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SolarWinds Hack: What Vladimir Putin Wants Every Business To Ignore

Summary of the SolarWinds Hack

Russian hackers inserted malicious code into a ubiquitous piece of network-management software (SolarWinds and other companies) used by a majority of governmental agencies, Fortune 500 companies and many cloud providers. The software potentially gives Russia an all-access pass into the data of breached organizations and their customers.

Immediate Steps to Protect Your Network

I would recommend having a conversation with your IT provider or security team about the following items, as much for future attacks as for the SolarWinds hack:

  • After reading through this summary, take a deeper dive into this WSJ white-paper: The SolarWinds Hack – What Businesses Need to Know
  • For small businesses, it is important that you check with any cloud software providers to make sure they have resolved any problems with affected software.
  • Patch all instances of SolarWinds network management software and all network management, security and operational software in your environment.
  • Make sure your security team keeps up with the latest fixes for the Sunspot virus.
  • Configure your network assets to be as isolated as possible so that your most confidential data caches are separate from less confidential data.
  • Review the security settings of every category of user on the system to tighten user-level access.
  • Make sure employees know the proper procedures for connecting remotely to your network. Verify that they aren’t using a free personal VPN to connect.
  • If you utilize Microsoft products, keep up to date with their Investigation Updates.
  • If there is a chance you have been affected, have a full security audit done of your network.

Details of the SolarWinds Hack

During the worst possible time – a contentious presidential transition and a global pandemic – dozens of federal government agencies, among them the Defense, Treasury and Commerce, were breached by a cyber espionage campaign launched by the Russian foreign-intelligence service (SVR). The SVR is also linked to hacks on government agencies during the Obama Administration.

Senator Angus King said Putin “doesn’t have the resources to compete with us using conventional weapons, but he can hire about 8,000 hackers for the price of one jet fighter.”

In addition to internal communications being stolen, the operation exposed hundreds of thousands of government and corporate networks to potential risk. The hackers infiltrated the systems through a malicious software update introduced in a product from SolarWinds Inc., a U.S. network-management company. This allowed unsuspecting customers of their software to download a corrupted version of the software with a hidden back door allowing hackers to access their networks from “inside the house”. SolarWinds has more than 300,000 customers world-wide, including 425 of the U.S. Fortune 500 companies. Some of those customers include: the Secret Service, the Defense Department, the Federal Reserve, Microsoft, Lockheed Martin Corp, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and the National Security Agency. (Note: more recently, it has been discovered that SolarWinds wasn’t the only primary software infected.)

A Solar Winds spokesperson said the company knew of a vulnerability related to updates of its Orion technology management software and that the hack was the result of a highly sophisticated, targeted and manual supply chain attack by a nation state. Like the FireEye breach, this was not a broad attack of many systems at once, but a stealthy, patiently-conducted campaign that required “meticulous planning and manual interaction.”

SolarWinds Hack was a Supply Chain Attack

These supply-chain attacks reflect a trend by hackers in which they search for a vulnerability in a common product or service used widely by multiple companies. Once breached, it spreads widely across the internet and across dozens or even hundreds of companies before the compromises are detected. Many companies have increased their level of cyber-protections, but they do not scrutinize the software that their suppliers provide. This is a concern because corporations typically have dozens of software suppliers. For example, in the banking industry, the average number of direct software suppliers is 83. In IT services, it’s 55.

To understand the severity and national-security concerns of this breach, think of this as a “10 on a scale of one to 10”. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency ordered the immediate shut down of use of SolarWinds Orion products. Chris Krebs, the top cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security until his recent firing by Trump, stressed any Orion users should assume they have been compromised. Other investigators say that merely uninstalling SolarWinds will not solve the threat and that recovery will be an uphill battle unlike any we have ever seen. While the hackers may not have gained complete control of all companies, all experts agree that it will take years to know for certain which networks the Russians control and which ones they just occupy and to be assured that foreign control has been negated. Because they will be watching whatever moves we make—from the inside.


John Sileo is a cybersecurity expert, privacy advocate, award-winning author and media personality as seen on 60 Minutes, Anderson Cooper and Fox & Friends. He keynotes conferences virtually and in person around the world. John is the CEO of The Sileo Group, a business think tank based in Colorado.

Zoom Security in 7 Steps (Video + Graphic)

Since this video was recorded, Zoom has issued several security updates. Learn more at the Zoom Security web page and don’t forget to update to the latest version!

