The global user review website G2 has produced a list of the best software companies in EMEA in 2019, highlighting the companies that are the most loved by users of their products.
G2 is a business software and services review website that allows confirmed users of software products and services to give their honest feedback on the products and services that they use at their place of work on a day to day basis.
The G2 website now covers more than 80,000 products, has more than 750,000 user reviews, and is used by millions of business users to help them make smarter purchasing decisions.
“G2’s ever-expanding breadth and depth of product, review, and traffic coverage provide over 5 million data points to help buyers navigate the complex world of digital transformation”, said G2 CEO Godard Abel. “In our Best Software Companies in EMEA list, we leverage this data to identify the companies our users tell us are best helping them reach their potential”.
The list was compiled after assessing more than 66,000 user reviews and examining more than 900 companies. Thanks to overwhelming positive feedback by users of its products, TitanHQ has earned top spot in the Q2 Best Software Companies in EMEA 2019 List.
“TitanHQ earned its place on the list thanks to the value our customers place on the uncompromised security and real-time threat detection we provide,” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ. “The overwhelmingly positive feedback from on G2 Crowd is indicative of our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of customer success.”
A recent study on phishing activity in the Irish market has revealed that up to 185,000 office workers in the country have fallen victim to phishing scams.
Phishing messages are broadcast in bulk in the hope that some people will reply, or campaigns can be much more targeted. The latter is referred to as spear phishing. With spear phishing attacks, hackers often research their victims and tailor messages to maximize the probability of them eliciting a reply.
A successful phishing attack can see workers share their email credentials which allows their accounts to be accessed. Then the hackers can search emails accounts for sensitive data or use the accounts to conduct further phishing attacks on other employees. When financial data is shared is disclosed, business bank accounts can be drained.
Businesses can suffer major financial losses due to employees responding to phishing emails, the reputation of the business can be damaged, customers can be lost, and there is also a risk of major regulatory penalties.
The Irish phishing study surveyed 500 Irish office workers using consultancy firm Censuswide. Respondents to the Irish phishing study were asked questions about phishing, whether they had fallen for a phishing scam historically, and how they rated their ability to spot phishing attacks.
In line with findings from surveys carried out in other countries, 14% of respondents confirmed that they had been a victim of a phishing attack. There were also marked differences between different age groups. Censuswide analyzed three age groups: Millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers. The latter two age groups were fairly resistant to phishing efforts. Gen X were the most phishing-savvy, with just 6% of respondents in the age group admitting to having been tricked by phishing emails in the past, closely followed by the baby boomer generation on 7%. However, 17% of millennials confirmed that they have fallen for a phishing scam – The generation that should, in theory, be the most familiar with technology.
Interestingly, millennials were also the most confident in their ability to spot phishing attempts. 14% of millennials said they would not be certain that they could spot fraud, as opposed to 17% of Gen X, and 26% of baby boomers.
It is simple to be confident about one’s ability to recognize standard phishing efforts, but phishing attacks are becoming much more complex and very realistic. Complacency can be harmful.
The outcomes of the Irish phishing study make it obvious that companies need to do more to protect themselves from phishing attacks. Naturally, an advanced spam filtering solution is necessary to ensure that employees do not have their phishing email identification skills put to the test constantly. SpamTitan, for example, prevents more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails, thus reducing reliance on employees’ ability to spot scam emails.
The Irish phishing study also emphasises the importance of providing security awareness training to employees. The study showed that 44% of the over 54 age group had opened an attachment or clicked on a link in an email from an unknown source, as had 34% of millennials and 26% of the Gen X age group. Alarmingly, one in five respondents said that their employer had not given any security awareness training whatsoever.
Employees need to be aware of how to identify scams, so security awareness training must be provided. Since cybercriminals’ tactics are always evolving, training needs to be continuous. Annual or biannual training sessions should be conducted along with shorter refresher training sessions. Businesses should also think about conducting phishing email simulations to test resilience to phishing attacks and uncover weak links.
Bitdefender has created a free Bart ransomware decryptor that permits victims to unlock their files without meeting a ransom demand.
Bart Ransomware was first discovered in June 2016. The ransomware variant stood out from the others due to its ability to encrypt files even without an Internet connection. Most ransomware variants rely on a link to their command and control server to generate public-private key pairs; however, Bart ransomware does not. Only the decryption process needs an Internet connection to transfer the ransom payment and get the decryption key.
Bart ransomware posed a major threat to corporate users. Command and control center communications could possibly be prevented by firewalls preventing encryption of files. However, without any C&C contact, corporate users were in danger.
Bart ransomware was thought to have been developed by the gang behind Locky and the Dridex banking Trojan. Bart ransomware shared a large portion of code with Locky, was distributed in the same manner and used a ransom message very similar to that implemented by Locky.
As with Locky, Bart ransomware encrypted a wide variety of file types. While early versions of the ransomware variant were fairly uncomplicated, later versions saw flaws addressed. Early versions of the ransomware variant prevented access to files by locking them in password-protected zip files.
The initial method of locking files was ‘cracked’ by AVG, although only by guessing the password using brute force tactics. In order for the brute force method to work, a copy of an encrypted file along with its unencrypted original was necessary. In later versions of the ransomware, the use of zip files was ended and AVG’s decryption technique was rendered ineffective. The encryption process used in the more recent versions was much stronger and the ransomware had no known weaknesses.
Until Bitdefender developed the most recent Bart Ransomware decryptor, victims had two choices – recover encrypted files from backups or pay the attackers’ ransom demand.
Luckily, Bitdefender was able to create a Bart Ransomware decryptor from keys supplied by Romanian police which were obtained during a criminal review. The Bart ransomware decryptor was created by Bitdefender after working with both the Romanian police and Europol.
From April 4, 2017, the Bart ransomware decryptor has been made available for free installation from the No More Ransom website. If your files have been encrypted by ransomware, it is possible to see if the culprit is Bart from the extension added to encrypted files. Bart uses the .bart, .perl, or bart.zip extensions.
Bart ransomware may be thought to have links to Locky, although there is no indication that keys have been obtained that will permit a Locky ransomware decryptor to be created. The best form of security against attacks is blocking spam emails to stop infection and ensuring backups of all sensitive data have been put in place.
DNS based web filtering employs cloud technology to send an Internet content filtering service equally as effective as hardware or software solutions, but without the capital spending and high maintenance overheads of either. As with most cloud-based technologies, DNS based web filtering software is convenient and reliable, and –vital for many businesses these days – scalable.
Additionally, in order to be fully effective against online threats, any Internet filtering solution has to have SSL inspection in order to review the content of encrypted web pages. Whereas SSL inspection can drain CPU resources and memory when incorporated in hardware and software solutions, with DNS based web filtering the inspection process is done in the cloud – thus enhancing network performance.
In order to filter Internet content through a Domain Name Server (DNS), you need to sign up for a web filtering service. The service provider gives you a browser-based account you sign into, add your external IP address and set your web filtering policy. Then you simply send your DNS system settings to the service provider´s web filtering service.
If you have multiple web filtering policies for different roles within your group, tools are in place to integrate management tools such as LDAP and Active Directory with the web filtering service. It is also possible to implement a DNS proxy for per user reporting and select from a number of predefined reports. Alternatively, it is a simple process to customize your own reports.
Because of the way in which DNS based web filtering works, it is compatible 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 experience the latency usually associated with hardware and software solutions.
The two most recorded reasons given for putting in place an Internet content filter are to safeguard the company from web-borne threats and to enforce acceptable use policies. DNS based web filtering achieves both these targets by using a three-tier mechanism for filtering Internet content. The three tiers work together to maximize the company’s security and stop users accessing material that could hinder 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 visit a website against IP addresses from which malware downloads, phishing attacks and spam emails are known to have spawned from. When matches are found, the request to visit the website is denied. Blacklists are supplied and updated by your service provider.
Behind the blacklists, category filters and keyword filters provide the second and third lines of security. These can be applied by system administrators to stop users visiting websites within certain categories (social networking for instance), or those likely to contain material that would be inappropriate for an office setting. Keyword filters can also be used to prevent users obtaining specific content or web applications, or downloading files with extensions most associated with malware.
Exemptions to general policies can be applied to user or user group if access to a website or web application is required by a department within the company. For instance, you may not want your employees to engage in personal Internet banking during working hours, but it is likely vital your finance department has access to online banking services. Similar exemptions could be made (say) if your marketing department needed view to the company´s Facebook or Twitter accounts.
SpamTitan offers businesses a choice of DNS based web filtering solutions – WebTitan Cloud for companies with fixed networks, and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi for companies supplying a wireless service to end users. Both DNS based web filtering solutions have been created with maximum ease of use, maximum granularity and maximum defense against web-borne threats.
Along with being versatile and effective DNS based web filtering solutions, both WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are packed full of 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. We also update our filtering mechanisms in real time – including the categorization of new websites as they are released.
Our service grows in line with your company, so you never have to be concerned about adding new users or even multiple networks. WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi are infinitely scalable, with no bandwidth restrictions, and no latency issues. Unless you advise them, your users will never know they are being protected from web-borne threats until they try to visit an unsafe or inappropriate web page.
No capital outlay or high maintenance overheads.
Convenient, trustworthy and infinitely scalable.
SSL inspection carried out in the cloud.
Enhanced network performance.
Supports unrestricted web filtering policies.
Compatible with every operating system.
Centralized, Internet-based management.
Can be used on fixed and wireless networks.
No bandwidth restrictions or latency problems.
If you would like to get a feel for the benefits of DNS based web filtering for free, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We are offering firms the chance to try WebTitan Cloud or WebTitan Cloud for WiFi for free, with no set up costs or credit cards required, no contracts to complete, and no commitment to continue using our service at the end of the thirty-day trial time duration.
To discover more about this opportunity, talk with one of our Sales Technicians today. They will answer any questions you have about DNS based web filtering and guide you through the process of establishing your free account. If you later require any help redirecting your DNS or navigating the management portal, we are always here to assist you.
Email retention laws in the United States require companies to maintain copies of emails for many years. There are federal laws applying to all companies and groups, data retention laws for specific industries, and a swathe of email retention laws in the United States at the individual state level. Ensuring compliance with all the proper email retention laws in the United States is vital. Non-compliance can prove incredibly expensive Multi-million-dollar fines await any group found to have breached federal, industry, or state regulations.
All electronic files must be retained by U.S groups, which extends to email, in case the information is required by the courts. eDiscovery requests often require massive volumes of data to be provided for use in lawsuits and the failure to provide the data can land a group in serious trouble. Not only are heavy fines issued, groups can face criminal proceedings if certain data is erased.
For decades, U.S groups have been required to store documents. Document retention laws are included in numerous legislative acts such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Executive Order 11246 of 1965, the Freedom of Information Act of 1967, the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, and the Reform and Control Act of 1986; however, just over 10 years ago, data retention laws in the United States were updated to grow the definition of documents to include electronic communications such as emails and email attachments.
To enhance awareness of the many different email retention laws in the United States, a summary has been included in this article. Please remember that this is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For legal counsel on data retention laws in the United States, we recommend you get in touch with your legal representatives. Industry and federal electronic data and email retention legislation in the United States are also subject to amendment. Up to date information should be sought from your legal team.
As you can see from the list here, there are several federal and industry-specific email retention pieces of legislation in the United States. These laws apply to emails received and shared, and include internal as well as external emails.
Email retention legislation
Who it is applicable to
How long emails must be kept
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Federal, state, and local agencies
Sarbanes Oxley Act (SOX)
All public companies
Department of Defense (DOD) Regulations
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Regulations
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Regulations
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Regulations
Pharmaceutical firms, food manufacturers, food storage and distribution firms, manufacturers of biological products
Minimum of 5 years rising to 35 years
Banks and Financial Institutions
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
Healthcare groups (Healthcare providers, health insurers, healthcare clearinghouses and business associates of covered bodies)
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
Credit card businesses and credit card processing groups
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Regulations
Email retention legislation in the United States that are applied by each of the 50 states are beyond the reach of this article. There area also European Union laws, such as the GDPR email requirements.
Storing emails for a few years is not likely to take up masses of storage for a small company with a couple of members of staff. However, the more employees a group has, the greater the need for extensive resources just to store emails. The average size of a business email may only be 10KB, but multiply that by 123 – the average number of emails sent and received each day by an average company user in 2016 (Radicati email statistics report 2015-2019), and by 365 days in each year, and by the number of years that those emails need to be maintained, and the storage requirements become massive.
If any emails ever need to be obtained, it is vital that any email archive or backup can be searched. In the case of standard backups, that is likely to be an incredibly long process. Backups were not created to be searched. Finding the right backup alone can be almost impossible, let along finding all emails sent to, or received from, a specific company or person. Backups have their uses, but are not suitable for companies for email retention purposes.
For that, an email archive is necessary. Email archives contain structured email data that can easily be reviewed and searched. If ever an eDiscovery order is received, finding all email correspondence is a quick and simple task. Since many email archives are cloud based, they also do not require large storage resources. Emails are stored in the cloud, with the space provided by the service supplier.
ArcTitan is a cost-effective, quick and easy-to-manage email archiving solution supplied by TitanHQ that meets the needs of all businesses and enables them to adhere with all email retention laws in the United States.
ArcTitan includes a variety of security protections to ensure stored data is kept 100% secure and confidential, with email data encrypted in transit and storage. As opposed to many email archiving solutions, ArcTitan is fast. The solution can process 200 emails per second from your email server and archived emails can be retrieved instantly though a a browser or Outlook (using a plugin). Emails can be archived from any location, whether in the office or on the go via a laptop or tablet. There are no restrictions on storage space or the number of users. The solution can be scaled up to meet the needs of companies of all shapes and sizes.
To find out more about ArcTitan, get in touch with the TitanHQ team today.
An important factor in a successful phishing attack is establishing trust. Users need to trust the source that the phishing message is sent from. That’s why hackers often spoof the email address of a senior executive or vendor contact message so the payload looks like it was sent from a credible source. Phishing can be sent via email or your phone via voice or SMS. Currently doing the rounds is a very believable Paypal text phishing attempt.
The text message is sent from from a shortcode number *729724* and reads:
Upon first viewing, it may appear to be a PayPal link, but on closer inspection, it clearly takes you to a different domain. The text warns that your PayPal account has been locked out and asks you to follow a link to restore access. If you visit the link as requested, a fake PayPal webpage is loaded in your smartphone’s browser.
Everyone who is sent one of these Paypal texts to delete it at once. Always review your messages before you click, or even better – just don’t visit the link and contact PayPal directly.
Phishing messages can originate from an increasing number of sources, such as:
Fraudulent software (e.g, anti-virus)
Social Media communications (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
In most cases random phishing attacks are identified by email filters, but spear phishing attacks are much more complex and use employee background data to avoid filters and provide a higher level of ROI for the hacker. A hacker can spend days (weeks even) gathering data on employees and use this data to email them directly.
With the SpamTitan Email Filter, you can fully safeguard your exchange server and every recipient within the group. SpamTitan provides phishing protection to stop whaling and spear phishing by scanning all inbound email in actual time.
SpamTitan searches for standard indicators in the email header, domain information, and content. SpamTitan also carries out reputation analysis on all links (including shortened URLs) included in emails and block malicious emails before being sent to the end user.
How SpamTitan pro from phishing attacks:
URL reputation analysis during scanning for multiple reputations.
Discover and block malicious spear-phishing emails with either current or new malware.
Heuristic rules to identify phishing based on message headers et al. These are updated often to address new threats.
Simple synchronization with Active Directory and LDAP.
Spam Confidence Levels can be entered by user, user-group and domain.
Whitelisting or blacklisting senders/IP addresses.
