Maximising Data Availability

DATA AVAILABILITY has become paramount to the success of an organisation. Reliability as well as performance and manageability are critical to ensuring as much data up-time as possible.

The first step in maximising your data availability is to have a good backup in place that takes into account your whole infrastructure, Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO). Think you’re protected with just one backup however?

Legacy approaches to data backup and recovery are simply outdated and ineffective. Gone are the days where a single on-premise backup would tick any compliance boxes. To ensure the security and availability of data, backing up to an offsite location as well as the first on-premise should be considered. This can be achieved through a replication job. This has two major benefits:

a) Helps work towards a disaster recovery scenario. Should the initial site be affected by a hardware failure, or complete site failure, the backup offsite will not be affected and could be restored to another location ensuring business continuity.

b) Should data be compromised (accidentally or maliciously, the offsite backup copy would ensure some security and not be affected. A restore could occur, giving peace of mind that a second unaffected copy is available to fall back on.

 

Veeam® Backup & Replication™

Veeam® Backup & Replication™ is straight forward, cost effective and increases service recovery SLA’s with Recovery Time Objectives (RTO) in seconds and minutes rather than outdated hours/days. High speed recovery allows instant file recovery and can fully recover a failed virtual machine in under 15 minutes, minimising the amount of working time lost.

Advanced replication can be used, with replication able to be set to occur as little as every 15 minutes. Essential if you cannot afford for your business to lose even an hour of work. Secure end-to-end encryption achieves security and confidentiality. Pretty straight forward!

 

Recover faster than ever, improve data protection and save money with the Veeam Backup and Replication product. To discuss your requirements or find out more information, please contact us today

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Vulnerability Assessments vs Penetration Testing

Vulnerability scanning and penetration testing are important tools to secure and protect your IT infrastructure. Often, they get confused with each other but both play very different roles in overall network security.

So, what’s the difference and which should your business be using?

 

Vulnerability Assessments

Vulnerability assessments are automated reports that search for known vulnerabilities within software, such as missing patches and outdated configuration, protocols, certificates and services. The output of this report would show any known vulnerability that exist within the network. Reports can be lengthy as the assessments take quite a comprehensive look at the network and applications.

The assessments can be ran on any number of devices throughout a network and is wide in scope. The results can then be used to remove potential risks before they could be exploited.

It is recommended to perform scans quarterly and every new device once configured, or if a major configuration change has taken place.

 

Penetration Tests

In comparison, penetration testing actively exploits weaknesses within the environment. An experienced person would carry out the testing, acting as an attacker by exploiting weaknesses within the network or applications otherwise known as ‘ethical hacking’. As a tester is needed, this testing cannot be automated.

The main aim of penetration testing is to identify insecure and weak security settings and configuration that a business outsider would be able to use to access the data held behind the defences such as un-encrypted passwords. The tester would probe an open port and see how far it can be exploited. Large networks can take anywhere from days to weeks to complete a full test. It is therefore best practice to have the testing performed by a fully qualified 3rd party; this also ensures a fully unbiased, objective report being developed.

Penetration testing doesn’t need to be performed as regularly as vulnerability assessments, instead only once a year or if internet facing equipment has a large change made.

 

What Should My Business Use?

In summary, a vulnerability assessment is used to detect when an unlocked door could let a burglar enter your business. A penetration test would role play as the burglar and see how far he’s able to get before a locked door stops him in his tracks.

Both tools should be used in conjunction and work together to provide the best outcome. Vulnerability assessments are designed to act as a detective tool; penetration testing is built to be a preventative measure.

Penetration testing is a lot more costly compared to vulnerability by itself, but this is due to the in-depth nature of the scanning as the tester may discover a new vulnerability or a security flaw that is not very well known.

 

IT’s important to know the difference between each test as each are important in their own way. To find out if Netshield can be of assistance, please contact us here

The Rise of Email Compromise

THE TERM PHISHING is certainly becoming more prevalent in today’s cyber-security obsessed world. Cyber criminals pose as a CEO, finance director or other senior members of staff in a company and send fraudulent emails containing details of payments ‘that must be made immediately’ with bank details attached. The catch is usually the address that the email has been sent from; it will resemble very closely the email of the senior management figure, with this spoofing often duping unsuspecting employees into making the payments or disclosing financial/personal information as requested.

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, phishing tactics were used in more than 90% of all security incidents and breaches in 2017. So why has there been such a rise in business email being targeted?

