This is the eighth in a series about the concept of Zero Trust, which means in the IT sense that you trust nothing and always verify everything surrounding and connected to your network. Today’s discussion will be on Application Whitelisting.
Application Whitelisting is a process of determining which software programs the company absolutely needs to do business, marking them as safe, and blocking any other program that tries to run on company computers. This methodology has the distinct advantage of blocking almost all forms of malware on computers. Pairing this with a good next-gen antivirus creates an impenetrable wall against malware threats. It also prevents users from accidentally or intentionally running something that should not be on company computers. Here are some questions to ask:
Do you know all software on your computers?
Do your users spend time on company computers listening to music?
Have any of your users ever downloaded software without asking?
Do you have a computer use policy? How is that enforced?
If your company is wanting to lock down what is running on company computers, then contact us for assistance.
Security researchers performed penetration testing on the networks of 45 various mid-sized companies and found that in real life scenarios 93% of those networks were able to be compromised to the point of business disruption. Here are the details:
The 45 companies were polled to determine what would be an unacceptable business interruption. They decided that the following met that criteria:
Disruption of production processes
Disruption of service delivery processes
Compromise of the digital identity of top management
Theft of funds
Theft of sensitive information
Fraud against users
These became the target for the penetration testers.
In order for the penetration tester to achieve their target, they followed the following process:
Breach the network perimeter – This was done by the use of compromised passwords found on the Dark Web and know vulnerabilities on devices that were directly connected to the internet
Obtain maximum privileges – In 100% of the networks, once an attacker was inside the network
Gaining access to key systems – With maximum privileges, the testers are able to gain access to other areas of the network including databases, executives computers, and production servers
Develop attacks on target systems – Once key systems are compromised the testers then figured out how to create the unacceptable business interruption. Although they could have created these interruptions, they only gathered proof that they could to present the data to the companies.
How to Defend
There are a couple main ways to defend against these kinds of attacks:
Security Controls / Segmentation – Creating least privileged access to key systems and segmenting the network will keep hackers from traversing the network once inside
Enhanced Network Monitoring – Modern cyber security tools watch activity and traffic on the network to find indicators of compromise. They pool this information into an attack history that can be used to remediate and further protect.
Your company is not as safe as you think, so contact us for free initial cybersecurity evaluation and risk report. .
There has been a recent trend for companies to “negotiate” with the criminal terrorists behind wave of ransomware attacks across the world by paying the ransom. In a recent study some alarming statistics have been released:
Current Ransomware Stats
If Ransom is Paid: The global findings also show that only 8% of organizations manage to get back all of their data after paying a ransom, with 29% getting back no more than half of their data.
Cost of Ransom: The average ransom paid was $170,404. While $3.2 million was the highest payment out of those surveyed, the most common payment was $10,000. Ten organizations paid ransoms of $1 million or more.
Who is Paying the Ransom: The number of organizations that paid the ransom increased from 26% in 2020 to 32% in 2021.
The Brighter Side: While the number of organizations that experienced a ransomware attack fell from 51% of respondents surveyed in 2020 to 37% in 2021, and fewer organizations suffered data encryption as the result of a significant attack (54% in 2021 compared to 73% in 2020).
What is Being Done
There are now organizations trying to create a common framework to address this threat. The Institute for Security and Technology has created a Ransomware Task Force. This task force has been working to develop this framework and has published some guidance. Even though this is just the foundation work, it is good to see that efforts are being made.
If your company is worried about the threat of ransomware, then contact us for assistance setting up a multiple layer approach to security.
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.
There has been information released by a security research firm called Eclypsium that there is a vulnerability dubbed Boothole in Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Secure Boot that would allow an attacker to completely take over a workstation, laptop, or server and be nearly undetectable. All hardware vendors will have to send out updates in the near future to patch the UEFI code to secure it against this “BootHole” vulnerability. Due to the difficulty in designing and testing these types of updates it will be some time before they are released. We will keep you posted as to the release of these updates as they become available.
If your company is concerned about security, 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.
“Office workers across the UK are wasting 14 days per person each year — or 1.8 billion hours a year in total — because the technology they’re given isn’t good enough.” – BetaNews
Outdated Tech = Wasted Time
Slowness: When a computer is slow, so is the worker operating it. As a computer ages, like anything else, the parts inside wear down. Regular maintenance and replacement are the solution to increasing employee productivity.