Zoom Security Transcript:

Hey, everybody. It’s good to see you back again. Today we’re going to talk about seven steps you can take to lock down your Zoom Security. At this point I have heard from clients everything from seeing naked people showing up in their webinars, incredibly embarrassing, bad for the brand. I’ve seen hacked Zoom accounts. I have seen whiteboards and presentations that have been shared with racial epithets, with everything terrible under the sun.

So, I thought I’d give you some ways to lock your Zoom video conference down. Here we go. I’m just going to show you right on the screen so that you can set these up either as we go or right afterwards. First of all, you’ll notice on the zoom interfaces, which I’m showing you here, that there is now a security tab. It allows you to lock your meeting, so that once you have everybody in that you want and you don’t want a Zoom bomber, somebody who comes in not wearing clothes or shares their screen, you can lock the meeting, so that nobody else can get in. Super important that you use that right there, so I’m going to lock my meeting. Nobody else at this point can get in.

Secondly, you can have a waiting room so that nobody can talk to each other until you come in. This is great for teachers or if you don’t want people discussing anything before the meeting starts before you as the controller of the meeting beginning it. This one’s super important and I’m going to show you how to set these up as your defaults in the second part here, but sharing your screen, this allows the participants to share their screen. We don’t want that on unless you really want them to share because this is how they share everything from the whiteboard where they write … What I’ve seen is is nasty racial epithets on it, or they share their PowerPoint presentation with stuff that you don’t want to see.

So, we do not want them to share the screen by default. Again, we’ll set that up in a minute, but you can turn it on and off here. You can turn chat on and off and renaming themselves. This means that if you kick somebody out, they can rename themselves and come back. So we’re going to take a look at how to change all of those things in your default settings. That’s what’s so important here. So let’s go to the default settings.

The easiest way to set up your defaults for Zoom security is when you start scheduling the meeting, you do it in that interface. So let’s say that we were going to schedule a new meeting here in our software. You bring the software up, the first thing you need to know is you want to generate a meeting ID automatically. You don’t to use your personal meeting ID because once that ID is out, once people know it, it’s on social media or whatever, anybody can join that personal meeting ID. I rarely use this feature unless it’s just for a quick meeting. You’ll also want to start requiring a password on every one of these. This is what keeps your video conference encrypted, it’s what keeps unwanted people out because they don’t have the password. So, we would go ahead and schedule that. I’m not going to do it at this point because I’m on a meeting right now.

And you’ll notice up here in the corner that there is a settings button. That’s where we want to go to set our defaults. When you do that, it brings up a bunch of choices. I’m not going to go through settings that don’t have to do with security or privacy. I’m going to just talk about the ones that have to do with privacy. So down here in the profile section, if you click on view advanced features, that will bring you up. I’m going to close that out now, that will bring you into the settings portion of your online account. And this is where we change all of the default settings. Now understand, Zoom is doing a lot of work to increase security, to have better encryption, which right now is weak and to lock down security. But until then you’re going to have to really pay attention to these default settings.

I turned my host video off from the start because I want to make sure that I know when I’m on that screen and being recorded. I turn it on when I am ready. Okay. Down here, use personal meeting ID when scheduling a meeting. Again, I turn this off by default. I do it for an instant meeting as well. I don’t like to use that generic address. Once it’s out there, anybody can Zoom bomb, they can join, just knowing that address. This is a really important one. Only authenticated users can join the meetings. There’s different ways that you can define down here what an authenticated user is. It could be somebody who has the right email address, it could be somebody based on the fact that they have a Zoom account or not. So this is an important one for security. And the same goes for joining from a web client, you want to make sure that they are an authenticated user, that they have a legitimate Zoom account, not just joining from the outside.

Right here, require a password when scheduling new meetings or instant meetings. That should be turned on by default. You will be using a password. That makes it more encrypted and that keeps unwanted users out. I also require passwords when joining by phone because it’s the same thing. You don’t want somebody calling in on a generic number and being able to disrupt your meeting. This one here, requiring cryption for third party endpoints. This is good unless you’re using YouTube to do live broadcasting. If you try and turn that on and you’re broadcasting to YouTube in a live stream, it will not work because YouTube does not work with that form of of encryption. So, if you’re not live broadcasting to Facebook or YouTube or other, you can turn that on, which improves your Zoom security.

Okay, file transfer. I turn that off unless I’m in a meeting where I’m definitely going to transfer documents because if somebody gets on that is not meant to be there, a cyber criminal or a hacker, they can transfer malware using that file transfer capability. So in general, I keep that turned off and I turn it on when I need to transfer a file. This one’s really important. Screen-sharing, who can share? I turn it on because I want to share my screen, but I also note that I’m the only one that can share the screen, not all of the participants. And then in the individual meeting or webinar, I can say, Hey, this particular user can share their screen.” I control that access. This is where Zoom bombing happens, people when screen-sharing is left open, they share photos, videos, presentations that you definitely do not want to be seeing.