Infinitely scalable and universally applicable
How WebTitan Internet Filtering Solutions Protect against Phishing
WebTitan provides an advanced yet easy to use DNS-based solution to safeguard your company and users when online. In real-time, it both secures and protects your business from online threats including malware, phishing, botnets and malicious sites. WebTitan uses multiple mechanisms to help network administrators filter web access properly. The threats from malware, ransomware, and phishing are addressed with pre-installed and automatically updated blacklists, SURBL filters, and URIBL filters. SSL inspection checks for the presence of malware in encrypted websites, and every web page is virus scanned.
The WebTitan range of Internet filtering solutions has been specifically created with protection against malware, ransomware, and phishing as a priority, and flexibility and ease of use in mind also. Each WebTitan solution is backed up with industry-leading customer and technical service to help network administrators apply the optimum settings to filter web access effectively in all cases.
If you are searching for an effective Internet filtering solution, or you have tried different solutions to filter web access and found them not to be effective, please do not hesitate to contact us and ask for a free trial of a WebTitan Internet filtering solution. Our team of Sales Technicians will help figure out which solution is the most appropriate for your specific requirements and explain our free trial for you.
We would also like to hear from any Managed Service Provider searching for a multi-tenanted solution to filter web access on behalf of SMBs. Our free trial gives you the chance to evaluate our industry-leading Internet filtering solution in your own environment, and your clients the opportunity to supply feedback on how effective WebTitan is at stopping all types of malware, ransomware and phishing campaigns.
To safeguard against advanced threats you need advanced security. Take a better look at SpamTitan and WebTitan today – and sign up for a free demo.
A spam email campaign is being carried out aimed at corporate email accounts to share Loki Bot malware. Loki Bot malware is an information stealer that can obtain passwords saved on browsers, obtaining email account passwords, FTP client logins, cryptocurrency wallet passwords, and passwords used for messaging applications.
In addition to obtaining saved passwords, Loki Bot malware has can complete keylogging and download/run executable files. All data captured by the malware is sent to the hacker’s C2 server.
Kaspersky Lab security experts recorded an increase in email spam activity targeting corporate email accounts, with the campaign found to be used to share Loki Bot malware. The malware was sent hidden in a malicious email attachment.
The intercepted emails included an ICO file attachment. ICO files are duplicates of optical discs, which are usually mounted in a virtual CD/DVD drive to open. While expert software can be implemented to open these files, most modern operating systems can access the contents of the files without the need for any other software.
In this instance, the ICO file includes Loki Bot malware and double clicking on the file will lead to the installation of the malware on operating systems that support the files (Vista and later).
It is relatively unusual for ICO files to be used to send malware, although not unheard of. The unfamiliarity with ICO files for malware delivery may see end users try to open the files.
The campaign included a wide variety of lures including spoof purchase orders, speculative enquiries from businesses including product lists, fake invoices, bank transfer details, payment requests, credit notifications, and payment confirmations. Well-known businesses such as Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, and DHL were just some of the emails.
What is believed to be a nation-state sponsored hacking group has managed to infect around half a million routers with VPNFilter malware.
VPNFilter is a modular malware that can carry out various functions, including the reviewing all communications, beginning attacks on other devices, theft of credentials and data, and even destroying the router on which the malware has been placed. While the majority of IoT malware infections – including those used to create large botnets for DDoS attacks – are not capable of surviving a reboot, VPNFilter malware can survive a reset like this.
The malware can be downloaded on the type of routers often used by small companies and consumers such as those produced by Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link and MikroTik, as well as network-attached storage (NAS) devices from QNAP, according to security experts at Cisco Talos who have been monitoring infections over the last while.
The ultimate target of the hackers is unknown, although the infected devices could potentially be used for a wide variety of malicious activities, including major cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, such as disrupting power grids – as happened with BlackEnergy malware.
Since it is possible for the malware to turn off Internet access, the threat actors to blame for the campaign could easily stop large numbers of individuals in a targeted region from going online.
While the malware has been placed on routers around the world – infections have been seen in 54 countries – the majority of infections are in Ukraine. Infections in Ukraine have increased greatly in recent weeks.
While the investigation into the campaign is still current, the decision was taken to go public due to a huge increase in infected devices over the past three weeks, together with the incorporation of advanced capabilities which have made the malware a much more major threat.
While the security expert researchers have not blamed Russia directly, they have found parts of the code which are identical to that used in BlackEnergy malware, which was implemented in many attacks in Ukraine. BlackEnergy has been linked to Russia by some security experts. BlackEnergy malware has been deployed by other threat actors not believed to be tied to Russia to the presence of the same code in both forms of malware is not solid proof of any link to Russia.
The FBI has gone an additional step by attributing the malware campaign to the hacking group Fancy Bear (APT28/Pawn Storm) which has links to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU. Regardless of any nation-state backing, the complex nature of the malware means it is the work of a particularly advanced hacking group.
Most of the infiltrated routers are aging devices that have not received firmware updates to address known flaws and many of the attacked devices have not had default passwords changed, leaving them vulnerable to attack. It is not entirely obvious how devices are being infected although the exploitation of known flaws is most probable, rather than the use of zero-day exploits; however, the latter has not been eliminated.
There had been Some progress has been made disrupting the VPNFilter malware campaign. The FBI has seized and sinkholed a domain in use by the malware to send information to the threat group behind the campaign. Without that domain, the hackers cannot manage the infected routers and neither identify new devices that have been infected.
Making sure a router is updated and has the most recent version of firmware will offer some degree of protection, as will changing default passwords on vulnerable devices. Sadly, it is not easy to tell if a vulnerable router has been infected. Carrying out a factory reset of a vulnerable router is strongly recommended as a precautionary measure.
Resetting the device will not remove he malware, but it will succeed in removing some of the additional code installed on the device. However, those additional malware components could be installed again when contact is re-established with the device.
Hackers are focusing on the insurance, telecoms, and financial service sectors with Zyklon malware. A large-scale spam email campaign has been discovered that leverages three separate Microsoft Office vulnerabilities to install the malicious payload.
Zyklon malware has been seen before. The malware variant was first seen at the beginning of 2016, but it stopped being seen soon after and was not extensively used until the start of 2017.
Zyklon malware is a backdoor with a wide variety of malicious functions. The malware behaves as a password harvester, keylogger, and data scraper, obtaining sensitive data and obtaining credentials for further attacks. The malware can also be implemented to complete DoS attacks and mine cryptocurrency.
The most recent variant of Zyklon malware can install and run various plugins and additional malware variants. It can spot, decrypt, and steal serial keys and license numbers from over 200 software packages and can also hijack Bitcoin addresses. All told, this is a strong and particularly nasty and damaging malware variant that is best avoided.
While the most recent campaign uses spam email, the malware is not shared as an attachment. A zip file is attached to the email that includes a Word document. If the document is extracted, opened, and the embedded OLE object run, it will lead to the download of a PowerShell script, using one of three Microsoft Office weaknesses.
The first vulnerability is CVE-2017-8759: A Microsoft NET vulnerability that was addressed in a patch released by Microsoft in October.
The second ‘vulnerability’ is Dynamic Data Exchange (DDE) – a protocol part of Office that allows data to be shared via shared memory. This protocol is used to deliver a dropper that will download the malware payload. This vulnerability has not been addressed with a patch, although Microsoft has released guidance on how to disable the feature to prevent exploitation by hackers.
The third vulnerability is much older. CVE-2017-11882 is a remote code execution flaw in Microsoft Equation Editor that has been in existence in 17 years. The flaw was only recently identified and patched by Microsoft in November.
The next stage of infection – The PowerShell script – serves as a dropper for the Zyklon malware payload.
According to the FireEye security experts who identified the campaign, the malware can remain unseen by hiding communications with its C2 using the Tor network. “The Zyklon executable contains another encrypted file in its .Net resource section named tor. This file is decrypted and injected into an instance of InstallUtiil.exe, and functions as a Tor anonymizer.”
Campaigns like this highlight the importance of applying patches quickly. Two of the vulnerabilities were patched in the Autumn of 2017, yet many groups have yet to apply the patches and remain vulnerable. If patches are not run, it will only be a matter of time before vulnerabilities are targeted.
FireEye researchers have warned that while the campaign is currently only focusing on three industry sectors, it is probable that the campaign will grow to target other industry sectors in the near future.
The advice is to put in place an advanced cloud-based anti-spam service such like SpamTitan to identify and quarantine malicious emails, and ensure that operating systems and software is kept updated.
Recently the U.S. Department of Justice revealed that a world-renowned email spammer had been apprehended as part of an operation to disrupt and take down the infamous Kelihos botnet.
The Kelihos botnet is a group of tens of thousands of computers that are used to deploy massive spamming campaigns comprising millions of emails. Those spam emails are used for a range of nefarious purposes including the spreading of ransomware and malware. The botnet has been widely deployed to spread fake antivirus software and spread credential-stealing malware.
Computers are placed to the Kelihos botnet with malware. Once installed, Kelihos malware runs silently and users are not conscious that their computers have been hijacked. The Kelihos botnet can be quickly weaponized and deployed for a rangeof malicious purposes. The botnet has, on earlier occasions, been used for spamming campaigns that artificially inflate stock prices, promote counterfeit drugs and recruit people to fraudulent work-at-home projects.
Pyotr Levashov is thought to manage the botnet in addition to conducting a wide range of cybercriminal activities out of Russia. In what turned out to be an unwise decision, Levashov left the relative safety of his home country and travelled to Barcelona, Spain on holiday. Levashov was apprehended on Sunday, April 9 by Spanish authorities acting on a U.S. backed international arrest warrant.
Levashov is thought to have played a role in the alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016, although Levashov is most famous for his spamming activities, click fraud and DDoS attacks.
Levashov, or Peter Severa as he is otherwise referred to, is heavily involved in sharing virus spamming software and is thought to have created many numerous viruses and Trojans. Spamhaus lists Levashov in seventh place on the list of the 10 worst spammers.
Levashov is thought to have operated many operations that connected virus developers with spamming networks, and is suspected of running the Kelihos botnet, the Waledac botnet – which was decommissioned by law enforcement in 2010 – and the Storm botnet. Levashov was indicted for his participation in the latter in 2009, although he managed to avoid extradition to the United States. At the time, Storm was the biggest spamming botnet in operation and was deployed to send millions of emails every day. Levashov also moderates many spamming forums and is a prominent figure in underground circles. Levashov is believed to have been extensively participating in spamming and other cybercriminal projects for the past 20 years; although to date he has not been convicted.
A statement published by the U.S. Department of Justice say: “The operation announced today targeted an ongoing international scheme that was distributing hundreds of millions of fraudulent e-mails per year, intercepting the credentials to online and financial accounts belonging to thousands of Americans, and spreading ransomware throughout our networks.”
The DOJ project a;so included the takedown of domains associated with the Kelihos botnet starting on April 8, 2017. The DOJ says closing down those domains was “an extraordinary task.”
While it is definitely good news that such a high profile and prolific spammer has been arrested and the Kelihos botnet has been severely hampered, other hackers are likely to soon take Levashov’s place. Vitali Kremez, director of research at Flashpoint said his firm had seen chatter on underground forums indicating other major hackers are reacting to the news of the arrest by taking acting to safeguard their own operations. There may be a blip in the amount of email spam broadcast, but that blip is only likely to be temporary.
SpamTitan from TitanHQ has been named the leader in the Spring 2019 G2 Crowd Secure Email Gateway Performance Report.
Chicago, Illinois-based G2 Crowd was formed in 2012 to help businesses make the right software purchasing decisions. The company runs a peer-to-peer review platform that amalgamates software reviews to give business professionals an accurate picture of the usability of software solutions and how they match up to expectations.
Finding a software solution that ticks all the right boxes is one thing. Finding a solution that works in practice and is easy to use is another matter entirely. Many businesses only discover that a poor purchasing decision has been made after licenses have been purchased and a product has been implemented, by which time it is too late to change.
The G2 Crowd platform informs purchasing decisions and allows business professionals, investors, and buyers to make the right choice first time. The platform incorporates more than 500,000 user reviews and attracts more than 1.5 million visitors a month.
In addition to the website, G2 Crowd compiles and published a series of Grid reports each quarter. The grid reports are based on customer satisfaction and market presence and let businesses know the best software solutions to purchase.
In order to be included in the Spring 2019 G2 Crowd Secure Email Gateway Performance Report, secure email gateway solutions had to have the following capabilities:
Ability to scan incoming messages for potentially malicious content
Scan for malware, viruses and other malicious code and filter out those messages
Allow whitelisting or blacklisting to control suspicious accounts
Securely encrypt communications
Incorporate email archiving functionality for compliance.
The secure email gateway solutions assessed for the report were offerings from TitanHQ, Cisco, McAfee, SolarWinds, Barracuda, Barracuda Essentials, Proofpoint, Symantec, MobileIron, Sophos, Security Gateway, and Mimecast.
Each solution was assessed and assigned a position in the G2 Crowd Grid. Niche solutions had a small market presence and low customer satisfaction level, Contenders had strong market presence but low customer satisfaction level. High Performers had low market presence but scored highly for customer satisfaction, and the Leaders quadrant contained products that scored highly for customer satisfaction with a strong market presence.
SpamTitan was the out and out leader, scoring highest for customer satisfaction across all categories under assessment: Quality of support, ease of use, meets requirements, and ease of administration. Scores in those categories ranged from 90% to 94%.
TitanHQ the leader in business email security, today announced it has been recognized as a leader in the G2 Crowd Grid? Spring 2019 Report for Email Security.
97% of users of SpamTitan gave the product a score of 4 or 5 stars out of 5 and 92% said they would recommend SpamTitan to other businesses.
TitanHQ’s web security gateway was also rated in the Spring 2019 G2 Crowd Secure Web Gateway Performance Report, and was named a Strong Contender, achieving a score of 94% compared to the average of 87%.
“Our customers value the uncompromised security and real-time threat detection. The overwhelmingly positive feedback from SpamTitan users on G2 Crowd is indicative of our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of customer success” said Ronan Kavanagh, CEO, TitanHQ.
TitanHQ has been developing cybersecurity solutions for SMBs, SMEs, and MSPs for more than 25 years. During that time, the threat landscape has changed dramatically, which has called for regular updates to its cybersecurity solutions to ensure they continue to protect against the latest threats.
In the past couple of years, the number of email attacks being conducted on businesses have skyrocketed and the methods used to spread malware and phish for sensitive information have become much more sophisticated.
TitanHQ regularly performs updates to its cybersecurity solutions to respond to the changing tactics of cybercriminals and the latest update to SpamTitan has seen even more powerful features added to take protection against email threats to the next level: Sandboxing and DMARC authentication.
The sandboxing feature serves as a secure container where suspicious email attachments can be analysed in detail to determine whether they perform any malicious actions. The Bitdefender-powered sandbox is used to execute suspicious files where they can cause no harm, and monitor for C2 calls, and suspicious and malicious actions.
This new feature helps to ensure that more genuine email messages and attachments are delivered, and zero-day malware threats are detected and eradicated from the email system.
DMARC authentication has also been incorporated, which provides greater protection against email impersonation attacks which spoof legitimate senders. It has become increasingly common for cybercriminals to spoof domains to make phishing emails appear genuine and bypass standard email filtering controls. By using DMARC to verify the sender of the domain, detection of phishing and spear phishing emails has been greatly improved.
TitanHQ will be explaining these two new features, how they work, and their benefits for SMBs, SMEs, and MSPs that serve the SMB/SME market in an upcoming webinar.
If you are a current SpamTitan customer and would like to learn more about these new features, an MSP looking for a powerful email security solution to protect your clients, or you work at an SMB/SME and want to improve your email defenses, register for the webinar and find out more about the new and improved SpamTitan.
Date: Thursday, April 4, 2019
Time: 12pm, EST
The webinar will last 30 minutes, and advance registration is necessary.
