TitanHQ Wins Expert Insights’ Awards for Email Security, Web Security and Email Archiving

TitanHQ’s powerful, yet easy to use cybersecurity solutions have been recognized at this year’s Expert Insights’ Best-Of” Awards and have been named winners in their respective categories.

Expert Insights helps organizations make the right cybersecurity decisions with confidence by providing helpful guides, expert advice, and tailored solutions. The Expert Insights’ website receives more than 40,0000 business visitors a month looking for insights into cybersecurity solutions when researching the best products to buy.

Each year, the editorial team at Expert Insights evaluates the leading cybersecurity solutions on the market based on market position, product features, the protection provided, ease of use, and how they are rated by verified users of the products. The team includes technology experts with decades of experience in the cybersecurity industry who select the top product across a wide range of categories.

TitanHQ is thrilled to announce that the ArcTitan email archiving solution, the SpamTitan email security solution, and the WebTitan web filtering solution have all been named winners of Experts Insights’ 2021 Best-Of Awards in the Email Archiving, Email Security Gateway, and Web Security categories.

“2020 was an unprecedented year of cybersecurity challenges, with a rapid rise in remote working causing a massive acceleration in cybercrime,” said Expert Insights CEO and Founder Craig MacAlpine. “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.”

All three solutions are consistently rated highly by Managed Service Providers, enterprise users, and SMB users, and are praised for their ease of implementation, ease of use, effectiveness, and price. The products often attract 5-star reviews from verified users of the Expert Insights’ website, as well as on G2 Crowd, Capterra, Google Reviews, and GetApp.

The products are offered to customers by more than 2,500 MSPs and over 8,500 businesses in 150 countries have adopted the award-winning solutions.

“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.”


How to Prevent CLOP Ransomware Attacks

Since it first emerged on the scene, CLOP Ransomware the number of attacks it has been deployed in have been constantly increasing, with a major increase being experienced during October 2020.

Since that spike in the deployment of CLOP ransomware there have been many different incidents witnessed on large organizations that have been accompanied with huge ransom demands – in one particular incident a attack on Software AG came with a ransom demand issued for $20m.

Similar to many other attacks conducted by ransomware groups , the CLOP ransomware gang steals data before encrypting files. If victims have an authentic backup and try to retrieve their encrypted files without handing over the ransom requested, the group will release stolen data on the darkweb making it available to other hacking operations. The media are made aware of the data dumps, and the following coverage can lead to businesses suffering serious reputational harm. In recent months there have been many class action lawsuits reported after ransomware attacks where stolen data has been leaked over the Internet.

CLOP ransomware is thought to have been conducted by a ransomware group called FIN11, which is an off shoot of a prolific Russian cybercriminal called TA505. FIN11 has focused on many different sectors, although recently production, health and retail have been concentrated on. When attacks are launched on groups and businesses in these sectors, the losses from downtime can be significant, which increases the chances of victims handing over the ransom.

Many ransomware groups have focused on flaws in Remote Desktop Protocol, VPN solutions, and weaknesses in software and operating systems to obtain they access they need to internal networks to place ransomware. However, the first attack vector in CLOP ransomware attacks (and also many other ransomware strains) is spam email. Large scale spam campaigns are carried out, often focusing on certain industry sectors or geographical locations. These are called “spray and pray” campaigns. The hope is to obtain access to as many networks as possible. The ransomware gang can then select which businesses are worthwhile attacking with ransomware.

Once CLOP ransomware is downloaded, detection can be tricky as the threat group has programmed the ransomware to turn off antivirus software such as Microsoft Security Essentials and Windows Defender. The trick to preventing attacks is to stop the first infection, which means stopping the spam emails from reaching inboxes where they can be opened by staff.

Preventing the attacks can be done by using advanced spam filtering solution with robust antivirus protections. SpamTitan, for example, uses dual antivirus engines to catch known malware strains and sandboxing to spot dangerous files including previously unknown malware, ransomware, or malicious scripts. Machine learning processes are also used to spot new threats in real time.