So you want to control that. So you turn on screen sharing, but you turn it on for the host only. You can also disable desktop and screen sharing for users. One more tool that lets you totally lock it down. I, of course, do allow some sharing of that so I don’t completely disable it. You don’t probably want to share annotation or whiteboard or remote control of the system. You can do that again on an individual basis when you need it, but setting that as the default allows anybody that’s in your meeting or your conference to share the whiteboard or the annotating services.

This is good here, identify guest participants in the meeting. So, if you didn’t invite somebody but they’re on, they will appear in a separate participant list, so that you know that you’ve got people that you weren’t expecting there. You can either leave them on or you can cut them off.

Let’s go back up to the top real quickly and I want to show you here in the recording section as opposed to the meeting section a couple of best practices. You can give participants the permission to record locally. This is a good privacy setting. You don’t necessarily want everybody to be able to record locally, so I give that out on a very limited basis and understand anytime you record something it will be shared. So, if you’ve got a private board of directors meeting, if you’re discussing intellectual property, if you’re having a conversation or video of any time, you probably do not want that to be recorded. One other thing is I like to record on the local computer, not in the cloud. This takes away some of the ability for Zoom to be able to scan and share or advertise based on the content of your meetings.

Believe it or not, when you sign their data use policy, you are giving them the right to scan what you leave in the cloud. So, I always use a modern enough computer that I can save it right to my hard drive. And finally, the recording disclaimer, this asks participants for their consent when recording. This is a best practice. People need to know that they’re being recorded.

One last thing that I want to go through is what happens if somebody is Zoom bombing, somebody comes into your conference unwanted. I recommend always having a cohost. If you’re doing a webinar or an important meeting, somebody who can watch over, for example, the participant list. So that if somebody came up here that you didn’t want, you could simply click on them. Because I’m the cohost, you can’t do this, but you could click on more, you could have that person forced out of the meeting, to leave the meeting.

It’s a great way if somebody’s causing trouble, but it’s hard to do when you’re actually the one giving the webinar like I am right now to both monitor that, monitor the chat. That’s why I always recommend that you have a cohost along.

All right. Summary. You need to lock your meeting. You need to have passwords. Don’t use that personal meeting ID. Have it be customized for every single one and go in and change those defaults. Read through them. If you don’t understand something, Zoom walks through it on their site, they have videos on it makes it much easier to go through and customize those settings. Start by locking everything down, practice with it, and then back into your preferred settings. I just don’t want you getting out there and having a meeting on something that’s confidential in private that then gets out to to the public.

All right, thank you so much. I hope this helped out. Let me know what you want to see next time. Please like us. Pass us on. Share us. That’s how we let people know what we’re doing. Take care.

zoom security 10 tips

Cybersecurity for Your Home or Virtual Office

Cybersecurity Virtual Office Key Links from the Webinar:

ZOOM Sileo Security Video
Password Managers Review
Data Backup Physical/Cloud Backup 
ZOOM Security & Privacy Page

There is something great to be learned about cybersecurity from this pandemic. Preparing for a crisis before it happens is far less expensive than recovering after it happens. The U.S. saved several billions of dollars cutting corners on pandemic preparation, and it’s now estimated that coronavirus will cost the world more than $300 Trillion when the economy is factored in – not to mention the death toll.

Smart preparation beats recovery every time. The same is true for cybersecurity where optimism grows out of preparation. Proper cyber hygiene, just like washing your hands for a full 20 seconds, is both mildly inconvenient and wildly effective. And we need it more than ever, because cybercriminals are taking advantage of the chaos. Going remote increases the exposure of company data exponentially, especially because we had so little time to prepare.

This outline focuses primarily on solopreneurs and small businesses as I have held out some of the more technically detailed information on how larger enterprises can further protect their remote workforce. In this time when so much is outside of our control there’s actually a great deal within our control when it comes to cyber security.

7 Cybersecurity Threats in Your Remote Workplace

I’ve put together the 7 threats that I feel, from having observed thousands of organizations with remote workers, are the FIRST you should address. This is not an exhaustive list, but a great place to start.