CryptXXX has quickly become one of the main strains of ransomware, although until recent times infection was only possible via malicious websites. Now I.T. experts Proofpoint have discovered CryptXXX ransomware emails. The group behind the attacks have created a new attack vector. CryptXXX ransomware emails include a Word document containing a malicious macro. If the macro is permitted to run it will load a VB script into the memory which will use Powershell to make contact with the attackers’ command and control server. Once a connection has been established, CryptXXX will be installed onto the victim’s computer. Authors have realized the benefits to be obtained from implementing an affiliate model to help infect machines and now a number of new players have joined the ransomware market.
If a “ransomware kit” is supplied, individuals with little hacking expertise can carry out own ransomware campaigns. The ransomware authors can charge a nominal amount for supplying the kit, and can also take a share on the back end. When an affiliate infects a computer and a ransom is given, the authors receive a cut of the payment. This model works well and there is no shortage of hackers willing to try their hand at running ransomware campaigns. The CryptXXX ransomware emails are being shared by an affiliate (ID U000022) according to Proofpoint.
Spotting CryptXXX Ransomware Emails
The CryptXXX ransomware emails are being transmitted with a subject line of “Security Breach – Security Report #Randomnumber.” The emails include only basic details about a supposed security breach that has happened. The security report is sent as an attached Word document. The body of the email includes the date, time of the attack, the provider, location, IP address, and port. The email recipient is told to open the file attachment to view details of the attack and find out about the actions that should be implemented.
The file attachment titled like “info12.doc” according to Proofpoint. If the attached Word file is downloaded, a Microsoft Office logo is displayed. The user is told that the document has been created in a newer version of Microsoft Office. The content of the document will only be shown if macros are enabled. Enabling the macros will lead to the VB script being loaded. Then ransomware will then be installed and users’ files encrypted.
There is no remedy action if files are encrypted. The victim must pay the ransom or lose their files. Once an infection has taken place, files can only be rescued from backups if the victim does not pay the ransom requested.
CryptXXX Ransomware Still Being Sent by Neutrino
Since the demise of the Angler exploit kit, CryptXXX was transferred to Neutrino. There was a dramatic drop in infections as activity temporarily stopped; however, Invincea recently reported a surge in activity via compromised company websites. The SoakSoak botnet is being implemented to scan the Internet for vulnerable websites. The websites being hit run the WordPress Revslider slideshow plugin. Scripts are appended to the slideshow that send visitors to a malicious site including Neutrino.
CryptXXX will only be installed if the endpoint lacks specific security tools that would detect an installation. If Wireshark, ESET, VMware, Fiddler, or a Flash debugging utility is present, the ransomware will not be installed.
TitanHQ is pleased to announce that the SpamTitan email security solution for SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs) has been updated and has two brand new features to improve detection rates of zero-day malware, advanced persistent threats (APTs), and sophisticated phishing attacks.
From today, users of SpamTitan and all new customers will benefit from DMARC email authentication for incoming messages and advanced protection from new malware threats with a new sandboxing feature. Both of these new features have already been rolled out and have been made available at no extra cost.
SpamTitan has already become the gold standard for email security for SMBs and MSPs serving the SMB market. With SpamTitan in place, all incoming messages are subjected to checks using award-winning anti-malware technologies. Static analysis and advanced behavior detection technologies ensure a catch rates in excess of 99.9% and a low false positive rate of just 0.03%. The new sandboxing feature will improve catch rates and reduce false positives further.
When emails pass SpamTitan’s checks, files attached to the emails will be sent to the sandbox for in-depth analysis. The sandbox is a quarantine area from which there is no escape. When files are detonated in the sandbox, their actions can be studied without causing any harm.
All actions of the files are recorded, including attempts to evade detection. The Bitdefender-powered sandbox leverages purpose-built, advanced machine learning algorithms, conducts aggressive behavior analysis, and studies anti-evasion techniques. A memory snapshot comparison is also conducted to detect previously unknown threats.
The sandbox is used for testing application files, executable files, and documents for malicious actions. The results of the analysis are then checked against online repositories to identify potentially malicious actions. If the files are determined to be malicious, they are quarantined and the threat intelligence is passed to Bitdefender’s cloud threat intelligence service. All Bitdefender and SpamTitan users will then be automatically protected if that threat is encountered again.
The new sandboxing feature takes SpamTitan threat protection to the next level and provides superior protection against elusive threats in the pre-execution stage, including targeted attacks, obfuscated malware, custom malware, ransomware, and APTs.
DMARC is the gold standard for protecting against email impersonation attacks. These attacks impersonate known contacts, government agencies, and well-known brands, with email messages appearing to have been sent from their trusted domains. DMARC authentication allows these email impersonation attacks to be detected and blocked.
These two new features have been provided at no extra cost and are immediately available to current users of SpamTitan products to provide even greater protection against the most difficult to detect threats.
Halloween is a focus for many hackers when they wish to launch new cyberattacks and scams to fool internet users into revealing their personal data. They aim to drain a personal or business bank account of data and then reap the rewards that can be gained from identity theft. Halloween-Themed spam attacks are typical in the run up to Halloween.
For SpamTitan, Halloween is a busy time with many new Halloween-themed spam and phishing scams identified. This holiday time is expected to be no different. Many new Halloween phishing scams can be expected to be kicked off this year as cybercriminals try to take advantage of the unprepared.
The focus of all of these spam emails is to get users to hand over their personal information, such as account login details and credit card details. Often the emails deliver malware and viruses to inboxes, other times they share links to phishing websites that harvest information. It is not always credit card details that the hackers seek. Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other personal data are highly valuable; as are telephone numbers which can be used by scammers to carry out bogus phone calls.
You could be thinking “I would never fall for a phishing campaign,” but millions do. Can you be so sure that your employees will be able to identify a fake email or website, or a sophisticated phishing campaign? Will they be able to identify these scams 100% of the time?
Even if one email turns out to be successful, the damage caused can be massive, as Sean Doherty, senior engineer with SpamTitan Technologies outlines. “To date it is estimated that over $40 billion has been lost to 419 scams alone.”
Given the massive sums of cash that criminals can obtain from these emails, it is clear why the threat is growing and more and more campaigns are initiated every year. If a scheme is profitable, it will be repeated and new campaigns are sure to be developed.
If criminals did not gain from these types of scams, they would very quickly stop using them. However, the reality is they do, as Doherty remarks: “These scam emails continue to exist and grow in frequency and ferocity. The simple fact is that these scams wouldn’t be repeated if they didn’t reap rewards for the cybercriminals.”
All that it needs is for an absent minded employee to visit on a Twitter link that directs them to a phishing website, and malware can be automatically installed to their computer. Following that, a network can be infiltrated. Data is then stolen, deleted, or encrypted and only released when a ransom is met. The cost of cyber attack resolution can be huge. If all of your company data was suddenly encrypted, would you meet a ransom demand to get it back? Would you have any other option?
Remain on the lookout for scams, phishing campaigns, and unknown email attachments, and ensure all of your security software is up to date.
There are some very valid reasons why you should block access to file sharing websites. These websites are mainly used to share pirated software, music, films, and TV shows. It would be improbable that the owner of the copyright would take action against an employer for failing to stop the illegal sharing of copyrighted material, but this is an unnecessary legal danger.
However, the chief risk from using these websites comes in the form of malware. Research completed by IDC in 2013 indicated that out of 533 tests of websites and peer-2-peer file sharing networks, the downloading of pirated software lead to spyware and tracking cookies being downloaded to users’ computers 78% of the time. More concerning is the fact that Trojans were downloaded with pirated software 36% of the time.
A survey carried out on IT managers and CIOs at the time showed that malware was downloaded 15% of the time with the software. IDC found that overall there was a 33.3% chance of infecting a machine with malware by using pirated software.
Even browsing on torrent sites can be harmful. This week Malwarebytes said that visitors to The Pirate Bay were shown malicious adverts. An advertiser used a pop-under to silently redirect users to a malicious site that had the Magnitude exploit kit which was used to install Cerber ransomware onto users’ devices.
A study completed by UC San Diego involved testing pirated software downloads using VirusTotal. VirusTotal reviews files against the databases of 47 different anti-virus services. The research team found that 50% of pirated files were infected with malware.
Dealing with malware from pirated software was found to take around 1.5 billion hours per year. For companies the cost can be considerable. IDC estimated the cost to enterprises to be around $114 billion in 2013 alone. And that was just for the clean-up. The cost of data breaches caused by illegal software installations was calculated at around $350 billion.
Groups can monitor devices and check for unauthorized software downloads on individual devices; however, by the time a software installation has been identified, malware is likely to already have been downloaded. A recent report by Verizon indicates that on average, hackers are able to extract data within 28 minutes of obtaining access to a system.
One of the simplest ways to manage risk is to block file sharing websites including P2P and torrent sites. A web filter can be easily set up to block file sharing websites and stop them from being accessed. Many web filters can also be set up to block specific file types from being installed, including keygens and other executables.
By preventing access to file sharing websites organizations can ensure that copyright-violating activities are stopped and malware risk is effectively handled. Additionally, web filters can be used to block web-borne threats including phishing websites, compromised webpages, spam and botnets, adware, malware, ransomware, and anonymizers.
Choosing not to block file sharing websites could turn out to be expensive for a company. It is far better to block possibly dangerous websites and online activities than to have to cover the cost of removing malware infections and managing with data breaches.
The best security against malware, spam, hacker attacks, policy breaches and other email and web threats is a layered set of defenses in which software, services, hardware and policies are incorporated to safeguard data and other assets at the network, system and application tiers. However, an obvious – but often-disregarded – layer in this cake of protection is the common sense of your staff – one of the critical layers to stop threats from gaining a foothold. As the picture says ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’, this is where common sense is important.
Spear phishing is an increasing issue where a targeted false email that seems to be legitimate is sent to individuals or a company in order to obtain data. For instance e, by looking at a Facebook page of someone with whom I am not connected. I can see that she is a realtor, has listed a home at 657 Noble in [city name withheld], was born on January 26th, has a cat named Lou, is a member of the Agent Leadership Council at a southern California realty organization, likes ice skating, resides in Thousand Oaks, speaks French, and took a vacation to Orlando on February 11th. If I was a hacker intent on sending her a spear phishing email – perhaps with the intent of infecting her PC with Zeus – I could use these details to craft an email that she would be likely to click on. For example, an email with the title “Need to schedule a vet appointment for Lou” or “We mistakenly overcharged you on your recent trip to Orlando”, or maybe even a LinkedIn invitation that includes personal details, would likely get her attention and increase the possibility of her becoming a victim of a spear phisher. This is not to say that this Facebook customer lacks common sense, but the details she has posted could be used against her and her company and needs to be looked at in that light.
Spam filtering technology is successful at preventing spam emails that include links to malware sources (albeit with some spam filters more effective than others). The RSA exploit in April 2011, in which some staff members received an email with an Excel attachment, was due to spear phishing emails that were effectively quarantined by spam filtering technology, but later opened by staff members from the quarantine. A spear phishing email at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in April 2011 was received by 530 workers, 11% of whom clicked on a malicious link. Many users are not adequately when asked for information. For instance, before last year’s royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton, a Facebook hacking scam was doing the rounds asking respondents to create their royal wedding guest name. This name consisted of one grandparent’s name, the name of a first pet, and the name of the street on which the victim lived when they were younger – all likely responses to security questions one might get asked when resetting a password.
TitanHQ kickstarted its 2019 MSP roadshow program on February 14 with events in London and Florida. The 2019 season will see the TitanHQ team attend 15 roadshows and conferences in Ireland, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, and the USA and meet new and prospective MSP partners, Wi-Fi providers, and ISPs.
In the summer of 2018, TitanHQ formed a strategic alliance with Datto which saw WebTitan Cloud and WebTitan Cloud for WiFi web filtering solutions incorporated into the Datto networking range. TitanHQ has been working closely with Datto MSPs ever since and has been helping them add web filtering to their security stacks and start providing their clients with world-class web filtering services.
Following on from a highly successful series of Datto roadshows in 2017, the TitanHQ team is back on the road and will be attending 7 Datto roadshow events over the coming 5 months, finishing off at DattoCon in June. The campaign started today at the TitanHQ-sponsored Datto Roadshow in Tampa, Florida. TitanHQ Alliance Manager Patrick Regan attended the roadshow and has been meeting with MSP to explain about WebTitan Cloud, WebTitan Cloud for WiFi, SpamTitan, and ArcTitan, and how they can benefit MSPs an help them build a high margin security practice.
For two years now, TitanHQ has been a member of the IT Nation community and has been helping MSPs get the most out of TitanHQ products to better serve the needs of their clients. It has been a great learning experience and a thoroughly enjoyable couple of years. The first of three IT Nation event took place today – The IT Nation Q1 EMEA Meeting in London. The event was attended by TitanHQ Alliance Manager Eddie Monaghan, who will be helping MSPs discover TitanHQ email security, DNS filtering, and email archiving solutions all week.
TitanHQ Alliance Manager, Eddie Monaghan.
If you were unable to attend either of these events, there are plenty more opportunities to meet with TitanHQ over the coming months. The full schedule of events that will be attended by members of the TitanHQ team are detailed below. We look forward to meeting you at one of the upcoming roadshow events in 2019.
Dating email scams have experienced a significant rise during January and went on into February. You have probably already witnessed emails like this landing in your inboxes.
The emails look like they were sent by Russian women seeking love. Unsolicited emails from attractive women that include suggestive pictures and messages claiming the recipient is particularly attractive are certain to be spam, yet the emails are effective. The FBI’s figures show that approximately $230 million is lost to these scams alone each year. In 2016, the FBI received was sent 15,000 complaints in relation to financial losses as a result of dating and romance scams.
There were two major spikes in spam email volume between January 15 and 17 and January 29 and February 2 when around 35 million dating spam messages were sent using the Necurs botnet. Over 230 million messages were shared during a two-week period in January. The focus of the campaign is to steal credit card information, payments to cover flights to take the women over to the US, but in many cases the purpose is to fool the email recipient into installing malware.
Hackers use all types of tactics to entice users to click. Another effective tactic, highlighted by security awareness training firms KnowBe4 and PhishMe, is the use of eCards, particularly on Valentine’s Day. Links are sent that appear to be from genuine eCard sites that require users to click the link to view a Valentine’s day card from a secret admirer. The purpose is to share malware.
Valentine’s day email scams this year also come with messages warning the recipient about the failed delivery of flowers from Interflora and email attachments claiming to be delivery receipts.
It is highly probably that these emails being clicked on makes defending against them a major pain for companies. Just one click is all it takes for malware to be downloaded, and since many malware variants can rapidly spread laterally, one click could be all it takes to impact a complete network.
Winter Olympics Scams Persist
This month has also borne witness to a number of Winter Olympics phishing campaigns. Hackers have been focusing on the games to get their emails clicked on. Malicious links are used to direct users to websites that claim to have recent news on the events, the competitors, fake news, and the results of events.
Instead of this these links direct users to phishing websites, exploit kits, and sites where malware is silently installed. With workers not able to watch the sports live at work, these malicious emails stand a high chance of being clicked on.
With Valentine’s day and the Winter Olympics, February has been a fruitful busy month for scammers and with the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics still in full flow, companies need to be on high alert.
Luckily, there is one technology in particular that can help businesses counter these email-based dangers. An advanced spam filtering solution: The most successful security measure against email-based attacks. An advanced spam filter such as SpamTitan blocks more than 99.9% of spam emails, 100% of known malware, and ensures that phishing and other malicious emails do not land in inboxes.
Contact the TitanHQ team today to find out more about SpamTitan.
A newly-identified malware variant, labelled the Cannon Trojan, is being deployed in targeted attacks on government agencies in the United States and Europe. The new malware strain has been connected with a threat group known under many names – APT28, Fancy Bear, Sofacy, Sednet, Strontium – that has links to the Russian government.
The Cannon Trojan is being used to collate data regarding possible targets, collecting system information and taking screenshots that are returned sent back to APT28. The Cannon Trojan is also a downloader capable of downloading additional malware variants onto an infiltrated system.
