Industry Latest News

Our industry news section includes a wide range of news items of particular relevance to the cybersecurity sector and managed service providers (MSPs).

This section also sources details of the most recent white papers and research studies relating to malware, ransomware, phishing and data breaches. These articles allow some insight into the general state of cybersecurity, the industries currently most heavily aimed for by cybercriminals, and figures and statistics for your own reports.

Cybercriminals use massive spam campaigns designed to infect as many computers as they can. These attacks are random, using email addresses stolen in large data breaches such as the cyberattacks on LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter and Yahoo. However, highly targeted attacks are on the up, with campaigns geared to specific sectors. These industry-specific cyberattacks and spam and malware campaigns are covered in this section, along with possible mitigations for reducing the danger of a successful attack.

This category is therefore important for organizations in the education, healthcare, and financial services sectors – the most common attacked industries according to the latest security reports.

The articles cover current campaigns, spam email identifiers and details of the social engineering tactics used to trick end users and gain access to corporate networks. By using the advice in these articles, it may be possible to stop similar attacks.

Network Security

This network security news section contains a variety of articles about safeguarding networks and blocking cyberattacks, ransomware and malware installations. This section also includes articles on recent network security breaches, alerting outfits to the latest attack trends being used by hackers.

Layered cybersecurity defenses are vital due to the increase in hacking incidents and the explosion in ransomware and malware variants over the past 24 months. Outfits can address the threat by investing in new security defenses such as next generation firewalls, end point defense systems, web filtering solutions and advanced anti-malware and antivirus defenses.

While much investment goes on proven solutions that have been highly resilient in the past, many cybersecurity solutions – antivirus software – are not as effective as they were previously. In order to keep pace with hackers and cybercriminals and get ahead of the curve, organizations should consider using a wide variety of new cybersecurity solutions to block network intrusions, stop data breaches and improve protection against the most recent malware and ransomware threats.

This category includes information and guidance on different network security solutions that can be adopted to enhance e network security and ensure networks are not focused on by hackers and infected with malicious software.

Dangerous Spora Ransomware Ransomware Threat Discovered

A new and very dangerous ransomware threat to deal called Spore has been discovered.

Locky and Samas ransomware have certainly been major headaches for IT departments. Both forms of ransomware have a host of smart features designed to prevent detection, grow infections, and inflict the most damage possible, leaving companies with little option but pay the ransom demand.

However, there is now a new ransomware threat to address, and it could well be even bigger than Locky and Samas. Luckily, the ransomware authors only seem to be targeting Russian users, but that is likely to change. While a Russian version has been used in hacking attacks so far, an English language version has now been created. Spora ransomware attacks will soon be a global issue.

A massive portion of time and effort has gone into producing this very dangerous new ransomware variant and a decryptor is unlikely to be created due to the way that the ransomware encrypts data.

As opposed to many new ransomware attacks that rely on a Command and Control server to receive instructions, Spora ransomware can encrypt files even if the user is offline. Closing down Internet access will not stop an infection. It is also not possible to restrict access to the C&C server to prevent infection.

Earlier Ransomware variants have been created that can encrypt without C&C communication, although unique decryption keys are not necessary. That means one key will unlock all infections. Spora ransomware on the other hand needs all victims to use a unique key to unlock the encryption.  A hard-coded RSA public key is used to create a unique AES key for every user. That process happens locally. The AES key is then used to encrypt the private key from a public/private RSA key pair set up with each victim, without C&C communications. The RSA key also encrypts the separate AES keys for each user. Without the key supplied by the hackers, you cannot unlock the encryption.

This complex encryption process only represents part of what makes Spora ransomware unique. Different to many other ransomware variants, the hackers have not set the ransom amount. This gives the hackers a degree of flexibility and importantly this process occurs automatically. Security experts believe the degree of automation will see the ransomware provided on an affiliate model.

The flexibility allows companies to be charged a different amount to a person. The ransom set is calculated based on the extent of the infection and types of files that have been encrypted. Since Spora ransomware gathers data on the user, when contact is made to pay the ransom, amounts could easily be changed.

When victims visit the hacker’s payment portal to pay the ransom, they must supply the key file that is set up by the ransomware. The key files contains a range of data on the user, including details of the campaign used. The hackers can therefore carefully monitor infections and campaigns. Those campaigns that are successful and result in more payments can then be repeated. Less effective campaigns can be brought to an end.

