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ConnectWise warns of ongoing ransomware attacks targeting its customers

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ConnectWise, a Florida-based company that provides remote IT management solutions, is warning customers that hackers are targeting its software to gain access to client networks and install ransomware.

ConnectWise Automate is a software package that lets IT admins manage a company’s computer fleet and other IT assets from a central location. It’s a classic remote access/management solution that many large companies use when they have assets spread across a large number of locations.

The software is available in a cloud-based offering, but also as on-premise servers, for more secure setups.

In a security alert sent out this week, ConnectWise said hackers are targeting on-premise Automate systems so they can take over servers and then deploy ransomware across a company’s entire computer fleet.

“There are recent reports of malicious actors targeting open ports for [ConnectWise] Automate’s on-premises application to introduce ransomware,” a ConnectWise spokesperson told ZDNet in an email today.

The company is recommending that customers visit a support page and follow the steps laid out there to secure on-premise Automate installations and prevent attacks. These steps involve closing Automate ports exposed on the internet.

But despite being open about the attacks, the company’s alert did not include any useful technical details. Some customers who received it were confused and wanted to know more — such as the actual ports hackers were attacking, or the type of exploits they are using.

Furthermore, as one user also pointed out, the support page also appears to contradict itself in some places, telling customers to open a port and then close it.

ZDNet asked ConnectWise for additional details about the attacks, but the company did not respond.

If customers would know what ports the attackers are targeting, the types of attacks hackers are launching, or what type of ransomware hackers are trying to install, this would help many companies take preventive measures.

For example, they could temporarily close attacked ports, forcibly-enable MFA for users to prevent brute-force attacks on user accounts, or they could deploy “ransomware vaccines” that prevent the ransomware from running even if attackers get in.

ConnectWise should have been prepared to deal with this type of incident. This is the second time this year that hackers have targeted its software to break into customer networks and deploy ransomware. In February this year, a hacker group exploited an outdated plugin for ConnectWise Manage to deploy versions of the GandCrab ransomware on the networks of more than 100 companies.

On its website, ConnectWise claims that more than 100,000 IT professionals have used its software. For the time being, these users are advised to block access from the internet to ConnectWise Automate servers.



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Data Management and Secure Data Storage for the Enterprise

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This free 1-hour webinar from GigaOm Research brings together experts in data management and security, featuring GigaOm Analyst Enrico Signoretti and special guest from RackTop Systems, Jonathan Halstuch. The discussion will focus on data storage and how to protect data against cyberattacks.

Most of the recent news coverage and analysis of cyberattacks focus on hackers getting access and control of critical systems. Yet rarely is it mentioned that the most valuable asset for the organizations under attack is the data contained in these systems.

In this webinar, you will learn about the risks and costs of a poor data security management approach, and how to improve your data storage to prevent and mitigate the consequences of a compromised infrastructure.

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CISO Podcast: Talking Anti-Phishing Solutions

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Simon Gibson earlier this year published the report, “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” which assessed more than a dozen security solutions focused on detecting and mitigating email-borne threats and vulnerabilities. As Gibson noted in his report, email remains a prime vector for attack, reflecting the strategic role it plays in corporate communications.

Earlier this week, Gibson’s report was a featured topic of discussions on David Spark’s popular CISO Security Vendor Relationship Podcast. In it, Spark interviewed a pair of chief information security officers—Mike Johnson, CISO for SalesForce, and James Dolph, CISO for Guidewire Software—to get their take on the role of anti-phishing solutions.

“I want to first give GigaOm some credit here for really pointing out the need to decide what to do with detections,” Johnson said when asked for his thoughts about selecting an anti-phishing tool. “I think a lot of companies charge into a solution for anti-phishing without thinking about what they are going to do when the thing triggers.”

As Johnson noted, the needs and vulnerabilities of a large organization aligned on Microsoft 365 are very different from those of a smaller outfit working with GSuite. A malicious Excel macro-laden file, for example, poses a credible threat to a Microsoft shop and therefore argues for a detonation solution to detect and neutralize malicious payloads before they can spread and morph. On the other hand, a smaller company is more exposed to business email compromise (BEC) attacks, since spending authority is often spread among many employees in these businesses.

Gibson’s radar report describes both in-line and out-of-band solutions, but Johnson said cloud-aligned infrastructures argue against traditional in-line schemes.

“If you put an in-line solution in front of [Microsoft] 365 or in front of GSuite, you are likely decreasing your reliability, because you’ve now introduced this single point of failure. Google and Microsoft have this massive amount of reliability that is built in,” Johnson said.

So how should IT decision makers go about selecting an anti-phishing solution? Dolph answered that question with a series of questions of his own:

“Does it nail the basics? Does it fit with the technologies we have in place? And then secondarily, is it reliable, is it tunable, is it manageable?” he asked. “Because it can add a lot overhead, especially if you have a small team if these tools are really disruptive to the email flow.”

Dolph concluded by noting that it’s important for solutions to provide insight that can help organizations target their protections, as well as support both training and awareness around threats. Finally, he urged organizations to consider how they can measure the effectiveness of solutions.

“I may look at other solutions in the future and how do I compare those solutions to the benchmark of what we have in place?”

Listen to the Podcast: CISO Podcast

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Phish Fight: Securing Enterprise Communications

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Yes, much of the world may have moved on from email to social media and culturally dubious TikTok dances, yet traditional electronic mail remains a foundation of business communication. And sadly, it remains a prime vector for malware, data leakage, and phishing attacks that can undermine enterprise protections. It doesn’t have to be that way.

In a just released report titled “GigaOm Radar for Phishing Prevention and Detection,” GigaOm Analyst Simon Gibson surveyed more than a dozen enterprise-focused email security solutions. He found a range of approaches to securing communications that often can be fitted together to provide critical, defense-in-depth protection against even determined attackers.

Figure 1. GigaOm Radar for Email Phishing Prevention and Detection

“When evaluating these vendors and their solutions, it is important to consider your own business and workflow,” Gibson writes in the report, stressing the need to deploy solutions that best address your organization’s business workflow and email traffic. “For some it may be preferable to settle on one comprehensive solution, while for others building a best-of-breed architecture from multiple vendors may be preferable.”

In a field of competent solutions, Gibson found that Forcepoint, purchased recently by Raytheon, stood apart thanks to the layered protections provided by its Advanced Classification Engine. Area 1 and Zimperium, meanwhile, are both leaders that exhibit significant momentum, with Area 1 boosted by its recent solution partnership with Virtru, and Zimperium excelling in its deep commitment to mobile message security.

A mobile focus is timely, Gibson says in a video interview for GigaOm. He says companies are “tuning the spigot on” and enabling unprecedented access and reliance on mobile devices, which is creating an urgent need to get ahead of threats.

Gibson’s conclusion in the report? He singles out three things: Defense in depth, awareness of existing patterns and infrastructure, and a healthy respect for the “human factor” that can make security so hard to lock down.

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