The spam emails used in these campaigns try to steal details such Office 365 logins and passwords or get users to install malware downloaders. Extra protection against this phase of the attack can be supplied by a web filter such as WebTitan. WebTitan prevents the phishing component of these attacks by stopping these malicious URLs from being accessed by employees, as well as preventing downloads of malware from the Internet.

Employee training is also crucial for helping employees spot phishing emails and multi-factor authentication should be turned on to spot stolen details from being used to access email accounts and cloud apps.

If you want to enhance your security measure in the face of ransomware, malware and phishing campaigns, call the TitanHQ team now for a SpamTitan and WebTitan free trial.

Phishing Emails Most Common Beginning of Ransomware Attack

Last year saw double the amount of phishing attacks as 2019, with the majority of organizations bing tricked and transferring large ransoms in order to retrieve their data to prevent private information from being shared publicly or sold to other hacking groups.

At the beginning of 2020, downloading data before the deployment of ransomware was still only being complete by a minority of ransomware gangs, but that trend altered as the year progressed. By December around 17 hacking groups were implementing this double extortion process and were stealing sensitive data before encrypting files. A lot of attacked groups had no option other than to pay the ransom requested in order to deal with the threat of publication of sensitive data.

The range of ransomware attacks in 2020 has been emphasised by various studies by cybersecurity experts over the past few weeks. Chainalysis recently released a report that suggests more than $350 million has been transferred to cybercriminals in 2020 alone, based on a review of the transactions to blockchain addresses known to be deployed by ransomware threat groups. Obviously that figure is likely to be much lower than the true total, as many businesses do not share that they have suffered ransomware attacks. To give that figure proper meaning, a similar review in 2019 estimated the losses to be around $90 million. Those figures are for ransom payments alone, not the cost of addressing attacks, which would be many orders of magnitude higher.

The rise in attacks can be partly put down to the change in working practices due to the pandemic. Many businesses changed from office-based working to a distributed remote workforce to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep their employees secured. The swift change involved hastily implementing remote access solutions to support those workers which introduced flaws that were readily exploited by ransomware group.

Measures to Take to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

What all companies and groups need to do is to make it as difficult as possible for the attacks to hit their targets. While there is no one solution for preventing ransomware attacks, there are measures that can be taken that make it much harder for the attacks to bear fruit.

With the majority of ransomware attacks now beginning with a phishing email, an advanced email security solution is a crucial. By using best-in-market solutions like SpamTitan to proactively secure the Office365 environment it will be much easier to prevent threats than simply depending on Office 365 anti-spam protections, which are commonly bypassed to transmit Trojans and ransomware.

A web filtering solution can prevent ransomware from being delivered to your systems. Multi-factor authentication must be put in place for email accounts and cloud apps, workers should be educated in how to spot threats, and monitoring systems should be enable to permit active attacks to be discovered and addressed before ransomware is launched.

Emotet Botnet Taken Down by Coordinated Law Enforcement Campaign

Used in extensive attacks on companies globally for some time, the Emotet botnet has finally been taken down as part of a coordinated effort involving Europol, the FBI, the UK National Crime Agency, and other law enforcement bodies.

The cybercriminals managing Emotet used their malware to set up a backdoor to many different company databases and then sold access to other hacking groups that aimed to carry out additional malicious attacks that involved stealing sensitive data and extortion through the deployment of ransomware.

The operation has been in development for around two years and was set up to allow the multi-country infrastructure to simultaneously disrupt any attempts by the threat group to set up the network in future. Law enforcement bodies have taken management of of hundreds of servers and have taken control of the complete Emotet infrastructure, in what will be viewed by many to be the most important malware takedowns to date. The takedown has stopped the Emotet gang from using the malware and has lead to the loss of control of the army of compromised devices that comprise the botnet.

