3 Overlooked Cybersecurity Breaches

Here are three of the worst breaches, attacker tactics and techniques of 2022, and the security controls that can provide effective, enterprise security protection for them.

#1: 2 RaaS Attacks in 13 Months#

Ransomware as a service is a type of attack in which the ransomware software and infrastructure are leased out to the attackers. These ransomware services can be purchased on the dark web from other threat actors and ransomware gangs. Common purchasing plans include buying the entire tool, using the existing infrastructure while paying per infection, or letting other attackers perform the service while sharing revenue with them.

In this attack, the threat actor consists of one of the most prevalent ransomware groups, specializing in access via third parties, while the targeted company is a medium-sized retailer with dozens of sites in the United States.

The threat actors used ransomware as a service to breach the victim’s network. They were able to exploit third-party credentials to gain initial access, progress laterally, and ransom the company, all within mere minutes.

The swiftness of this attack was unusual. In most RaaS cases, attackers usually stay in the networks for weeks and months before demanding ransom. What is particularly interesting about this attack is that the company was ransomed in minutes, with no need for discovery or weeks of lateral movement.

A log investigation revealed that the attackers targeted servers that did not exist in this system. As it turns out, the victim was initially breached and ransomed 13 months before this second ransomware attack. Subsequently, the first attacker group monetized the first attack not only through the ransom they obtained, but also by selling the company’s network information to the second ransomware group.

In the 13 months between the two attacks, the victim changed its network and removed servers, but the new attackers were not aware of these architectural modifications. The scripts they developed were designed for the previous network map. This also explains how they were able to attack so quickly – they had plenty of information about the network. The main lesson here is that ransomware attacks can be repeated by different groups, especially if the victim pays well.

“RaaS attacks such as this one are a good example of how full visibility allows for early alerting. A global, converged, cloud-native SASE platform that supports all edges, like Cato Networks provides complete network visibility into network events that are invisible to other providers or may go under the radar as benign events. And, being able to fully contextualize the events allows for early detection and remediation.

#2: The Critical Infrastructure Attack on Radiation Alert Networks#

Attacks on critical infrastructure are becoming more common and more dangerous. Breaches of water supply plants, sewage systems and other such infrastructures could put millions of residents at risk of a human crisis. These infrastructures are also becoming more vulnerable, and attack surface management tools for OSINT like Shodan and Censys allow security teams to find such vulnerabilities with ease.

In 2021, two hackers were suspected of targeting radiation alert networks. Their attack relied on two insiders that worked for a third party. These insiders disabled the radiation alert systems, significantly debilitating their ability to monitor radiation attacks. The attackers were then able to delete critical software and disable radiation gauges (which is part of the infrastructure itself).

Cybersecurity Breaches

“Unfortunately, scanning for vulnerable systems in critical infrastructure is easier than ever. While many such organizations have multiple layers of security, they are still using point solutions to try and defend their infrastructure rather than one system that can look holistically at the full attack lifecycle. Breaches are never just a phishing problem, or a credentials problem, or a vulnerable system problem – they are always a combination of multiple compromises performed by the threat actor,” said Etay Maor, Sr. Director of Security Strategy at Cato Networks.

#3: The Three-Step Ransomware Attack That Started with Phishing#

The third attack is also a ransomware attack. This time, it consisted of three steps:

1. Infiltration – The attacker was able to gain access to the network through a phishing attack. The victim clicked on a link that generated a connection to an external site, which resulted in the download of the payload.

2. Network activity – In the second phase, the attacker progressed laterally in the network for two weeks. During this time, it collected admin passwords and used in-memory fileless malware. Then on New Year’s Eve, it performed the encryption. This date was chosen since it was (rightfully) assumed the security team would be off on vacation.

3. Exfiltration – Finally, the attackers uploaded the data out of the network.

In addition to these three main steps, additional sub-techniques were employed during the attack and the victim’s point security solutions were not able to block this attack.

