Monthly Archives: July 2015

Windows10

Article originally published on the Malwarebytes website

It’s that time again, a new operating system emerges from the Microsoft incubator! While many of you might not get to experience Windows 10 just yet or even in the foreseeable future, we want you to know that when you decide to use it, Malwarebytes has got your back.

The latest versions of our Malwarebytes products supports Windows 10! And that includes:

  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Free
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Free
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Premium
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware for Business
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit for Business
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Remediation Tool

So one of the first things you should do after setting up your new operating system is to download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Trust me, the cyber criminals won’t wait until everyone is comfortable with Windows 10 to start targeting folks using it.

To download the latest Malwarebytes Anti-Malware on your new Win 10 system, click here.

Find out more about Malwarebytes at www.bluesolutions.co.uk/malwarebytes/. Call our sales team today on 0118 9898 222 for a free trial or demo.

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Originally published on the Malwarebytes Security Blog

May 6 marked the 15 year anniversary of the infamous ILOVEYOU (Love Letter) email virus. The virus is regarded as the first major virus spread by email.

ILOVEYOU reportedly infected tens of millions of computers worldwide, and cost billions of dollars in damage.

Once a machine was infected with ILOVEYOU, the virus scanned the Windows Address Book and subsequently sent copies of itself to every contact within the list. Using the public’s lack of email security to its advantage, the virus was able to masquerade as a legitimate attachment sent by a known acquaintance.

This simple social engineering tactic allowed the virus to propagate world-wide quickly and efficiently.

In the years since ILOVEYOU, we’ve all learned lots regarding email security and ‘best practices’ to use when downloading attachments. There have been numerous articles, write-ups, warnings, and suggestions advising users to be wary when opening attachments that come via email – even when from a trusted source.

Despite more than a decade and a half of these warnings, email is still a primary vector for the installation of malicious software.

The M3AAWG Email Metrics Report, released Q2 of 2014, indicates that over a three-month tracking period, a whopping 987 billion “abusive” emails were identified as being successfully delivered.

While this pales in comparison to the other 9+ trillion emails blocked by the mail providers, this number demonstrates just how successful  a vector email is for malicious actors to use to compromise their victims.

While the M3AAWG report doesn’t distinguish between emails with malicious attachments and other types of abusive emails such as phishing emails, it’s reasonable to assume that at least a significant percentage of the abusive emails did indeed contain a malicious attachment.

As indicated by the report, the vast majority of these messages are blocked by large email providers such as Microsoft and Google, but despite the best efforts of these companies, many messages still find their way through the filters.  Here is an example of a malicious email I received to my personal email account just the other day.

MalSpam1

The success of these malware campaigns relies in numbers. With an estimated 205 billion emails sent each day, it seems to be a herculean, if not almost impossible task to prevent each and every malicious email from being delivered.

We would all be quite peeved if that important document from our boss wasn’t delivered to our email box, or if that emergency change in insurance wasn’t received from HR.

The big email providers know this, so they are forced to tread lightly when determining if an attachment is malicious or not. The problem is malicious actors know this too.  So for them, it’s just a numbers game.

If one address gets blocked, use another. If one message is blocked, send one more – better yet, send a million more. And there in-lies the issue that we in the security field face when it comes to preventing you from seeing (and in the case of malware – blocking) this sort of garbage all together.

A small portion of over-all attempted deliveries and an even smaller percentage of successful installs is all that’s needed to claim success.

Malware authors utilise a dizzying array of tools, services, and botnets to facilitate delivery of malicious email. Email addresses are spoofed. The subject and body can be dynamically generated using unique information to help provide a sense of legitimacy to the email. Most attachments are randomized both in name and MD5’s to thwart detection.

Geo-location is used to send emails to users of a particular region, city, or post code. And the subject matter of emails constantly changes to play into the fears, desires, and dreams of every potential person.

MalSpam2

Attachments are not limited to .zips either. Attachments have been seen to arrive in .exe format (although rare with large email providers), .scr, .pdf, .com, .js, or a variety of others. Here we can see how some attachments attempt to appear legitimate.  Take notice of the large spaces between filenames and the .exe extension on a few of the attachments.

MalSpam3

Remember, it only takes a small portion of sent emails, and an even smaller percentage of those to be clicked, in order for a malware author to claim a particular spam-run successful.