Europol and its partners were able to map the entire infrastructure, took management of the network, and shut down the Emotet Trojan. A software update was installed on the main servers used to manage the malware, two of which were located in the Netherlands. Infected computer systems will download the update, which result in the Emotet Trojan being quarantined.

Emotet is possibly the most dangerous malware of recent years and the botnet used to share it is one of the best available. Approximately 30% of all malware attacks in 2020 involved the Emotet Trojan.

Phishing emails were used to share the Emotet Trojan. Large phishing campaigns were shared using a wide variety of lures to trick recipients into opening malicious attachments or visiting websites that installed the Emotet Trojan. The lures deployed in the campaigns frequently changed, taking advantage of world events to enhance the probability of the attachments being clicked on.

Emotet began life as a banking Trojan but later evolved into a malware dropper. Emotet shared other banking Trojans such as TrickBot as the secondary malware payload, and ransomware strains such as Ryuk – each of which were also malicious.

Devices infected with Emotet are included in the botnet and used to share copies of the Emotet Trojan to other devices on the network and the user’s contacts by taking over the user’s email account. Infecting just one device on a company network that was infected with Emotet could quickly lead to more infections. The Trojan was also very complicated to remove, as removal of the infection would only be temporary, with other devices on the network simply re-infecting the cleaned device once it was removed.

Prior to the 2020 Presidential election in the United States, Microsoft and its partners were able to take over management of some of the infrastructure used to control and share the TrickBot Trojan. In that instance the operation was only temporarily successful, as the TrickBot gang was able to rapidly recover and bring its infrastructure back online.


Hackers Focused on Healthcare & Retail Sectors During 2020

During 2020, the healthcare sector was strongly concentrated on by groups of hackers who gained a benefit due to the pandemic as they attacked those dealing with hospitals administering care to those suffering from the disease.

A massive ransomware campaign targeted one of the biggest healthcare suppliers in the United States. Universal Health Services, an American Fortune 500 company which has a staff of 90,000 people and runs 400 acute care hospitals, was impacted by a huge ransomware attack in September which damaged all of its hospitals. Staff were forced to work using pen and paper for three weeks while it repaired the damage by the attack.

Another illegal infiltration of the University of Vermont Medical Center databases during October impacted over 5,000 hospital computers and laptops and 1,300 servers. All devices had to be have their data removed and have software and data installed again, with the healthcare provider suffering downtime for longer than two months. During the retrieval process around $1.5 million was being lost per day to attack-linked expenses and lost business, with the total costs thought to be more than $64 million.

Ransomware attacks on the healthcare sector increased during September and October and continued to be an issue for the sector for the rest of the year. A research study by Tenable found that ransomware attacks accounted for 46% of all healthcare data breaches in 2020, displaying the extent to which the industry was focused on.

Most of these attacks included the exploitation of unpatched flaws, most commonly flaws in the Citrix ADC controller and Pulse Connect Secure VPN. Patches had been made available the beginning of the year to fix the vulnerabilities, but the patches had not been applied swiftly. Phishing emails also gave ransomware groups the access to healthcare networks they needed to carry out ransomware attacks. Check Point’s research shows there was a 45% increase in cyberattacks on the industry from the start of November to the conclusion of the year.

Another industry heavily targeted by hackers in 2020 was retail. As many different governments issued directives for citizens to remain home to curb the spread of the virus, online retailers saw a sales surge as shoppers made their purchases online rather than in physical stores. Experts at Salesforce saw that digital sales grew by 36% in 2020 compared to the previous year, and cybercriminals took advantage of the increase in digital sales.

Many methods were used to obtain access to retailers’ systems and websites, with the most witnessed tactic being web application attacks, which increased by 800% in 2020 according to the CDNetworks State of Web Security H1 2020 Report. Hackers also used details illegally taken in previous data breaches to attack online retail outlets in credential stuffing attacks, which Akamai’s tracking revealing the retail sector was the most focused on sector industry using this attack technique, account for around 90% of attacks.

