Preparing for the End of SMS Authentication

Over the last several years, wealth management/asset management firms have been integrating their systems with banking, trading and other financial platforms. One of the largest challenges wealth management firms face, from a technology standpoint, is managing multi-factor authentication when connecting to the accounts of their clients. In the coming year to eighteen months, this is likely to get even more challenging as SMS-based authentication is phased out. 

Today, many financial web sites, applications and phone apps require the use of SMS one-time security verification codes to be sent via text to the user. This usually happens once the user has entered their login and password to the system, after which it triggers the credential to be sent to their mobile phone number on record. The user then inputs this code into a form on the system and it is verified, and if correct, allows the user to proceed to access the application. This is called two factor authentication/multi-factor authentication (“MFA”) and is one of the most common mechanisms for performing this type of user authorization.

The problem with this mechanism for regulating sign ins to applications is that the method of sending the code is insecure. Attackers have a variety of means of intercepting SMS text messages and thus defeating this type of authentication. Just do some quick Google searches and you’ll find plenty of examples of this attack being successful. You’ll also find regulatory guidance about ending SMS authentication from a variety of sources like NIST and various financial regulators around the world. 

The likely successor to SMS text message authentication is the authenticator app on user mobile devices and smartphones. These authenticator apps reside in encrypted storage on the user’s phone and when prompted, provide a one-time password (“OTP”) just like the code sent in the text message. The difference is, through a variety of cryptographic techniques, once the application is setup and  the settings configured, it doesn’t need to communicate with the financial platform, and thus is significantly more difficult for attackers to compromise. Indeed, they must actually have the user’s device, or at the very least, access to the data that resides on it. This greatly reduces the risk of interception and mis-use of the codes in question, and increases the security of the user’s account with the financial institution.

This presents a significant problem, and opportunity, for wealth management firms. Transitioning their business processes from integrating with SMS-based authentication to authenticator apps can be a challenge on the technical level. Updates to the user interaction processes, for those firms that handle it manually, usually by calling the user and asking for the code, are also going to be needed. It is especially important, for these manual interactions, that some passphrase or the like is used, as banks, trading platforms and other financial institutions will be training their users to NEVER provide an authenticator app secret to anyone over the phone. Attackers leveraging social engineering are going to be the most prevalent form of danger to this authentication model, so wealth management firms must create controls to help assure their clients that they are who they say they are and train them to resist attackers pretending to be the wealth management firm. 

Technical and manual implementations of this form of authentication will prove to be an ongoing challenge for wealth management firms. We are already working with a variety of our clients, helping them update their processes, policies and controls for these changes. If your organization has been traditionally using SMS message authentication with your own clients, there is even more impetus to get moving on changes to your own processes. 

Let us know if we can be of service. You can reach out and have a no stress, no hassle discussion with our team by completing this web form. You can also give us a call anytime at 614-351-1237. We’d love to help! 

Getting ROI with ClawBack, our Data Leak Detection Platform

So, by now, you have likely heard about MicroSolved’s ClawBack™ data leakage detection engine. We launched it back in October of 2019, and it has been very successful among many of our clients that have in-house development teams. They are using it heavily to identify leaks of source code that could expose their intellectual property or cause a data breach at the application level.

While source code leaks remain a signficant concern, it is really only the beginning of how to take advantage of ClawBack. I’m going to discuss a few additional ways to get extreme return on investment with ClawBack’s capabilities, even if you don’t have in-house developers.

One of the most valuable solutions that you can create with ClawBack is to identify leaked credentials (user names and passwords). Hackers and cyber-criminals love to use stolen passwords for credential-stuffing attacks. ClawBack can give you a heads up when stolen credentials show up on the common pastebin sites or get leaked inadvertantly through a variety of common ways. Knowing about stolen credentials makes sense and gives you a chance to change them before they can be used against you. 

