or updating software, consider WannaCry and the potential costs of exploitation of a vulnerability. In all of the above cases – all 200,000+ attacks – applying the patch would have prevented the attack and the huge cost of remediation.

Cyberattacks on Remote Workers Have Increased Dramatically During the COVID-19 Lockdown

If you have been following the security news, you will have seen that there has been a major increase in COVID-19 themed cyberattacks targeting remote workers. Cybercriminals are exploiting fear about the virus and the somewhat chaotic switch from mostly office-based workers to having virtually the entire workforce working remotely. Understandably given the speed at which businesses have had to adjust, vulnerabilities have been introduced.

The attack surface has increased considerably as a result of largely at-home workforces and cybercriminals have taken advantage. According to research conducted by Darktrace, in the United Kingdom, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown being imposed, around 12% of malicious email traffic was targeting home workers. The volume increased to around 60% after 6 weeks of lockdown, which clearly demonstrates the extent to which remote workers are being targeted.

The types of malicious emails being sent to remote workers have been incredibly diverse. Cybercriminals are using all manner of lures to get remote workers to click links and disclose their credentials or open malicious attachments and trigger malware downloads. Financial fraud has also increased with BEC gangs using the COVID-19 pandemic to fraudulently obtain funds from company accounts.

Early on in the pandemic when information about the virus was thin on the ground, emails were being sent offering important advice about preventing infection along with fake updates on cases. As the pandemic progressed and the effects started to be felt, cybercriminals started sending fake requests for donations to charities to help individuals adversely affected by COVID-19. As governments implemented furlough schemes and set up funds to help the employed and self-employed, campaigns were conducted that linked to websites that claimed to offer grants, allow workers to choose to be furloughed, or apply for financial support.

Attacks have targeted the tools that are being used by remote workers to connect to their offices and communicate with colleagues, with the likes of Zoom, Skype, GoToMeeting, and other corporate messaging systems being spoofed to infect users with malware. File sharing platforms have similarly been spoofed to get employees to disclose their credentials. Darktrace’s data shows there has been a massive increase in spoofing attacks during lockdown, increasing from around one fifth of attacks before lockdown to 60%.

It is not only cybercrime groups that are conducting attacks. State-sponsored hacking groups have similarly been taking advantage of the pandemic to steal sensitive data, including the latest COVID-19 research data on potential cures, vaccines, and treatments to further the response efforts in their own countries.

What is not always clear from the new reports is how the increase in cyberattacks targeting remote workers has translated into actual data breaches. Are these attacks succeeding or are companies managing to thwart the attacks and keep the hackers at bay?

There is a lag between intrusions being detected, breaches being confirmed, and announcements being made but it appears that many of these attacks are succeeding. In April, the International Association of IT Asset Managers issued a warning that while a rise in data breaches was to be expected as a result of the pandemic, the number of incidents was actually far higher than anticipated. It is also clear that ransomware attackers have stepped up their efforts to attack businesses. Even organizations on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 have not been spared.

Threat actors have taken advantage of the opportunities offered by the pandemic. It is up to businesses to make sure their security measures are sufficient to thwart attacks. Combating cyberattacks on remote workers requires additional security measures to be implemented. One measure that is often overlooked but can greatly improve protection is DNS filtering.

A DNS filter provides protection against the web-based component of cyberattacks and is an important measure to implement to improve defenses against phishing and malware. Even with robust email security defenses in place, some messages will arrive in inboxes. A DNS filter provides an extra layer of protection by preventing users from visiting malicious websites linked in emails.

When a malicious link is clicked, a DNS query is made, and a DNS lookup is performed to find the IP address of the URL. DNS filtering ensures that the IP address is not returned if the URL is malicious. A DNS filter such as WebTitan also allows IT teams to block malware downloads, monitor internet activity, and carefully control the types of websites their remote users can access on corporate devices.

If you have not yet implemented a DNS filtering solution and would like more information on how it can protect against cyberattacks on remote workers, give the TitanHQ team a call today.

A COVID-19 Cybersecurity Checklist

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption for many businesses, and while it is far from business as usual for many firms, work has been continuing by letting employees work from home but doing so opens a business up to new cybersecurity risks, some of the most important of which we have covered in our COVID-19 cybersecurity checklist.

Under normal circumstances, the risks from allowing workers to spend some of their working week at home can be effectively managed, but having virtually the entire workforce working remotely creates many cybersecurity challenges. Further, threat actors are exploiting the pandemic and are actively targeting remote workers.

COVID-19 Cybersecurity Checklist

To help you address the risks of remote working we have produced a quick reference COVID-19 cybersecurity checklist covering some of the most important aspects of cybersecurity that should be addressed, in light of the recent rise in cyberattacks on remote workers.

VPNs

All remote employees should be using VPNs to access corporate systems, but VPNs can also introduce vulnerabilities. There has been an increase in attacks exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities in VPNs during the pandemic and scans are being performed to find vulnerable VPNs.

VPNs clients must be kept up to date and patches should be applied promptly. There have been several attacks reported recently that have exploited the Pulse Secure vulnerability CVE-2019-11510 to deliver ransomware, even though a patch was released to correct the flaw in April last year. Vulnerabilities in other VPNS have also been targeted.

You should also consider disabling split tunneling for VPN profiles to prevent employees from accessing the internet directly while they are connected to corporate information systems or should ensure all internet traffic is routed through the VPN. You should enable multi-factor authentication for VPNs and create a separate VPN zone in your firewall and apply security policies to protect incoming and outgoing traffic.

Remote Desktop Protocol

Many businesses rely on Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) to allow their employees to connect remotely, but If you do not use RDP, you should disable port 3389. There has been a growing number of brute force attacks on RDP. A recent Kaspersky report showed brute force attacks on RDP increased. There was a major increase between January and February, with global attacks rising to 93,102,836. In April, attacks had increased to a staggering 326,896,999.

If you use RDP, make sure strong passwords are set, enable multi-factor authentication, and ensure connections are only possible through your VPN – Do not allow RDP connections from outside.

Communication and Collaboration Platforms

You will need to use some form of communication and collaboration platform, such as a videoconferencing solution, to allow workers to easily get in touch with colleagues. There are many choices available, but the security capabilities of each can vary considerably. Some solutions that were considered to be secure, such as Zoom, have been shown to have vulnerabilities, some of which have been exploited in attacks. The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has recently issued a useful checklist for selecting appropriate communication tools along with information on how they can be used securely.

Data Encryption

With everyone at home, burglaries may be down, and lockdown have reduced the risk of loss and theft of mobile devices, but encryption is still important. All corporate owned mobile computing devices should have encryption enabled, which is straightforward for Windows devices by enabling BitLocker. You should also encrypt web applications and FTP to ensure any data that is uploaded or downloaded is encrypted.

Ensure Firewalls are Enabled

Your employees will be beyond the protection of the corporate firewall so they should have local firewalls enabled. The easiest and most cost-effective way of applying a local firewall is to use the Windows Defender firewall, which can be configured through your MDM solution or Group Policy.

Email Security

The volume of phishing emails may not have increased by a very large degree during the COVID-19 lockdown, but there have been a large number of phishing related data breaches. Phishers have changed their campaigns and are now extensively using COVID-19 themed campaigns, which are proving to be very effective. People crave information about COVID-19 and are responding to COVID-19 themed phishing emails in large numbers. Many of the emails we have seen have been highly convincing, spoofing authorities such as WHO and the CDC.

You should consider adding an additional layer to your email defenses if you are only using Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection (EOP). Many phishing emails are bypassing Microsoft’s defenses and are being delivered to inboxes. SpamTitan can be layered on top of Office 365 protections and will greatly improve the detection of phishing emails and zero-day malware and ransomware threats.

Multi-factor authentication for email accounts should be set up. In the event that email credentials are compromised, multi-factor authentication should prevent those credentials from being used to access accounts.

You should also set up a system that allows employees to report any suspicious emails they receive to the security team, to allow action to be taken to remove all similar messages from the email system and to tweak email security controls to block the threats.

DNS Filtering

With email security improved, you should also take steps to block web-based attacks. Malicious websites can be accessed by employees through general web browsing, redirects via malvertising, malicious links on social media networks, and links in phishing emails. A DNS filtering solution such as WebTitan Cloud prevents employees from visiting known malicious websites and will block drive-by malware downloads. WebTitan Cloud will protect employees whether they are on or off the network. If you don’t have web filtering capabilities for remote workers, ensure that internet access is only possible through your VPN to ensure bad packets are filtered out.

Cybersecurity Alerts and Log Checking

You should have systems in place that generate cybersecurity alerts automatically and you should enable security logs and regularly check them for signs of compromise. Monitor the use of PowerShell and red team tools such as Mimikatz and Cobalt Strike. These tools are often used by manual ransomware attackers to move laterally once access to networks is gained.

Meteoric Rise in Phishing and Web Attacks Targeting NASA’s Telecommuting Workers

There has been a massive rise in the number of telecommuting workers as a result of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic and cybercriminals are taking advantage. Phishing and malware attacks have soared in the past few weeks and home workers are being targeted.

Individuals who regularly worked from home before the COVID-19 crisis will be used to taking precautions when connecting to virtual environments set up by their employers, but huge numbers of employees are now logging in remotely for the very first time and may not be aware of the telecommuting cybersecurity risks. IT and IT security departments have also had to set up the workforce for home working in a hurry, and the sheer number of employees that have been forced into telecommuting means corners have had to be cut which has created opportunities for cybercriminals.

Even if the transition to having the entire workforce telecommuting has been expertly managed, risk will have increased considerably.  Cybersecurity is far harder to manage when the entire workforce is outside the protection of the corporate firewall and with most workers telecommuting, the attack surface has grown considerably.

Telecommuting workers are seen as low hanging fruit and cybercriminals are taking advantage of the ease at which attacks can be conducted. Since January there has been a massive increase in phishing attacks, malware attacks, and attacks over the internet targeting remote workers.

NASA Sees “Exponential Increase” in Malware Attacks

On April 6, 2020, NASA sent a memo to all personnel warning of a massive increase in targeted attacks on the agency.  NASA explained in the memo that the number of phishing attempts on NASA employees has doubled in the past few days and its systems designed to block employees from accessing malicious websites has gone into overdrive. The number of malicious websites that are now being blocked has also doubled, which strongly suggests employees are clicking on links in phishing emails and are being fooled by these scams. NASA also reports that there has been an “exponential increase in malware attacks on NASA systems.”

Attacks are being conducted by a diverse range of threat actors, from small players to prolific advanced persistent threat (APT) groups and nation-state sponsored hackers. NASA has warned its employees that those attackers are targeting NASA employees’ work and personal devices and that the attacks are likely to continue to increase throughout the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.

NASA is far from alone in experiencing a massive increase in attempted cyberattacks. Businesses of all sizes are now having to deal with unprecedented risks and are struggling to defend their networks from attack. They now have to defend a massively increased attack surface and the number of attacks has skyrocketed.

There are other factors that are making it difficult for employers. Employees crave information about the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19 and cybercriminals are sending huge numbers of emails offering them just the information they seek. Huge numbers of websites are being set up that purport to offer advice on the Novel Coronavirus and COVID-19. Check Point has reported that more than 16,000 domains related to coronavirus or COVID-19 have been registered since January and those domains are 50% more likely to be malicious than other domains registered in the same period.

How to Protect Telecommuting Workers

There are three main ways that telecommuting workers are being attacked: Email, malicious websites, and the exploitation of vulnerabilities.

To prevent the latter, it is essential for software and operating systems to be kept up to date. This can be a challenge for IT departments at the best of times, but much harder when everyone is working remotely. Despite the difficulty, prompt patching is essential. Vulnerabilities in VPNs are being targeted by cybercriminals and offer an easy way to gain access to corporate networks. Employees should be told to make sure their VPN clients are running the latest software version and businesses should ensure their VPN infrastructure is kept up to date, even if it means some downtime while updates are applied.

TitanHQ Can Help You Strengthen Email and Web Security

Advanced email security defenses are now required to protect against phishing and email-based malware threats. Some of the COVID-19 phishing campaigns that are now being conducted include some of the most sophisticated phishing threats we have ever seen.

You should not rely on one form of email security, such as Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection for Office 365 accounts. Layered defenses are essential. Office 365 email security can be significantly strengthened by layering SpamTitan on top of Microsoft’s EOP protections. SpamTitan does not replace Office 365 protections, it improves them.

SpamTitan is an advanced email security solution that incorporates powerful, real time updated AI-driven threat intelligence to block spam, phishing, malware, malicious links, and other email threats from incoming mail. SpamTitan sandboxing identifies threats that signature-based detection solutions miss and is effective at identifying and blocking zero-day malware threats.

