ESET Adds Data Leakage Protection

Sensitive data being stolen
ESET recently announced the addition of Safetica Data Loss Prevention (“DLP”) products to its Technology Partner Alliance. These are tools that are designed to prevent the accidental – or intentional – transmission or leakage of sensitive data outside the enterprise network. If you’re concerned about protecting your organization’s sensitive data, you’re not alone – Gartner predicts that almost $800 million will be spent on DLP technology in 2016, and that demand will grow by roughly 10% per year over the next three years.

DLP can be a difficult matter to address, because data leakage can happen in many different ways. Some security vendors attempt to address it at the network boundary – either at the firewall, or in a separate appliance alongside the firewall – by looking for keywords or data patterns in email or file attachments that are being sent to external destinations. E.g., a string of numbers in the format xxx-xx-xxxx is likely to be a Social Security number, a string of numbers in the format xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx is likely to be a credit card number, etc. But that doesn’t block all leakage vectors, particularly if an employee is determined to steal company data.

Most of the news stories these days are about data loss from malicious actors outside of an organization who have somehow gained access to sensitive data. But studies have indicated that almost 80% of businesses have had some kind of internal data leak. 60% of employees do not consider downloading an employer’s sensitive data to be an issue. 50% of employees take away internal data when leaving an organization, and 40% plan to offer this data to their new employer. So how do you protect against that?

You can create policies that prevent users from writing data to USB devices, but then you’re impacting the many legitimate uses for USB devices. You can also create policies that disable the Windows built-in CD/DVD burning functionality…but that won’t prevent users from using third-party software to burn them, unless you lock the workstations down so that third-party software can’t be installed. And again, as you probably know from experience, the more restrictions you put on user functionality, the more push-back you get from users who complain that the restrictions are hurting their productivity.

And there’s always the danger posed by a lost or stolen laptop or USB drive.

Safetica addresses these issues at the endpoint, where the action happens. This endpoint agent, managed from a central console, covers all major data leak channels: you can restrict clipboard copy, email attachments, file sharing services, USB device copy, CD/DVD copy, and printing – including printing to virtual devices such as printing to a PDF file. You can track exactly who accessed what information when. You can restrict access to non-business-related Web sites. You can ensure that drives on portable computers are encrypted. You can get real-time alerts of suspicious activities. And you can generate management reports that give you granular visibility of what your employees are actually doing.

Here’s a four-minute video overview of how Safetica can help protect your company’s data:

Change the Danged Passwords!

Internet of Things
Have you heard about Shodan? It’s the search engine for the “Internet of Things,” and it is simultaneously fascinating and terrifying. It was spotlighted in an article on Ars Technica a few months back which focused specifically on the number of unsecured Webcams the search engine has found – the latest count of Webcams in the U.S. from which Shodan has captured a screenshot is 101.

But that’s not all. You can search for industrial control systems, and drill down within the results to see the specific devices that run a particular manufacturer’s communication protocol. You can search for printers, refrigerators, TVs, wind farms, Minecraft servers, and wireless access points. You can search for devices that are running the VNC remote access protocol with authentication disabled. You can search for Roku video streaming devices that are directly on the Internet (2,113 in the United States at last count, and they don’t have any authentication on their API). You can discover that there are currently 8,760 LaserJet printers in the U.S. that are directly exposed to the Internet, and you can see their IP addresses and often a rough idea of where they’re located. In short, Shodan is a search engine that crawls the Web looking for devices that are directly connected to the Internet, not for information contained in Web pages.

So what’s the big deal? The big deal is that many of these devices either don’t require any authentication, or their default admin credentials have never been changed…and it isn’t difficult to discover default admin credentials – just about every manufacturer has user documentation on line that will tell you what they are. Now, having someone remotely reboot your Roku device while you’re in the middle of your favorite Netflix series may be annoying, but not particularly damaging. It’s a little scarier to think of someone being able to access a Webcam in your child’s bedroom or perhaps an external security camera at your home or business. But the stakes are even higher for other kinds of devices.

Universities are notorious for having printers that are directly exposed to the Internet. They account for a large percentage of those 8,760 LaserJets in the U.S. referenced above. Many universities have IP addresses to burn – they were assigned large blocks of addresses many years ago – so they assign them to printers and just NAT the traffic through their firewalls so faculty members can send print jobs to them when they’re working from home. Unfortunately, if there’s no security, anyone else can send print jobs to them as well. Earlier this year, a white supremacist sent anti-Semitic fliers to networked printers at several universities in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, and New Jersey, including Princeton, DePaul, and Berkeley. Apparently the lesson wasn’t learned, because just last month there was another report of offensive flyers showing up on printers at UC Santa Cruz.

In July of 2015, a pair of hackers demonstrated to Wired Magazine that they could not only remotely mess with the air conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers of a 2014 Jeep Cherokee, they could completely disable it while it was driving down the freeway. Now, a year later, they’ve announced that they’ve found ways to disable the steering, and even digitally turn the wheel themselves. To their credit, Chrysler has moved to tighten up security, and has launched a “bug bounty” program that offers as much as $2,500 to hackers who inform the company about vulnerabilities in their vehicles. But as more and more functions in more and more cars are being computerized, there’s a lot at stake here. The thought of a bad actor taking over a self-driving vehicle is the stuff of nightmares.

And we’ll leave it to you to imagine the havoc that could be caused by a breach in a critical industrial control system.

As more and more devices get connected to the Internet of Things – smart TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, lighting systems, home security systems, etc. – the security risks will increase substantially if we’re not very, very careful about how systems are implemented. Some issues rest squarely on the manufacturers themselves – to write secure code and patch security flaws as they’re discovered, and to insure that there is a reasonable level of authentication required for administrative access. But one of the most important things we can do is also one of the easiest: change the danged default passwords on your Internet-connected devices. And then help your family and friends do the same thing.

Beware of .DOCM File Attachments

In a blog post dated August 17, FireEye is reporting a huge increase in “Locky” ransomware distribution via maliciously-crafted .DOCM email file attachments (macro-enabled Word files). The health care industry seems to be the hardest-hit in this campaign, and the U.S. and Japan top the list of affected countries.

The takeaway here is to be extra careful about opening email attachments. And, if you still have the “hide extensions for known file types” option enabled on your Windows systems, for heaven’s sake, disable it! Then, if someone sends you a .DOCM file attachment, at least you’ll recognize it!

Finally, consider the OpenDNS service we wrote about in our recent blog post entitled "Beating Malware by Disrupting Command & Control."

ESET Introduces Hardware-Encrypted USB Drive

Encrypted Drive

It seems that data security is a never-ending battle, and it has become obvious that we need multiple layers of protection to deal with the proliferation and constant evolution of security threats. Today’s security topic is the ubiquitous USB “thumb drive.”

USB drives are a really convenient way to transport and share data. Unfortunately, they also represent a really easy way to lose sensitive data, and can act as an infection vector to spread malware from one computer to another. Now, ESET® and Kingston® have teamed up to address this security hole.

Introducing the Kingston DataTraveler® Vault Privacy 3.0 with DriveSecurityTM anti-virus powered by ESET. It’s a USB 3.0 drive with built-in 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption to safeguard your data, plus a pre-paid 5-year subscription to ESET’s DriveSecurity anti-virus protection, which is pre-installed and pre-activated to ensure that malware doesn’t infect the drive. It’s available in capacities of 4 Gb, 8 Gb, 16 Gb, 32 Gb, and 64 Gb, with prices as low as $39.99 for a single, 4 Gb drive.

The drives are customizable to meet specific corporate requirements, such as minimum password length and the number of incorrect password attempts allowed before the drive locks down and reformats itself. They can also be co-branded and serialized for businesses who purchase multiple drives.

Contact us today for more information.

Beating Malware by Disrupting Command and Control


One of the key strategies in modern warfare is disrupting the enemy’s command & control infrastructure. It can also be an effective strategy in the ongoing war against malware. One of the first things that usually happens when a PC is infected with malware is that the malware “phones home” to a command & control server to check in and get further instructions – which may be to take some specific action such as downloading additional malware or encrypting all the files on your computer, or to simply go to sleep until further notice. If we can prevent that communication from taking place, we have a shot at stopping the infection in its tracks. But how can we do that?

Nearly every communication transaction that takes place across the Internet involves, at some point, a DNS query. For the non-technical in the audience, DNS, which stands for “Domain Name System,” is the naming system that matches names, like “,” to IP addresses, like, which the routers in the Internet need to know in order to properly route the traffic. Part of the network configuration of your computer, and every other computer that’s connected to the Internet, is a setting that tells the computer where it should send its DNS queries. Corporate networks will generally have one or more DNS servers as part of the network. Individual home users, in most cases, simply use a DNS server provided by their Internet Service Provider. When you, dear reader, typed “” into your browser, or clicked on some other link that brought you here, your computer sent a DNS query to a DNS server. If that DNS server didn’t know what IP address corresponded to this Web site, it forwarded the request on to another server in the hierarchy of DNS servers, until ultimately, several fractions of a second later, the answer came back that if you want to talk to, you need to send your data packets to

The communication between a piece of malware and a command & control server also, nearly always, involves a DNS query. Moreover, if one of your employees clicks on a link in a “phishing” email message that leads to a malicious destination, it will nearly always generate a DNS query. And if someone is tricked into clicking on a “malvertising” link (which have now, believe it or not, surpassed porn sites as a malware infection vector), it will nearly always generate a DNS query.

You’re probably way ahead of me by now, and thinking, “Wait a minute, if we can block those DNS queries, we can prevent the infections from taking place, or, if the initial infection has already taken place, we have a chance of stopping it in its tracks.” And that’s exactly what the OpenDNS service is all about.

OpenDNS, which is now a part of Cisco, maintains a global network of DNS servers that process over 80 billion DNS queries every day. Using a variety of innovative techniques, they maintain a database of malicious destinations. By simply directing DNS queries to OpenDNS, we can block as much as 70% – 80% of the attempts to contact malicious destinations. And while we’re at it, we can create policies that will also block traffic to sites with objectionable content (e.g., porn, violence, racism, etc.), and give businesses a dashboard that will reveal exactly where their users are going (or attempting to go) on the Internet. There is also a roaming client for Windows, Mac OS X devices, and iOS mobile devices that will protect them when they’re not attached to the corporate network.

The OpenDNS subscription service is surprisingly affordable – particularly when you compare it to the cost of recovering from a malware attack. Contact VirtualQube for more information on putting this tool to work as part of your security strategy.


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World Backup Day occurs annually on March 31. This day is a simple reminder that our critical data is simply not safe. All important business files and information can disappear in the blink of an eye due to bad weather, a hacker or even human error.

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7 Security Risks of Consumer-Grade File Sync Services

Cloud Security

Consumer-grade file sync solutions (referred to as CGFS solutions) pose many challenges to businesses that care about control and visibility over company data. Below are seven of the biggest risks that these solutions pose in a business environment.

  1. Data theftMost of the problems with CGFS solutions emanate from a lack of oversight. Business owners are not privy to when an instance is installed, and are unable to control which employee devices can or cannot sync with a corporate PC. Use of CFGS solutions can open the door to company data being synced (without approval) across personal devices. These personal devices, which accompany employees on public transit, at coffee shops, and with friends, exponentially increase the chance of data being stolen or shared with the wrong parties.
  2. Data lossLacking visibility over the movement of files or file versions across end-points, CFGS solutions improperly backup (or do not backup at all) files that were modified on an employee device. If an end-points is compromised or lost, this lack of visibility can result in the inability to restore the most current version of a file or any version for that matter.
  3. Corrupted dataIn a study by CERN, silent data corruption was observed in 1 out of every 1500 files. While many businesses trust their cloud solution providers to make sure that stored data maintains its integrity year after year, most CGFS solutions don’t implement data integrity assurance systems to ensure that any bit-rot or corrupted data is replaced with a redundant copy of the original.
  4. LawsuitsCGFS solutions give carte blanche power to end-users over the ability to permanently delete and share files. This can result in the permanent loss of critical business documents as well as the sharing of confidential information that can break privacy agreements in place with clients and third parties.
  5. Compliance violationsSince CGFS solutions have loose (or non-existent) file retention and file access controls, you could be setting yourself up for a compliance violation. Many compliance policies require that files be held for a specific duration and only be accessed by certain people; in these cases, it is imperative to employ strict controls over how long files are kept and who can access them.
  6. Loss of accountabilityWithout detailed reports and alerts over system-level activity, CGFS solutions can result in loss of accountability over changes to user accounts, organizations, passwords, and other entities. If a malicious admin gains access to the system, hundreds of hours of configuration time can be undone if no alerting system is in place to notify other admins of these changes.
  7. Loss of file accessConsumer-grade solutions don’t track which users and machines touched a file and at which times. This can be a big problem if you’re trying to determine the events leading up to a file’s creation, modification, or deletion. Additionally, many solutions track and associate a small set of file events which can result in a broken access trail if a file is renamed, for example.

Consumer-grade file sync solutions pose many challenges to businesses that care about control and visibility over company data. Allowing employees to utilize CFGS solutions can lead to massive data leaks and security breaches.

Many companies have formal policies or discourage employees from using their own accounts. But while blacklisting common CFGS solutions may curtail the security risks in the short term, employees will ultimately find ways to get around company firewalls.

The best way for business to handle this is to deploy a company-approved application that will allow IT to control the data, yet grants employees the access and functionality they feel they need to be productive.