At present there are a number of different payment options, including something quite different. Victims can pay to unlock the encryption, or pay extra to avoid future attacks, essentially being given immunity.

Emisoft Internet experts who have analyzed Spora ransomware say it is far from a run of the mill variant that has been quickly thrown together. It is the work of a highly knowledgeable group. The encryption process contains no weaknesses – uncommon for a new ransomware variant – the design of the HTML ransom demand and the payment portal is highly sophisticated, and the payment portal also contains a chat option to allow communication with the hackers. This degree of professionalism only comes from a lot of investment and massive work. This threat is unlikely to disappear soon. In fact, it could prove to be one of the most serious threats in 2017 and into the future.

Infection currently takes place through spam email containing malicious attachments or links. Currently the attachments look like PDF invoices, although they are HTA files including JavaScript code. Preventing emails from being sent is the best form of defense. Since no decryptor is available for Spora, a backup will be necessary to recover for the infection or the ransom will need to be met.

 

DNS Based Web Filtering

DNS based web filtering takes advantage of cloud based technology to provide an Internet content filtering service equally as powerful as hardware or software solutions, but without the capital investment and high maintenance costs of those. As with most cloud-based technologies, DNS based web filtering software is handy and reliable, and extremely scalable.

Any Internet filtering solution has to have SSL inspection so that it can examine the content of encrypted web pages. Whereas SSL inspection can drain CPU resources and memory when included in hardware and software solutions, with DNS based web filtering the inspection process is done in the cloud – thus enhancing network operations.

How DNS Based Web Filtering Operates

In order to filter Internet content using a Domain Name Server (DNS), you need to register for a web filtering service. The service provider gives you a browser-based account you log into, submit your external IP address and set your web filtering policy. Then you just redirect your DNS system settings to the service provider´s web filtering service.

If you have a range of web filtering policies for different positions within your company, tools are available to link management tools such as LDAP and Active Directory with the web filtering service. It is also possible to put in place a DNS proxy for per user reporting and select from a variety of predefined reports. Alternatively, it is a simple process to set up your own bespoke reports.

Due to the way in which DNS based web filtering works, it can be applied with every type of network and operating system. Multiple locations and domains can be managed from one management portal, and – due to the SSL inspection process being conducted in the cloud – end users will not suffer the latency usually associated with hardware and software solutions.

Highly Granular Controls Maximize Your Security Strength

The most common given reasons given for adding an Internet content filter are to safeguard the company from web-borne dangers and to enforce acceptable use policies. DNS based web filtering achieves both these aims by deploying a three-tier mechanism for filtering Internet content. The three tiers work in tandem to maximize the company´s defenses and prevent users accessing material that could be an obstruction to productivity or cause offense.

The first tier includes SURBL and URIBL filters. These are commonly referred to as blacklists and they compare each request to view a website against IP addresses from which malware downloads, phishing attacks and spam emails are known to have been initiated. When matches are located, the request to visit the website is denied.  Blacklists are given and updated by your service provider.

Behind the blacklists, category filters and keyword filters make up the second and third lines of defense. These can be applied by system administrators to stop users visiting websites within some categories (social networking for example), or those likely to include material that would be inappropriate for an office environment. Keyword filters can also be used to prevent users accessing specific content or web applications, or downloading files with extensions most linked with malware.

Exemptions to general policies can be set up by user or user group if access to a website or web application is required by a certain department within the company. For example, you may not want your employees to engage in personal Internet banking during working hours, but it is likely crucial for your finance department has access to online banking services. Similar exemptions could be established (say) if your marketing department needed access to the company´s Facebook or Twitter accounts.

DNS Based Web Filtering Provided by SpamTitan

SpamTitan offers businesses a range of DNS based web filtering solutions – WebTitan Cloud for companies with fixed networks, and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi for companies providing a wireless service to end users. Both DNS based web filtering solutions have been created with maximum ease of use, maximum granularity and maximum security from web-borne threats.

Along with being versatile and effective DNS based web filtering solutions, both WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi include many features to safeguard your company. Both solutions have best-in-class malicious URL detection, phishing protection and antivirus software – all of which is updated automatically. Both also update our filtering mechanisms in actual time – including the categorization of new websites as they are released.