As is typical every year, the large amounts of shoppers that head online to complete purchases in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday were exploited, with phishing attacks linked to these shopping events increasing thirteenfold in the six-week time period before Black Friday. In November, 1 in every 826 emails was an online shopping related phishing campaign, as opposed to 1 in 11,000 in October, according to Check Point. Content management systems used by retailers were also targeted, and attacks on retail APIs also grew during 2020.

As 2021 begins, both sectors are likely to go on being heavily focused on. Ransomware and phishing attacks on healthcare suppliers could well grow now that vaccines are being rolled out, and with many consumers still choosing to buy online rather than in person, the retail sector looks set to have another bad 12-month period.

Luckily, by using cybersecurity best practices it is possible to obstruct most of these attacks. Patches need to be applied quickly, especially any flaws in remote access software, VPNs, or popular networking equipment, as those vulnerabilities are rapidly targeted.

An advanced anti-phishing solution needs to be configured to prevent phishing attacks at source and ensure that malicious messages do not land in inboxes. Multi-factor authentication should also be put in place on email accounts and remote access solutions to obstruct credential stuffing attacks.

A web filter is vital for preventing the web-based component of phishing and cyberattacks. Web filters stop staff members from accessing malicious websites and block malware/ ransomware installations and C2 callbacks. And for retail in particular, the use of web application firewalls, safeguard transaction processing, and the proper use of Transport Layer Security across a website (HTTPS) are crucial.

By adhering to cybersecurity best practices, healthcare suppliers, retailers, and other targeted sectors will make it much harder for hackers to gain a profit. TitanHQ can help with SpamTitan Email Security and WebTitan Web Security to safeguard against email and web-based attacks in 2021. To find out more on these two products and how you can use them to safeguard your databases, call TitanHQ now.

MineBridge Backdoor Being Installed in Phishing Campaign Targeting Windows Finger Utility

A phishing campaign has been discovered that targets the Windows Finger command to install a malware strain titled called MineBridge.

The Finger command in Windows can be launched by a local user to gather a list of users on a remote machine or, alternatively, to collect data in relation to a specific remote user. The Finger utility began in Linux and Unix operating systems but is also incorporated in Windows. The utility permits allows commands to be completed to see if a particular user is logged on, although this is now rarely employed.

There are also security issues with the finger utility, and it has been taken advantage of previously to ascertain basic information about users that can be targeted in social engineering attacks. Weaknesses in the finger protocol have also been exploited in the past by some malware strains.

Recently, security experts discovered Finger can be deployed as a LOLBin to install malware from a remote server or to remove data without resulting in security alerts being generated. Finger is now being used in at least one phishing campaign to install malware.

MineBridge malware is a Windows backdoor composed in C++ that has previously been deployed in attacks on South Korean businesses. The malware was initially discovered in December 2020 by experts at FireEye and in January 2020 many different campaigns were identified spreading the malware via phishing emails with malicious Word files.

The most recent campaign sees the hackers pretend to be a recruitment business. The email is a recommendation of an individual for consideration for a position at the targeted company. The sender recommends even if there are no current vacancies, the CV should be reviewed, and the individual considered. The email is well written and seems genuine.

As is typical in phishing attacks, if the document is clicked on a message will be shown that tells the user the document has been set up in an older version of Windows and to review the content the user must ‘enable editing’ and then ‘enable content’. Doing so will run the macro, which will gather and install a Base64 encoded certificate using the Finger command. The certificate is a malware installer that leverages DLL hijacking to sideload the MineBridge backdoor. Once in place, MineBridge will give the hacker control over an infected device and allow a range of malicious actions to be carried out.

It is simplest to prevent attacks like this by configuring an advanced spam filtering solution to block the dangerous emails and stop them from reaching inboxes. As an extra security measure against this and other campaigns that target the Finger.exe utility in Windows, admins should thin about turning off disabling finger.exe if it is never employed.