Author Archives: MarkCharleton

Brian-A-Jackson1

On a weekly basis there are now articles regarding a big brand company which has been hacked, these usually relate to what data has been lost, how they are notifying those affected and what they are going to be doing to prevent this from happening again.

So how do you prevent it from happening in the first place?

From experience I can see that if a hacker wants to get details from somewhere they will take the easiest target, the ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ as they say, in ensuring your company has some basic security principles in place can help mitigate this.

So how do you ensure you are not the ‘Low Hanging Fruit’

Simple measures can be taken within your environment to help secure it. As a basic level you should be meeting the following guide - CyberEssentials Requirements

This sets out some advice regarding Firewalls, User access control, Passwords, Malware protection and Patch management.

Once you have met the standards given within this document you should be looking to increase the security standards within your organisation. The most effective we have found is the use of education, once educated your staff will be able to react to the threats quicker and reduce the risks to your company.

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Our top security updates in the news and on the web this week

1.10 tips to avoid Cyber Monday scams

Shoppers familiar with the Cyber Monday circus know they’re stepping into the lion’s den. The Internet has always been a lawless place. First posted on Malwarebytes.

For the original post and further information click here

2. More POS malware, just in time for Christmas

Threat researchers are warning of two pieces of point of sales malware that have gone largely undetected during years of retail wrecking and now appear likely to earn VXers a haul over the coming festive break. First posted on The Register.

For the original post and further information click here

3. Some simple security advice for computer and smartphone users

Demonstrated how easy it can be to compromise users computers and 'steal' very personal video and photos, here's some really simple advice to help prevent this happening. First posted on Pen Test partners.

For the original post and further information click here

4. CryptoWall Updates, New Families of Ransomware Found

The ransomware threat isn't just growing—it's expanding as well. There has been a recent surge of reports on updates for existing crypto-ransomware variants. First posted on Trend Micro.

For the original post and further information click here

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5. Blast from the Past: Blackhole Exploit Kit Resurfaces in Live Attacks

The year is 2015 and a threat actor is using the defunct Blackhole exploit kit in active drive-by download campaigns via compromised websites. First posted on Malwarebytes.

For the original post and further information click here

6. Another Day, Another HMRC Tax Phish…

We could all do with a bit of a tax refund right before the festive season, and wouldn’t you know it. First posted on Malwarebytes.

For the original post and further information click here

7. Diving into Linux. Encoder’s predecessor: a tale of blind reverse engineering 

Linux.Encoder.1 has earned a reputation as the worlds first Ransomware family tailored for Linux platforms. First posted on Bitdefender Labs.

For the original post and further information click here

If you have any security news that you would like to see on our blog please send it to us at bluesolutions, please include the link from the original article in the email.

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Our top security updates in the news and on the web this week

1. CryptoWall 4.0 A Stealthier, More Sweet-Talking Ransomware

When the malware makes its move, the new CryptoWall not only encrypts files, as it always has done, it also encrypts filenames. Heimdal Security states this new technique increases victims’ confusion, and thereby increases the likelihood that they’ll pay the ransom, and quickly. First posted on Dark Reading.

For the original post and further information click here

2. TalkTalk – The case for a Chief Security Officer

While the importance of the Chief Information Security Officer has been in constant growth over the past few years, organisations that employ a CISO/CSO are still far too few. First posted on Trend Micro.

For the original post and further information click here

3. Linux Ransomware Debut Fails on Predictable Encryption Key

No need to crack RSA when you can guess the key. File encrypting ransomware Trojans are almost ubiquitous on Windows, and it was only a matter of time. First Posted on Bitdefender Labs.

For the original post and further information click here

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4. Adobe Flash Update Includes Patches for 17 Vulnerabilities

In what’s becoming a monthly ritual, Adobe today pushed out an updated version of its Flash Player that includes patches for critical vulnerabilities. First posted on Threatpost.

For the original post and further information click here

5. How Scammers Are Trying To Use Your Computer To Steal Your Cash

Cyber criminals want to hijack your computer for financial gain. But how does the scam work and how can you stop them? First posted on TechWeek Europe.