The reality is, these people wouldn’t use email as an attack vector if it didn’t work – but it does.

The only reason it does is because a small percentage of us still click such attachments thinking there may be some legitimacy to the content.

Despite 15 years of warnings, billions of dollars in damages, and countless attacks attributed to email, we have yet to learn the dangers of downloading unsolicited attachments.

So for the sake of humanity (a bit dire, I know) please quit clicking attachments from people you don’t know, or from contacts where the content appears suspicious.

If there is a question if the email is legitimate, contact the sender and inquire.

If you didn’t order anything online, don’t click the Word document advising you of your recent purchase.

If you haven’t done so already, configure Windows to always show file extensions. That way, if you do download and extract a malicious attachment, you can hopefully see if any trickery is being played with spaces between the visible filename and the extension.

And most importantly, educate someone you know who would never read this (or any) security blog as to hopefully help them from succumbing to the ever-changing tactics of malware spam.

Blue Solutions is now a distributor for Malwarebytes- read the press release here. Call our team on 0118 9898 222 and they'll help with any questions or arrange a free trial.

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Originally published by CensorNet

The poor old IT department, if there were ever an Olympic sport where you could count the moments between suggesting that technology could change the world and then having it bite you on the backside by an unruly mob, well, they’d be gold medallists.

Naturally, an IT team is predisposed to focus on the challenges and risks that a BYOD culture can bring, which is not a bad thing.  In the IT world, BYOD makes the world a more complex place rather than a simpler one. A fixed desktop located on an internal network is always going to be simpler to deploy, easier to manage, easier to secure and much easier to monitor. The risks can be easily identified and mitigated.

The problem with Browsers

With a few exceptions, the main browsers tend to be Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox & Safari. The problem arises when every user’s personal device needs its browser software up to date. Take your fixed, standardised, controlled infrastructure away and it’s not quite as easy. Some applications will simply not work on older browser versions or even with specific browsers. The quality of user experience may be compromised if the right browser is not selected. It can be a fickle, inconsistent way of working.

More importantly, not keeping a browser up to date may expose security flaws that place the device and its content at risk. Many have learned that particular lesson the hard way.

Our old nemesis ‘Malware and spyware infection’

The natural by-product of an increasing tech savvy world is that the bad guys are getting smarter and the users are more ‘click-happy’, particularly on mobile devices.

Users are seldom intentionally malicious, although clearly it happens. However it is often more a case of due diligence when time is a constraint. Not all will adopt sensible security protocols to ensure they are free of Trojans and other malicious autobots that might be hiding within what, at the time, looked like a cool free widget or an article containing a part of Kim Kardashian that broke the internet.

In 2013, a study by Alcatel-lucent in 2013 estimated that 11.6 million devices were infected; a number that is simply likely to grow. The fastest growing infection rates was on Android with Windows and Android being the primary operating systems likely to be targeted.

In Wi-Fi we (Don’t) trust

All mobile devices will invariably hop on and off Wi-Fi with reasonable regularity. The bandwidth and access point will play a role in mitigating the risk of contamination. Using unsecured hotspots increases the risk, not only to the user but potentially the corporate network. The bad guys are smart and unsecure access channels are a happy hunting ground. An experiment by Jonny Milliken, Valerio Selis and Professor Alan Marshall proved that an airborne virus could be transmitted via WiFi from router to router and hence from one device to another. The attempts to access precious data are unrelenting on the increase.

Even on-premise WiFi can be problematic. The strength of any WiFi and available bandwidth may well dictate how usable a commercial application is on any given mobile device. It should be remembered that not all devices have the same capabilities when it comes to transmission and reception.

Authentication

The mechanism of accessing corporate applications, network and resources requires a method of authenticating that the user is who they say they are. Inadequate mechanisms open the door to abuse.

Legal constraints

It may not immediately spring to mind, but a business cannot control the peccadillos of its employees. A personal laptop that has been used for social activities that cross legal boundaries is one that can compromise the integrity of the business and all that could entail. Reputation is as much a protected treasure as any other business asset, as is consumer confidence in who they are buying from.

Data loss

The most precious asset of any organisation is data. Sales prospects, agreements, policies, goals, strategies, Financial Information, Shareholder reports, whatever information an organisation has must be kept secure. The ramifications of data loss can be severe. A user’s device can compromise data in a variety of ways and not just from pernicious access. How much and where on a device is corporate data going to reside? What degree of sensitive data can be trusted to be on a specific users’ device? What about access codes? Is a user storing key account details in plain text somewhere? What happens if a device is lost or stolen, can data leakage truly be prevented?

