A company named Arctic Wolf, a leader in enterprise security operation centers, published a report that states that the number of corporate credentials with plaintext passwords on the dark web has increased by 429% since March.
There are also startling statistics on the increase in email phishing attempts and the use of unsecure public wireless connections. These numbers are like due to the Work From Home employees using their own insecure computers and cyber criminals trying to take advantage of the trend. It appears that security measures that are used in the office need to be extended to the Work From Home network as well.
If your company is currently or is going to have Work From Home users, then contact us for assistance.
Many of our customers have been experiencing some of their users having Outlook crashing immediately after opening. We even had other tech companies call to find out how we were fixing it, so we investigated and found the following known issue from Microsoft:
Users experiencing Outlook connection issues and crashes EX218604, Exchange Online, Last updated: July 15, 2020 10:12 AM Start time: July 15, 2020 9:18 AM User impact: Users may experience crashes or may be unable to access Exchange Online via Outlook. Current status: Our initial review of the available data indicates that recently deployed updates are the likely source of the problem. We’re performing an analysis of all recent service updates to isolate the underlying cause of the problem and to determine the most expedient means to restore service.
We will be keeping our monthly clients up to date on this issue.
Have to admit that I get a ton of email. In fact I have received 30+GB over the almost five years Farmhouse Networking has been in business. I decided that it was time to archive some of the older messages and checked into what Office 365 has for options. Here is what I found:
“Unlimited” Archiving Office 365 now has what is called “auto-expanding archiving” that is now available for all users. The old archive feature only allowed 100GB of additional space for free, but the new system is different. Users who get close to the old limit then their account changes to the auto-expanding type and additional storage is added as needed. The new maximum is at 1TB of storage, which even at average maximum size per email (10MB) that is 100,000 emails. To put that in perspective that is one maximum size email per hour, eight hours per day, five days per week, for almost 42 years before email archives would be full.
If your company is gets a bunch of email and likes to save it all, then contact us for assistance.
A recent briefing from the FBI’s Internet Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) detailed current best practices and industry standards for cyber defense. Here is a summation:
Cyber Defense Best Practices
Backups – Regularly back up data and verify its integrity. Backups are critical in ransomware; if you are infected, backups may be the only way to recover your critical data.
Training – Employees should be made aware of the threat of ransomware, how it is delivered, and trained on information security principles and techniques.
Patching – All endpoints should be patched as vulnerabilities are discovered. This can be made easier through a centralized patch management system.
Antivirus – Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware solutions are set to automatically update and that regular scans are conducted. Centrally managed is even better.
File Permissions – If a user only needs to read specific files, they should not have write-access to those files, directories, or shares. Configure access controls with least privilege in mind.
Macros – Disable macro scripts from Office files transmitted via email.
Program Execution Restrictions – Implement software restriction policies or other controls to prevent the execution of programs in common ransomware locations, such as temporary folders supporting popular internet browsers, and compression/decompression programs.
Remote Desktop Protocol – Employ best practices for use of RDP, including use of VPN, auditing your network for systems using RDP, closing unused RDP ports, applying two-factor authentication wherever possible, and logging RDP login attempts.
Software Whitelisting – Implement application whitelisting. Only allow systems to execute programs known and permitted by security policy. This one takes careful planning.
Virtualization – Use virtualized environments to execute operating system environments or specific programs. No physical access to servers makes hacking harder.
Network Segmentation – Implement physical and logical separation of networks and data for different organizational units. Keep guest traffic out of your business network.
No Saved Passwords – Require users to type information or enter a password when their system communicates with a website. Better yet use a password management tool.
If your company is going to use full disk encryption or has compliance requirements that you need consulting for, then contact us for assistance.
Got a call a couple weeks ago from a local church:
“we came in and open the computer and we have ransomware on there. We can’t even get to any of our stuff. It’s telling us to email somebody and so that they can free up the computer.”
How does this happen?
Generally these things happen because people click on things they shouldn’t. Whether in an attachment in email from someone they don’t recognize, a link in social media that sounds too good to pass up, or an advertisement for something they can’t live without. Once the user gives permission for something to open or run on their computer the game is over and the hacker wins.