For the original post and further information click here

6. Top ranking Instagram client removed from iTunes and Google Play after user data theft discovery

A software developer has discovered that a leading free app on iTunes and Google Play has been sending people’s usernames and passwords to an unknown website. The malicious app is called InstaAgent, and is touted as an Instagram client. It is also reportedly the most downloaded free app in the UK and Canada. First posted on TechWeek Europe.

For the original post and further information click here

If you have any security news that you would like to see on our blog please send it to us at bluesolutions, please include the link from the original article in the email.

blue and comptia bannerAre you attending CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference 20th October 2015?

If you haven't yet registered to the Comptia event at 155 Bishopsgate London please go to  https://www.comptia.org/emea/home it would be great to see you there.

Blue Solutions was founded in 2000 with a clear mission: to enable IT channel partners to sell managed services software that would boost recurring revenues, strengthen margins, and clearly differentiate their offerings in a crowded market. As key vendor partners like AppRiver, Bitdefender, Censornet, DataFortress, Malwarebytes, Microsoft, Phish5, Redstor, Symantec, TrendMicro, and many others will testify, we’ve been succeeding at it ever since.

The bottom line of it is we enable our partners to build profitable, regular revenues, by delivering what their competitors can’t – compelling, diverse, scalable managed services, at low cost, that delight their end-users. So if you’re serious about growing your business, don’t miss this opportunity to expand your knowledge and to hear from our vendor and industry experts please feel free to book a time with Barry Atkinson, Emma Wale, Lee Walker or Israel Azumara to discuss Blue Solutions our vendors in more detail.

If you have queries please call 0118 9898 222 and request to speak to any of the names above regarding the event.

microsoft

Originally posted by Mary Jo Foley for All About Microsoft on ZDNet

Microsoft is kicking off the rollout of Office 2016 for Windows on September 22, and is adding a new branch updating scheme, similar to the one available for Windows 10.

It's not a big surprise given recent leaks, but Microsoft officials are confirming that the Office 2016 for Windows rollout will begin on September 22.

September 22 is the date when the next version of Office for Windows desktops will be generally available. Office 365 Personal and Home users will be able to start manually installing Office 2016 apps for Windows on September 22 from Office.com. Microsoft will begin pushing out the new Office 2016 apps via automatic updates in October 2015. Those with volume-licensing contracts will be able to download Office 2016 starting October 1 from the Volume Licensing Centre.

Office 2016 for Windows desktops is the full-featured set of Office apps and the successor to Office 2013. Microsoft released an IT/pro preview of Office 2016 for Windows in March and a public preview in May 2015. The new Office suite runs on Windows 7, 8 and 10 PCs, laptops and tablets.

As part of the rollout, Microsoft is making some changes to the Office update model.

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Those with Office 365 ProPlus subscriptions will be able to continue getting monthly feature and security updates. Taking a page from the Windows 10 playbook, Microsoft is calling this monthly updated release the "Current Branch." The next Current Branch release will be September 22 and will include all the new Office 2016 app updates, according to a September 10 blog post explaining Microsoft's rollout plans.

There also will be a new Office 365 Pro Plus Current Branch for Business updating option. This is for business customers and IT pros who may prefer to wait a few months before rolling out new versions or updates to Office for testing purposes.

Similar to Microsoft's new Current Branch for Business updating path for Windows, the Office Current Branch for Business will provide users with "three cumulative feature updates per year," plus monthly security updates, officials said. That means the next Current Branch for Business build of Office 2016 -- which will include the same feature set as the September 22 release, plus four additional months of security updates -- will be out in February 2016, according to today's blog post.

There are relatively few new features in Office 2016 for Windows. Data loss prevention comes to the Office apps with this release. There also are additional document co-authoring capabilities, new "Tell Me" navigation support, integration with Power BI, and more lockdown/rights management capabilities in the new version of Office for Windows.

Microsoft made the Mac version of Office 2016 available to Office 365 subscribers in July. Later this month, Microsoft plans to offer Office 2016 for Mac available to those who prefer to buy a single copy outright.

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac

Microsoft delivers first public preview of Office 2016 for MacMicrosoft has released the first public preview of Office 2016 for Mac, its updated Office suite for Mac OS 10.10 users, which is due out this summer.