Threat #1 – Zoom Videoconferencing – Rapid adoption has meant little security

  1. I received a call from a client who told me two things had happened 1) They discovered that a competitor was lurking on a video BOD meeting and 2) When they discovered it, the user screen-shared porn, called “Zoom bombing”. Had this been a call between business and client, it would have been devastating.
  2. It is imperative that you consider the privacy and security implications of Zoom before you use it for sensitive or critical meetings: https://zoom.us/docs/doc/Zoom-Security-White-Paper.pdf
  3. This article from the NY Attorney General about Zoom privacy practices has good information https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/technology/new-york-attorney-general-zoom-privacy.html
  4. To learn to use Zoom, please visit Mike Domitrz’s recorded webinar on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aVKbnQJrrjg&feature=youtu.be

Threat #2 – You and Your Kids – People, not technology, introduce the greatest risk into your systems

  1. Coronavirus scams started the day the epidemic was announced, let’s focus on…
  2. Phishing emails are a hackers best friend. Consent to download crimeware or upload logins
  3. These scams follow the headlines, especially a crisis (can be by text, phone or SM adv)
  4. Solutions:
    • Recognize the coronavirus scams
    • Click Hygiene – pause for 20 seconds before you click – Too good to be true, too bad to be real, too dramatic to be worth your time, then ignore it
    • The Hover Technique – expectations vs. reality
    • 3rd-Party Spam Filters (corporate tip – block it at the Gateway)
    • Train your kids, as anyone on your network can download malware and spread it elsewhere

Threat #3 – Cyber Blackmail – Cheapest tool hacker has is to lockup data & demand a ransom

  1. Ransomware – byproduct of phishing
  2. Worms its way to other devices – Home offices, kids click habits are biggest culprit
  3. 3-2-1 Backup Plan – iDrive https://www.pcmag.com/reviews/idrive

Threat #4 – Game of Knowns – 95% of vulnerabilities are known

  1. Outdated & Unpatched Operating Systems and software (Windows 7 Question – Bruce)
  2. No centralized firewall to protect whole network (not just yours) DSL Router
  3. Unprotected WiFi – Change Default PW, WPA2+, SSID Masking, MAC-specific addresng
  4. Unencrypted computers, laptops and mobile devices (BitLocker & File Vault) LIABILITY
  5. Wide open Remote AcSileo Cybersecurity Keynote Speakercess Protocol
  6. Unprotected, wide-open WiFi
  7. SOLUTION: have an IT professional configure all of the above for you – working @ home, spend the money to prevent it up front. You can learn all of this, but devil in details.

Threat #5 – Cloud Hacking – We’ve pivoted to cloud computing and ignored the storm of cybercrime

  1. Setup 2-Step Logins (2 Factor Authentication)
  2. Enable a VPN
  3. Use a Password Manager Like Keeper, Dashlane or LastPass (https://www.pcmag.com/picks/the-best-password-managers)
  4. Dropbox is NOT a secure enough platform for PII or sensitive data
  5. Bad Communication – We email, transfer & store sensitive docs in plain sight
  6. Don’t email documents with sensitive info unless they are encrypted. PDF/Winzip/TrueCrypt (Use the portal with your financial provider)
  7. Messaging: Signal; Apple Messages (Not What’sApp, Facebook Messenger or Droid)

Threat #6 – Stupid Smartphones – The supercomputers in our pockets are a security afterthought

  1. Walk through EVERY Privacy and Security Setting on your smartphone. Period. If you don’t understand the setting, Google it.

Threat #7 – The “Squirrel” After this Class – Action distraction is the primary cause of breach

  1. Even when people have a checklist of what to do, the often don’t take action until after the breach, after the pandemic.

This is a broad outline of a starter course in protecting your virtual office. To customize a virtual webinar like this one to your organization, contact John directly on the number below.


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a cybersecurity think tank and an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and expert on technology, cybersecurity and tech/life balance. John specializes in making security engaging so that it sticks. Contact him directly on 303.777.3221

 

 

Coronavirus Cyberscam Alert: Protect Your Digital Health and Safety During a Pandemic.

Hey, this is a bit of a solemn and serious video today. First of all, my heart goes out to all of those communities, families, people that are battling with Coronavirus. Just like our physical health, we have to also pay attention to our digital, or cyber health, and how we watch out for all of the disinformation that is out there. Listen, cybercriminals will always exploit the headlines. They will always take advantage of our fears and our ignorance, whether it’s for product sales, whether it’s just to make us panic or whatever the motivation. My daughter, the reason that prompted this, was a feeling of, as a dad, my daughter texted me and said, “Hey, there’s a student, I have just seen that a student is being pulled out of class, out of their dorm by people in hazmat suits.”