What to do when it happen?
Stop using the computer.
Leave the computer alone! Do not carry out any further commands, including commands to Save data.
Do not close any of the computer’s windows or programs. Leave the computer alone.
Leave everything plugged in and do not turn off the computer or peripheral devices.
If possible, physically disconnect the computer from networks to which it is attached.
Call us immediately. Write down any unusual behavior of the computer (screen messages, unexpected disk access, unusual responses to commands) and the time when they were first noticed.
Write down any changes in hardware, software, or usage that preceded the malfunction.
Do not attempt to remove a suspected virus! Let the professionals do the dirty work.
How to prevent this from happening?
Layers of protection is the simple answer. A good antivirus installed to stop the bad programs from running, DNS filtering to keep users off of bad sites / advertisements, a good backup of all data to recover when this does happen, and most important of all EDUCATION – teaching users what safe internet usage looks like and having policies in effect to train them can mitigate 60-70% of infections.
If your company is would like to discuss the layers of security you have in place, then contact us for assistance.
These days, you only need to step away from your desk for a few minutes to have a heap of missed calls and new emails awaiting your return:
What Voicemail to Email Does:
As the name suggests, a Voicemail to Email solution uses artificial intelligence (AI) technology to automatically transcribe voicemails received by a user’s voice mailbox. Voicemail to Email is ideal for busy professionals who can’t be accessible at a moment’s notice, are often in meetings, or in an environment where it’s not feasible to listen to messages in sequential order. Voicemail to Email offers a practical, at-a-glance way to keep up with the messages that need your attention and prioritization. With Voicemail to Email transcription, you can consult your voice messages at a time and place that’s most convenient for you. Users can efficiently hone in on specific transcribed messages to find exactly the information they need – from contact information to payment details to an address for their next meeting.
What are the Benefits of Voicemail to Email?
Maximum Accuracy: Voicemail to Email solution uses Google’s Cloud Speech API for Speech to Text transcription which has better accuracy than many voice transcription solutions. The transcriptions made over our platform represent the truest content of your customers’ voicemails.
Efficiency and Flexibility: Users can read their Voicemail to Email transcriptions at their own convenience – via email, SMS, or a mobile app.
Flexible Billing: Users can choose between a flat rate per line ($4.95 per month) or choose to be billed per transcription ($0.14 per voicemail).
Future Features: We are looking to add Spanish Voicemail to Email transcription to our services in the future. We are also looking to add live call transcription, so that a user can have a complete text transcript of their phone calls in writing emailed to them.
If your company is looking to expand what their phone system can do for them, then contact us for assistance.
Here are a couple recent SPAM emails that were received by clients and myself. They are explicit in nature but they a good lesson about the scare tactics of SPAMMERS. The first message seems to be the better SPAM message as it has better English and is even tries to be humorous, while the second is more direct and extortionary. Time to dissect these messages.
SPAM Message #1
Password – This message starts by stating that it knows your password. How can this be? There have been several information breaches from the government, retailers, healthcare, etc over the past couple of years. The majority of these breaches are eventually posted online with emails and passwords – hence the reason Farmhouse Networking has started offering Dark Web scanning and advises passwords be changed often.
Remote Access – The SPAMMER then goes on to provide a detailed explanation of how they got into the computer. It sounds convincing but deeper analysis by someone who is in the IT Security industry would reveal that their explanation is flawed. To do what they proposed would take several different exploits of various portions of the computer and would likely take longer than video would be playing.
Contacts – For their “computer software” to get contacts from all these various sources would require that the password mentioned earlier in the email be the same for all these services. It is recommended by Farmhouse Networking that different passwords be used for each service so that if one is compromised then the rest are not in jeopardy. It might be asked how to keep track and the answer is a password keeping software like LastPass.