Cybersecurity Breaches

“A multiple choke point approach, one that looks horizontally (so to speak) at the attack rather than as a set of vertical, disjointed issues, is the way to enhance detection, mitigation and prevention of such threats. Opposed to popular belief, the attacker needs to be right many times and the defenders only need to be right just once. The underlying technologies to implement a multiple choke point approach are full network visibility via a cloud-native backbone, and a single pass security stack that’s based on ZTNA.” said Etay Maor, Sr. Director of Security Strategy at Cato Networks.

How Do Security Point Solutions Stack Up?#

It is common for security professionals to succumb to the “single point of failure fallacy”. However, cyber-attacks are sophisticated events that rarely involve just one tactic or technique which is the cause of the breach. Therefore, an all-encompassing outlook is required to successfully mitigate cyber-attacks. Security point solutions are a solution for single points of failure. These tools can identify risks, but they will not connect the dots, which could and has led to a breach.

Here’s Watch Out for in the Coming Months#

According to ongoing security research conducted by Cato Networks Security Team, they have identified two additional vulnerabilities and exploit attempts that they recommend including in your upcoming security plans:

1. Log4j#

While Log4j made its debut as early as December of 2021, the noise its making hasn’t died down. Log4j is still being used by attackers to exploit systems, as not all organizations have been able to patch their Log4j vulnerabilities or detect Log4j attacks, in what is known as “virtual patching”. They recommend prioritizing Log4j mitigation.

2. Misconfigured Firewalls and VPNs#

Security solutions like firewalls and VPNs have become access points for attackers. Patching them has become increasingly difficult, especially in the era of architecture cloudification and remote work. It is recommended to pay close attention to these components as they are increasingly vulnerable.

How to Minimize Your Attack Surface and Gain Visibility into the Network#

To reduce the attack surface, security professionals need visibility into their networks. Visibility relies on three pillars:

  • Actionable information – that can be used to mitigate attacks
  • Reliable information – that minimizes the number of false positives
  • Timely information – to ensure mitigation happens before the attack has an impact

Once an organization has complete visibility to the activity on their network they can contextualize the data, decide whether the activity witnessed should be allowed, denied, monitored, restricted (or any other action) and then have the ability to enforce this decision. All these elements must be applied to every entity, be it a user, device, cloud app etc. All the time everywhere. That is what SASE is all about.

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Source :
https://thehackernews.com/2023/02/3-overlooked-cybersecurity-breaches.html

VMware Security Solutions Advisories VMSA-2021-0002

Advisory ID: VMSA-2021-0002
CVSSv3 Range: 5.3-9.8
Issue Date: 2021-02-23
Updated On: 2021-02-23 (Initial Advisory)
CVE(s): CVE-2021-21972, CVE-2021-21973, CVE-2021-21974
Synopsis: VMware ESXi and vCenter Server updates address multiple security vulnerabilities (CVE-2021-21972, CVE-2021-21973, CVE-2021-21974)

1. Impacted Products
  • VMware ESXi
  • VMware vCenter Server (vCenter Server)
  • VMware Cloud Foundation (Cloud Foundation)
2. Introduction

Multiple vulnerabilities in VMware ESXi and vSphere Client (HTML5) were privately reported to VMware. Updates are available to remediate these vulnerabilities in affected VMware products.

3a. VMware vCenter Server updates address remote code execution vulnerability in the vSphere Client (CVE-2021-21972)

Description

The vSphere Client (HTML5) contains a remote code execution vulnerability in a vCenter Server plugin. VMware has evaluated the severity of this issue to be in the Critical severity range with a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 9.8.

Known Attack Vectors

A malicious actor with network access to port 443 may exploit this issue to execute commands with unrestricted privileges on the underlying operating system that hosts vCenter Server. 

Resolution

To remediate CVE-2021-21972 apply the updates listed in the ‘Fixed Version’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below to affected deployments.

Workarounds

Workarounds for CVE-2021-21972 have been listed in the ‘Workarounds’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below.

Additional Documentation

None.

Notes

The affected vCenter Server plugin for vROPs is available in all default installations. vROPs does not need be present to have this endpoint available. Follow the workarounds KB to disable it.