We’ve also talked a lot about sensitive data contained in device configurations. Many potentially sensitive details are often in configuration files that end up getting posted in support forums, as parts of resumes or even in GITHub repositories. A variety of identifiable information is often found in these files and evidence suggests that attackers, hackers and cybercriminals have developed several techniques for exploiting them. Our data leak detection platform specializes in hunting down these leaks, which are often missed by most traditional data loss prevention/data leakage prevention (DLP)/data protection tools. With ClawBack watching for configurations exposures, you’ve got a great return on investment.

But, what about other types of data theft? Many clients have gotten clever with adding watermarks, unique identity theft controls, specific security measures and honing in on techniques to watch for leaked API keys (especially by customers and business partners). These techniques have had high payoffs in finding compromised data and other exposures, often in near real time. Clients use this information to declare security incidents, issue take down orders for data leaks and prevent social engineering attackers from making use of leaked data. It often becomes a key part of their intrusion detection and threat intelligence processes, and can be a key differentiator in being able to track down and avoid suspicious activity.

ClawBack is a powerful SaaS Platform to help organizations reduce data leaks, minimize reputational risk, discover unusual and often unintentional insider threats and help prevent unauthorized access stemming from exposed data. To learn more about it, check out https://microsolved.com/clawback today.

Saved By Ransomware Presentation Now Available

I recently spoke at ISSA Charlotte, and had a great crowd via Zoom. 

Here is the presentation deck and MP3 of the event. In it, I shared a story about an incident I worked around the start of Covid, where a client was literally saved from significant data breach and lateral spread from a simple compromise. What saved them, you might ask? Ransomware. 

That’s right. In this case, ransomware rescued the customer organization from significant damage and a potential loss of human life. 

Check out the story. I think you’ll find it very interesting. 

Let me know if you have questions – hit me up the social networks as @lbhuston.

Thanks for reading and listening! 

Deck: https://media.microsolved.com/SavedByRansomware.pdf

MP3: https://media.microsolved.com/SavedByRansomware.mp3

PS – I miss telling you folks stories, in person, so I hope you enjoy this virtual format as much as I did creating it! 

3 Steps To Increase Cyber Security At Your Dealership

Car dealerships and automotive groups are juicy targets for cybercriminals with their wealth of identity and financial information. Cyber security in many dealerships is lax, and many don’t even have full time IT teams, with even fewer having cybersecurity risk management skills in house. While this is changing, for the better, as dealerships become more data-centric and more automated, many are moving to become more proactive against cybersecurity threats. 

In addition to organized criminals seeking to capture and sell personal information,  global threats stemming from phishing, malware, ransomware and social engineering also plague dealerships. Phishing and ransomware are among the leading causes of financial losses tied to cybersecurity in the dealership space. Even as the federal regulators refine their focus on dealerships as financial institutions, more and more attackers have shifted some of their attention in the automotive sales direction.

Additionally, a short walk through social media doesn’t require much effort to identify dealerships as a common target for consumer anger, frustration and threats. Some of the anger shown toward car dealerships has proven to turn into physical security concerns, while it is almost assured that some of the industry’s network breaches and data breaches can also be tied back to this form of “hacktivism”. In fact, spend some time on Twitter or chat rooms, and you can find conversations and a variety of information of hacking dealership wireless networks and WiFi cameras. These types of cybersecurity incidents are proving to be more and more popular. 

With all of this cybersecurity attention to dealerships, are there any quick wins to be had? We asked our MSI team and the folks we work with at the SecureDrive Alliance that very question. Here’s the best 3 tips they could put forth:

1) Perform a yearly cybersecurity risk assessment – this should be a comprehensive view of your network architecture, security posture, defenses, detection tools, incident response plans and disaster recovery/business continuity plan capabilities. It should include a complete inventory of all PII and threats that your dealership faces. Usually this is combined with penetration testing and vulnerability assessment of your information systems to measure network security and computer security, as well as address issues with applications and social engineering. 

2) Ensure that all customer wireless networks and physical security systems are logically and physically segmented from operations networks – all networks should be hardened in accordance with information security best practices and separated from the networks used for normal operations, especially finance and other PII related processes. Network traffic from the customer wireless networks should only be allowed to traverse the firewall to the Internet, and may even have its own Internet connection such as a cable modem or the like. Cameras and physical security systems should be hardened against attacks and all common credentials and default passwords should be changed. Software updates for all systems should be applied on a regular basis.

