Zero-day exploits and vulnerabilities are attacks on computers and networks that happen the same day (day zero) as the vendor becomes aware of the security issue.
The latest zero-day attack to hit the news is an Adobe Flash vulnerability (2/1/18). The exploit appears to be distributed through a Microsoft Excel document, with the malicious Flash object embedded. When a user receives and opens the malicious file, a remote access tool is unknowingly installed. The attacker now has remote access to your infected machine.
Adobe is planning to release a patch the week of February 5.
In previous years, Adobe Flash was caught in several zero-day attacks. IT resources, such as websites, are relying on Flash technologies less through coding with HTML 5. Many IT experts encourage users to uninstall Adobe Flash. Google Chrome provides a customized, embedded version of Flash that is thought to be safe than a stand-alone install.
What should you do if you have Adobe Flash?
Consider whether you actually need or use this product. Run Adobe Flash updates when they are available (taking care to make sure that it is actually Adobe Flash notifying you of an update, and not a malicious browser message)
Think before clicking!
When you receive emails, check for attachments. Make sure that the attachment makes sense before you consider opening. Were you expecting an Excel file, Zip file, etc.? Is this attachment something you were expecting from this contact?
Protect Your Machine and Network:
Use an antivirus software on your machine, and consider a firewall on your office network connection. Firewalls work to collect the signatures of malware, viruses and threats, and then block the threat from your network when the signature is presented. SonicWall firewalls release these updates to SonicWall users with active subscriptions; the latest signature protection was available just one day after the Adobe exploit was known.
Contact ITS for more ideas to keep your users and network safe from growing cyber threats!
A recent survey by Citrix, our cloud app-hosting software vendor, collected data regarding employee satisfaction and productivity in relation to workspace flexibility. The survey relayed that office professionals who do not have a flexible work environment believe their companies would introduce flexibility if they had the technological capabilities to accommodate it. How can those companies gain the necessary technology capabilities? And what are these technology capabilities?
This is the first conversation we have with our SMB clients. Is your data secure? Are your machines secure? Are your employees engaging in secure practices?
Citrix can create a secure environment for hosted apps and data. Connections to your cloud-server require a username and password, as well as knowledge of the specific connection address. Most users store this information in their computer for quick connections, which would also suggest that you password protect your computer with a strong password or biometric measure.
Users, regardless of your server platform, should also be trained on secure practices when it comes to web browsing and email reading. While flexibility and employee happiness are important, it should never undermine security.
The best way to ensure that apps and data are available for users planning to work while traveling or working unexpectedly away from the office is to make apps and data cloud hosted for all users. Office productivity policies may keep some employees reporting to their physical desk while other employees are given more opportunity to telecommute, meet clients offsite, or work outside of standard office-hours. Utilizing the same cloud-hosted server for on- and off-site workers provides flexible access for all users, on a multitude of device types.
This seems sensical, right? If you don’t have a great Internet connection, your connection to www.target.com, Netflix, or your cloud-hosted apps will also not have great connections. The great news is that increased bandwidth speeds and options are becoming more available in Iowa and the Midwest.
You can connect to your cloud-hosted apps from your favorite coffee shop or from a mobile hotspot, from home, or from your office. Your cloud-hosted server is your virtual desktop.
The bottom line is this: To be competitive, businesses need to embrace workforce flexibility, which increasingly requires cloud-based apps and services. Three important strategies for embracing flexibility include making cybersecurity a priority, making flexible access easy and unified, using advanced analytics as part of your cloud apps and services to make everything work better.
A client stopped by our office this week for some IT support, and looking up at our wall of TVs above our cubicles said, “What’s that? The stock market?”
He was pointing to our Internet graph, the third in a series of digital displays that monitors key functions at ITS.
At a glance from most vistas within our office, we can see the status of our servers downstairs in the datacenter, alerts paging and clearing from client connections, the status of specific backup sets running from client locations, our 3CX phone dashboard to help us see the availability and location of our technicians, our helpdesk ticket queue, and our bandwidth graph.
While all of this content is also available to us internally through a web browser, the high-visibility helps us see trends in data, multi-task with more efficiency and stay motivated to keep the graphs/data levels in ideal zones.
In addition to similar SMB installs for clients using digital displays for internal company communications, SMB and K-16+ are also using digital signage to stream live events, display social media feeds, and provide wayfinding directions.
Can Digital Displays enhance productivity at your workplace? Some of our favorite uses:
- Keep employees engaged and educated – display policies, procedures, upcoming meetings, etc.
- Display goals and data to keep employees motivated and team-oriented
- Connect and communicate between various teams and create a community, even provide ways for staff to interact and provide feedback
- Spotlight individual and team successes
- Monitor/track inventory – company vehicles, staff location, inventory, etc.
- Build awareness – safety messages, global news that impacts your line of work, or office trends that staff should recognize
- Study breaks!
Our Digital Display solutions work with several third-party apps and platforms, or often have embedded toolsets to help clients create and display their specific content. Contact ITS to get started on your Digital Display project!
Encrypted traffic, or SSL, looks to a firewall just like a random series of bits and bytes. Encryption is good in many situations, because it can hide sensitive data from hackers and ensure privacy for corporate files. However, encryption technology can also be used by cybercriminals as an effective method to hide malware, ransomware, rogue sites and other attacks. In fact, the use of encryption to hide and better spread malware has become the status quo; in a 2017 security report, SonicWall found that over 60% of all malware/ransomware/etc. infiltrated networks while encrypted. All a malicious actor has to do is to encrypt the malicious communication and the malware can tunnel through the firewall, completely bypassing most security policies.
Fortunately, advanced network security with deep packet inspection of SSL/TLS and HTTPS traffic is now available to protect against encrypted threats. Specifically, SonicWall DPI-SSL can responsibly decrypt TLS/SSL traffic and mitigate encrypted attacks, including ransomware and other zero-day attacks.
SonicWall calls SSL inspection DPI-SSL, which stands for Deep Packet Inspection of SSL encrypted traffic. Instead of the client, such as web browser, establishing an encrypted connection directly with a web server, DPI-SSL works by establishing an encrypted connection between the client and the SonicWall firewall. The SonicWall firewall then establishes an encrypted connection to the server so that the SonicWall firewall can inspect the traffic in-between. This all happens transparently and automatically, without user interaction, but with the user’s knowledge to maintain integrity.
Should you force DPI-SSL or SSL decryption on your network? Our K-12 and SMB clients are moving toward DPI-SSL. It takes substantial planning and testing before you rolling this out on your network, but is well worth the effort to protect data, users and workplace efficiencies. There is some thought that SSL decryption may be mandated by specific governing bodies in the future, such as healthcare, as a way to protect sensitive data from ransomware and other attacks.
Contact ITS for more information, or watch the video to learn more about SonicWall DPI-SSL: