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This month, a proof-of-concept (PoC) was sold on a hacker forum, suggesting that cybercriminals may be moving to a new level of sophistication in their assaults.  By embedding malware inside video cards from AMD and NVIDIA, the criminals are able to better hide and stay under cyber security radars.  The most recent proof-of-concept (POC) does not persist beyond a reboot, because it is not permanently installed in firmware – but other POC’s have demonstrated the ability to infect firmware. 

There is nothing we can do at the moment to detect this type of malware.  The only thing we can do is educate:  Be careful what you click on and download. Avoid pop-ups and suspicious links: Cybercriminals can use malicious advertisements or fake online videos to lure you into clicking on them, which may lead to a phishing scam.  Only click on links from trusted sources. If it’s not clear where the link leads, do some research before following it.


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Today, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced that it has added single-factor authentication (SFA) to a rather short list of cybersecurity bad practices it recommends against. 

The CISA’s “Bad Practices” list includes procedures that the federal government has deemed “extremely dangerous” and that should not be used by organizations in the public and private sectors, since they expose them to an unnecessary risk of their systems being hacked by threat actors. 

Since the list was released in September 2017, it has been updated twice to include new practices that should be avoided at all costs. 

In its latest update, CISA additionally added SFA to a list that includes bad practices such as using only one factor for authentication when authenticating into cloud or web applications; reusing passwords across multiple accounts (e.g. using the same password for a corporate and a personal email account); or exposing public folders to everyone with access to an organization’s IT resources.   Read more...


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Although SpireTech uses Kaseya software for systems management, neither SpireTech or our customers were victims of the latest headline news breach.  Our response, analysis of the hack, explanation of why  we were not affected, and plans moving forward are below. 

Background 

Kaseya makes software for IT systems management.  It is used by enterprises and managed service providers alike to streamline technician effectiveness, enabling a few technicians to manage thousands of systems at scale, including patch management, health monitoring, and providing helpdesk services.  Kaseya, based in Miami Florida, is one of the largest vendors of this type of software.  SpireTech has been using Kaseya software for over ten years. 

Initial response 

We sent the following notification to VIPsupport client key contacts on Friday afternoon:  

On Friday 7/2/21 at 12:48pm PT we were notified by our Remote Monitoring & Management vendor, Kaseya, of an active security incident involving their software being used to deploy ransomware, and advising us to shutdown our management server until security experts can determine the cause. 

We have shutdown our server under the presumption this will protect us (and you), and are actively monitoring our Sophos Intercept-X software for indicators of compromise – and at this point, there are none.   

  Read more...

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SpireTech does not use any SolarWinds software.  However, the longer-term effects of this hack are likely not going to be known for a while – if at all – because SolarWinds was used by many government agencies and larger enterprise companies.

As of this point, we know of no customer-affecting data breaches as a result of this hack.  However, with a hack of this magnitude, it is important to consider the larger supply chain – perhaps even your vendor’s vendors.  For example, Microsoft makes extensive use of contractors.  Microsoft has disclosed they were affected by the SolarWinds hack and there was unauthorized read-only access to their source code repository.  No access to customer data has been reported or disclosed as of this writing. 


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To effectively monitor and manage their client’s systems MSPs (Managed service providers) often establish remote connections to all their client’s networks. Unfortunately, those multiple connections make MSPs a prime target for ransomware and hacking.

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Evolved from Emotet and Trickbot malware, Trickboot has the ability to modify your computer’s firmware – basically, the portion of code that lives in chips in your motherboard – to survive even after a complete wipe and reinstall of your hard drive. 

The best defense against this malware is user education – typically, a user is tricked into opening a compromised Word document, usually received via an email attachment or link, and accepting macros. This causes the malware to execute and potentially download other harmful malware to your computer.  Be sure that any attachments you receive are legitimate – even attachments from “trusted” senders could be compromised.  If in doubt, forward to our helpdesk for advice on how to proceed. 


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Over the last two months, we have seen several customers have their WordPress websites hacked.  Hackers installed a plugin or other backdoors and used the sites to send thousands of spam messages – or worse.  All sites were successfully recovered from backup and repaired by our IT Service desk, which is a billable event. 

Our investigation revealed that the hacks were due to sites not being kept up to date with security updates, or poor password management practices.  Read the rest of this month’s articles to discover ways to secure your WordPress website, and Managed WordPress hosting


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In response to frequent WordPress hacks, we thought it might be helpful to write about some of the best practices we’ve used to secure WordPress websites. 

  1. Use unique, strong passwords for your login.  One of the techniques hackers use is a stolen password – a password you’ve used elsewhere – to login to your site.  Another technique is to crack a weak password using a bot, repeatedly trying weak password combinations. 
  1. Use Multifactor Authentication at your Wordpress login. Plugins such as “Google Authenticator” will implement this. 
  1. Update your installation at least monthly.  This includes updating WordPress itself, all plugins, and any themes you’ve installed.  
  1. Change your login page.  Bots will try the default login URL to find your login page.  Simply changing this URL to something unique will give them nothing to probe.  Plugins such as “WPS Hide Login” (https://wordpress.org/plugins/wps-hide-login/) can help make this change easily. 
  1. Install a security plugin.  Multiple plugins exist for free that will ban IP addresses that repeatedly try to access your login page, or change the default URL for you.  Caution
  Read more...

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We’ve had a few clients ask us about remote worker policies.  We view this as an HR issue with possible legal implications, so you’ll want to seek advice appropriate to your firm.  We’ve all had to relax the standards around eligibility and physical environment during Covid, but the policies around attendance and security still apply.  Here’s some food for thought if you have yet to implement a remote work policy. 

Working Remotely: 

Working from home is a privilege and may be allowed in some circumstances subject to the following guidelines. If your supervisor approves your working from home on a particular day instead of being present in the office, you must comply with the following guidelines:  

  • Eligibility Not all positions are eligible for working remotely. If your position involves frequent or important interaction with other employees or clients, it may not be possible or practical for you to successfully work remotely. If you are unable to work at your normally assigned position and time, working from home must be pre-approved by your direct supervisor.  
  Read more...

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M365 has several optional security features that are not turned on by default.  The capabilities vary based on your subscription, but even the most basic subscriptions have features that we can enable.   

For the quickest, easiest, and automatic enforcement of basic security best practices, subscribe to our M365 security essentials pack.  This is software that runs in the cloud to lock down and keep your M365 tenant secure. 

Clients on M365 business premium have additional features available, including conditional access, Azure identity protection, and various flavors of Advanced Threat Protection. 

Contact us to secure your M365 tenant today. 

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