Crashing: As computer crashes happen data is damaged or lost. This means work has to be re-done. Crashing can be a sign of software issues or hardware issues that require proper diagnosis. Once fixed employees can get back to business without interruptions.
Incompatibility: Out-dated software or hardware can cause what used to work perfectly to stop all together. Regular updates of all software and replacement of aging hardware is always the best policy. Helping employees stay on track with standard operating procedures makes work flow possible.
Security: Hackers are constantly working to find new ways of breaching security measures. Without current security solutions (firewall / DNS filtering / antivirus / SPAM filtering / password management ) and up-to-date systems, your network is a sitting duck. Network downtime due to a breach can be a business killer.
If your company is using out-of-date technology, then contact us for assistance.
“In a new stunning example of the scale and sophistication of online cybercrime, just before the holidays, DOJ charged two hackers with stealing hundreds of gigabytes of data—including sensitive intellectual property, confidential business data, and personal information from companies and government agencies around the world—as part of a multi-year cyber-espionage campaign that targeted managed service providers (MSPs) directly, bypassing the protections of client systems. This indictment is the latest example of the U.S. government’s use of the criminal justice system to crack down on state-sponsored economic espionage.
As alleged in the indictment, the hackers belong to what is believed to be an elite, Chinese government-sponsored group known within the cyber-security community as Advanced Persistent Threat 10 (APT10). The targets of the hacking campaign included companies in the aerospace, health care, biotechnology, finance, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries, as well as U.S. government agencies, such as NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy.”
The indictment alleges that APT10’s MSP Theft Campaign began in 2014 and involved three stages.
The hackers gained unauthorized access into the MSPs’ computers and installed malware allowing APT10 to remotely monitor the computers and steal login credentials.
The group then used these stolen credentials to move laterally into each MSP’s network and the networks of their clients, further spreading the malware infection.
APT10 identified data of interest on these compromised computers and created packages for exfiltration using encrypted archives, allowing the hackers to move the data from one system to another before ultimately transferring it to APT10’s computers.
This sort of breach calls into question the operating procedures of MSPs everywhere, their security practices, and moral compass. If IT support staff are not trained in best practice and cannot keep from being infected via websites or emails, then what business do they have managing larger network systems with sensitive data.
If you are unsure of your MSPs practices and would prefer a company with transparency, then contact us for assistance.
According to the following Microsoft Support Post published in October 2018, the HomeGroup feature has now been removed from Windows 10. Most people won’t need to worry about this, but recently ran across a business that had relied on this feature to run their network. With HomeGroup removed from Windows 10 they were left without the ability to share properly with a new computer on the network. So here is how to fix the issue:
How to fix Windows Networking after HomeGroup Removal
Turn off all sharing:
Open Network & Sharing Center
Click on Advanced Sharing Settings
Turn off network discovery (Private & Public)
Turn off file and print sharing (Private & Public)
Turn off Public folder sharing (All Networks)
Turn off Password Protected Sharing (All Networks)
Remove old password:
Open Credentials Manager
Change to Windows Credentials
Remove all $HomeGroup users credentials from networked computers on all computers formerly in HomeGroup
Find Function Discovery Provider Host and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find Function Discovery Resource Publication and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find SSDP Discovery and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Find UPnP Device Host and set to Automatic Startup then Start service
Get username and password for all computers on network
On each computer on the network, open command prompt
For each username, use the command – net user [username] [password] /add
Turn on all sharing:
Open Network & Sharing Center
Click on Advanced Sharing Settings
Turn on network discovery (Private)
Turn on file and print sharing (Private)
Turn on Public folder sharing (All Networks)
Use 128-bit encryption (All Networks)
Turn on Password Protected Sharing (All Networks)
Recreate Shares (if needed)
Right-click on folder and choose Properties
Click on Sharing tab
Click on Advanced Sharing
Check Share This Folder
Name the share
Click on Add
Select username and add Full Control then click OK
Repeat for each username
Click OK to return to Properties window
Click on Security Tab
Click on Advanced
Click on Add
Select username and add Full Permissions (or appropriate level) then click OK
Repeat for each username
Check Replace Child Permisssions and click OK
Click OK on all previous windows
Hope this post helps some other techs save the time in fixing Windows 10 networking when HomeGroup is removed.
If your company is still using HomeGroup or needs any help with advanced networking, then contact us for assistance.
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. - 2 Corinthians 9:8-10