The service grows in line with your company, so you never have to worry about registering new users or even multiple networks. WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are infinitely scalable, with no bandwidth limits, and no latency problems. Unless you advise them, your users will never know they are being safeguarded from web-borne threats until they try to visit an unsafe or inappropriate web pagesite.

 

How to Create a Strong Security Awareness Program

Due to the ever evolving and more intricate nature of hacking, spamming and activity of cyber criminals, it is now vital that all companies, groups and organizations have an effective security awareness program and to make sure all employees, staff and workers know how to recognize email threats.

Threat actors are now creating very sophisticated tactics to download malware, ransomware, and obtain login credentials and email is the attack style of choice. Companies are being targeted and it will only be a matter of time before a malicious email is delivered to an worker’s inbox. It is therefore crucial that employees are trained how to identify email threats and told how they should respond when a suspicious email lands in their inbox.

If security awareness training is not made available for staff then there will be a huge hole in your security defenses. To assist yo in getting back on the right track, we have listed some vital elements of an effective security awareness strategy.

Vital Important Elements of an Strong Security Awareness Program

Have C-Suite Involved

One of the most vital starting points is to see to it that the C-Suite is on board. With board involvement you are likely to be able to dedicate larger budgets for your security training program and it should be simpler to get your plan adapted and followed by all departments in your organization.

In practice, getting the backing of executives to support a security awareness program can tricky. One of the most effective ways to increase the chance of success is to clearly explain the importance of developing a security culture and to back this up with the financial advantages that come from having a strong security awareness program. Provide data on the extent that businesses are being hit, the volume of phishing and malicious emails being shared, and the money that other businesses have had to cover to address email-based attacks.

The Ponemon Institute has completed several major surveys and provides annual reports on the expense of cyberattacks and data breaches and is a good source for facts and figures. Security awareness training companies are also good sources of figures. Current data indicates the benefit of the program and what you require to ensure it is a success.

Get Other Departments On Board

The IT department should not be the only one responsible for developing a strong security awareness training program. Other departments can supply help and may be able to offer additional materials. Try to get the marketing department to support this, human resources, the compliance department, privacy officers. Those outside of the security team may have some valuable input not only in terms of content but also how to provide the training to get the best results.

Create a Continuous Security Awareness Strategy

A one-time classroom-based training session conducted once annually may have once been enough, but due to the rapidly changing threat landscape and the volume of phishing emails now being sent, an annual training session is no longer adequate.

Training should be conducted an ongoing process provided during the year, with up to date information included on present and emerging threats. Each employee is different, and while classroom-based training sessions work for some, they do not work for all employees. Create a training program using a variety of training methods including annual classroom-based training sessions, constant computer-based training sessions, and use posters, games, newsletters, and email alerts to keep security issues to the fore of workers’ minds.

Provide Incentives and Gamification

Reward individuals who have finished training, alerted the group to a new phishing threat, or have scored well in security awareness training and tests. Try to establish competition between departments by publishing details of departments that have performed very well and have the highest percentage of employees who have finished training, have reported the most phishing threats, scored the highest in tests, or have correctly identified the most phishing emails in a round of phishing simulations.

Security awareness training should ideally be interesting. If the training is fun, employees are more likely to want to participate and retain knowledge. Use gamification methods and choose security awareness training providers that offer interesting and engaging content.

Test Knowledge with Phishing Email Simulations

You can conduct training, but unless you test your employees’ security awareness you will not know how effective your training program has been and if your staff have been paying attention.

Before you begin your training program it is important to have a baseline against which you can gauge success. This can be achieved using security questionnaires and completing phishing simulation exercises.

Running phishing simulation exercises using real world examples of phishing emails following training has been completed will highlight which employees are security titans and which need further training. A failed phishing simulation exercise can be transformed into a training opportunity.

Comparing the before and after results will let you see the advantages of your program and could be used to help get more funding.

Train your staff constantly and review their understanding and in a relatively short space of time you can create a highly effective human firewall that complements your technological cyber security security measures. If a malicious email breaks through your spam filter, you can be happy that your employees will have the skills to recognize the threat.

Enterprise Web Filtering

An enterprise web filtering solution must provide a robust defense against web-borne threats along with being flexible in order to meet the requirements of the enterprise. However, flexibility without ease-of-use can result in the solution being useless. If enterprise web filtering software is difficult to configure, filtering parameters may either be set too high – obstructing workflows – or set too low, allowing a gateway for hackers.