3) Train your staff to recognize phishing, eliminate password re-use among systems and applications and reportcybersecurity attacks to the proper team members – your staff is your single best means of detecting cyber threats. The more you train them to identify and resist dangerous behaviors, the stronger your cybersecurity maturity will be. Training staff members to recognize, handle, report and resist cyber risks is one of the strongest value propositions in information security today. The more your team members know about your dealership’s security protocols, service providers and threats, the more effective they can be at protecting the company and themselves. Buidling a training resource center, and setting up a single point of contact for reporting issues, along with sending out email blasts about the latest threats are all great ways to keep your team on top of the issues.

There you have it, three quick and easy wins to help your dealership do the due diligence of keeping things cyber secure. These three basic steps will go a long way to protecting the business, meeting the requirements of your regulatory authority and reduce the chances of substantial harm from cyber attacks. As always, remaining vigilant and attentive can turn the tide. 

If you need any assistance with cybersecurity, risk management, penetration testing or training, MicroSolved and the SecureDrive Alliance are here to help. No matter if you’re a small business or a large auto group, our risk management and information security processes based on the cybersecurity framework from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will get you on the road to effective data security. Simply contact MSI via this web form, or the SecureDrive Alliance via our site, and we will be happy to have a no cost, no hassle discussion to see how we can assist you.  

All About Credit Union Credential Stuffing Attacks

Credential stuffing attacks continue to be a grave concern for all organizations worldwide. However, for many Credit Unions and other financial institutions, they represent one of the most significant threats. They are a common cause of data breaches and are involved in some 76% of all security incidents. On average, our honey nets pretending to be Credit Union and other financial services experience targeted credential stuffing attacks several times per week. 

What Is Credential Stuffing?

“Credential stuffing occurs when hackers use stolen information, such as usernames and passwords from database breaches or phishing software from one account, and attempt to gain access to another. The hackers prey on people’s habit of using the same usernames and passwords for multiple sites. Using automated tools, they run large amounts of stolen information across multiple sites looking to find the same usernames and passwords being used elsewhere. Once they find a match, they can monetize the personal and financial information they gather.” (ardentcu.org)

How Common is Credential Stuffing?

Beyond our honey nets, which are completely fake environments used to study attackers, credential stuffing and the damage it causes is quite starteling. Here are some quick facts:

  • It is estimated that automated credential-stuffing attempts makes up 90% of enterprise login traffic in the US. (securityboulevard.com)
  • It’s estimated that credential stuffing costs companies more than $5 billion a year and creates havoc with consumers. (ardentcu.org)

  • According to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report on credential stuffing, its customers alone were deluged by 30 billion malicious login attempts between November 2017 and June this year, an average of 3.75 billion per month. (theregister.com)

  • Significant credential stuffing attacks are a favorite of professional hacking groups from Russia, India, Asia and Africa. They often gather extensive lists of stolen and leaked credentials through advanced Google hacking techniques, by combing social media for password dumps (so called “credential spills”) and by purchasing lists of exposed credentials from other criminals on the dark web. Lists of member information from compromised online banking, online retailers and business association sites are common. This information often includes names, addresses, bank account numbers/credit card numbers, social security numbers, phone numbers and other sensitive data – enabling credential stuffing and social engineering attacks against victims around the world.

What Can Credit Unions Do About Credential Stuffing?

The key to handling this threat is to be able to prevent, or at the very least, identify illicit login attempts and automate actions in response to failed logins. Cybercriminals use a variety of tools, rented botnets (including specifically built credential stuffing bots) and brute force attacks to pick off less than strong passwords all around the Internet. Then, as we discussed above, they use that stolen information to probe your credit union for the same login credentials. 

The first, and easiest step, in reducing these cybercriminals’ success rate is to teach all of your legitimate users not to use the same password across multiple systems, and NEVER use passwords from public sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter for example, as account credentials at work or on other important sites. Instead, suggest that they use a password manager application to make it simple to have different passwords for every site. Not only does this help make their passwords stronger, but it can even reduce support costs by reducing password reset requests. Ongoing security awareness is the key to helping them understand this issue and the significance their password choices have on the security of their own personal information and that of the company.