Well, of course, that was a social media post. It made its way all the way around the campus and was absolutely false. So I want to just let you know some of the schemes and scams that we have seen, make you aware of them so that you’re listening and that you act differently. First of all, there is just massive disinformation out there right now. There are hoaxes, there are rumors, and you need to be extra skeptical at the moment. One example, there are government advisories out there that aren’t actually being issued by governments. They are false, they are fake, they have nothing to do, for whatever reason, people are putting those out there. There are bogus home remedies of how you can solve the Coronavirus, which there’s no vaccine yet and probably won’t be for 12 to 18 months. Of course, there are home remedies like washing your hands that are legitimate.

There are products meant to defraud you, pills that you can buy, masks that don’t actually work. You have to be really careful that what you’re buying is actually legitimate. And on top of that, there’s price gouging. So masks that are going for hundreds of dollars on Amazon that you don’t probably actually need, hand sanitizer that has run out at your local store. Think before you spend all of the money on this because there are many other answers. There are a ton of fraudulent emails that scam you into clicking on Covid-19 type alerts, an alert in your hometown from your school system, a remote work policy from your work. It may not actually be your work. False test results we have seen. Covid test results. Of course, you probably haven’t been tested, but you’re tempted to click on those links. We’ve seen a bunch of videos, social media, blog posts, fake articles that spread disinformation, a lot of it about voting and the voting that we’re going through right now and polling places, politics, and so forth.

So watch all of that. This is essentially the weaponization of information. It happens all the time. It happens in the corporate world, it happens in the government, and now it’s happening around the health system because it’s in the news. So just like good hygiene, physical hygiene, washing your hands, there are cyber hygiene tips that will help you protect yourself. Number one, if you don’t recognize an email or a text, if you weren’t expecting it, don’t click on it. Don’t respond to it. It’s probably not legitimate. If you can’t verify that it’s from your work, from your kid’s school, from the government, do not believe it until you verify it. Same advice for social media. Articles, videos. Don’t believe it until you verify with a source that you trust, that you go to over and over again. Do that before you take the action that they’re talking about because most of these right now is not legitimate.

So sources like the CDC, the World Health Organization, your local news if you trust it, or the paper that you trust. Finally, if you have questions, ask an expert. Don’t count on what you see in the media necessarily, what you see on the internet, especially on the internet, as being totally legitimate until you verify. The point is, just like with cybercrime, those who think before they react with this Covid and vice versa, those who think about their digital settings and what they’re doing online and email and text and on those devices, those are the ones who prepare in advance for that, that avoid the worst outcomes. Listen, thanks so much. Sorry, it’s such a serious topic, but it’s really important that you protect both your physical health and your digital health. Thanks so much and stay safe.

Telemedicine: Are Virtual Doctor Visits a Cyber & Privacy Risk?

The Trump administration has relaxed privacy requirements for telemedicine, or virtual doctor visits: medical staff treating patients over the phone and using video apps such as FaceTime, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts. The move raises the chances that hackers will be able to access patient’s highly sensitive medical data, using it, for example, to blackmail the patient into paying a ransom to keep the personal health information (PHI) private.

This relaxation in privacy regulations about telemedicine is necessary, as treating coronavirus patients in quick, safe, virtual ways is a more critical short-term priority than protecting the data. That may sound contradictory coming out of the keyboard of a cybersecurity expert, and that exposes a misconception about how security works.

Security is not about eliminating all risk, because there is no such thing. Security is about prioritizing risk and controlling the most important operations first. Diagnosing and treating patients affected by Covid-19 is a higher priority than keeping every last transmission private.

Put simply, the life of a patient is more important than the patient’s data. With that in mind, protecting the data during transmission and when recordings are stored on the medical practice’s servers is still important.

  • Doctors should utilize audio/video services that provide full encryption between the patient and the medical office during all telemedicine visits
  • If the doctor’s office keeps a copy of the recording, it should be stored and backed up only on encrypted servers
  • Not all employees of the doctor’s office should have the same level of access to telemedicine recordings; all patient data should be protected with user-level access
  • Employees of the doctor’s office should be trained to repel social engineering attacks (mostly by phone and phishing email) to gain access to telemedicine recordings

Telemedicine and virtual doctor visits is just one way that the government is willing to accept increased risks during the pandemic. Many federal employees are also now working remotely, accessing sensitive data, often on personal computers that haven’t been properly protected by cybersecurity experts. This poses an even greater problem than putting patient data at risk, because nearly every government (and corporate) employee is working remotely for the foreseeable future. I will address those concerns in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, stay safe in all ways possible.


About Cybersecurity Keynote Speaker John Sileo

John Sileo is the founder and CEO of The Sileo Group, a privacy and cybersecurity think tank, in Lakewood, Colorado, and an award-winning author, keynote speaker, and expert on technology, surveillance economy, cybersecurity and tech/life balance.