Each day, the number of malicious websites related to COVID-19 grows. These websites are used to phish for sensitive information such as email and VPN credentials and for drive-by downloads of malware. To protect remote workers and prevent them from accessing these malicious websites, a web filtering solution is required.

WebTitan DNS Security offers protection against web-based threats and prevents employees from accessing known malicious websites. WebTitan DNS Security is seeing massively increased traffic demand for its scanning and web detection features, but the solution is cloud based and has been developed with scalability in mind. WebTitan DNS Security is blocking new threats as soon as they are identified to keep customers and their employees protected. The solution can be easily implemented to protect remote workers but inserting simple code into enterprise devices which points the DNS to WebTitan. That small change will ensure the internet is filtered for all employees, no matter where they are working.

TitanHQ is committed to providing safe and secure email and internet usage for our customers, partners and their users, now more than ever. Contact TitanHQ today for help improving security at your organization.

Cybersecurity Risks with Remote Workers

IT departments have been forced to address cybersecurity risks with remote workers in a hurry due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic that has seen large sections of the workforce forced into working from home.

The International Workplace Group conducted a study in 2019 and found that 50% of employees spend at least half of the week working remotely, and 70% of workers spend at least one day each week working from home. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has increased that percentage considerably. Many companies have all but closed down their offices and have told their employees they must work from home.

While this is an important strategy for ensuring the safety of the workforce, there are many cybersecurity risks with remote workers and IT departments will find it much harder to secure their systems, protect confidential data, and quickly respond to security incidents.

One of the biggest problems for IT departments is the speed at which changes had to be made to accommodate a massive increase in remote workers. There has been little time to prepare properly, provide training, and ensure the cybersecurity risks with remote workers are all addressed.

Cybercriminals are Targeting Remote Workers

The massive increase in remote workers due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic has given cybercriminals easy targets to attack, and unsurprisingly remote workers are being targeted. Remote workers are seen as low hanging fruit and attacks are far easier than when workers are in the office.

Several phishing campaigns have been detected targeting home workers that attempt to obtain email and VPN credentials. These phishing attacks are likely to increase considerably over the coming weeks and months. Attacks on VPNs have also increased, with cybercriminals exploiting unpatched vulnerabilities to steal credentials and gain access to corporate networks.

Campaigns have been detected spoofing Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms. According to Check Point, there have been 1,700 new Zoom domains registered in 2020 and 25% of those have been registered in the past two weeks. Other videoconferencing and communication platforms are also being targeted.

Addressing Cybersecurity Risks with Remote Workers

The massive increase in the number of employees working from home has increased the attack surface dramatically. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets are remotely connecting to the network, often for the very first time. It is essential that al of those devices are secured and data is appropriately protected.

Any device allowed to connect to the network remotely must have the best security software installed to protect against malware. Devices must be running the latest versions of operating systems and patches need to be applied promptly. Some studies suggest that it takes companies around 3 months on average to patch vulnerabilities. For remote workers, patching needs to be accelerated considerably and, ideally, software and operating systems should be configured to update automatically. Computers used by remote workers must also have firewalls enabled.

Ensure Home Routers are Secured

With many countries in lockdown and people being told not to leave the house, one of the biggest problem areas with remote working has been solved. The use of unsecured pubic Wi-Fi networks. When remote workers connect to unsecured public Wi-Wi networks, it is easy for cybercriminals to intercept sensitive corporate data, steal login credentials, and install malware. The Novel Coronavirus pandemic has seen remote workers abandon coffee shops and public Wi-Fi access points and stay at home; however, home Wi-Fi networks may be just as vulnerable.

Home workers will connect to the internet through consumer-grade routers, which will be far less secure than the office. Home Wi-Fi is often poorly secured and many devices that connect to Wi-Fi will have scant security controls in place. Remote workers must ensure that their home Wi-Fi network is protected with a strong password and that routers have WPA2 enabled.

Ensure Remote Workers Use a VPN and Establish a Secure Connection

It is essential for remote workers to establish a secure connection when accessing work resources and the easiest way to do this is with a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN client should be installed on all devices that you allow to remotely connect to the network.