At SpamTitan, we are conscious of the possible issues related to enterprise web filtering, and we have developed a range of flexible and easy-to-use enterprise Internet filtering solutions that can be set up and in minutes, that have no upfront costs, and that have low maintenance overheads – releasing IT resources to focus on other important problems. We also provide guidance on how to optimize filtering parameters.

In order to maximize the flexibility of our enterprise web filtering software, we deploy a three-tier filtering mechanism and whitelists to allow access to websites that may otherwise be restricted and to reduce the strain on CPU resources when the solution is reviewing encrypted websites. The three tiers consist of URIBL/SURBL filters, category filters and keyword filters:

  • URIBL/SURBL filters manages requests to visit websites against blacklists of websites known to be harboring malware or who mask their true identities behind proxy servers. They also review for any IP addresses associated with phishing attacks and block access if a match is discovered.
  • Our category filters sort more than six billion web pages into fifty-three different categories (abortion, adult entertainment, alternative beliefs, alcohol, etc.). Network Administrators can block access to any of the categories with the click of a mouse via the centralized management portal.
  • Keyword filters restrict access to websites containing specific words, using specific apps, or inviting installations with specific file extensions. This third tier of our enterprise web filtering software supplies a high level of granularity to prevent workflow obstruction or gateways for hackers.

All the filtering parameters are subject to user policies, which can be established and managed by individual user, user group or enterprise-wide. For ease of use, our enterprise Internet filtering solution can be integrated with Active Directory and LDAP, and allows for many different administrative roles to be created for network managers, policy managers, and reporting managers.

SpamTitan’s variety of flexible and simple-to-use enterprise Internet filtering solutions consist of WebTitan Gateway, WebTitan Cloud, and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi. Each can be deployed within minutes and each has automatic network configuration.

  • WebTitan Gateway is a virtual appliance that is downloaded behind the firewall and can be run as an ISO directly on existing hardware or a virtual infrastructure. It can be used on most operating systems, scalable to thousands of users and supports both HTTP and HTTPS web filtering.
  • WebTitan Cloud takes advantage of cloud-based technology to send an unmatched combination of coverage, accuracy and flexibility with imperceptible latency. Deployment only needs a quick redirection of the enterprise´s DNS to our servers.
  • WebTitan Cloud for WiFi has been specifically created to supports both static and dynamic IP addresses. It keeps wireless networks, single WiFi access points and nationwide networks of WiFi hotspots safe from web-borne threats with the same flexibility and ease of use.

All of our enterprise Internet filtering solutions provide actual-time oversight of network web activity and a suite of reporting options that can be set up to provide deep insight into activity by user, user group, URL or IP address and identify trends or policy violations. Network Administrators can also set up email alerts to notify of any attempts to circumnavigate the enterprise web filtering software.

If your interest in enterprise Internet filtering solutions is a result of you being a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or reseller, you will appreciate that flexibility and ease-of-use is of paramount importance when supplying an enterprise Internet filtering service to clients. The option of managing the solution yourself, or delegating responsibility to each of your clients, may also be of interest to you.

However, some of the biggest benefits of providing our WebTitan service to your clients are that all three WebTitan solutions are multi-tenanted enterprise Internet filtering solutions, they can be provided in white label format for re-branding, and we offer a range of hosting options – in our infrastructure, in your infrastructure, or in a private cloud for each client via AWS. Please speak with us for more information about our services for MSPs.

If you would like to discover more about our flexible enterprise web filtering software, do not hesitate to contact us and talk about your requirements with one of our Sales Technicians. The discussion will help decide the most appropriate enterprise Internet filtering solution for your circumstances, after which you will be asked to take advantage of a thirty day free trial.

During the trial period, you will be supported by our industry-leading Customer and Technical Support experts. They will provide advice about optimizing the filtering parameters, and take you through fine-tuning the enterprise web filtering software to achieve optimum effectiveness. Then, at the end of the free trial, if you choose to continue with our service, no further configuration will be rnecessary.

We are happy that you will find our enterprise web filtering software a strong defense against web-borne threats, flexible and easy-to-use. Contact us today to begin your free trial and you could be evaluating the merits of our enterprise Internet filtering solutions in your own environment quickly.