The new malware strain is stealthy and uses a variety of tricks to prevent detection and hide communications with its C2. Rather than sharing via over HTTP/HTTPS, like other malware variants used by APT28, the Cannon Trojan communicates using email over SMTPs and POP3S.
Once downloaded, an email is sent over SMTPS through port 465 and an additional two email addresses are obtained through which the malware communicates with its C2 using the POP3S protocol to receive instructions and send back data. While the use of email for communicating with a C2 has been seen before, it is relatively unusual One advantage provided by this method of communication is it is more difficult to identify and tackle that HTTP/HTTPS.
The Cannon Trojan, like the Zebrocy Trojan which is also being shared by APT28, is being shared using spear phishing emails. Two email templates have been tracked by Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 team, one of which takes advantage of interest in the Lion Air plane crash in Indonesia.
The Lion Air spear phishing campaign seems to supply data on the victims of the crash, which the email claims are included in an attached Word document titled Crash List (Lion Air Boeing 737).docx. The user must ‘Enable Content’ to look at the contents of the document. It is alleged that the document was created in an earlier version of Word and content must be turned on for the file to be displayed. Opening the email and enabling content would allow the macro to run, which would then silently install the Cannon Trojan.
Instead of the macro running and installing the payload straightaway, as an anti-analysis mechanism, the hackers use the Windows AutoClose tool to delay completion of the macro routine until the document is closed. Only then is the Trojan installed. Any sandbox that analyzes the document and exits before closing the document would be unlikely to see that it is malicious. Further, the macro will only run if a connection with the C2 is created. Even if the document is opened and content is turned on, the macro will not run without its C2 channel open.
The tactics deployed by the hackers to obfuscate the macro and hide communications make this threat difficult to spot. The key to blocking infection is blocking the threat at source and stopping it from reaching inboxes. The provision of end user training to help staff identify threats including emails with attachments from unknown senders is also important.
Enhance Security Against Zero-Day Malware & Spear Phishing
TitanHQ has created a strong anti-phishing and anti-spam solution that is effective at tackling advanced constant threats and zero-day malware, which does not depend on signature-based detection methods. While combined anti-virus engines offer security from against 100% of known malware, unlike many other spam filtering solutions, SpamTitan uses a range of predictive techniques to identify previously unseen threats and spear phishing attacks.
Greylisting is used to find domains used for spamming that have yet to be blacklisted. All incoming emails undergo a Bayesian analysis, and heuristics are used to spot new threats.
To additionally safeguard against phishing attacks, URIBL and SURBL protocols are used to scan embedded hyperlinks. SpamTitan also scans outbound mail to stop abuse and identify efforts at0 data theft.
For further information on SpamTitan, to book a product demonstration, or to sign up for a free trial of the full product, contact the TitanHQ team now.
Office 365 currently has 155 million global users and is an ideal target for cybercriminals due to that fact.
A recent study this year has confirmed that this is, indeed, so. A 13% increase in attacks on Office 365 email accounts has been recorded this year, and many of those attacks succeed. Due to this is it vital to enhance your Office 365 security.
Hackers are searching Office 365 for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. They have created emails that bypass Microsoft’s anti-phishing protections, mass email campaigns are initiated on Office 365 users. Companies using Office 365 can easily be found and targeted because it is made clear that they use Office 365 through public DNS MX records.
It is very important to put in place a strong password policy and stop users from setting passwords that are easy to brute force. You should not permit dictionary words or any commonly used weak passwords, that otherwise meet your password policy requirements – Password1! for example.
The minimum length for a password should be 8 characters but think about increasing that minimum. A password of between 12 and 15 characters is recommended. Make sure you do not set a too restrictive maximum number of characters to encourage the use of longer passphrases. Passphrases are much more difficult to crack than 8-digit passwords and easier for users to remember. To make it even easier for your users, think about using a password manager.
Even with strong passwords, some users’ passwords may be guessed, or users may reply to phishing emails and disclose their password to a scammer. An extra login control is therefore required to prevent compromised passwords from being implemented to access Office 365 accounts.
Multi-factor authentication is not perfect, but it will help you enhance Office 365 security. With MFA, in addition to a password, another method of authentication is required such as a token or a code sent to a mobile phone. If a password is stolen by a hacker, and an attempt is made to login from a new location or device, additional authentication will be required to access the account.
Mailbox auditing in Office 365 is not enabled on by default so it needs to be enabled. You can set different parameters for logging activity including successful login attempts and various mailbox activities. This can help you spot whether a mailbox has been infiltrated. You can also logs failed login attempts to help you spot when you are being attacked.
As previously referred to, hackers can test their phishing emails to see if they bypass Office 365 anti-phishing controls and your organization can be identified as using Office 365. To enhance Office 365 security and reduce the number of phishing emails that are sent to end users’ inboxes, consider using a third-party spam filter rather than relying on Microsoft’s anti-phishing controls. Dedicated email security vendors, like TitanHQ, offer more effective and more flexible anti-spam and anti-phishing solutions than Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection at a lower expense.
Sextortion scams have proven popular with hackers in 2019. A well-composed email and an email list are all that is necessary. The latter can easily be bought for next to nothing via darknet marketplaces and hacking forums. Next to no technical skill is required to run sextortion scams and as hackers’ Bitcoin wallets show, they are effective.
Many sextortion scams use the tried and tested method of threatening to expose a user’s online activities (pornography habits, dating/adultery site usage) to all their contacts and friends/family unless a payment is completed. Some of the recent sextortion scams have added credibility by stating that they had users’ passwords. However, new sextortion scams have been detected in the past few days that are using a different tactic to get users to pay up.
The email template used in this scam is like other recent sextortion scams. The hackers claim to have a video of the victim viewing adult content. The footage was recorded through the victim’s webcam and has been spliced with screenshots of the content that was being looked at.
In the new campaign the email includes the user’s email account in the body of the email, a password (Most likely an old password impacted in a previous breach), and a hyperlink that the victim is encouraged to click to download the video that has been created and see exactly what will soon be shared via email and social media networks.
Visiting the link in the video will trigger the installation of a zip file. The compressed file contains a document including the text of the email along with the supposed video file. That video file is actually an information gatherer – The Azorult Trojan.
This form of the scam is even more likely to be successful than past campaigns. Many individuals who receive a sextortion scam email will see it for what it really is: A mass email including an empty threat. However, the inclusion of a link to download a video is likely to see many people download the file to find out if the threat is real.
If the zip file is opened and the Azorult Trojan executed, it will silently gather information from the user’s computer – Similar information to what the attacker claims to have already obtained: Cookies from websites the user has seen, chat histories, files stored on the computer, and login information entered through browsers such as email account and bank details.
However, it doesn’t finish here. The Azorult Trojan will also install a secondary payload: GandCrab ransomware. Once information has been gathered, the user will have their personal files encrypted: Documents, spreadsheets, digital images, databases, music, videos, and more. Recovery will depend on those files having been backed up and not being encrypted by the ransomware. Aside from permanent file loss, the only other alternative will be to pay a high ransom for the key to decrypt the files.
If the email was sent to a business email account, or a personal email account that was being logged onto at work, files on the victim’s work computer will be encrypted. Since a record of the original email will have been extracted on the device, the reason why the malware was downloaded will be made clear to the IT department.
The key to not being tricked is to ignore any threats sent via email and never click links in the emails nor click on email attachments.
Companies can plan for the threat by using cybersecurity solutions such as spam filters and web filters. The former stop the emails from being sent while the latter blocks access to sites that host malware.
The malware known as ‘Ovidiy Stealer’ is password stealing software that will capture login details and send the information to the hacker’s C2 server. As with most other password stealers, information is captured as it is entered into websites such as banking portals, web-based email accounts, social media accounts and other online services.
However, even if a device is infected, the Ovidiy Stealer will not capture information entered via Internet Explorer or Safari. The malware is also not persistent and if the computer is rebooted the malware will stop trying to complete its task.
Sadly, if you use Chrome or Opera, your confidential personal data is likely to be compromised. Other browsers known to be supported include Orbitum, Torch, Amigo and Kometa. However, sd the malware is being regularly updated it is likely other browsers will come online soon.
Ovidiy Stealer is a new malware, first identified only a month ago. It is chiefly being implemented in attacks in Russian-speaking regions, although it is possible that multi-language versions will be developed and attacks will soon be seen in other regions.
Proofpoint Researchers, who first detected the password stealing malware, are of the opinion that email is the primary attack vector, with the malware packaged in an executable file shared as an attachment. Proofpoint also thinks that rather than email attachments, links to download pages are also being implemented. Samples have been seen bundled with LiteBitcoin installers and the malware is also being sent through file-sharing websites, in particular via Keygen software cracking programs.
New password stealers are regularly being released, but what make the Ovidiy Stealer different and makes it particularly dangerous is it is being made available online at a particularly low price. Just $13 (450-750 Rubles) will get one build bundled into an executable ready for delivery using a spam email campaign. Due to the low cost there are likely to be many malicious actors carrying out campaigns to spread the malware, hence the range of attack vectors.
Would be hackers willing to part with $13 are able to see the number of infections using a web control panel complete with login. using the control panel they can control their account, view the number of infections, build more stubs and review the logs generated by the malware.
Safeguarding against malware such as Ovidiy Stealer demands caution as it requires time before new malware are discovered by AV solutions. Some AV solutions are already identifying the malware, but not all of them. As ever, when receiving an email from an unknown sender, do not click on attachments or visit hyperlinks.
Sextortion scams have been in the rise in the last six months and these scams normally implement the technique of threatening to expose a user’s online activities (pornography habits, dating/adultery site usage) to all their contacts and friends/family unless a payment is completed.
A number of the recent sextortion scams have boosted their credibility by claiming to have users’ passwords. However, new sextortion scams have been discovered that are using a different tactic to get users to pay up. The email template seen in this scam is similar to other recent sextortion scams. The scammers say that they have a video of the victim viewing adult content. The footage was captured using the victim’s webcam and has been spliced with screenshots of the content that was being looked at.
In the new campaign the email includes the user’s email account in the text of the email, a password (probably an old password compromised in a previous breach), and a hyperlink that the victim is asked to click to download the video that has been created and see exactly what will soon be shared via email and social media networks.
Clicking the link in the video will lead to the downloading of a zip file. The compressed file includes a document including the text of the email and the supposed video file. That video file is really an information stealer – The Azorult Trojan.
This type of scam is even more likely to be successful than past campaigns. Many people who receive a sextortion scam email will see it as fake. However, the a link to download a video being included may lead to many people downloading the file to see if the threat is real.
If the zip file is downloaded and the Azorult Trojan executed, it will silently gather data from the user’s computer – similar information to what the hacker claims to have already obtained: Cookies from websites the user has visited, chat histories, files stored on the computer, and login information entered through browsers such as email account and bank details.
The Azorult Trojan will also install a secondary payload: GandCrab ransomware. Once data has been gathered, the user will have their personal files encrypted: Documents, spreadsheets, digital photos, databases, music, videos, and more. Recovery will only be possible if these files having been backed up and not also encrypted by the ransomware. Apart from permanent file loss, the only other option will be to pay a sizeable ransom for the key to decrypt the files.
If the email was issued to a business email account, or a personal email account that was accessed at work, files on the victim’s work computer will also be encrypted. As a record of the initial email will have been extracted on the device, the reason why the malware was downloaded will be made clear to the IT department.
The key to not being tricked is to disregard any threats sent using email and never click links in the emails or click on email attachments.
A new Netflix phishing scam has been discovered that tries to trick Netflix subscribers into disclosing their login credentials and other sensitive data such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers.
This Netflix phishing scam is like to others that have been discovered over the past few months. A major campaign was identified in October and another in November. The most recent Netflix phishing scam confirms that the threat actors are now beginning large-scale phishing attacks on a monthly basis.
The number of current Netflix scams and the scale of the campaigns has resulted in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a warning to increase awareness of the threat.
The most recent campaign was detected by an officer in the Ohio Police Department. As with previous campaigns, the hackers use a tried and tested method to get users to click on the link in the email – the danger of account closure due to issues with the user’s billing details.
In order to stop closure of the user’s Netflix account a link in the email must be visited. That will bring the user to the Netflix site where login details and banking information must be handed over. While the web page looks genuine, it is hosted on a domain controlled by the hackers. Any details entered on that web page will be obtained by the people behind the scam.
The emails appear authentic and include the correct logos and color schemes and are almost identical to the official emails sent to subscribers to Netflix. Netflix also includes links in its emails, so unwary users may click without first reviewing the authenticity of the email.
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Image Source: FTC via Ohio Police Department
There are indications that the email is not what it seems. The email begins “Hi Dear”; British English is used, even though the email is sent to U.S. citizens; the email is sent from a domain that is not used by Netflix; and the domain to which the email brings users is similarly suspect. However, the scam is sure to trick many users who fail to carefully check emails before taking any action.
Internet Browsers need to exercise caution with email and should carefully check messages before replying, no matter how urgent the call for action is. It is a good best practice to always visit a website directly by entering in the domain into the address bar of a web browser, rather than using the hyperlink in an email.
If the email is discovered to be a scam, it should be reported to the proper authorities in the country in which you reside and also to the company the hackers are impersonating. In the case of Netflix phishing scams, emails should be forwarded to email@example.com.
While this Netflix phishing scam targets consumers, companies are also at risk. Many similar scams attempt to get users to part with business login details and bank account data. Companies can cut the risk of data and financial losses to phishing scams by ensuring all members of the company, from the CEO down, are given ongoing security awareness training and are taught cybersecurity best practices and are made aware of the latest dangers.
An advanced spam filtering solution is also strongly recommended to see to it that the vast majority of these scam emails are blocked and do not land in inboxes. SpamTitan for instance, prevents more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails and 100% of known malware.
For further details on anti-phishing solutions for companies, get in touch with the TitanHQ team today.
A recent Virginia Tech study of commonly used passwords by Dashlane/Virginia Tech has unveiled what some of the worst passwords of 2018 were.
For the study, researchers supplied Dashlane with an anonymized copy of 61.5 million passwords. The password list was established using 107 individual lists of passwords available on forums and in data archives, many of which have come from previous data breaches.
The analysis of the list showed many common themes. These include the names of local sports teams: In the UK, common password choices witnessed were liverpool, chelsea and arsenal – the leading soccer teams in the Premier League.
Commercial brand names were also selected, such as cocacola, snickers, mercedes, skittles, mustang, and playboy. MySpace and LinkedIn were also common choices, alarmingly, to secure accounts on those websites.
Music and film references were often used, with Spiderman, superman, starwars, and pokemon all typical choices as were expressions of frustration – a**hole, bull****, and f***you were repeatedly chosen.
The Dashlane report indicates that despite warnings about the risk of using easy-to-remember passwords, end users are still opting for weak passwords. One very worrying trend is the use of seemingly safe passwords, which are anything but secure.
1q2w3e4r5t6y and 1qaz2wsx3edc may seem to be relatively secure passwords; however, how they are set up makes them easy to guess. They are certainly stronger than “password” or letmein” but not by much.
The passwords are formulated by a process that Dashlane calls password walking – the use of letters, numbers, and symbols beside each other on a keyboard. Simpler variations on this theme are qwerty and asdfghjk. To get around password rules, the same method is used with the incorporation of capital letters and symbols.
The study reveals that even though many firms require end users to set strong passwords, employees ignore password guidance or opt for passwords that pass security checks but are really not that secure.
What Makes a Strong Password?
A strong password will not be in the dictionary, will not implement sequential numbers or be created by walking fingers along a keyboard. Brand names and locations should also be avoided. Passwords should be at least 8 characters and should be unique – never used previously by the user, and never reused on a different platform.