Several vulnerabilities have been found in VPNs over the past year, and even months after patches have been released by VPN solution providers that patches have yet to be applied. Patching VPNs can be difficult when they are in use 24/7, but prompt patching is essential. There has been an increase in cyberattacks exploiting vulnerabilities in VPNs in recent weeks. In addition to ensuring the latest version of VPN clients are used and VPN solutions are patched quickly, training must be provided to remote workers to ensure they know how to use VPNs.

Ensure Multifactor Authentication Is Enabled

Strong passwords must be set to prevent brute force password guessing attempts from succeeding, but passwords alone do not provide sufficient protection for remote workers. You must ensure that multifactor authentication is enabled for all cloud services and for email accounts. If credentials are compromised in a phishing attack, it will not be possible for the credentials to be used to access accounts and sensitive data without another factor also being provided, such as a one-time code sent to an employee’s cellphone.

Security Awareness Training for Remote Workers

IT staff will be well aware that even the best security defenses can be breached as a result of the actions of employees. Employees are the weakest link in the security chain, but through security awareness training risk can be significantly reduced. Most companies will provide security awareness training to staff as part of the onboarding process, and often refresher training sessions will be provided on an annual basis. Consider increasing training for remote workers and conducting training sessions far more frequently.

The purpose of cybersecurity awareness training is to teach employees the skills they will need to recognize and avoid threats and to change the mindset of workers and create a culture of cybersecurity. Best practices for cybersecurity must be taught to prevent employees from falling prey to cyberattacks when working remotely. Employees need to be made aware of the cybersecurity risks with remote workers, which may not have been covered in training sessions when employees were only working in the office. Training remote staff should now be a priority. It is important to step up training to help remote workers identify phishing emails, spoofing, impersonation attacks, and also to teach remote workers about good IT hygiene.

Protect Against Web-Based Attacks

The dangers that come from the internet should be covered in security awareness training, but not all web-based threats are easy for remote workers to identify. Malicious adverts can be found on all manner of websites that direct users to phishing sites and websites where drive by malware downloads occur. To address cybersecurity risks for remote workers when accessing the internet, a web filtering solution should be deployed.

Cloud-based web filters are the most practical choice as they are easy to deploy, require no software downloads, and do not need to be patched or updated as that is handled by the solution provider. DNS-based filters are the best choice as they will involve no latency, which can be a major issue when bandwidth will be limited in workers’ homes.

WebTitan prevents remote workers from visiting or being redirected to known malicious websites and allows IT teams to control the types of websites that can be accessed on work devices to further reduce risk. Since WebTitan integrates with Active Directory and LDAP, IT teams can monitor the internet activity of all employees and can configure the solution to block malicious file downloads and the downloading unauthorized programs onto work devices.

Cybersecurity Challenges for Remote Working

It is fair to say that more people are now working from home than ever before and the number is growing rapidly due to the coronavirus pandemic. Here we explore some of the key cybersecurity challenges for remote working and suggest ways that CIOs and IT managers can reduce risk, keep their networks secure, and protect their workers.

COVID-19 and Remote Working

Even in the absence of a pandemic, an increasing number of people are working from home for at least part of the week. One study conducted by the International Workplace Group in 2018 suggests 50% of employees spend at least two and a half days a week working from home and 70% spend at least one day a week working from home.

The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly changing that. Governments around the world are recommending people work from home if they possibly can and many want to do so to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. With the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic likely to last for several months at the very least, that is unlikely to change any time soon. Businesses will come under increasing pressure to get their employees set up for working at home.

Cybersecurity Challenges for Remote Working

For many businesses, having to set up large number of employees to work from home in such a short space of time will have come as a major shock. Rather than being able to transition gradually, the quarantine measures and social distances demanded in response to the coronavirus pandemic has given businesses and their CIOs and IT teams little time to prepare and address the cybersecurity challenges for remote working.

Some employees will already be working from home some of the time, so they will be familiar with the steps they need to take to access work networks and applications securely from home, but for a great deal of workers this will be their first time. Those workers therefore need to be trained and made aware of the additional risks, they must learn how to access work systems remotely, and the steps they need to take to do so securely.

Measures need to be considered to reduce the harm that can be caused should devices be lost or stolen, as the risk of device theft increases considerably when IT equipment is taken out of the office. Even if workers are not venturing out of the house to coffee shops, home environments may not be as safe and secure as the office.