Read More

 

 

Update: A few more reader questions and answers about Office 2016 for Windows' coming rollout (delivered via a Microsoft spokesperson):

Q: Will Office 365 Business Premium -- and not just Office 365 users with ProPlus -- automatically get these updates and be serviced via branches?

A: Yes, Business customers will also receive the 2016 apps and will default to the Current Branch. Business Premium customers can choose to move to the Current Branch for Business if they choose to at any time, once available.

Q: Is there going to be an equivalent to Windows 10's Long Term Servicing branch for O365 users who don't ever want to see new features between Office releases?

A: We recommend using the Office 2016 Volume Licensing (MSI) version for customers who want to have Office installed on specialty systems that do not require feature update but can continue to get security update and bug fixes.

Q: If you are an O365 Pro Plus subscriber right now, are you already getting three buckets of updates to the Office apps annually?

A: Current Office 365 ProPlus customers are on the Current Branch today. We will, however, move all ProPlus customers to the thrice-yearly update schedule by moving them to the Current Branch for Business. Customers can choose to remain on the current branch. All updates are delivered via the Office CDN or deployed via the organization's administrator (not Windows Update).

Q: If you are on Current Branch Office 365, are the thrice-yearly updates forced/mandatory -- the way Current Branch updates are on Windows 10?

A: Current Branch can contain feature, security and non-security fixes on a monthly basis. Customers have a choice to stay on a build as long as they choose to but we recommend they update to the latest version in order to take advantage of any new feature and security fixes.

Q: Can those running Office 2016 for Windows preview upgrade directly to RTM version?

A: It depends on how a customer has accessed the Office 2016 Preview.

Commercial Office 365 customers who have accessed the Office 2016 Preview through the First Release program will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 2016 Preview for IT Pros and Developers will continue to get the latest updates across their Office 365 workloads, including Office client. If they would like to revert to the production release of Office 2016 when it becomes available, they can uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from programs and features and download the production version of Office 2016 from their My Software page.

Office 365 Consumer Subscribers: If a customer joined the Office 2016 Preview through their Office 365 My Accounts page, they can simply uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows Programs and Features and install the production release of Office 2016 from their My Accounts page. Office 2016 Preview (no Office 365 subscription):

The Office 2016 Preview will expire at Fall 2015 and will enter a reduced functionality mode. Customers will have the option to convert to a paid Office 365 subscription or they may choose uninstall the Office 2016 Preview from Windows and re-install any licensed version of Office that they have.

 

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We are pleased to announce that we’ve expanded our team and have recently welcomed the following people to Blue Solutions:

  • Lee Walker has joined us as our LabTech Software Specialist. He is responsible for recruiting new LabTech Channel partners and managing the existing partners using the Remote Monitoring and Management solution.
  • Danni Sparkes has joined our team as a new Internal Sales Co-ordinator.  Her role will involve producing quotes for customers and responding to sales queries in a timely and effective manner.
  • Michael Smith and Zoe Hepper have both joined us as Business Development Executives, supporting new business revenue growth by recruiting new channel partners.

A big welcome to our new team members.

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Originally published on the Bitdefender website

No matter how valiant the efforts to secure their systems, or the amount of money spent on IT defenses – many of the same IT security challenges persist today as they always have.

Enterprises are behind in their ability to quickly detect data breaches. According to the 2015 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, the vast majority of organizations don’t detect breaches with days of occurring, no – the time to detect compromise is still too often measured in weeks, or months. And, depending on the study, security breaches can cost $100 per record and up.

As the sheer number of breaches, their duration, and their costs reveal in the past few years, enterprises can clearly do much better. But it’s not a matter of a quick fix. It’s not a single product deployment, or hiring to fill a few positions. There are, however, key areas that organizations can focus upon to close the gap between the ease in which attackers can exploit enterprise weaknesses and the ability for enterprises to defend their systems and data.

Here we go:

1. The security program informs the regulatory compliance program, not vice versa

Too many organizations today remain focused on maintaining their baseline security controls. They check their regulatory compliance check boxes and move on. Firewall: check. Network monitoring: check. Network segmentation: Should be in place, check. What lacks is a focus is making sure each of these functions is done right.

This needs to be flipped around. Enterprises need to build rugged security programs and build the reporting on top of those programs to feed into their regulatory compliance efforts.