Passwords should have at least one capital letter, lowercase letter, symbol and number. If all lowercase letters are used, each letter in the password could be one of 26 different letters. Include capitals and the possible options double to 52. There are 10 digits, growing the options to 62, and let’s say 32 special characters, bringing the total up to 94 options. With so many options and possible combinations, randomly generated passwords are particularly difficult to decipher. However, randomly generated passwords are also very difficult to remember.
Recently, that issue has been recognized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which has refreshed its guidance on passwords (See special publication 800-63B).
While the implementation of random strings of characters and symbols makes passwords very difficult to guess and more resilient to hackers’ brute force password guessing tactics, end users have difficulty remembering their passwords and that leads to particularly dangerous behaviors such as writing the password down or keeping it in a browser.
NIST now advises the use of longer passphrases instead of passwords – Iboughtacarwithmyfirstpaypacket or ifihadahorseIwouldcallitDave– for instance. Passphrases are more user-friendly and easier to remember, but are still safe – provided a adequate number of characters are used. If passphrases are encouraged instead of difficult to remember passwords, end users will be less inclined to set passwords that meet strong password guidelines but are not particularly secure – LetMeIn! for example.
The shortest number of characters can be set by each group, but rather than restricting the characters at 16, companies should consider growing this to at least 64. They should also accept all printable ASCII characters, including spaces, and UNICODE characters.
Since some end users will try to put in place weak passwords, it is vital to incorporate controls that prevent commonly used passwords from being used. Each password choice should be reviewed against a blacklist before it can be implemented.
Web filtering for schools has been a requirement in order to qualify for E-Rate discounts on telecommunications and Internet services since the Children´s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) was passed in 2000.
Following this, many states have also passed their own legislation making it a requirement for schools to filter the Internet to ensure children are safeguarded from harmful website content. So far, 24 states have developed legislation to stop children from accessing harmful images including pornography in schools and libraries.
Even in those states where web filtering for schools is not obligatory, lobby groups and parents’ associations have asked for more stringent controls in relation to the content that can be accessed on school computers and through school networks. Web filtering for schools a requirement rather than an option.
While the chief purpose of web filtering for schools is to prevent access to obscene or harmful website content, many schools have opted to put in place a content filtering solution as a cybersecurity tactic. Web filters are used to stop malware downloads and obstructing phishing attacks.
Previously, web filtering required a physical appliance to be placed on a firewall. Appliance based web filters have a number of weaknesses. Appliances are not cheap and need to be updated and maintained by IT support staff. They also restrict the number of users that can access the Internet. When capacity needs to be strengthened, new hardware needs to be bought.
Now a rising number of schools are choosing a lower cost solution. Cloud based web filtering for schools does not necessitate the purchasing of any additional hardware, saving schools thousands of dollars in equipment investment. There is also no obligation for IT teams to be on site. When using a cloud-based solution, everything is cloud based and no software installations are required. DUe to this the entire system can be managed remotely. In order to begin all that you need is for a simple change to be made to the DNS to point it to the solution provider’s servers. That process usually takes just a very short period of time.
There has been a constant rise in HTTPS phishing websites in recent of years, an increase that occured in line with the the shift rate from HTTP to HTTPS on commercial websites. HTTPS sites have been awarded SSL/TLS certificates and display a green padlock beside the the URL. The green padlock shows that the site is secure. It confirms to website visitors that the link between their browser and the website is encrypted. This means there is a level of security from man-in-the-middle attacks by ensuring data sent from the browser to the website cannot be intercepted and viewed by external parties.
HTTPS websites are now used by a large number of companies, particularly e-commerce website owners. This has become more and more important since search engines such as Google Chrome provide clear indications to Internet users that sites may not be secure if the link is not encrypted.
However, users should be aware that the green padlock does not mean that the site is authentic if it can be seen beside the URL it does not mean the site is completely secure.
If the website is managed by a cybercriminal, all the green padlock means is that other hackers will not be able to intercept data. Any data entered on the website will be shared with the criminal operating that site. If Internet users are aware that HTTPS does not mean completely secure, they will be less likely to hand over sensitive information if the green padlock is not present. Unfortunately, free SSL certificates can easily be obtained to turn HTTP sites into HTTPS phishing websites.
PhishLabs released a report, back in Q1, 2016, fewer than 5% of phishing websites used HTTPS. By Q3, 2016, the percentage started to rise rapidly. By Q1, 2017, the percentage had almost reached 10%, and by Q3, 2017, a quarter of phishing websites were using HTTPS. The 30% milestone was reached around Q1, 2018, and at the end of Q3, 2018, 49% of all phishing sites were using HTTPS.
A PhishLabs research survey completed late last year clearly showed the lack of understanding of the meaning of the green padlock. 63% of consumers surveyed viewed the green padlock as meaning the website was legitimate, and 72% saw the website as being secure. Only 18% of those who completed the survey correctly identified the green padlock as only meaning communications with the website were encrypted.
It is crucial that all Internet users to understand that HTTPS phishing websites not only exist, but before long the most phishing websites will be on HTTPS and showing the green padlock. A discussion about the true meaning of HTTPS is long required and it is certainly something that should be covered in security awareness training sessions.
It is also now important for companies to use a web filtering solution can complete SSL inspection – the decryption, scanning, and re-encryption of HTTPS traffic to ensure that access to these malicious websites is prevented. Along with reading content and assessing websites to determine whether they are dangerous, SSL inspection ensures site content can be categorized correctly. This ensures that sites that breach a company’s acceptable usage policies are blocked.
There is a downside to using SSL inspection, and that is the workload placed on CPUs and a reduction in Internet speeds. SSL inspection is therefore optional with most advanced web filters. To ensure that the workload is reduced, IT teams should use whitelisting to stop commonly used websites from being subjected to SSL filtering.
WebTitan Incorporates SSL Filtering to Prevent Access to HTTPS Phishing Websites
WebTitan is a strong web filtering solution for SMBs and managed service providers (MSPs) that supplies protection against web-based threats. There are three products in the WebTitan family – WebTitan Gateway, WebTitan Cloud, and WebTitan Cloud for Wi-Fi; all of which include SSL filtering as standard. If SSL filtering is enabled, users will be secured from HTTPS phishing websites and other malicious sites that have SSL certificates.
All WebTitan products can be downloaded quickly, with no technical knowledge needed, and have been designed to be easy to implement. An intuitive user interface places all information, settings, and reports at users’ fingertips which makes for simple enforcement of acceptable Internet usage polices and fast reporting to identify potential problems – employees browsing habits and users that are attempting to bypass filtering controls for example.
Whether you are an MSP that wants to start providing web filtering to your clients or a SMB owner that wants greater security from web-based threats, the WebTitan suite of products will provide all the features you need and will allow you to strengthen security and employee productivity, cut legal liability, and establish a safe browsing environment for all users of your wired and wireless networks.
For further details on WebTitan, cost analysis, web filtering advice, to reserve a product demonstration, or to register for a free trial of the product, get in touch with TitanHQ now.
If you are browsing online and you will be have to tackle a wide range of threats, some of which could lead to your bank account being emptied or sensitive information being exposed and your accounts being compromised. Then there is ransomware, which could be used to prevent you from accessing your files should you not have backups or opt not to pay the ransom.
The majority of websites now being created are malicious websites, so how can you stay safe online? One solution deployed by businesses and ISPs is the use of a web filter. A web filter can be set up to restrict access to certain categories of Internet content and block most malicious websites.
While it is possible for companies or ISPs to purchase appliances that are located between end users and the Internet, DNS filters allow the Internet to be filtered without having to buy any hardware or install any software. So how is DNS filtering operated?
How is DNS Filtering Operated?
DNS filtering – or Domain Name System filtering to give it its full tname – is a technique of preventing access to certain websites, webpages, or IP addresses. DNS is what permits easy to remember domain names to be used – such as Wikipedia.com – rather than typing in IP addresses – such as 184.108.40.206. DNS maps IP addresses to domain names.
When a domain is bought from a domain register and that domain is hosted, it is given a unique IP address that allows the site to be found. When you try to access a website, a DNS query will be carried out. Your DNS server will look up the IP address of the domain/webpage, which will permit a connection to be made between the browser and the server where the website is hosted. The webpage will then be opened.
So how does DNS filtering operate? With DNS filtering set up, rather than the DNS server returning the IP address if the website exists, the request will be subjected to certain security measures. If a particular webpage or IP address is recognized as malicious, the request to access the site will be denied. Instead of connecting to a website, the user will be sent to a local IP address that will display a block page explaining that the site cannot be opened.
This control could be implemented at the router level, via your ISP, or a third party – a web filtering service provider. In the case of the latter, the user – a business for example – would point their DNS to the service provider. That service provider keeps a blacklist of malicious webpages/IP addresses. If a site is known to be malicious, access to malicious sites will be prevented.
Since the service provider will also group webpages, the DNS filter can also be implemented to block access to certain categories of webpages – pornography, child pornography, file sharing websites, gambling, and gaming sites for example. Provided a business sets up an acceptable usage policy (AUP) and sets that policy with the service provider, the AUP will be live. Since DNS filtering is low-latency, there will be next to no delay in logging onto safe websites that do not breach an organization’s acceptable Internet usage policies.
Can a DNS Filter Prevent Access to All Malicious Websites?
Sadly, no DNS filtering solution will stop access to all malicious websites, as in order for this to be accomplished, a webpage must first be identified as malicious. If a cybercriminal creates a brand-new phishing webpage, there will be a delay between the page being set up and it being reviewed and added to a blocklist. However, a DNS web filter will prevent access to the majority of malicious websites.
Can DNS Filtering be Avoided?
Proxy servers and anonymizer sites could be deployed to mask traffic and bypass the DNS filter unless the chosen solution also prevents access to these anonymizer sites. An end user could also manually amend their DNS settings locally unless they have been locked down. Determined persons may be able to find a way to bypass DNS filtering, but for the majority of end users, a DNS filter will block any effort to access forbidden or harmful website material.
No single cybersecurity solution will let you to block 100% of malicious websites but DNS filtering should definitely form part of your cybersecurity operations as it will allow most malicious sites and malware to be blocked.
Phishing is the most serious one security threat faced by companies. It is a tried and tested social engineering tactic that is favored by hacker as it is very effective.
Phishing emails can be used to trick device users into installing malware or disclosing their login credentials. It is an easy way for hackers to gain a foothold in a network to conduct further phishing attacks on a company.
Phishing works because it targets the most vulnerable link in security defenses: End users. If an email is sent to an inbox, there is a good chance that the email will be opened. Messages range a variety of sneaky tricks to fool end users into taking a specific action such as opening a malicious email attachment or visiting an embedded hyperlink.
Listed here are the main phishing lures of 2018 – Tte messages that have proven to be the most successful at getting end users to divulge sensitive information or download malware.
Main Phishing Lures of 2018
Identifying the top phishing lures is not straightforward. Many groups are obligated to publicly disclose data breaches to comply with industry regulations, but details of the phishing lures that have tricked employees are not usually made available for public consumption.
Instead, the best way to identify the top phishing lures is to study data from security awareness training companies. These companies have developed platforms that companies can use to conduct phishing simulation exercises. To obtain reliable data on the most effective phishing lures it is necessary to analyze huge amounts of data. Since these phishing simulation platforms are used to share millions of dummy phishing emails to employees and record responses, they are useful for identifying the most effective phishing lures.
In the recent weeks, two security awareness training businesses have released reports detailing the top phishing lures of 2018: Cofense and KnowBe4.
Main Phishing Lures on the Cofense Platform
Cofense has developed two lists of the top phishing lures of 2018. One uses the Cofense Intelligence platform which collates data on real phishing attacks and the second list is compiled from reactions to phishing simulations.
Both lists mainly feature phishing attacks involving fake invoices. 70% of the most effective phishing campaigns of 2018 mentioned invoice in the subject line. The other three were also linked to finance: Payment remittance, statement and payment. This makes sense as the finance department is the primary target in phishing attacks on companies.
The list of the main phishing lures from phishing simulations were also heavily dominated by fake invoices, which outnumbered the second most clicked phishing lure by double.
Number of Reported Emails
New Message in Mailbox
Online Order (Attachment)
Secure Message (MS Office Macro)
Online Order (Hyperlink)
Confidential Scanned document (Attachment)
Conversational Wire transfer (BEC Scam)
Main Phishing Lures on the KnowBe4 Platform
KnowBe4 has published two lists of the main phishing lures of Q3, 2018, which were created using responses to simulated phishing emails and real-world phishing attempted on companies that were reported to IT security departments.
The most common real-world phishing attacks recorded in Q3 were:
You have a new encrypted message
IT: Syncing Error – Returned incoming messages
HR: Contact information
FedEx: Sorry we missed you.
Microsoft: Multiple log in attempts
IT: IMPORTANT – NEW SERVER BACKUP
Wells Fargo: Irregular Activities Detected on Your Credit Card
LinkedIn: Your account is at risk!
Microsoft/Office 365: [Reminder]: your secured message
Coinbase: Your cryptocurrency wallet: Two-factor settings changed
The most commonly clicked phishing tricks in Q3 were:
% of Emails Clicked
Password Check Required Immediately
You Have a New Voicemail
Your order is on the way
Change of Password Required Immediately
De-activation of [[email]] in Process
UPS Label Delivery 1ZBE312TNY00015011
Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy
You’ve received a Document for Signature
Spam Notification: 1 New Messages
[ACTION REQUIRED] – Potential Acceptable Use Violation
Blocking Phishing Attacks at their Source
If login details for email accounts, Office 365, Dropbox, and other cloud services are obtained by scammers, the accounts can be plundered. Sensitive information can be illegally taken and Office 365/email accounts can be used for further phishing attacks on other workers. If malware is downloaded, scammers can gain full control of infected devices. The cost of addressing these attacks is massive and a successful phishing attack can seriously harm a company’s reputation.
Due to the damage that can be inflicted through phishing, it is essential for companies of all sizes to train staff how to identify phishing threats and put in place a system that allows suspicious emails to be reported to security teams swiftly. Resilience to phishing attacks can be greatly enhanced with an effective training program and phishing email simulations. It is also essential to implement an effective email security solution that blocks threats and ensures they do not land in inboxes.
SpamTitan is once such solution. It is an easy to configure email filtering solution that prevents more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails and 100% of known malware through dual anti-virus engines (Bitdefender and ClamAV). With SpamTitan securing inboxes, businesses are less reliant on their employees’ ability to spot phishing threats.
SpamTitan rigorously checks every incoming email to determine if a message is genuine and should be delivered or is potentially malicious and should be prevented. SpamTitan also carries out checks on outbound emails to see to it, should an an email account is compromised, it cannot be used to end spam and phishing emails internally and to clients and contacts, thus helping to safeguard the reputation of the business.
Strengthen Office 365 Email Security with SpamTitan
There are in excess of 135 million subscribers to Office 365, and such high numbers make Office 365 a big target for scammers. One of the chief ways that Office 365 credentials are obtained is via phishing. Emails are designed to get around Office 365 defenses and hyperlinks are used to direct end users to fake Office 365 login pages where details are harvested.
Companies that have configured Office 365 are likely to still see a huge rise in the number of malicious emails delivered to inboxes. To strengthen Office 365 security, a third-party email filtering control is needed. If SpamTitan is set up with Office 365, a higher percentage of phishing emails and other email threats can be prevented at source.
To discover more about SpamTitan, including details of pricing and to register for a free trial, get in touch with the TitanHQ team today.
One of the main tactics that cybercriminals install malware with is malvertising – the displaying of malicious adverts on legitimate websites that send visitors to websites where malware is installed. The HookAds malvertising campaign is one such example and the threat actors responsible for the campaign have been particularly active recently.
The HookAds malvertising campaign has one aim: To bring browsers to a website hosting the Fallout exploit kit. An exploit kit is malicious code that operates when a visitor lands on a web page. The visitor’s computer is searched to determine whether there are any flaws – unpatched software – that can be exploited to silently download files.