Cyberslacking is likely to increase considerably when workers are not being directly supervised due to working at home, so loss of productivity is a real issue. Productivity losses due to people working from home is a key business concern that should be addressed. Cyber risks also increase from internet access at home.

The risk of insider threats also increases with more remote workers. Steps should be taken to reduce the potential for fraud and data theft.

It is relatively easy for organizations to effectively manage risk when users are connected to internal networks when working in the office. Doing the same when most of the workforce is working remotely is a different matter entirely. As the attack surface increases, mitigating risks and protecting against cyberthreats becomes a major challenge.

There are also issues with authentication. A known individual may be attempting to connect to the network, but it becomes harder to determine is that person is who they claim to be. Authentication measures need to be stepped up a gear.

Many businesses will be faced with the problem of simply not having enough devices to allow workers to work remotely on company-issued devices, so the decision will need to be taken about whether to allow employees to use their personal devices. Personal devices are unlikely to have the same level of protection as company-owned devices and it is much harder to control what employees do on those devices and to protect against malware that could easily be transferred onto the work network.

There is also a greater risk of shadow IT when workers are home-based. The downloading of applications and use of non-authorized tools increases risk considerably. Vulnerabilities may be introduced that can easily be exploited by cybercriminals.

Then there is the problem of having so many people accessing work networks using VPNs. Systems may not be able to cope with the increased number, which means workers will not be able to connect and work from home. IT departments must ensure there is sufficient bandwidth and licenses for VPN solutions. Those VPNs also need to be updated and patched.

These are just some of the many cybersecurity challenges for home working. The list of security concerns is very long.

Cybercriminals are Taking Advantage of a Huge Opportunity

Cybercriminals are constantly changing tactics to attack businesses and the coronavirus pandemic offers them opportunities on a silver platter. It is unsurprising that they are taking advantage. In January, phishing campaigns were launched taking advantage of fear about coronavirus. Those campaigns have increased significantly as the COVID-19 crisis has deepened. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are being used as phishing lures and to COVID-themed emails are being used to distribute malware. Cyberattacks exploiting vulnerabilities in VPNs are also increasing.

As the COVID-19 crisis worsens and lockdowns are enforced, businesses will be forced to have more workers working from home and cyberattacks are likely to continue to increase. Since shutting down the business temporarily or indefinitely simply isn’t an option for most businesses, addressing the cybersecurity challenges for remote working will soon become critical.

Addressing the Cybersecurity Challenges for Home Working

Addressing the cybersecurity challenges for home workers is likely to be difficult. Listed below are some of the steps that should be taken to prepare.

  • When creating new accounts for home workers, ensure strong passwords are set and use the principle of least privilege to reduce risk.
  • Enable two-factor authentication.
  • Ensure workers can connect through VPNs and there are sufficient licenses and bandwidth.
  • Make sure VPN software is patched and the latest version is installed. Ensure procedures are in place to keep the software updated.
  • Consider disabling USB ports to prevent the use of portable storage devices. This will reduce the risk of malware infections and the risk of data theft.
  • Ensure portable devices are protected with encryption. Use software solutions that lock devices in the event of theft or allow devices to be remotely wiped.
  • Ensure you set up communications channels to allow remote workers to collaborate, such as teleconferencing, chat facilities, document sharing platforms, and SaaS applications. Make sure employees are aware of what can and cannot be shared via chat apps such as Slack and Google Chat.
  • Ensure staff are trained on new applications, the use of VPNs, and are aware of the additional risks from remote working. Train remote workers on how to identify phishing and other cybersecurity threats.
  • Ensure policies and procedures are set up for reporting threats to IT security teams. Instruct employees on the correct course of action if they believe they have fallen for a scam.
  • Implement a DNS filter to prevent employees from accessing high risk websites on corporate-issued devices and block downloads of risky file types.
  • Ensure email security controls are implemented to block phishing attacks and detect and quarantine malware threats.

How TitanHQ Can Help Protecting Remote Workers and Their Devices

TitanHQ has developed two cybersecurity solutions that can help businesses protect their remote workers and their networks from email and web-based threats. Being 100% cloud-based, these solutions are just as effective when employees are working remotely as they are for office workers.