2. Hire and cultivate the right security talent

In my interviews with CIOs and CISOs it’s clear, across the board, enterprises are hurting when it comes to finding skilled information security professionals. If you know device security, enterprise security architecture, are a pen tester, can manage or build a security program – you are not in want to job opportunities.

The challenge for enterprises is that technology and attack methods are moving so swiftly, that traditional education and corporate training programs don’t keep up. And, quite frankly, many HR departments in large enterprises don’t know how to hire well for information security positions. They rely too heavily on certifications and not enough of security problem solving skills. Traditional training doesn’t keep pace producing security skills needed with constant changes in mobility, cloud architectures, virtualization, containerization, Internet connected devices (IoT) and others.

Skilled security pros also tend to come from non-traditional backgrounds. They are liable to be the men and women with purple hair, lots of tattoos, and a scattered college history: but they know how to hack and many know how to help defend against hackers. But they are overlooked. This needs to change, and government and corporate enterprises need to rethink how they vet and view security talent. They need to consider training in-house talent that has an affinity to this field and wants to be trained.

3. Communicate in terms the business cares about

Today, too many security professionals think, and speak, in technical terms. Such as when they see a certain attack vector, they see a technical problem. And they are right, it is in fact a technical problem in most cases and can be remedied technically. But to business leaders and management it is a business risk. And business people want to understand things in business terms and business risks.

When most people suffer say, a car breakdown, they care more about losing the utility of the car than they care about the technical reason for the breakdown. When they ask technical questions about the nature of the mechanical failure, what is really going on in most people’s minds about the car is how the nature of that mechanical breakdown will impact the cost to fix. So that’s loss of utility and cost to get that utility back that matters to us most.

Business leaders, when it comes to IT, think no differently.
What is at stake with the risk, from a business perspective. How much will it cost to remedy. What is the cost of losing the utility? These are the terms more security people much speak in.

4. Shift some security focus to breach detection and response

With good reason, tens of billions of dollars have been invested by public agencies and private enterprise into traditional security defenses: the stuff geared to keep bad guys and things out. I’m not sure if enterprises have spent enough, or too much. That is certainly an interesting and debatable question. But I am sure we can’t count on it to work all of the time, every time.

Attackers are going to get through. There will be a misconfiguration they find, or there will be an employee who clicks on something they shouldn’t, or a trusted web site will serve malware and that breach will go undetected. Bad things are going to happen to enterprises that strive to protect themselves and do the right thing.

This is why more resources and effort needs to be focused on the ability to detect and respond to successful breaches. It makes sense to want to stop attacks. But like in American football, good defense wins games but it doesn’t win every game and even the best defenses are scored against.

Your information security defenses and efforts are no different.

Plan and put the resources in place to rapidly respond. It will mitigate the damage of successful breaches, and hopefully keep the costs of those breaches down, too.

5. Shift to data-driven security decisions

An important shift is one that has been widely talked about in security, but not always very pragmatically acted upon. Security pros need to stop working from a position of what they knew to work in the past, or their personal hunches, or providing the types of defenses the business thinks it needs.

To date, this hasn’t worked so well. We need to start making more data-driven decisions. If the business wants to invest in certain areas of security spending, perhaps that is the wisest move or perhaps it is not. Collecting the right data about the nature of the security controls in place, how well they are performing, as well as what has not been working well may provide better answers. Certainly the final decision about what spending will get done is up to the business, but by providing the right data you can help them make better decisions.

All the data needed is out there: the nature of the adversarial threats, the technical vulnerabilities, the value of the business data and services provided by critical applications, as well as the goings-on within the network and applications. It’s time this information be better collected, analyzed, and put to use to make the best data driven decisions possible.

 

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Originally published on the Trend Micro Blog

A recent Trend Micro report carried out by the Ponemon Institute uncovered an interesting new dynamic in the workplace. Increasing numbers of U.S. consumers are bringing wearable technology into the office.

This raises a difficult problem for enterprise IT managers keen on keeping IoT devices from swamping the workplace as the influx of BYOD devices did a few years ago. So what’s the best way to move forward?