Next, the Credit Union should have a complete inventory of every remote login service, across their Internet presence. Every web application, email service, VPN or remote access portal and every single place that a cybercriminal could try or use their stolen credentials to gain an account takeover. Once, the Credit Union knows where login credentials can be used, they should go about preventing abuse and cyberattacks against those attack surfaces. 

The key to prevention should start with eliminating any Internet login capability that is not required. It should then progress to reducing the scope of each login surface by restricting the source IP addresses that can access that service, if possible. Often Credit Unions are able to restrict this access down to specific countries or geographic areas. While this is not an absolute defense, it does help to reduce the impacts of brute force attacks and botnet scans on the login surfaces. 

The single best control for any authentication mechanism, however, is multi factor authentication (MFA) (basically a form of secure access code provided to the user). Wheverever possible, this control should be used. While multi factor authentication can be difficult to implement on some services, it is widely available and a variety of products exist to support nearly every application and platform. Financial services should already be aware of MFA, since it has been widely regulated by FFIEC, NCUA and FDIC guidance for some time.

More and more, however, credential stuffing is being used against web mail, Office 365 and other email systems. This has become so common, that a subset of data breaches called Business Email Compromise now exists and is tracked separately by law enforcement. This form of unauthorized access has been wildly popular across the world and especially against the financial services of the United States. Compromised email addresses and the resulting wire transfer fraud and ACH fraud that stems from this form of credential theft/identity theft are among some of the highest financial impacts today. Additionally, they commonly lead to malware spread and ransomware infections, if the attacker can’t find a way to steal money or has already managed to do so.

No matter what login mechanism is being abused, even when MFA is in place, logging of both legitimate access and unauthorized access attempts is needed. In the event that a security breach does occur, this data is nearly invaluable to the forensics and investigation processes. Do keep in mind, that many default configurations of web services and cloud-based environments (like Office 365) have much of this logging disabled by default. 

While Credit Unions remain prime targets, having good prevention and detection are a key part of strong risk management against credential stuffing. Practicing incident response skills and business recovery via tabletop exercises and the like also go a long way to stengthening your security team’s capabilities.

How Can MicroSolved Help?

Our team (the oldest security firm in the midwest) has extensive experience with a variety of risk management and security controls, including helping Credit Unions inventory their attack surfaces, identify the best multi factor authentication system for their environment, create policies and processes for ensuring safe operations and performing assessments, configuration audits of devices/applications/cloud environments. 

We also scope and run custom tabletop exercises and help Credit Unions build better information security programs. Our team has extensive experience with business email compromise, wire/ACH/credit card fraud prevention, cybercriminal tactics and incident response, in the event that you discover that credential theft has occurred. 

Lastly, our ClawBack data leak detection platform, can help you watch for leaked credentials, find source code and scripts that might contain reuseable account credentials and even hunt down device configurations that can expose the entire network to easy compromise. 

You can learn more about all of our services, and our 28 years of information security thought leadership here.

Lastly, just reach out to us and get in touch here. We’d love to talk with your Credit Union and help you with any and all of these controls for protecting against credential stuffing attacks or any other cybersecurity issue.

3 Quick Thoughts for Small Utilities and Co-Ops

Recently I was asked to help some very small utilities and co-ops come up with some low cost/free ideas around detection. The group was very nice about explaining their issues, and here is a quick summary of some of the ideas we discussed.

1) Dump external router, firewall, AD and any remote access logs weekly to text and use simple parsers in python/perl or shell script to identify any high risk issues. Sure, this isn’t the same as having robust log monitoring tools (which none of these folks had), but even if you detect something really awful a week after it happens, you will still be ahead of the average curve of attackers having access for a month or more. You can build your scripts using some basis analytics, they will get better over time, and here are some ideas to get you started. You don’t need a lot of money to quickly handle dumped logs. Do the basics and improve.