Acknowledgements

VMware would like to thank Mikhail Klyuchnikov of Positive Technologies for reporting this issue to us.

Response Matrix:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
vCenter Server7.0AnyCVE-2021-219729.8Critical 7.0 U1cKB82374None
vCenter Server6.7AnyCVE-2021-219729.8Critical 6.7 U3lKB82374None
vCenter Server6.5AnyCVE-2021-219729.8Critical 6.5 U3nKB82374None

Impacted Product Suites that Deploy Response Matrix 3a Components:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server)4.xAnyCVE-2021-219729.8Critical 4.2KB82374None
Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server)3.xAnyCVE-2021-219729.8Critical 3.10.1.2KB82374None
3b. ESXi OpenSLP heap-overflow vulnerability (CVE-2021-21974)

Description

OpenSLP as used in ESXi has a heap-overflow vulnerability. VMware has evaluated the severity of this issue to be in the Important severity range with a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 8.8.

Known Attack Vectors

A malicious actor residing within the same network segment as ESXi who has access to port 427 may be able to trigger the heap-overflow issue in OpenSLP service resulting in remote code execution.

Resolution

To remediate CVE-2021-21974 apply the updates listed in the ‘Fixed Version’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below to affected deployments.

Workarounds

Workarounds for CVE-2021-21974 have been listed in the ‘Workarounds’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below.

Additional Documentation

None.

Notes

[1] Per the Security Configuration Guides for VMware vSphere, VMware now recommends disabling the OpenSLP service in ESXi if it is not used. For more information, see our blog posting: https://blogs.vmware.com/vsphere/2021/02/evolving-the-vmware-vsphere-security-configuration-guides.html

[2] KB82705 documents steps to consume ESXi hot patch asynchronously on top of latest VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) supported ESXi build. 

Acknowledgements

VMware would like to thank Lucas Leong (@_wmliang_) of Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative for reporting this issue to us.

Response Matrix:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
[1] ESXi7.0AnyCVE-2021-219748.8Important ESXi70U1c-17325551KB76372None
[1] ESXi6.7AnyCVE-2021-219748.8Important ESXi670-202102401-SGKB76372None
[1] ESXi6.5AnyCVE-2021-219748.8Important ESXi650-202102101-SGKB76372None

Impacted Product Suites that Deploy Response Matrix 3b Components:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
[1] Cloud Foundation (ESXi)4.xAnyCVE-2021-219748.8Important 4.2KB76372None
[1] Cloud Foundation (ESXi)3.xAnyCVE-2021-219748.8Important [2] KB82705KB76372None
3c. VMware vCenter Server updates address SSRF vulnerability in the vSphere Client (CVE-2021-21973)

Description

The vSphere Client (HTML5) contains an SSRF (Server Side Request Forgery) vulnerability due to improper validation of URLs in a vCenter Server plugin. VMware has evaluated the severity of this issue to be in the Moderate severity range with a maximum CVSSv3 base score of 5.3.

Known Attack Vectors

A malicious actor with network access to port 443 may exploit this issue by sending a POST request to vCenter Server plugin leading to information disclosure.

Resolution

To remediate CVE-2021-21973 apply the updates listed in the ‘Fixed Version’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below to affected deployments.

Workarounds

Workarounds for CVE-2021-21973 have been listed in the ‘Workarounds’ column of the ‘Response Matrix’ below.

Additional Documentation

None.

Notes

The affected vCenter Server plugin for vROPs is available in all default installations. vROPs does not need be present to have this endpoint available. Follow the workarounds KB to disable it.

Acknowledgements

VMware would like to thank Mikhail Klyuchnikov of Positive Technologies for reporting this issue to us.