SPAM Message #2
Threats – The message starts immediately with the intimidating remarks and threats. It may be true that alerting the authorities will not bring any immediate assistance, but if we are all upstanding citizens then there is nothing to worry about their threats. It is always good to submit these messages to the authorities (FBI) for analysis so they can take these guys down over time. I do find it sad that this SPAMMER did not take the time to explain how they gained access to my computer.
Webcam – It is very possible that if your computer is infected properly that the hacker could gain access to your webcam, but again if we are upstanding citizens and don’t do anything inappropriate in front of our computers then there is nothing to worry about here.
Bitcoin – The demands continue with a sense of expediency in the matter giving only 28 hours before the big reveal. This particular SPAMMER either knows the value of the first SPAMMERS creativity in producing a video or are selling themselves short at the $400 ransom in Bitcoin. Finally, they even try to give a bit of legitimacy to their claim by stating that they can send the video to a partial list of contacts.
If your company is interested in Dark Web Scanning for on-going breach protection or worried about SPAM, then contact us for assistance.
Thought that I would share a recently received new SPAM email variant that could easily be overlooked and possibly be a scammer looking to take your money. This one is strange to me and I wanted to share my insites.
Starting from the Top
Look closely at the From portion of the email:
This email is from a legitimate email marketing firm called AWeber. The SPAMMER is actually using a website designed to help bypass SPAM filtering to deliver mail. There is also the fact that the email is form someone that I don’t do business with. Always fight the urge to look at things that are not yours.
Stick to the Subject
Now to take a look at the Subject line of the email:
The email marketing firm this SPAM is sent from is required that you confirm someone who is joining your email campaign. Guess I would have to agree to be scammed by this person.
And now the rest…
The final thing that caught my eye was the title of the email campaign in the email:
The enticing title “Clickbank – 30k project” sounded interesting. By clicking on the button I would confirm my existence as a real person and would likely kick off a communication from someone who is likely an “African Prince” with a money making opportunity. Hope this little tutorial helps you detect other phishing attempts in the future.
If your company is having trouble with SPAM or phishing, then contact us for assistance.
Working with a webhost to tighten their security settings to get PCI compliant. In doing so we ended up breaking many of their clients email access by turning off SSLv3 and TLSv1.0. I was given the task of helping all the clients fix this issue (see seperate blog post for the fix). One in particular ended up not having issues beyond the normal problems with TLS and it turned out being ESET Antivirus. Here is the story:
Unable to Access Website:
The client first mentioned that they could not access a particular website that they needed to submit government paperwork. The error was related to the certificate being out of date. I checked the site on my own computer and it came up just fine, so looked at their certificate and it was current with plenty of time left before expiring. Cleared the cache and all the normal troubleshooting steps to no avail, so had to dig deeper. Remembered that some antivirus programs scan HTTPS traffic by putting their own certificate in place of the actual certificate from the site. Looked inside ESET Antivirus and found the culprit. Under Internet Protection > Web Access Protection I turned off the HTTPS Scanner. Restarted the browser and was able to surf to the site without issues.
Hidden Messages Stuck in Outlook Outbox:
The client then mentioned that some messages weren’t sending, so looked into it and found a couple messages that were 2MB+ which I told them were too large to send. We got rid of those but then messages were still stuck but were now hidden from view. I used the typical fix for read receipts that are hidden using the MFCMAPI tool but found nothing there. Tried removing the account and re-adding it to Outlook. After the clients 8,000+ emails downloaded via IMAP the same problem began occurring again. Remembering the issues with ESET Antivirus web filtering, I decided to take a look at that again. Under Internet Protection > Email client protection I turned off all the Email Clients, Email Protocols, and Antispam Protection. Restarted Outlook and the problem persisted. Had to remove the account and re-add it to Outlook. After the clients 8,000+ emails downloaded via IMAP the problem was fixed.
All that being said, these kinds of problems are another reason that I recommend Webroot to my clients for their antivirus protection. I prefer to have the Website filtering happen at the DNS level via a company like DNSFilter.com and the SPAM / Email filtering to happen via the email provider or an email protection service like Mailprotector.com.
If your company is interested in using a real layered approach to security not just putting a software band-aid on it, then contact us for assistance.