SpamTitan Cloud is a powerful email security solution that protects against the full range of email threats. SpamTitan has advanced threat detection capabilities to detect known and zero-day phishing, spear phishing, malware, botnet, and ransomware threats and ensure the threats never reach inboxes. SpamTitan Cloud also scans outbound email to detect spamming and malware distribution, as well as improving protection against insider threats through tags for sensitive data.

WebTitan Cloud is a DNS filtering solution that provides protection from web-based attacks for user working on and off the network. Being cloud based, there is no need to backhaul traffic to the office to apply filtering controls. Since the filter is DNS-based, clean, filtered internet access is provided with no latency. Controls can easily be applied to restrict access to certain types of websites to prevent cyberslacking and block cybersecurity threats and malware downloads.

Both of these solutions are easy to implement, require no local clients, and can be set up to protect your employees in minutes. They are also available on a free trial if you want to evaluate the solutions before committing to a purchase.

For further information on SpamTitan Cloud Email Security and WebTitan Cloud DNS filtering and to discover how these solutions can help to protect your business and remote workers at this extremely challenging time, give the TitanHQ team a call today.

How is Ransomware Delivered and How Can I Block Ransomware Attacks?

There are many ways that ransomware can be downloaded onto business networks, but most commonly, ransomware attacks occur via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), drive-by downloads, or email.

RDP Attacks

Scans are performed to discover organizations with open RDP ports, which are then attacked using brute force tactics to guess weak passwords. Cybercriminals also add credentials from historic data breaches to their password lists.

The best way to defense against this method of ransomware delivery is to disable RDP entirely; however, RDP is often required for remote management or remote access to virtual desktops, so this may not be an option. If RDP cannot be disabled, there are steps that should be taken to make it as secure as possible.

Use of strong passwords is important to protect against brute force attempts to guess passwords. You should follow NIST advice on creating complex passwords. Passwords must be unique and not used on any other platform. Two-factor authentication should be implemented to prevent stolen credentials from being used.

You must make sure you are running the latest software versions for servers and clients. RDP connections to listening RDP ports should only be permitted through a secure VPN, and ideally, an RDP gateway should be used. You should also restrict who is permitted to login to remote desktop. Finally, you should use rate limiting to lock users out after a set number of failed attempts to enter the correct password.

Drive-By Ransomware Downloads

Drive-by downloads occur on websites controlled by hackers, either their own sites or insecure sites that have been compromised. Malicious scripts are added to the websites that download ransomware and other malware payloads onto a user’s device when they visit the malicious webpage. This method of attack does not require any user interaction, other than visiting the malicious website. That could occur by clicking a malicious link in an email, via a redirect, or even through general web browsing.

A web filter such as WebTitan is one of the best defenses against drive-by ransomware downloads. WebTitan is a DNS filtering solution that prevents end users from visiting websites known to be malicious. Rather than connecting to the website, the user will be directed to a local block page if they attempt to visit a known malicious website. WebTitan can also be configured to block downloads of risky file types such as executable files.

Email-Based Attacks

Ransomware is also commonly delivered via email. This could be via an embedded hyperlink to a website where a drive-by download occurs or via malicious scripts in file attachments. Protecting against email-based attacks requires a defense in depth approach, as no single solution will provide total protection against all email attacks.

An advanced email security solution such as SpamTitan should be implemented. SpamTitan scans all inbound and outbound emails and uses a variety of techniques, including machine learning, to identify and block potentially malicious emails. SpamTitan incorporates two antivirus engines that detect known malware variants and a sandbox to analyze suspicious files for malicious actions. Sandboxing protects against never-before-seen malware and ransomware variants.

End user training is also important to ensure that in the event of a malicious email reaching an end user’s inbox, it can be recognized as such. A web filtering solution will help to ensure that any attempt to visit a malicious website via a hyperlink in an email or email attachment is blocked before ransomware is downloaded.

Ransomware as a Secondary Payload

Several ransomware operators use commodity malware to deliver their ransomware payloads. The threat actors behind DoppelPaymer ransomware have been using the Dridex banking Trojan to deliver their malicious payload, while the Ryuk ransomware gang uses the TrickBot Trojan.

Even if these commodity malware infections are discovered and removed, the ransomware gangs may still have access to systems. These commodity malware infections are often viewed as relatively trivial and when these malware variants are discovered the attacks are not properly investigated. The Trojans are removed, but the ransomware operators continue to spread laterally before deploying their ransomware payloads.