Response Matrix:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
vCenter Server7.0AnyCVE-2021-219735.3Moderate 7.0 U1cKB82374None
vCenter Server6.7AnyCVE-2021-219735.3Moderate 6.7 U3lKB82374None
vCenter Server6.5AnyCVE-2021-219735.3Moderate 6.5 U3nKB82374None

Impacted Product Suites that Deploy Response Matrix 3c Components:

ProductVersionRunning OnCVE IdentifierCVSSv3SeverityFixed VersionWorkaroundsAdditional Documentation
Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server)4.xAnyCVE-2021-219735.3Moderate 4.2KB82374None
Cloud Foundation (vCenter Server)3.xAnyCVE-2021-219735.3Moderate 3.10.1.2KB82374None
4. References

VMware ESXi 7.0 ESXi70U1c-17325551
https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/rn/vsphere-esxi-70u1c.html

VMware ESXi 6.7 ESXi670-202102401-SG
https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.7/rn/esxi670-202102001.html

VMware ESXi 6.5 ESXi650-202102101-SG
https://my.vmware.com/group/vmware/patch
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/rn/esxi650-202102001.html

VMware vCloud Foundation 4.2
Downloads and Documentation:
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-Foundation/4.2/rn/VMware-Cloud-Foundation-42-Release-Notes.html


VMware vCloud Foundation 3.10.1.2
Downloads and Documentation:
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-Cloud-Foundation/3.10.1/rn/VMware-Cloud-Foundation-3101-Release-Notes.html


vCenter Server 7.0.1 Update 1
Downloads and Documentation:
https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/downloads/details?downloadGroup=VC70U1C&productId=974
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/7.0/rn/vsphere-vcenter-server-70u1c-release-notes.html

vCenter Server 6.7 U3l
Downloads and Documentation:
https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/downloads/details?downloadGroup=VC67U3L&productId=742&rPId=57171
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.7/rn/vsphere-vcenter-server-67u3l-release-notes.html

vCenter Server 6.5 U3n
Downloads and Documentation:
https://my.vmware.com/web/vmware/downloads/details?downloadGroup=VC65U3N&productId=614&rPId=60942
https://docs.vmware.com/en/VMware-vSphere/6.5/rn/vsphere-vcenter-server-65u3n-release-notes.html

Mitre CVE Dictionary Links:
https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2021-21972
https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2021-21973
https://cve.mitre.org/cgi-bin/cvename.cgi?name=CVE-2021-21974

FIRST CVSSv3 Calculator:
CVE-2021-21972: https://www.first.org/cvss/calculator/3.1#CVSS:3.1/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H
CVE-2021-21973: https://www.first.org/cvss/calculator/3.1#CVSS:3.1/AV:N/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:L/I:N/A:N
CVE-2021-21974: https://www.first.org/cvss/calculator/3.1#CVSS:3.1/AV:A/AC:L/PR:N/UI:N/S:U/C:H/I:H/A:H

5. Change Log

2021-02-23 VMSA-2021-0002
Initial security advisory.

6. Contact

E-mail list for product security notifications and announcements:

https://lists.vmware.com/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/security-announce

This Security Advisory is posted to the following lists:  

security-announce@lists.vmware.com  

bugtraq@securityfocus.com  

fulldisclosure@seclists.org 

E-mail: security@vmware.com

PGP key at:

https://kb.vmware.com/kb/1055

VMware Security Advisories

https://www.vmware.com/security/advisories

VMware Security Response Policy

https://www.vmware.com/support/policies/security_response.html

VMware Lifecycle Support Phases

https://www.vmware.com/support/policies/lifecycle.html

VMware Security & Compliance Blog  

https://blogs.vmware.com/security

Twitter

Source :
https://www.vmware.com/security/advisories/VMSA-2021-0002.html

Is Once-Yearly Pen Testing Enough for Your Organization?

Any organization that handles sensitive data must be diligent in its security efforts, which include regular pen testing. Even a small data breach can result in significant damage to an organization’s reputation and bottom line.

There are two main reasons why regular pen testing is necessary for secure web application development:

  • Security: Web applications are constantly evolving, and new vulnerabilities are being discovered all the time. Pen testing helps identify vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and allows you to fix them before they can do any damage.
  • Compliance: Depending on your industry and the type of data you handle, you may be required to comply with certain security standards (e.g., PCI DSS, NIST, HIPAA). Regular pen testing can help you verify that your web applications meet these standards and avoid penalties for non-compliance.

How Often Should You Pentest?#

Many organizations, big and small, have once a year pen testing cycle. But what’s the best frequency for pen testing? Is once a year enough, or do you need to be more frequent?

The answer depends on several factors, including the type of development cycle you have, the criticality of your web applications, and the industry you’re in.

You may need more frequent pen testing if:

You Have an Agile or Continuous Release Cycle#

Agile development cycles are characterized by short release cycles and rapid iterations. This can make it difficult to keep track of changes made to the codebase and makes it more likely that security vulnerabilities will be introduced.

If you’re only testing once a year, there’s a good chance that vulnerabilities will go undetected for long periods of time. This could leave your organization open to attack.

To mitigate this risk, pen testing cycles should align with the organization’s development cycle. For static web applications, testing every 4-6 months should be sufficient. But for web applications that are updated frequently, you may need to test more often, such as monthly or even weekly.

Your Web Applications Are Business-Critical#

Any system that is essential to your organization’s operations should be given extra attention when it comes to security. This is because a breach of these systems could have a devastating impact on your business. If your organization relies heavily on its web applications to do business, any downtime could result in significant financial losses.

For example, imagine that your organization’s e-commerce site went down for an hour due to a DDoS attack. Not only would you lose out on potential sales, but you would also have to deal with the cost of the attack and the negative publicity.

To avoid this scenario, it’s important to ensure that your web applications are always available and secure.

Non-critical web applications can usually get away with being tested once a year, but business-critical web applications should be tested more frequently to ensure they are not at risk of a major outage or data loss.

Your Web Applications Are Customer-Facing#

If all your web applications are internal, you may be able to get away with pen testing less frequently. However, if your web applications are accessible to the public, you must be extra diligent in your security efforts.

Web applications accessible to external traffic are more likely to be targeted by attackers. This is because there is a greater pool of attack vectors and more potential entry points for an attacker to exploit.

Customer-facing web applications also tend to have more users, which means that any security vulnerabilities will be exploited more quickly. For example, a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability in an external web application with millions of users could be exploited within hours of being discovered.

To protect against these threats, it’s important to pen test customer-facing web applications more frequently than internal ones. Depending on the size and complexity of the application, you may need to pen test every month or even every week.

You Are in a High-Risk Industry#

Certain industries are more likely to be targeted by hackers due to the sensitive nature of their data. Healthcare organizations, for example, are often targeted because of the protected health information (PHI) they hold.

If your organization is in a high-risk industry, you should consider conducting pen testing more frequently to ensure that your systems are secure and meet regulatory compliance. This will help protect your data and reduce the chances of a costly security incident.

You Don’t Have Internal Security Operations or a Pen testing Team#

This might sound counterintuitive, but if you don’t have an internal security team, you may need to conduct pen testing more frequently.

Organizations that don’t have dedicated security staff are more likely to be vulnerable to attacks.

Without an internal security team, you will need to rely on external pen testers to assess your organization’s security posture.

Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, you may need to pen test every month or even every week.

You Are Focused on Mergers or Acquisitions#

During a merger or acquisition, there is often a lot of confusion and chaos. This can make it difficult to keep track of all the systems and data that need to be secured. As a result, it’s important to conduct pen testing more frequently during these times to ensure that all systems are secure.

M&A also means that you are adding new web applications to your organization’s infrastructure. These new applications may have unknown security vulnerabilities that could put your entire organization at risk.

In 2016, Marriott acquired Starwood without being aware that hackers had exploited a flaw in Starwood’s reservation system two years earlier. Over 500 million customer records were compromised. This placed Marriott in hot water with the British watchdog ICO, resulting in 18.4 million pounds in fines in the UK. According to Bloomberg, there is more trouble ahead, as the hotel giant could “face up to $1 billion in regulatory fines and litigation costs.”