Device control

If the device belongs to a user, do they have complete administration rights over their device? The owner tends to know how to use their device and how to change configurations. One potentially  damaging scenario is if a user decides to jailbreak their own device so they can access areas that companies like Apple would rather they did not. Android also has its challenges, although not exactly open source, it naturally lends itself to modification and user changes, given its Linux roots. There is an ever-growing community that seeks to either legitimately change code or simply break it because it can be broken and compromised.

Application conflict

What a user downloads onto their own device is by and large a matter for them. Some applications however, particularly apps for smartphones and tablets, can interfere with commercial applications. There is no way that an IT department can track and recommend, from the hundreds of thousands of apps available, which ones are suitable or which could cause cross-application contamination i.e. result in sub-optimal performance or use.

Human error

No matter what technology is used, there is no way of avoiding simple stupidity or oversight by human beings. A human interface is a flawed one simply because we make mistakes and because the users own their devices; mistakes will inevitably happen. Human error will always be the one true constant why there is no such state as 100% secure.

From an IT standpoint, BYOD presents a raft of obstacles. They are challenges that can be met but the solutions are not fool proof and an element of risk will always remain.

Blue Solutions GoTo logo

We are pleased to announce, we have several new team members at Blue Solutions:

Vip Hammil has joined our Sales Team as a Business Development Manager. He is responsible for delivering new business revenue growth through the identifying and recruiting of channel partners, interested in expanding their security portfolio with emerging and best of breed technology.

Our new Trend Micro Product Manager is Israel Azumara. Israel is responsible for managing the Trend Micro relationship and helping our Resellers and MSPs engage with these anti-malware solutions.

Luke Bennett is our new Marketing Apprentice. He joined us after completing his A-levels and is providing valuable support creating marketing and sales material and publishing social media messages.

Kate Clarkson has joined our team as our new Internal Sales Co-ordinator.  Kate’s role will involve supporting the sales team and responding to customer queries in a timely and effective manner.

A big welcome to our new team members!

BD Banner for blogOriginally published by Bitdefender

I came across an interesting article reported by The Register. In a survey, half of companies will still have Windows Server 2003 somewhere in their environment after the support cut-off date of July 14th passes. While purchasing a custom support agreement with Microsoft is an option, it’s one that will quickly get quite expensive ($600 per server per year, doubling each year).

An often complicated, and critical, application, is the endpoint security management suite. Traditional management relied on applications installed on Windows servers, most often leveraging a SQL database running on other servers. This very quickly creates a series of dependencies. Does the security management support a newer Windows version? If so, which databases does it support, and which Windows versions do those supported databases run on? If the management application uses a web server, which versions, and on which operating systems are those supported? How does the migration work, is there downtime, is the data migrated, can it be done in stages, or is it a forklift upgrade.

Much of this complexity can be avoided. Of course, custom-built, in-house applications are still tricky, but off-the-shelf solutions should be very simple, including endpoint security management.

For example, GravityZone can be delivered in two ways that avoid this complexity. The most straightforward is a GravityZone management console hosted by Bitdefender or a partner. In that case, the organization leveraging GravityZone never has to deal with any complexity underlying the management application.

The second option is hosting GravityZone on-premise. In this case, complexity is minimized because GravityZone operates as a self-contained private cloud. The deployment consists of a Linux-based virtual appliance. Multiple instances can be deployed, each playing one or more roles. The roles encompass all required functionality, including the database (often the source of most upgrade woes).

In this way, complexity of GravityZone is not exposed. Bitdefender builds and tests the virtual appliance, while the customer simply updates it. Everything from the web server to database is contained in the virtual appliance.

While adopting an endpoint security management solution that lowers operating system upgrade complexity won’t solve all of your problems, it certainly takes quite a bit of complexity – and therefore risk – off the table for a critical part of your environment. If you’re struggling to move your current solution off of Windows 2003, consider the advantages of a self-contained, flexible, and scalable solution like GravityZone, because it’s only a matter of time before you’ll begin the next round of operating system upgrades!

Want to know more about Bitdefender solutions? Contact our sales team today at 0118 9898 222 and they'll help with your queries or arrange a free trial.