In the case of TrickBot, once it is downloaded it gets to work harvesting data such as passwords files, cookies, and other sensitive information. Once the attackers have harvested all the data they can, a reverse shell is opened to the Ryuk ransomware operators who perform recon of the network and attempt to gain administrator credentials. They then use PSExec and other Windows tools to deploy ransomware on all devices connected to the network.

That is exactly what happened with the attack on the e-discovery firm, Epiq Global. The initial TrickBot infection occurred in December 2019. Access was provided to the Ryuk operators who deployed the ransomware on February 29, 2020. Prior to the deployment of ransomware, the Ryuk operators compromised computers in all 80 of Epiq’s global offices.

TrickBot and other Trojans are primarily delivered via phishing emails. SpamTitan will help to keep you protected against these Trojans and other ransomware downloaders.

TitanHQ and Pax8 Form New Strategic Partnership

TitanHQ and Pax8 have announced a new strategic partnership that will see TitanHQ’s cloud-based email security and DNS filtering solutions incorporated into the Pax8 ecosystem.

Pax8 simplifies the journey into the cloud through billing, provisioning, automation and industry-leading PSA integrations and is proven leader in cloud distribution. Pax8 has achieved position 60 in the 2019 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing companies and has been named CRN’s Coolest Cloud Vendor and Best in Show at the NextGen and Xchange conferences for two years in a row.

In order to have products added to the Pax8 marketplace, vendors must have developed exceptional channel friendly solutions. As the leading provider of cloud-based email and web security solutions for managed service providers (MSPs) serving the SMB marketplace, TitanHQ was an ideal fit.

Under the new partnership, Pax8 partners will have easy access to TitanHQ’s leading email security solution, SpamTitan Cloud, and can protect clients from web-based threats with WebTitan Cloud, TitanHQ’s DNS filtering solution.

These cloud-based AI-driven solutions help MSPs secure their own environments and protect their clients from malware, ransomware, botnets, viruses, and phishing and email impersonation attacks and avoid costly data breaches.

Both solutions have been developed with MSPs firmly in mind. The solutions are easy to integrate into an MSP’s security stack through TitanHQ’s APIs, there are multiple hosting options, the solutions can be supplied in white label form, and there are generous margins. Pax8 partners also benefit from a fully transparent pricing policy and industry leading technical support.

TitanHQ’s solutions have much loved by users and are consistently rated highly on business software review platforms, including G2 Crowd, Gartner Peer Insights, and Capterra.

“Our partners are excited about the addition of TitanHQ and the ability to protect their clients’ businesses by blocking malware, phishing, ransomware, and links to malicious websites from emails.” said Ryan Walsh, chief channel officer at Pax8.

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
  • Competitive pricing with monthly billing
  • Excellent MSP program – TitanShield – with dedicated account managers, assigned sales engineers, scalable pre-sales and technical support, and sales and technical training

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

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

Feedback from TitanShield Program Members

TitanHQ solutions are consistently rated highly by users with the solutions praised for the protection they provide, value for money, and ease of set up and use. The solutions have achieved top marks on independent review sites such as G2 Crowd, Expert Insights, with overwhelmingly positive reviews on Capterra, Spiceworks, Gartner Peer Insights, Software Advice, and Google Reviews.

Here’s what some of our MSP customers are saying about TitanHQ solutions they have implemented to protect their clients and increase their bottom lines.

“By reducing malware-related security incidents, you’re reducing your number one uncontrollable expense: the people on your IT operations team, like your help desk techs.” – MSP, Washington, US

“It’s baked into our fees as well, and our Crypto calls dropped to 0” – MSP, London, UK

 “Web filtering is one of the, if not the greatest bang for your buck services. It’s built in anti malware has protected our clients, saving us thousands of hours of repair time I am absolutely certain.” – MSP, New York, US

 “I don’t remember the last time one of our customers got Cryptolocker. I bundle it with our offering so that they get it no matter what just to make my life easier on virus removal or data problems.” – MSP, Seattle, US

“a key part of our security stack as we’ve scaled to over 6,000 managed endpoints, while decreasing virus and malware related tickets by 70%.” – MSP, Boston, US

 “It has paid for itself many times over by reducing malware calls.” – MSP, Toronto, Canada

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.