 

How does it work?

Phishing emails are very simple; target multiple users or one individual, in a company, convince them that the sender is a high ranking senior management member, extract sensitive information. The email will usually be labelled with high importance, eliciting a sense of urgency in the user (who wants to upset their CEO by delaying a task in an urgent email?) who then provides login credentials, credit card details or actually make the requested payment.

Some will contain a malicious attachment, so if users don’t fall for the money transfer requests they may still infect their PC and later the network with malware.

Links to sign-in forms (such as the Gmail scam that occurred at the start of 2017, affecting over 1 billion users) can also be included. The URL’s resemble the official one, so a glance at the address bar won’t raise any alarm bells unless you look closely, so even the most tech-savvy users can fall victim. Once credentials have been entered the attackers have full access to that account. This could obviously be disastrous if business banking credentials have been entered.

 

Believing your business is safe from an attack as ‘it hasn’t happened to us yet’ is not the way to be thinking anymore. So what can be done? 

  1. Improving User Awareness 

Training employees on how to spot phishing attempts, what to do if they are in receipt of one and how to defend against attacks.

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report:

30% of phishing messages get opened by targeted users and 12% of those users click on the malicious attachment or link.

It’s also important to encourage employees to report possible incidents or breaches as soon as they are discovered.  Clear and readable security policies should be implemented and distributed to all users regularly so employees are aware of their roles and responsibilities during such an incident.

Ongoing security awareness training should be considered for all IT team members on a regular basis to keep their knowledge of evolving scams up to date.

2. Management Involvement 

Assigning key responsibilities for cyber security at management level ensures all employees are aware that is is being taken seriously, and provides a great example for them to follow. Of course everyone within a company has a part to play in keeping the infrastructure secure, but it does need to start at senior management level to show the importance.

A tech-savvy staff member should be allowed time to keep informed about the latest phishing techniques, preferably a senior member of the IT team. By being aware of latest scams as early as possible, the management board can be informed and discuss the best way to prevent the business being affected.

3. Build your Battle Plan

Ensuring your IT infrastructure is as robust as possible must be a priority at all times. Although very important, gone are the days we could just rely on heavy duty firewalls to prevent malicious traffic reaching its target.

  • Two factor authentication can be used over a variety of applications and software, either built in or as an ‘add on’. With most people only having one layer of security (their password) to protect accounts, two-factor authentication adds a security code that must be entered on top of this. This can be directed towards your mobile or a security key. With 2FA enabled, should the bad guys gain control of passwords they still won’t be able to access what is behind without the users phone or security key.
  • Updates are released in response to loopholes that phishers can take advantage of. Ensuring all IT systems are up to date is often forgotten about. We’ve previously posted about how patching can help prevent major security vulnerabilities (read more here), this also reaches out to anti-virus and anti-malware. Should the worst happen, this is your first line of defense. Browsers should also be updated as soon as one is available. A good patch management schedule will ensure this is carried out regularly.
  • A quick check to verify site security of a site is not time consuming but does help give you peace of mind. Make sure the URL begins with ‘https’, and that a small, closed padlock icon is visible near the address bar.
  • Anti-virus should be installed across all devices, including remotely used ones. New security definitions are added all the time, which makes ensuring the software is up to date even more important. AV helps prevent damage to systems by scanning every file coming through the internet to your PC.
  • Scrutinize an email address or URL if you’re a little bit unsure. Sender of an email joe.bloggs@exampl3.com rather than the usual @example.com? Don’t trust it. It doesn’t hurt to reach out and double check with who you believe the email is from separately to check.

 

Unfortunately there is no fool-proof way to prevent attacks occurring; promoting a company culture of staying vigilant and being on guard is one of the best defenses you can have.

 

For information about how Netshield can assist with your anti-phishing policies and defenses, please feel free to contact us here.

 

 

Netshield Announce Our New Vulnerability Scanning Service, NetScan.

NetScan is a popular and capable infrastructure and web application vulnerability scanner, providing the ability to carry out regular scanning to identify vulnerabilities before they become a huge business security risk.

First Class Scanning.

Unpatched software, configuration weaknesses and software vulnerabilities also need to be managed effectively. NetScan includes a vulnerability assessment module to perform vulnerability scans across your external network infrastructure.