In the case of the Fallout exploit kit, users’ devices are reviewed for many known Windows flaws. If one is found, it is exploited and a malicious payload is installed. Several malware variants are currently being sent through Fallout, including information stealers, banking Trojans, and ransomware.
According to threat analyst nao_sec, two different HookAds malvertising campaigns have been discovered: One is being used to send the DanaBot banking Trojan and the other is sending two malware payloads – The Nocturnal information stealer and GlobeImposter ransomware through the Fallout exploit kit.
Exploit kits can only be used to send malware to unpatched devices, so companies will only be at risk of this web-based attack vector if they are not 100% up to date with their patching. Sadly, many companies are slow to apply patches and exploits for new vulnerabilities are frequently installed to EKs such as Fallout. Due to this, a security solution is required to block this attack vector.
HookAds Malvertising Campaign Emphasises Importance of a Web Filter
The threat actors to blame for the HookAds malvertising campaign are taking advantage of the low prices offered for advertising blocks on websites by low quality ad networks – those frequently utilized by owners of online gaming websites, adult sites, and other types of websites that should not be viewed by employees. While the site owners themselves are not actively engaging with the threat actors responsible for the campaign, the malicious adverts are still served on their websites along with legitimate ads. Luckilu, there is an easy solution that blocks EK activity: A web filter.
TitanHQ has created WebTitan to allow companies to carefully manage employee Internet access. Once WebTitan has been installed – a quick and simple process that takes just a few minutes – the solution can be set up to quickly enforce acceptable Internet usage policies. Content can be blocked by category in seconds.
Access to websites that host adult and other NSFW content can be quickly and easily blocked. If an employee tries to visit a category of website that is blocked by the filter, they will be redirected to a customizable block screen and will be advised why access has been prohibited.
WebTitan makes sures that employees cannot access ‘risky’ websites where malware can be installed and blocks access to productivity draining websites, illegal web content, and other sites that have no work basis
For more information on WebTitan, pricing, reserving a product demonstration, or register for a free trial, get in touch with the TitanHQ team now
Phishing is the main security threat faced by companies and detailed here are the main phishing lures of 2018. These lures have proven to be the most effective at getting end users to divulge sensitive information or install malware.
Deducing the top phishing lures is not simple. Many groups are required to publicly share details of data breaches to adhere with industry regulations, but details of the phishing lures that have fooled employees are not usually made public.
Instead, the best method to deduce the top phishing lures is to use data from security awareness training companies. These businesses have created platforms that businesses can use to run phishing simulation exercises. To obtain reliable data on the most effective phishing lures it is necessary to review huge volumes of data. Since these phishing simulation platforms are used to send millions of dummy phishing emails to employees and track responses, they are useful for finding out the most successful phishing lures.
In the past couple of weeks, two security awareness training businesses have released reports detailing the top phishing lures of 2018: Cofense and KnowBe4.
Cofense has established two lists of the top phishing lures of 2018. One is based on the Cofense Intelligence platform which gathers data on real phishing attacks and the second list is put together using responses to phishing simulations.
Both lists feature phishing attacks that include fake invoices. Seven out of the ten most effective phishing campaigns of 2018 referred to invoice in the subject line. The other three were also finance linked: Payment remittance, statement and payment. This make sense. The finance department is the primary target in phishing attacks on companies.
The list of the top phishing lures from phishing simulations also heavily featured fake invoices, which outnumbered the second most visitied phishing lure by 2 to 1.
Number of Reported Emails
New Message in Mailbox
Online Order (Attachment)
Secure Message (MS Office Macro)
Online Order (Hyperlink)
Confidential Scanned document (Attachment)
Conversational Wire transfer (BEC Scam)
Main Phishing Lures on the KnowBe4 Platform
KnowBe4 has created and shared two lists of the top phishing lures of Q3, 2018, which were compiled from responses to simulated phishing emails and real-world phishing campaigns targeting businesses that were reported to IT security departments.
The most common real-world phishing attacks witnessed during Q3 were:
You have a new encrypted message
IT: Syncing Error – Returned incoming messages
HR: Contact information
FedEx: Sorry we missed you.
Microsoft: Multiple log in attempts
IT: IMPORTANT – NEW SERVER BACKUP
Wells Fargo: Irregular Activities Detected on Your Credit Card
LinkedIn: Your account is at risk!
Microsoft/Office 365: [Reminder]: your secured message
Coinbase: Your cryptocurrency wallet: Two-factor settings changed
The most commonly phishing lures witnessed in Q3 were:
% of Emails Clicked
Password Check Required Immediately
You Have a New Voicemail
Your order is on the way
Change of Password Required Immediately
De-activation of [[email]] in Process
UPS Label Delivery 1ZBE312TNY00015011
Revised Vacation & Sick Time Policy
You’ve received a Document for Signature
Spam Notification: 1 New Messages
[ACTION REQUIRED] – Potential Acceptable Use Violation
If login credentials to email accounts, Office 365, Dropbox, and other cloud services are stolen by hackers, the accounts can be plundered. Sensitive date can be stolen and Office 365/email accounts can be used for other phishing attacks on other staff members. If malware is downloaded, hackers can gain full control of infected devices. The cost of addressing these attacks is considerable and a successful phishing attack can seriously damage a company’s business reputation.
Due to the damage that can be inflicted by phishing, it is essential for companies of all sizes to train staff how to identify phishing threats and put in place a system that allows suspicious emails to be reported to security teams quickly. Resilience to phishing attacks can be greatly enhanced with an good training program and phishing email simulations. It is also vital to use an effective email security solution that blocks threats and ensures they are not sent to inboxes.
SpamTitan is a highly effective, easy to put in place email filtering solution that blocks more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails and 100% of known malware using dual antivirus engines (Bitdefender and ClamAV). With SpamTitan safeguarding inboxes, companies are less reliant on their employees’ ability to identify phishing dangers.
SpamTitan uses a barrage of checks on each incoming email to to determine if a message is real and should be delivered or is potentially malicious and should be blocked. SpamTitan also conducts checks on outbound emails to ensure that in the event that an email account is infiltrated, it cannot be used to end spam and phishing emails internally and to clients and contacts, thus helping to safeguard the reputation of the firm.
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To discover more about SpamTitan, including details of pricing and to sign up for a free trial, contact the TitanHQ team today. During your free trial you will see how much better SpamTitan is at preventing phishing attacks than standard Office 365 anti-spam measures.
When pondering how much to spend on cybersecurity defenses, be sure to consider the cost of a retail data breach. Ill-advised security practices and a lack of proper cybersecurity defenses can cost a company quite a bit.
A data breach of the scale of that which impacted Home Depot in 2014 will cost hundreds of millions of dollars to address. The home depot data breach was huge. It was the largest retail data breach involving a point of sale system that has been seen so far. Malware had been downloaded that allowed cyber criminals to obtain over 50 million credit card numbers from home depot customers and around 53 million email addresses.
The attack was completed using stolen credentials from one of the retailer’s vendors. Those credentials were used to obtain access to the network. Those privileges were subsequently elevated, the Home Depot network was explored, and when access to the POS system was obtained, malware was downloaded to record credit card details. The malware infection went unnoticed for five months between April and September 2014.
Last year, Home Depot agreed to pay out $19.5 million to customers that had been impacted by the breach. The payout included the costs of providing credit monitoring services to those affected by the breach. Home Depot has also paid out a minimum of $134.5 million to credit card companies and banks. The latest settlement amount will permit banks and credit card companies to submit claims for $2 per compromised credit card without having to show proof of losses suffered. If banks can show losses, they will have up to 60% of losses compensated.
The total cost of the retail data breach is approximately $179 million, although that figure does not incorporate all legal fees that Home Depot must pay, and neither does it include undisclosed settlements. The final cost of the retail data breach will be much bigger. It is already getting closer to the $200 million mark.
Then there is the reputation damage due to the breach. Following any data breach, customers often take their business to a different company. Many consumers impacted by the breach have chosen to shop elsewhere. A number of studies have been carried out on the fallout from a data breach. One HyTrust study states that companies may lose 51% of customers following a breach of sensitive data.
A major phishing attack has been discovered in a San Diego School District. The phishing attack is different from the many similar phishing attacks on schools due to the range of accounts that were compromised, the amount of data that was potentially stolen, and the length of time it took for the data breach to be discovered.
According to a recent breach announcement, the login credentials of around 50 district staff members were obtained by the hacker. It is not unusual for a number of different accounts to be breached in school phishing attacks. Once access is obtained to one account, it can be used to send internal phishing emails to other staff members. Since those emails come from within, they are more likely to be trusted and less likely to be detected. Investigations into similar phishing attacks often reveal many more email accounts have been compromised than was first thought, although 50 sets of compromised details is very high.
Those accounts were infiltrated over a period of 11 months. The San Diego School District phishing attack was first discovered in October 2018 after staff warned the district’s IT department to phishing emails that had been received. Multiple reports tipped off the IT department that an ongoing cyberattack was taking place and there may have been a data breach.
The investigation showed the credentials obtained by the hacker provided access to the district’s network services, which included access to the district’s database of employees and student records. The school district is the second biggest in California and serves over 121,000 students annually. The database included records going back to the 2008/2009 school year. Overalll, the records of more than 500,000 individuals were potentially obtained by the cybercriminal. Given the duration of time that the hacker had access to the network, data theft is highly probable.
The data potentially obtained was massive. Student information stolen included names, addresses, dates of birth, telephone numbers, email addresses, enrollment and attendance information, discipline incident information, health data, legal notices on file, state student ID numbers, emergency contact data, and Social Security numbers. Impacted staff data also included salary information, health benefits data, paychecks and pay advices, tax data, and details of bank accounts used for direct deposits.
Data could be obtained from January 2018 to November 2018. While it is normal for unauthorized access to be immediately prevented upon discovery of a breach, in this case the investigation into the breach was conducted before shutting down access. This permitted the identity of the suspected hacker to be determined without warning the hacker that the breach had been discovered. The investigation into the breach is ongoing, although access has now been blocked and affected people have been notified. Extra cybersecurity controls have now been implemented to restrict future attacks.
School district phishing attacks are typical. School districts often lack the resources of large companies to dedicate to cybersecurity. Due to this, cyberattacks on school districts are much simpler to pull off. Schools also store large amounts of sensitive data of staff and students, which can be used for a wide variety of malicious purposes. The relative simplicity of attacks and a potential big payday for hackers and phishers make schools an attractive target.
The San Diego School District phishing attack is just one of many attacks like this that have been reported this year. During tax season at the beginning of 2018, many school districts were focused on by phishers seeking the W-2 forms of employees.
The next step in the evolution from hardware-based and software-based solutions for filtering Internet content is cloud-based web filtering software. Similar to the majority of cloud-based technologies, cloud-based web filtering software is convenient, trustworthy and scalable. It does not have the high costs of hardware-based solutions nor the high maintenance overheads of software-based programmes; and, although all three solutions pretty much operate the same way, cloud-based web filtering software has its benefits.
Cloud-Based Web Filtering Software
Cloud-based web filtering software is operated from in the cloud rather than physically attached to – or downloaded to – your network. In order to log on to the service, you simply need to redirect your DNS server settings to point to our servers. The cloud-based software then implements itself automatically, and you can either begin filtering the Internet using the software´s default settings, or set up and apply your own user policies via the web-based management portal.
As with most solutions for filtering Internet content, cloud-based web filtering software deploys a three-tier mechanism to enhance defenses against online threats, improve productivity and stop users accessing inappropriate material:
The first line of defense is SURBL and URIBL filters. These look at each request to visit a web page against lists of IP addresses known to lead to malware downloads, phishing attacks and spam emails. When a match is identified, the request to visit the web page is not allowed. The lists of IP addresses are automatically updated as new threats are spotted.
Behind the “blacklists”, category filters can be used to stop users looking at websites in certain categories. Administrators may want to stop users visiting websites known to have a high likelihood of harboring malware (pharmaceutical and travel websites), those likely to affect productivity (gaming and social networking) or those including inappropriate material.
Keyword filters can be employed used to fine-tune the category filters and stop users looking at websites containing exact word matches, specific apps or specific file extensions. This fine-tuning mechanism adds granularity to the Internet filtering process to set up Internet filtering without obstructing workflows.
Category filters and keyword filters can be switched on by individual users, user-group or company-wide according to your existing user policies. Most products for filtering Internet content can be integrated with management tools such as Active Directory in order to speed up the process of applying roles. Thereafter, administrators can review web activity in real-time via the management portal, or schedule customized reports by user, user-group, organization-wide, bandwidth usage, category or time.
Improve Network Performance with Cloud-Based Web Filtering Software
One unexpected benefit of cloud-based web filtering software is how it enhances network performance – or, strictly speaking, how it reduces the workload put on servers by other solutions for filtering Internet content. This is due to way in which encrypted web pages are reviewed by cloud-based web filtering software to deduce the nature of their content.
Most software for filtering Internet content use a process called SSL inspection to decrypt, review, and re-encrypt the content of “secure” web pages. SSL inspection is now an obligatory part of Internet filtering because hackers have been able to obtain fake SSL certificates and their malware payloads would avoid detection if it were not for SSL inspection.
A heavy workload is put on servers by hardware and software solutions for filtering Internet content is because there is such a high volume of encrypted web pages that need inspecting. Since Google revelead it would enhance the rankings of encrypted websites in search engine results pages, more than 50% of the most-visited web pages in the world are encrypted.
The decryption, inspection and re-encryption of half the world´s most-visited Internet pages place an incredible strain on servers. Often it will lead to delays in some web-based activities – i.e. email – or users will find Internet access is temporarily unavailable. Although cloud-based web filtering software also utilizes SSL inspection to figure out the content of encrypted web pages, the process is carried out on the cloud – eliminating the workload on network servers and allowed an Internet service with excellent latency.
Home purchasers and real estate agents in the United Kingdom and Ireland are being targeted by cybercriminals using a new solicitor email campaign. The scam, which includes mimicking a solicitor, is costing victims thousands. Additionally, there have some cases seen where cybercriminals are contacting solicitors emails claiming to be their clients and asking for changes in their bank details. Any pending transfers are then sent to the criminals’ accounts.
As funds for home purchases are sent to solicitors’ accounts before being shared with the sellers, if cybercriminals can amend the bank details for the transfers, the funds for the purchase will be paid straight into their bank accounts.
While email spoofing is not unusual, this solicitor email scam often includes the hacking of solicitors’ email accounts. Once access has been obtained, cybercriminals search for emails shared from buyers and sellers of homes to identify possible targets. While the hacking of email accounts is taking place, there have also been instances where emails between buyers, sellers and their solicitors have been captured. When bank details for a transfer are sent, the hackers amend the bank information in the email to their own and then send the email on.
The solicitor email scam is sophisticated and communications are monitored until the crucial point in the purchasing process when a bank transfer is about to be completed. Since the possible rewards are considerable, cybercriminals are willing to invest the time and effort into the scam and be patient. Buyers, vendors and solicitors are well researched and the emails appear authentic.
This conveyancing scam has been on the rise in recent months and it has now become the most common cybercrime impacting the legal sector. The Law Society, a representative organization for solicitors in the UK, has issued a warning about the conveyancing scam due to an rising number of complaints, although it is currently unclear how many fraudulent transfers have been completed.
The simple way to prevent such a scam from being successful is to contact the homebuyer or seller before any transfer is made and to verbally confirm the bank details. Additionally policies can be developed requiring bank account information to only be sent via postal mail.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority has issued guidance that advises against the use of email for property transactions due to the potential for cybercriminals to intercept and spoof messages. Email may be simple, but with such large sums being transferred it pays to use an abundance of caution.
While this solicitor email scam has been seen in many places across the UK and Ireland, legal firms in the United States should also use caution.
The end of 2018 has seen a major newspaper cyberattack take place in the United States that has disrupted production of several newspapers published by Tribune Publishing.