2) Take advantage of cheap hardware, like the Raspberry Pi for easy to learn/use Linux boxes for scripting, log parsing or setting up cron jobs to automate tasks. For less than 50 bucks, you can have a powerful machine to do a lot of work for you and serve as a monitoring platform for a variety of tools. The group was all tied up in getting budget to buy server and workstation hardware – but had never taken the Pi seriously as a work platform. It’s mature enough to do a lot of non-mission critical (and some very important) work. It’s fantastic if you’re looking for a quick and dirty way to gain some Linux capabilities in confined Windows world.

3) One of the best bang for the buck services we have at MSI is device configuration reviews. For significantly less money than a penetration test, we can review your external routers, firewall and VPN for configuration issues, improper rules/ACLs and insecure settings. If you combine this with an exercise like attack surface mapping and threat modeling, you can get a significant amount of insight without resorting to (and paying for) vulnerability assessments and penetration testing. Sure, the data might not be as granular, and we still have to do some level of port scanning and service ID, but we have a variety of safe ways to do that work – and you get some great information. You can then make risk-based decisions about the data and decide what you want to act on and pay attention to. If your budget is tight – get in touch and discuss this approach with us.

I love to talk with utilities and especially smaller organizations that want to do the right thing, but might face budget constraints. If they’re willing to have an open, honest conversation, I am more than willing to get creative and engage to help them solve problems within their needs. We’d rather get creative and solve an issue to protect the infrastructure than have them get compromised by threat actors looking to do harm.

If you want to discuss this or any security or risk management issue, get in touch here.  

Car Dealership Threat Scenario – Wireless Printer Hacking AP Fraud

Today, I wanted to talk about a threat scenario that we have modeled recently. In the scenario, the victim was a car dealership, and the target was to commit accounts payable fraud. The testing scenario is a penetration test against a large group of car dealerships, but our research shows the threat to be valid against any number of organizations. 

Here’s the basics of the scenario:

  • The team found a car dealership with an extensive wireless network. Though the network was encrypted and not available to the public, the team was able to compromise the wireless credentials using a wifi pineapple in a backpack, while pretending to shop for a new car.
  • The team used the credentials to return later, appearing to wait for a service visit and working from the customer lounge. (The coffee and snacks were great! )
  • The team logged into the wireless network and quickly identified many devices, workstations and such available. Rather than focus on the workstations or attempt an attack on the users – the team instead focused on the shared printers.
  • One printer was identified with the name “BackOffice”, and access to the print spool was easily obtained through known default passwords which hadn’t been changed on the device.
  • Our team made notes of attack their recon attack path, and left the dealership.
  • Once away from the dealership a couple of simple social engineering calls were made to the accounts payable folks, pretending to be a vendor that we had observed at work at the facility. Without any real information, the accounts payable team member explained when we could expect payment, because accounts payable checks were processed every Thursday morning. The social engineer thanked them and completed the call.
  • On Thursday morning, the team showed up at the dealership again, pretending to wait for a service appointment. While in the lounge, they accessed the compromised network and printer. This time, taking deeper control of the printer’s file buffer.
  • The team waited for the accounts payable staff to submit their weekly check printing to the printer. Indeed, around 10:45, the printer file showed up in the printer spool, where our penetration testing team intercepted it. 
  • The team quickly edited the file, changing one of the checks in amount (increasing the amount by several thousand dollars) and the payee (making the check payable to a fictional company of our choosing). They also edited the mailing address to come to our office instead of the original vendor. (PS – we alerted the manager to this issue, so that the bill could be paid later — never harm a client while doing testing!!!)
  • The file was then re-sent to the printer and released. The whole process occurred in under 3 minutes, so the AP person never even noticed the issue.
  • One expected control was that perhaps the AP staff would manually reconcile the checks against their expected checks, but this control was not in place and the fake check was mailed to us (we returned it, of course!).

This is a pretty simple attack, against a very commonly exploitable platform. Poor wireless network security and default installs of printer systems are common issues, and often not given much thought in most dealerships. Even when organizations have firewalls and ongoing vulnerability scanning, desktop controls, Anti-Virus, etc. – this type of attack is likely to work. Most organizations ignore their printers – and this is an example of how that can bite you.