Growth and risks

Let’s be clear, the use of IoT devices and wearables in the workplace is by no means soaring. According to our study – Privacy and Security in a Connected Life – just 25 percent of U.S. consumers said they even plan to use a fitness tracker. For Google Glass, this figure was an even lower 16 percent. Yet adoption is increasing, and as it does, these devices will inevitably find their way into the corporate world, just as the smartphone and tablet did before them. From smart watches to activity trackers and smart glasses, there’s a growing feeling that these devices can help our productivity and well-being. Given we spend the majority of our lives at work, it’s a no-brainer that employees will want to wear them in the office.

While they may support productivity, connected devices present risks for the IT department, especially those that could auto-sync corporate data, making them a potential target for hackers and thieves. Even data tracking the movements of mobile sales staff could tip off competitors about new leads. Many IT leaders will want to manage this risk by ensuring any workplace IoT devices are controlled with MDM, security tools and policies. However, according to our research, 50 percent of U.S. consumers do not believe their employer has the right to access personal data on their smart device, despite connecting to the corporate Wi-Fi.

Staff versus employer

This dilemma brings the usual arguments raised by BYOD, namely that sensitive corporate or customer data could be at risk if accessed or stored on an employee-owned device. Now if IT managers try to shackle devices with MDM or security tools, they could risk the wrath of users.

A recent court case highlights that such problems are no longer theoretical. A U.S. District Court in Texas heard the case of a staff member who sued his employer for loss under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The former employee was forced to use his own iPhone for accessing customer emails at work since one was not provided. When he resigned, the company’s network administrator remotely wiped his phone, deleting not just work information, but also his personal data. In the end, the employer won, but it won’t be the last case of this kind as staff and their employers increasingly clash over BYOD.#
Best practice BYOD

So what can the under fire IT manager do to walk this fine line, protecting both enterprise data and staff expectations of personal privacy, while enabling staff productivity? Here are a few tips for starters:

  • If you haven’t already, classify enterprise data and perform a risk assessment to better understand what is at stake if it ends up in a competitor’s hands.
  • Find out how many personal smart devices are already being used at work.
  • Familiarize yourself with the operating systems, devices and security shortcomings of these devices.
  • Consider enforcing remote lock/wipe and password protection for all devices allowed to connect to the corporate network.
  • Utilize a ‘containerized’ security approach which keeps corporate and personal data separate on devices.
  • Apply policies so that the most sensitive corporate data is encrypted.
  • Assess any new IoT devices before they are allowed to connect to the network.

 

 

 

 

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Originally published on the LabTech Blog - Author Josh Preston

As an MSP, you have two choices. You can be your own boss, be passionate about the work you do and work hard for your success. Sound good? Option two is even better. With the right preparation and foundation, you can have a business that runs so smoothly and effortlessly that you can finally take a real vacation.

Running your business with an eye on growth means changing your mindset and your business focus. Continuous growth is the goal, since it means expanding profits and staying a step (or several) ahead of your competitors. The market changes fast, but the more proactive you can be, the more you’ll be able to offer your clients. The more they depend on your services, the faster you’ll see growth in your company and your bottom line.

Here are a few big game changers to help you jump start your business growth:

1. Stay Safe
Security continues to top the list of your clients’ biggest concerns, so find a strong security platform that keeps them protected without risk. Find the perfect balance between mitigating risk and hindering productivity.

2. User First
How many devices do you have? Chances are you’ve got more than one, and so does every end user you support. Enter the shift to by user management instead of by device. Make sure you’re staying ahead of the game by supporting multiple devices.

3. Connect Everything
Data, devices and people are quickly intertwining, giving MSPs the chance to offer a number of ‘smart’ devices and opportunities. The market opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) is huge, so watch this one grow in the next few years and see how you can get on the bandwagon.

4. One-Stop Access
In a nutshell, virtualization allows multiple operating systems to run on one physical piece of hardware. This cost-saving trend will easily catch clients’ attention, so be sure to stay informed of what it offers.

5. Keep Compliant
Regulation and compliance requirements are an important and challenging task for many organizations. Wrap your head around the details for a few relevant verticals, and start reaching out to offer this vital service to new and current compliance-reliant clients.

Keep a close eye on these trends as they come to life, and be ready to answer any questions your clients might have about them. The more you know, the faster you establish your place as a trusted advisor—and the more your clients will thank you.

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.