The attacks were malware-based and affected the Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and a number of others. The malware attack took place on Thursday, December 27, and caused major issues throughout Friday.
All of the impacted newspapers shared the same production platform, which was infiltrated by the malware infection. While the sort of malware used in the attack has not been publicly confirmed, several insiders at the Tribune have reported that the attack utilized Ryuk ransomware.
Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts critical files stopping them from being accessed. The main goal of attackers is usually to obtain ransom payments in exchange for the keys to decrypt the encrypted files. It is also a regular occurrence for ransomware to be deployed after network access has been obtained and sensitive information has been stolen, either to mask a data breach or in an attempt to make an attack even more profitable. It is also not unknown for ransomware attacks to be carried out to cause disruption. It is thought that this newspaper cyberattack was conducted primarily to disable infrastructure.
The sort of ransomware used in an attack is usually easy to notice. After encrypting files, ransomware changes file extensions to an (often) unique extension. In this instance of Ryuk ransomware, extensions are changed to .ryk.
The Los Angeles Times has blamed threat actors based outside the United States, although it is not clear which group was behind the cyberattacks. If the attack was carried out to disable infrastructure it is probable that this was a nation-state sponsored attack.
The first Ryuk ransomware cyberattacks took place in August. Three U.S. companies were attacked, and the attackers were paid a minimum of $640,000 for the keys to unlock the data. A review of the ransomware revealed it shared code with Hermes malware, which had previously been connected to the Lazarus Group – An APT group with links to North Korea.
While many ransomware campaigns utilized mass spamming tactics to spread the ransomware and infect as many end users as possible, the Ryuk ransomware attacks were much more targeted and involved major reconnaissance and extensive network mapping before the ransomware is finally deployed. As is the case with SamSam ransomware attacks, the campaign is carried out manually.
Several tactics are used to obtain access to networks, although earlier in 2018 a warning about Ryuk ransomware was issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) claiming email to be one of the main attack vectors, emphasising the importance of email security and end user training to help staff recognize email-based threats.
Sextortion scams have been very popular with cybercriminals during 2018. A well written email and an email list are all that is needed for this to be successful. The latter can easily be bought almost nothing via darknet marketplaces and hacking forums. No expertise is required to run sextortion scams and as scammers’ Bitcoin wallets show, they are successful.
Many sextortion scams threaten to reveal a user’s online activities (pornography habits, dating/adultery site usage) to all their contacts and friends/family unless a payment is completed. Some of the recent sextortion scams have increased credibility by claiming to have users’ passwords. However, new sextortion scams have been discovered in the past few days that are using a different tactic to get users to pay the ransome.
The email template used in this scam is very like those in other recent sextortion scams. The scammers say that they have a video of the victim viewing adult content. The footage was captured through the victim’s webcam and has been spliced with screenshots of the content that was being looked at.
In the new campaign the email includes the user’s email account in the copy of the email, a password (most likely an old password accessed in a previous breach), and a hyperlink that the victim is encouraged to click to download the video that has been created and see what will soon be distributed via email and social media networks.
VIsiting the link in the video will trigger the downloading of a zip file. The compressed file includes a document including the text of the email along with the supposed video file. That video file is really an information stealer – the Azorult Trojan.
This sort of the scam is even more likely to be successful than past campaigns. Many individuals who receive a sextortion scam email will see know what it is: A mass email including an empty threat. However, the inclusion of a link to download a video could lead to many individuals download the file to find out if the threat is authentic .
If the zip file is downloaded and opened and the Azorult Trojan executed, it will quietly gather information from the user’s computer – similar information to what the hacker claims to have already obtained: Cookies from websites the user has seen, chat histories, files stored on the computer, and login information entered through browsers such as email account and bank details.
However, it doesn’t stop there. The Azorult Trojan will also install a secondary payload: GandCrab ransomware. Once information has been gathered, the user will have their personal files encrypted: Documents, spreadsheets, digital photos, databases, music, videos, and more. Recovery will depend on those files having been backed up somewhere else and not also encrypted by the ransomware. Aside from permanent file loss, the only other option will be to pay a sizeable ransom to decrypt the hacked files.
If the email was sent to a company email account, or a personal email account that was logged onto at work, files on the victim’s work computer will be encrypted. As a record of the original email will have been extracted on the device, the reason why the malware was downloaded will be made clear to the IT department.
The key to not being tricked is to ignore any threats sent using the email and never click links in the emails nor open unexpected email attachments.
Companies can tackle the threat by using cybersecurity solutions such as spam filters and web filters. The former stops the emails from being sent while the latter blocks access to sites that host malware.
The final weekend of 2018 has seen a significant newspaper cyberattack in the United States that has disrupted production of several newspapers published by Tribune Publishing.
The attacks were malware-related and impacted the Saturday editions of the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and others. The malware attack occurred on Thursday, December 27, and caused major issues throughout Friday.
All of the impacted newspapers shared the same production platform, which was disrupted by the malware infection. While the sort of malware used in the attack has not been publicly revealed, several insiders at the Tribune have reported that the attack involved Ryuk ransomware.
Ransomware is a sort of malware that encrypts critical files stopping them from being accessed. The main goal of hackers is normally to obtain ransom payments in exchange for the keys to decrypt the encrypted files. It is also typical for ransomware to be deployed after network access has been obtained and sensitive information has been stolen, either to mask a data breach or in an effort to make an attack even more profitable. It is also not unknown for ransomware attacks to be carried out to cause disruption. It is suspected that this newspaper cyberattack was conducted chiefly to disable infrastructure.
The sort of ransomware used in an attack is normally easy to identify. After encrypting files, ransomware changes file extensions to an (often) unique extension. In the case of Ryuk ransomware, extensions are amended to .ryk.
The Los Angeles Times has attributed it to threat actors based external to the United States, although it is unclear which group was behind the cyberattacks. If the attack was carried out to disable infrastructure it is probable that this was a nation-state sponsored attack.
The initial Ryuk ransomware cyberattacks happened in August. Three U.S. companies were hacked, and the attackers were paid at least $640,000 for the keys to unlock the data. An analysis of the ransomware showed it shared code with Hermes malware, which had previously been connected to the Lazarus Group – An APT group with links to North Korea.
While many ransomware campaigns used mass spamming tactics to share the ransomware and infect as many end users as possible, the Ryuk ransomware attacks were much more focused and involved considerable reconnaissance and extensive network mapping before the ransomware is finally sent out. As is the case with SamSam ransomware attacks, the campaign is run manually.
Several tactics are used to obtain access to networks, although earlier this year a warning about Ryuk ransomware was broadcasted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services saying that the email to be one of the main attack vectors, highlighting the importance of email security and end user training to help staff recognize email-based threats.
A new Netflix phishing scam has been discovered that tries to trick Netflix subscribers into disclosing their login details and other sensitivedata such as Social Security numbers and bank account numbers.
This Netflix phishing scam is similar to others that have been seen over the past few months. A major campaign was discovered in October and another in November. The latest Netflix phishing scam confirms that the threat actors are now beginning large-scale phishing attacks on a monthly basis.
The number of recent Netflix scams and the scale of the campaigns has lead to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a warning to increase awareness of the threat.
The latest campaign was first noticed by an officer in the Ohio Police Department. As with past campaigns, the hackers use a tried and tested method to get users to click on the link in the email – the threat of account closure due to issues with the user’s billing details.
In order to stop closure of the user’s Netflix account a link in the email must be clicked on. That will send the user to the Netflix site where login details and banking information must be entered. While the web page looks authentic, it is hosted on a domain controlled by the hackers. Any information entered on that web page will be accessed by the threat actors behind the scam.
The emails appear realistic and contain the correct logos and color schemes and are almost identical to the official emails shared with users by Netflix. Netflix also includes links in its emails, so unwary users may click without first checking the authenticity of the email.
There are indications that the email is not what it seems. The email incorrectly begins “Hi Dear”; British English is used, even though the email is sent to U.S. citizens; the email is sent from a domain that is not used by Netflix; and the domain to which the email sends users is similarly suspect. However, the scam is sure to trick many users who fail to carefully review emails before taking any action.
Consumers need to use caution with email and should carefully review messages before responding, no matter how urgent the call for action is. It is a good idea to always visit a website directly by entering in the domain into the address bar of a web browser, rather than clicking a link in an email.
If the email is found to be a scam, it should be reported to the appropriate authorities in the country in which you live and also to the company the scammers are pretending to be. In the case of Netflix phishing scams, emails should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While this Netflix phishing scam aims for consumers, companies are also at risk. Many similar scams attempt to get users to part with business login credentials and bank account data. Businesses can reduce the risk of data and financial losses to phishing scams by making sure all members of the company, from the CEO down, are given regular security awareness guidance and are taught cybersecurity best practices and are made aware of the most recent threats.
An advanced spam filtering solution is also strongly advisable to ensure the vast majority of these scam emails are obstructed and do not reach inboxes. SpamTitan for instance, stops more than 99.9% of spam and phishing emails and 100% of known malware.
For additional information on anti-phishing solutions for companies, get in touch with the TitanHQ team today.
Digimine malware is a new danger that was first discovered from a campaign in South Korea; however, the attacks have now been witnessed worldwide.
Ransomware is still a popular tool that allows havers to get a quick payout, but increased awareness of the threat means more companies are being more careful. Ransomware security has been improved and frequent backups are made to ensure files can be recovered without meeting the ransom. Not only is it now much harder to infiltrate systems with ransomware, speedy detection means large-scale attacks on companies are stopped. It’s difficult to get a big payday and the ability to restore files from backups mean fewer groups are paying up.
The rise in popularity of cryptocurrency, and its rapid rise in value, have given cybercriminals with another lucrative chance. Rather than distribute ransomware, they are developing and sharing cryptocurrency miners. By infecting a computer with a cryptocurrency miner, hackers do not need to rely on a victim paying a ransom.
Instead of locking devices and encrypting files, malware is downloaded that starts mining (creating) the cryptocurrency Monero, a different option to Bitcoin. Mining cryptocurrency is the verification of cryptocurrency transactions for digital exchanges, which includes using computers to solve complex numeric problems. For verifying transactions, cryptocurrency miners earn coins, but cryptocurrency mining requires a great deal of processing power. To make it profitable, it must be carried out on an industrial scale.
The processing power of hundreds of thousands of devices would make the operation highly profitable for hackers, a fact that has certainly not been lost on the developers of Digimine malware.
Infection with Digimine malware will see the victim’s device impacted, as its processing power is being used up mining Monero. However, that is not all. The campaign sharing this malware variant works via Facebook Messenger, and infection can see the victim’s contacts targeted, and could potentially lead to the victim’s Facebook account being hijacked.
The Digimine malware campaign is being shared using the Desktop version of Facebook Messenger, through Google Chrome rather than the mobile app. Once a device is infected, if their Facebook account is set to login automatically, the malware will send links to the victim’s contacts. Clicking those links will lead to installation of the malware, the generation of more messages to contacts and more infections, building up an army of hijacked devices for mining Monero.
Infections were first discovered in South Korea; however, they have now shared throughout east and south-east Asia, and beyond to Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, and Venezuela, according to Trend Micro.
A similar campaign has also been noticed by FortiGuard Labs. That campaign is being carried out by the actors behind the ransomware VenusLocker, who have similarly switched to Monero mining malware. That campaign also began in South Korea and is spreading rapidly. Rather than employ Facebook Messenger, the VenusLocker gang is using phishing emails.
Phishing emails for this campaign contain malicious email attachments that install the miner. One of the emails claims the victim’s details have been accidentally exposed in a data breach, with the attachment containing details of the attack and instructions to follow to address risk.
These attacks seem to mark a new trend and as ransomware defenses continue to get better it is likely that even more gangs will alter tactics and change to cryptocurrency mining.
Giving gift vouchers as Christmas presents is always popular and this year is no exception. Many gift card-themed scams were detected over Thanksgiving weekend that offered free or cheap gift cards to lure online shoppers into parting with their credit card details.
2018 has seen a surge in business email compromise (BEC) style tactics, with emails seeming to have been sent from within a company. The emails purport to have been sent from the CEO (or another executive) asking for accounts and administration staff purchase gift cards for clients or requesting gift cards be purchased to be used for charitable donations.
To minimize the risk from gift card scams and other holiday-themed phishing emails, companies must ensure they have strong spam filtering technology in place to block the emails at source and prevent them from landing in inboxes.
Consumers can be tricked into parting with credit card details, but businesses too are in danger. Most of these campaigns are carried out in order to gain access to login credentials or are used to install malware. If an end user responds to such a scam while at work, it is their employer that will be hit with the cost of being hacked.
2018 has seen many businesses targeted with gift card scams. The latest reports from Proofpoint suggest that out of the organizations that have been targeted with email fraud attacks, almost 16% had witnessed a gift card-themed attack: Up from 11% in Q2, 2018.
Many corporations businesses have Office 365 installed, but even Microsoft’s anti-phishing security has allowed phishing emails to slip through the net, especially at businesses that have not paid extra for advanced phishing protection. Even with the advanced anti-phishing security measures, emails still make it past Microsoft’s filters.
To obstruct these malicious messages, an advanced third-party spam filter is necessary.
A new phishing campaign was discovered by ISC Handler Xavier Mertens and the campaign seems to still be active.
The phishing emails look very like legitimate Office 365 non-delivery alerts and include Office 365 branding. As is the case with official non-delivery alerts, the user is warned that messages have not been delivered and told that action is required.
The Office 365 phishing emails state that “Microsoft found Several Undelivered Messages” and attributes the non-delivery to “Server Congestion.” The emails request the sender to retype the recipient’s email address and send the message again, although conveniently they include a Send Again button.
If users use the Send Again button, they will be sent to a website that closely resembles the official Office 365 website and includes a login box that has been auto-populated with the user’s email address.
While the Office 365 phishing emails and the website look genuine, there are signs that all is not what it seems. The emails are well composed and the sender’s email – email@example.com – looks official but there is irregular capitalization of the warning message: Something that would not happen on an official Microsoft notification.
The clearest indication that this is a phishing scam is the domain to which users are sent if they click on the Send Again button. It is not an official Microsoft domain (agilones.com).
While the mistake in the email may be overlooked, users should notice the domain, although some users may proceed and type passwords as the login box is identical to the login on the official Microsoft site.
The campaign shows just how vital it is to carefully check every message before taking any action and to always review the domain before disclosing any sensitive data.
Hackers use Office 365 phishing emails because so many companies have signed up to use Office 365. Mass email campaigns therefore have a high chance of reaching an Outlook inbox. That said, it is easy to target office 365 users. A business that is using Office 365 broadcasts it using their public DNS MX records.
Firms can improve their resilience to phishing attacks through mandatory security awareness training for all workers. Employees should be told to always review messages carefully and should be guided how to identify phishing emails.
Companies should also ensure they have an advanced spam filtering solution set up. While Microsoft does offer anti-phishing protection for Office 365 through its Advanced Threat Protection (APT) offering, companies should consider using a third-party spam filtering solution with Office 365.
SpamTitan supplies superior protection against phishing and zero-day attacks, an area where APT is not proficient.
A new strain of Dharma ransomware variant has been created that is currently not being detected by most antivirus engines. According to Heimdal Security, the most recent Dharma ransomware variant captured by its researchers was only discovered as malware by one of the 53 AV engines on VirusTotal.
Dharma ransomware (also known as CrySiS) first came to light in 2006 and is still evolving. Recently, many new Dharma ransomware variants have been released, each using new file extensions for encrypted files (.bip, .xxxxx, .like, java, .arrow, .gamma, .arena, .betta, and .tron to name but a few). In the past two months alone four new Dharma ransomware variants have been spotted.
The threat actors behind Dharma ransomware have claimed many victims over the last few weeks. Successful attacks have been reported recently by Altus Baytown Hospital in Texas, the Arran brewery in Scotland, and the port of San Diego.