These types of threat scenarios are great examples of our services and the threat modeling, fraud testing and penetration testing available. If you’d like to learn more about these kinds of activities, or discuss how to have them performed for your organization – get in touch. You can contact us via web form or give us a call at (614) 351-1237. You can also learn more about our role and services specific to car dealerships here.

Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions – @lbhuston on Twitter.

Business Email Compromise Attacks on Dealerships

Business email compromise attacks are a significant threat to car dealerships.

Among the car dealerships we work with, two large threats represent the most significant risks at the moment. The first is ransomware, which we have covered extensively on this blog. The second, business email compromise, we’ve also talked a lot about, but mostly in terms of traditional financial services firms. However, business email compromise is one of the most common cybersecurity attacks today and, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, costs American firms $1.7 billion in 2019, while worldwide losses might well have reached over $5 billion!

How big is the risk of a business email compromise in a dealership?

Business email compromise attacks occur every single day across a variety of industries. Business email compromises typically occur via two specific attack vectors: phishing and stolen credential reuse. Most of our dealerships have significant controls around phishing, with those detection systems reporting tens to hundreds of attempts per day. While the phishing tools are good enough to stop the vast majority of common phishing attacks, there are some that make it through the network and computer-based defenses. When this happens, it is up to the humans in the dealership to be aware enough of the issue, be paying enough attention and have good enough training to prevent the phishing message from becoming a compromise.

In the second attack vector for business email compromise, attackers reuse stolen or leaked credentials (logins and passwords) that have become available on the Internet. There are several common forums and pastebin-type sites where these credentials are dumped, traded or sold (if you want to learn about a common tool to help monitor for these issues, check out ClawBack) and attackers monitor these sites with various tools. Once they see a leaked set of credentials, they try and use it on the web mail logins of their targets. If the user has the same login and password across many sites (many do), then the attacker may compromise the web mail account and be logged into the corporate email system as the user.

What happens in a typical business email compromise in a dealership?

Once the attacker has access to the email system, they will often spend a little time reading the emails and browsing through any files that the email server maintains. If the system includes chat capabilities, they often read those as well. They do this to learn about the user, their position and what the attacker may be able to use the compromised account to do. If any valuable information is in the email archive or on exposed files, they often steal that data right away for resale.

It’s not uncommon for attackers to set a forwarding address for compromised mail accounts, redirecting copies of emails to themselves so that they can monitor the email activity of the user without logging back into the server – thus reducing their chances of being discovered. If the compromised account doesn’t seem useful to the attacker, they will often use it to send phishing emails to other people in the address book, including other internal users, business partners, customers and the like. These phishing attacks are often highly successful, given that they come from a trusted contact and the attacker can tailor the language and tone of the email to match usual conversations.

Once the attacker gets access to an account that they feel is capable of either gaining them network access (think executives who can make requests of subordinates) or allow them to move money (think about accounts payable, wire, ACH and other banking fraud), they will use the email account to send messages, forms (if available) or other requests to get what they want. Again, these attacks are often highly successful, because the attacker comes from a known account, can tailor the language and tone of the messages, and can use social engineering techniques to apply pressure to the victims in order to get them to do things they might not ordinarily do.

What can dealerships do to prevent business email compromises?

Dealerships can combat business email comprise attacks by ensuring that their phishing and authentication defenses are up to par. They can train their team members to be on guard for messages that apply pressure, declare urgency or ask for unusual activities. The dealership can implement training and protocols for voice validation checks for unusual requests and perform ongoing testing of these types of scenarios to educate and keep their staff on guard.

Dealerships can also be vigilant about their email systems, configuring them to apply controls, ensure that logging and other security measures are in place. They can implement multi-factor authentication. They can have ongoing assessments and penetration testing – including business email comprise-based scenarios.

Reducing the risk is doable, but it does require work, investment and continued vigilance. Attackers only have to be right once, while the security controls and your team have to be right every single time to prevent losses. With incidents ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses – paying attention to business email compromises is critical for dealerships of all sizes.