• Access sophisticated scanning and exploit technology designed by experienced penetration testers
• Provides a single platform to identify and manage web application and infrastructure risk
• Confirms vulnerabilities through safe exploitation to eradicate false positives and provide proof of concept
• Prioritise each vulnerability’s remediation
• Generates reports in Microsoft Word and CSV. PCI and UK Government PSN compatible formats
• Schedule scans to run at any given date and time. Scan at regular recurring intervals with email notification.

Web Applications.

Vulnerabilities within web applications pose a significant threat to your organisation’s network security. NetScan can identify all known web application vulnerabilities and provide exploit capabilities to demonstrate their impact and eradicate false positives.

Many existing web application scanners rely on parsing web pages in order to discover application components (e.g. links and forms). This approach is no longer effective when testing modern web 2.0 based applications. Components generated at runtime using JavaScript, Flash or Silverlight components will remain invisible to traditional discovery techniques.

NetScan employs two integrated crawling technologies to overcome this challenge. Our HTTP/HTML based crawler is used to components quickly and to identify hidden components through forced browsing. A second integrated crawling engine then executes web pages in the same way a normal browser would. Any embedded scripts or components then able to run as intended whilst allowing full visibility to the discovery engine. If a modern web browser such as Google Chrome can access the application, NetScan can crawl it.

• Thorough assessment of all known web application vulnerability classes such as those defined within the OWASP top ten.
• Advanced detection of DOM based Cross Site Scripting (XSS) vulnerabilities through JavaScript taint analysis.
• Decompilation and static analysis of Adobe Flash files.
• HTML5 postMessage analysis. • Confirmation of discovered flaws through safe vulnerability exploitation

Identifying False Positives.

A false positive is where a vulnerability scanner indicates there is a vulnerability when in fact there isn’t one. Sorting through scanner results to determine which reported issues are real and which are false positive is a time-consuming process. To eliminate false positives, and to provide proof of concept evidence, NetScan employs safe custom exploit techniques to actively confirm discovered vulnerabilities.

Third Party Applications Download custom filtered results and view via HTML, Docx or CSV. NetScan includes a simple JSON data API for retrieving, aggregating, processing and reporting raw vulnerability data for use in third party applications.

Complex authentication schemes are supported when NetScan is supplied with the minimal information, such as a username and password pair. Optionally, a login URL may be provided to direct the scanner where to use the credentials and for scenarios such as single sign-on. The scanner may easily be adapted to support bespoke authentication schemes that require non-standard credentials or processes.

NetScan can provide comprehensive vulnerability assessment and analysis against remote hosts to determine if a misconfiguration exists that could allow an attack to get behind the application and into sensitive data.

Please call us to discuss any aspect of your IT Requirements on 0333 200 1636 or visit our website http://www.netshield.net to find out more about the ways that our expert support and advice will improve the health of your IT.

Anti-Virus – Do we still need it or is it doomed?

With the advancements in technology the threat landscape is evolving too.

Malicious software is becoming harder to detect and remove – it is also starting to affect a wider range of devices because of the ‘Internet of Things’. There has been some cases that advance malicious software can even bypass the anti-virus software by changing its code!

In some ways there is truth behind what Brian Dye, senior vice president of Symantec famously said a few months ago ‘Antivirus is dead’ and it is ‘doomed to failure’ because Anti-Virus relies on a signature database to block out malicious behaviours so, if a particular piece of malicious code has never been seen before – you will probably be a victim to it.

However AV is not completely doomed as Eugene Kaspersky quite rightly said, it is still ‘very much alive and kicking’ because as threats evolved so has the traditional AV. It is about choosing a product that has a database that is continuously updated and have a good feature set.

Many vendors are now reinventing AV and changing it to ‘Endpoint Security’ which offers a wider range of features from your standard things like Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Anti-Malware but, include features like application control, mobile device security, encryption and rule-based system behaviour blocking.

However security has become more complex and just because AV or ‘Endpoint Security’ has more features, we cannot just relying on it to be the sole system defences, it is not viable anymore. It will not provide an adequate level of protection for a modern day complex network.

Networks have developed into complex environments with multiple layers and a range of devices connected so, a layered approach to network security is key because it helps protect the different level within the infrastructure.

AV should just be seen as the first line of defence only, its aim is to protect users from things like spam emails, malicious attachments and websites. Occasionally some will get through but this approach is more secure and safer. Always keep in mind there is no 100% defence against the malicious cyber-attacks because the variables are always changing. Continuously network monitoring is also key to catching any abnormal behaviour.

For more information on network security please feel free to contact us on 0845 603 5552 or info@netshield.eu