While free decryptors for Dharma ransomware have been created, the constant evolution of this ransomware threat rapidly renders these decryptors moot. Infection with the most recent variants of the ransomware threat only give victims three options: pay a sizeable ransom to recover files, restore files from backups, or face unrecoverable file loss.
The latter is not a viable solution given the extent of files that are encrypted. Restoring files from backups is not always possible as Dharma ransomware can also encrypt backup files and can erase shadow copies. Payment of a ransom is not wise as there is no guarantee that files can or will be decrypted.
Safeguarding against ransomware attacks requires a combination of policies, procedures, and cybersecurity solutions. Dharma ransomware attacks are mostly managed using two attack vectors: The exploitation of Remote Desktop protocol (RDP) and via email malspam campaigns.
The most recent Dharma ransomware variant attacks involve an executable file being dropped by a .NET file and HTA file. Infections take place via RDP-enabled endpoints using brute force efforts to guess passwords. Once the password is obtained, the malicious payload is deployed.
While it is not known how the Arran brewery attack occurred, a phishing attack is the likely culprit. Phishing emails had been received just before file encryption. “We cannot be 100 percent sure that this was the vector that infection occurred through, but the timing seems to be more than coincidental,” said Arran Brewery’s managing director Gerald Michaluk.
To safeguard against RDP attacks, RDP should be turned off unless it is absolutely necessary. If RDP is needed, access should only be possible through a VPN and strong passwords should be established. Rate restricting on login attempts should be configured to block login attempts after a set number of failures.
Naturally, good backup policies are vital. They will ensure that file recovery is possible by meeting a ransom demand. Many copies of backups should be made with one copy stored securely off site.
To safeguard against email-based attacks, an advanced spam filter is necessary. Spam filters that are dependent on AV engines may not detect the latest ransomware variants. Advanced analyses of incoming messages are crucial.
SpamTitan can enhance protection for businesses through combination of two AV engines and predictive methods to block new types of malware whose signatures have not yet been installed to AV engines.
For additional information on SpamTitan and securing your email gateway from ransomware attacks and other dangers, speak to TitanHQ’s security experts now.
A Marriott Hotels data breach has been discovered which could impact up to 500 million customer who previously made bookings at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. While the data breach is not the biggest ever reported – the 2013 Yahoo breach exposed up to 3 billion records – it is the second largest ever side by side with the 2014 Yahoo data breach that also impacted around half a billion users.
The Marriott data breach may not have impacted as many Internet users as the 2013 Yahoo data breach but due to the range of information stolen it is arguably more serious. Almost 173 million individuals have had their name, mailing address, email address stolen and around 327 million customers have had a combination of their name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, gender, passport number, booking data, arrival and departure dates, and Starwood Guest Program (SPG) account numbers illegally taken. Additionally, Marriott also believes credit card details may have been illegally taken. While the credit card numbers were encrypted, Marriott cannot outright confirm whether the two pieces of data required to decrypt the credit card numbers was also taken by the hacker.
Along with to past guests at Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Starwood-branded timeshare properties, guests at Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Westin Hotels & Resorts, W Hotels, St. Regis, Aloft Hotels, Element Hotels, The Luxury Collection, Tribute Portfolio, Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts, and Four Points by Sheraton have been infiltrated, along with guests at Design Hotels that registered for the SPG program.
The data breach was discovered by Marriott on September 8, 2018, following an attempt by an unauthorized person to access the Starwood database. The investigation showed that the cybercriminal behind the attack first gained access to the Starwood database in 2014. It is currently not public knowledge how access to the database was obtained.
The Marriott hotels data breach is extremely serious and will prove massively expensive for the hotel group. Marriott has already offered U.S. based victims free enrollment in WebWatcher, has paid for third party experts to review and help address the data breach, and the hotel group will be strengthening its security and phasing out Starwood databases.
Even though the Marriott hotels data breach has only just been made public, two class action lawsuits have already been filed. One of the lawsuits seeks damages totaling $12.5 billion – $25 per person impacted.
There is also the chance that a E.U. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) fine. Fines of up to €20 million can be sanctioned, or 4% of global annual revenue, whichever is greater. That could place Marriott at risk of a $916 million (€807 million) penalty. The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office – the GDPR supervisory authority in the UK – has been made aware of the breach and is making enquiries.
Danger of Marriott Data Breach Related Phishing Attacks
A phishing attack has sent email notifications have been shared with to those impacted by the breach by Marriott. They were sent from the domain: email-marriott.com. Rendition Infosec/FireEye researchers bought the domains email-marriot.com and email.mariott.com just after after the announcement to keep them out of the hands of hackers. Other similar domains may be bought up by less scrupulous individuals to be used for phishing attacks.
A breach of this extent is also ideal for speculative phishing attempts that spoof the email domain owen by Marriott. Mass email campaigns will likely to be shared randomly in the hope that they will reach breach victims or individuals that have stayed at a Marriott hotel or one of its associated brands on a previous occasion.
A never before seen module has been added to TrickBot malware that implements point-of-sale (POS) data collection functionality
TrickBot is a modular malware that is being actively created. In early November, TrickBot was updated with a password stealing capability, but the most recent update has made it even more dangerous, especially for hotels, retail outlets, and restaurants: Businesses that process large amounts of card payments.
The new module was discovered by security experts at Trend Micro who note that, at present, the module is not being deployed to record POS data such as credit/debit card details. At present, the new TrickBot malware module is only gathering data about whether an infected device is part of a network that supports POS services and the types of POS systems in use. The experts have not yet discovered how the POS information will be used, but it is highly probable that the module is being used for reconnaissance. Once targets with networks supporting POS systems have been selected, they will likely be subjected to further intrusions.
The new module, titled psfin32, is like a previous network domain harvesting module, but has been developed specifically to identify POS-related terms from domain controllers and basic accounts. The module achieves this by deploying LDAP queries to Active Directory Services which search for a dnsHostName that contains strings such as ‘pos’, ‘retail’, ‘store’, ‘micros’, ‘cash’, ‘reg’, ‘aloha’, ‘lane’, ‘boh’, and ‘term.’
The timing of the update, so near to the holiday period, implies that the threat actors are planning to take advantage of the busy holiday trade and are gathering as much information as possible before the module is used to collect POS data.
The recent updates to TrickBot malware have come along with a malicious spam email campaign (identified by Brad Duncan) which is focusing on companies in the United States. The malspam campaign uses Word documents containing malicious macros that install the TrickBot binary.
Securing from TrickBot and other data stealing malware requires a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity. The main attack way that threat actors use TrickBot is spam email, so it is essential for an advanced anti-spam solution to be deployed to stop malicious messages from being delivered to end users’ inboxes. End user training is also important to ensure employees are made aware of the danger of opening emails from unknown senders, launching suspicious email attachments, and visiting hyperlinks in those messages.
Antivirus solutions and endpoint security measures should also be used to identify and quarantine potentially malicious files in case malware infiltrated databases successfully.
Office 365 has many advantages over competing software, so it is no shock that it is proving so popular with businesses, but one typical complaint is the number of spam and malicious emails that get through Microsoft’s defenses. If you have an issue with spam and phishing emails, there is an easy answer to enhance the Office 365 spam filter.
Office 365 Email Security
Over 135 million commercial users are now on Office 365. Unfortunately, the popularity of Office 365 has made it the focus of hackers. Microsoft has been proactively implementing measures to improve the Office 365 spam filter to make it more effective at blocking spam and phishing efforts. Office 365 phishing protections have been enhanced and more malicious emails are now being prevented; however, even with the recent anti-phish enhancements, many businesses still have to address spam, phishing emails, and other dangerous messages.
Companies using Office 365 as a hosted email solution are likely to have their email filtered using Exchange Online protection or EOP. EOP does provide a good level of protection and blocks spam, phishing emails, and malware. Osterman Research stated that EOP cuts out 100% of known malware and blocks 99% of spam email but struggles with the last 1%. Many companies have found that EOP blocks basic phishing attacks but comes up short at blocking more sophisticated email threats such as spear phishing and advanced persistent threats.
To strengthen the Office 365 spam filter, you should upgrade to Advanced Threat Protection, the second level of security offered with Office 365. The level of security is much better, although Advanced Threat Protection cannot identify zero-day threats and falls short of many third-party solutions on preventing other advanced threats. A SE Labs study in the summer of 2017 found that even with the extra level of protection, which is only available in the Office 365 E5 license tier, protection only ranked in the low-middle of the market.
The number of cases of hackers targeting vulnerabilities in Office 365 and the volume of direct attacks on Office 365 users has seen an rising number of businesses looking for a way to improve the Office 365 spam filter further.
Companies that want to further strengthen the Office 365 spam filter (and those looking for an Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection alternative) need to think about implementing a third-party anti-spam solution.
Luckily, there is a solution that will not only enhance Office 365 spam filtering, it is quick and easy to put in place, needs no software installations, and no hardware purchases are required. In fact, it can be implemented, configured, and be up and running quickly.
SpamTitan is a strong cloud-based email security solution that has been created to provide superior security against spam, phishing, malware, zero-day attacks, and data loss through email.
As opposed to Office 365, SpamTitan uses predictive measures such as Bayesian analysis, machine learning, and heuristics to block zero-day attacks, advanced persistent dangers, new malware variants, and new spear phishing methods.
SpamTitan reviews email headers, analyzes domains, and scans email content to spot phishing threats. Embedded hyperlinks, including shortened URLs, are reviewed in real time and subjected to URL multiple reputation checks, while dual antivirus engines scan and block 100% of known malware.
SpamTitan also uses data loss prevention tools for emails and attachments, which are not available with EOP. Users can establish tags for keywords and data elements such as Social Security numbers to secure against theft by insiders. SpamTitan also acts as a backup for your mail server to ensure business continuity.
With SpamTitan you get a higher level of security from spam and malicious emails, a higher spam catch rate (over 99.9%), improved granularity, better control over outbound email, and better business continuity protections.
If you have changed to Office 365 yet are still having issues with spam, phishing, and other malicious emails or if you are an MSP that wants to offer clients enhanced Office 365 email security, get in touch the TitanHQ team today.
The TitanHQ team can schedule a product demonstration and assist you putting SpamTitan through the paces in your own environment in a no-obligation free trial.
A new module has been attached to TrickBot malware that allows point-of-sale (POS) data collection capabilities.
TrickBot is a modular malware that is being developed. In early November, TrickBot was refreshed with with a password stealing module, but the latest update has made it even more dangerous, mostly for hotels, retail outlets, and restaurants: Companies that process large volumes of card payments.
The new module was discovered by security experts at Trend Micro who note that, at present, the module is not being used to capture POS data such as credit/debit card numbers. Currently, the new TrickBot malware module is only gathering data about whether an infected device is part of a network that supports POS services and the types of POS systems implemented. The experts have not yet determined how the POS information will be used, but it is highly likely that the module is being used for intelligence. Once targets with networks supporting POS systems have been discovered, they will likely be subjected to further intrusions.
The new module, labelled psfin32, is like a previous network domain harvesting module, but has been developed specifically to spot POS-related terms from domain controllers and basic accounts. The module achieves this by using LDAP queries to Active Directory Services which search for a dnsHostName that includes strings such as ‘pos’, ‘retail’, ‘store’, ‘micros’, ‘cash’, ‘reg’, ‘aloha’, ‘lane’, ‘boh’, and ‘term.’
The timing of the update suggests the threat actors are planning to use the increase in holiday trade and are gathering as much data as possible before the module is used to gather POS data.
The recent updates to TrickBot malware have been accompanied by a malicious spam email campaign (discovered by Brad Duncan) which is targeting companies in the United States. The malspam campaign uses Word documents including malicious macros that download the TrickBot binary.
Protecting against TrickBot and other data stealing malware requires a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity. The main attack vector used by the threat actors to blame TrickBot is spam email, so it is vital for an advanced anti-spam solution to be deployed to stop malicious messages from being sent to end users’ inboxes. End user training is also important to ensure employees are made aware of the danger of opening emails from unknown senders, launching suspicious email attachments, and clicking hyperlinks in those emails.
Antivirus solutions and endpoint security measures should also be deployed to identify and quarantine potentially malicious files in case malware makes it past perimeter security.
A new Dharma ransomware variant has been created that is currently evading detection by most of antivirus engines.
Heimdal Security say that the most recent Dharma ransomware variant captured by its researchers was only identified as malware by one of the 53 AV engines on VirusTotal.
Dharma ransomware (also known as CrySiS) first was seen in 2006 and is still being developed. This year, many new Dharma ransomware variants have been made available, each using new file extensions for encrypted files (.bip, .xxxxx, .like, java, .arrow, .gamma, .arena, .betta, and .tron to name but a few). In the past two months alone four new Dharma ransomware variants have been discovered.
The threat actors to blame for Dharma ransomware have claimed many victims in recent months. Successful attacks have been seen recently by Altus Baytown Hospital in Texas, the Arran brewery in Scotland, and the port of San Diego.
While free decryptors for Dharma ransomware have been created, the constant evolution of this ransomware threat rapidly renders these decryptors obsolete. Infection with the most recent variants of the ransomware threat only give victims three options: pay a sizeable ransom to recover files, restore files from backups, or face permanent file loss.
The latter is not a solution given the extent of files that are encrypted. Restoring files from backups is not always an option as Dharma ransomware can also encrypt backup files and can erase shadow copies. Payment of a ransom is not a solution as there is no guarantee that files can or will be decrypted.
Safeguarding against ransomware attacks requires a combination of policies, processes, and cybersecurity solutions. Dharma ransomware attacks are mostly carried out via two attack vectors: The exploitation of Remote Desktop protocol (RDP) and via email malspam campaigns.
The most recent Dharma ransomware variant attacks involve an executable file being sent using a .NET file and HTA file. Infections happen using RDP-enabled endpoints using brute force attempts to guess passwords. Once the password is obtained, the malicious payload is activated.
While it is not exactly obvious how the Arran brewery attack happened, a phishing attack is suspected. Phishing emails had been received just before file encryption. Arran Brewery’s managing director Gerald Michaluk said: “We cannot be 100 percent sure that this was the vector that infection occurred through, but the timing seems to be more than coincidental”.
To safeguard against RDP attacks, RDP should be disabled unless it is absolutely necessary. If RDP is a requirement, access should only be possible through a VPN and strong passwords should be established. Rate limiting on login attempts should be set to block login attempts after a set number of failures.
Naturally, good backup policies are vital. They will ensure that file recovery is possible without meeting a ransom. Multiple copies of backups should be made with one copy held securely off site.
To safeguard against email-based attacks, an advanced spam filter is needed. Spam filters that rely on AV engines may not notice the latest ransomware variants. Advanced analyses of incoming messages are vital.
SpamTitan can enhance protection for businesses through combination of two AV engines and predictive techniques to prevent new types of malware whose signatures have not yet been installed on AV engines.
For more information on SpamTitan and safeguarding your email gateway from ransomware attacks and other threats, contact TitanHQ’s security experts today.
Our network security news section has a wide variety of articles linked to securing networks and blocking cyberattacks, ransomware and attempted malware installations. This section also features articles on recent network security breaches, alerting groups about the latest attack trends being used by hackers.
Layered cybersecurity measures are essential given the growth in hacking incidents and the explosion in ransomware and malware variants over the past 24 months. Entities can tackle the threat by spending money on new security defenses such as next generation firewalls, end point protection measures, web filtering solutions and advanced anti-malware and antivirus security measures.
While much investment is spent on tried and tested solutions that have been highly successful previously, many cybersecurity solutions – antivirus software – are not as successful as they once were. In order to keep up with hackers and cybercriminals and get ahead of the curve, entities should think about putting in place some new cybersecurity solutions to block network intrusions, stop data breaches and improve protection against the most recent malware and ransomware dangers.
This category includes information and guidance on different network security solutions that can be adopted to enhance network security and ensure networks are not infiltrated by hackers and infected with dangerous software.