To learn more about tools, techniques and testing to help your organization prevent, detect and respond to business email compromise attacks, get in touch with our team at SecureDrive Alliance for more information and a free risk discussion today.

ClawBack Professional and Managed Services Launched

Clawback small

ClawBack™, our data leak detection engine which we released last fall, is a cloud-based SaaS tool focused on helping organizations detect leaked source code, device/application configurations and credentials. You can learn more about the product and why we made it in this quick 8 minute video by clicking here.

While ClawBack has been a very successful product in its own right, the SaaS platform is primarily “Do It Yourself” in terms of operations. It’s easy to use and manage, but the customer does the work of reviewing the alerts and managing the responses. Over the last several months, some clients have asked for a managed service option, where MSI will manage the ClawBack product, review the alerts and work with the customer to issue take downs or provide mitigation advice. Today, we are proud to announce the immediate availability of the ClawBack Managed Service. Now you can get the power and vigilance of ClawBack without the overhead of managing and monitoring the product directly, reviewing the alerts and issuing appropriate take down requests.

Several clients have also asked us about other professional services associated with ClawBack and with Data Leak Prevent/Protection (DLP) capabilities in general. MSI is also proud to announce the immediate availability of the following associated professional services:

  • Monitoring term identification, optimization and improvement
  • Watermark implementation in source code and device configurations
  • Data leak awareness training, especially focused on source code, configurations and credentials
  • Data leak impact modeling and table top simulations
  • 30/60/90 day data leak assessments
  • Exfiltration testing and Data Loss Prevention (DLP) assessments and optimization
  • Data classification and data leak policy and process development and reviews

Additionally, we are launching multiple year packages that combine these services in 3 and 5 year plans, allowing our clients to create long term solutions to the problems of data leakage, intellectual property risk management and compromises stemming from leaked source code, configs and credentials. To learn more about these services or create a package that fits your firm’s needs, give us a call at 614-351-1237 or drop us a line (info@microsolved.com).

WARNING: Migrate Windows Server 2003 Immediately

Believe it or not, we still get queries from a few utility companies that have operational processes locked on Windows Server 2003 as a platform. Most of the time, these are legacy applications associated with some form of ICS device or data management system that they have not been able to afford to replace.

Windows 2003 Server end-of-life searches are still among the most popular searches on our StateOfSecurity.com blog, receiving more than 200 queries most months. Keep in mind, this is an operating system that patches haven’t been released for since 2015. According to Spiceworks, an online community for IT professionals, the Windows 2003 Server operating system still enjoys a market share of 17.9%, though we could not validate the time frames of their claim.

But, just in the last year or so, we have seen it alive and well in natural gas, energy and the communications infrastructures, both foreign and domestic. So, we know it is still out there, and still being used in seemingly essential roles.

I’m not going to lecture you about using a system that is unmatched for 5 years. That’s just common sense. Instead, what I am going to do is make three quick suggestions for those of you who can’t get rid of this zombie OS. Here they are:

1. Install a firewall or other filtering device between the legacy system and the rest of your environment. This firewall should reduce the network traffic allowed to the system down to only specifically required ports and source addresses. It should also restrict all unneeded outbound traffic from the device to anything else in the network or the world. The device should be monitored for anomalies and security IOCs.

2. If the hardware is becoming an issue, as well, consider virtualizing the system using a modern virtualization solution. Then apply the firewalling above. Server 2003 seems to be easily virtualized and most modern solutions can handle it trivially.Hardware failure of many of these aging systems is their largest risk in terms of availability.

3. Eliminate the need AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Even with the firewalling and filtering, these systems have high risk. You might also consider if you can migrate portions of the services from Windows 2003 to a more recent system or platform. This isn’t always possible, but everything you can move from Windows 2003 to a supported OS is likely to let you crank down your filtering even more.

Lastly, if you’re still trapped on Windows 2003, make sure you review this every quarter with the application owners and management. Keep it on their mind and on the front burner. The sooner you can resolve it, the better. 

If you need more help or advice on risk mitigation or minimization, get in touch. We’d love to help! Just email us at info@microsolved.com and we can connect.