To protect against these threats, it’s important to conduct pen testing before and after an acquisition. This will help you identify potential security issues so they can be fixed before the transition is complete.

The Importance of Continuous Pen Testing#

While periodic pen testing is important, it is no longer enough in today’s world. As businesses rely more on their web applications, continuous pen testing becomes increasingly important.

There are two main types of pen testing: time-boxed and continuous.

Traditional pen testing is done on a set schedule, such as once a year. This type of pen testing is no longer enough in today’s world, as businesses rely more on their web applications.

Continuous pen testing is the process of continuously scanning your systems for vulnerabilities. This allows you to identify and fix vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by attackers. Continuous pen testing allows you to find and fix security issues as they happen instead of waiting for a periodic assessment.

Continuous pen testing is especially important for organizations that have an agile development cycle. Since new code is deployed frequently, there is a greater chance for security vulnerabilities to be introduced.

Pen testing as a service models is where continuous pen testing shine. Outpost24’s PTaaS (Penetration-Testing-as-a-Service) platform enables businesses to conduct continuous pen testing with ease. The Outpost24 platform is always up-to-date with an organization’s latest security threats and vulnerabilities, so you can be confident that your web applications are secure.

  • Manual and automated pen testing: Outpost24’s PTaaS platform combines manual and automated pen testing to give you the best of both worlds. This means you can find and fix vulnerabilities faster while still getting the benefits of expert analysis.
  • Provides comprehensive coverage: Outpost24’s platform covers all OWASP Top 10 vulnerabilities and more. This means that you can be confident that your web applications are secure against the latest threats.
  • Is cost-effective: With Outpost24, you only pay for the services you need. This makes it more affordable to conduct continuous pen testing, even for small businesses.

The Bottom Line#

Regular pen testing is essential for secure web application development. Depending on your organization’s size, industry, and development cycle, you may need to revise your pen testing schedule.

Once-a-year pen testing cycle may be enough for some organizations, but for most, it is not. For business-critical, customer-facing, or high-traffic web applications, you should consider continuous pen testing.

Outpost24’s PTaaS platform makes it easy and cost-effective to conduct continuous pen testing. Contact us today to learn more about our platform and how we can help you secure your web applications.

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Source :
https://thehackernews.com/2023/01/is-once-yearly-pen-testing-enough-for.html

Active Directory: harden the security of your environment

In this tutorial dedicated to Active Directory and security, I will give you some tips to harden the level of security in order to be less vulnerable to attacks.

The different configuration points, which will be discussed, simply allow attacks to be made more difficult and longer internally, in no way will they guarantee that you are invulnerable.

What you need to know is that your first ally is time, the more “difficult” and longer it will be, the more likely you are that the attacker(s) will move on.

Before applying the settings, they should be tested in a restricted environment so as not to create more problems, especially on Active Directory environments that are several years old.

  1. Disable SMBv1 support
  2. Enable signing on the SMB protocol
  3. Disable LM and NTLMv1 authentication
  4. Disable LLMNR and NBT-NS
  5. Some additional tracks

Disable SMBv1 support

One of the first points is to disable support for the SMBv1 protocol on all computers (servers and client workstations).

Since Windows 10 and Windows Server 2019, SMBv1 support is disabled by default.

To find out if the SMBv1 protocol is enabled, use the following command:

Get-SmbServerConfiguration | Select EnableSMB1Protocol
SMBv1 Enable

Before disabling SMBv1, it is possible to check if it is still used on a server.

To do this, use the command below:

Get-SmbSession | Select-Object -Property ClientComputerName, ClientUserName, Dialect

This command returns the device IP address, username, and SMB version used to access the shares.

If you have “old” equipment (copiers, scanners …), it is possible that they do not support a higher version of SMB.

It is also possible to enable SMBv1 access auditing:

Set-SmbServerConfiguration -AuditSmb1Access $true

Once activated, you must search for events with ID 3000 in the log: Microsoft-Windows-SMBServer\Audit.

To disable the SMBv1 protocol, there are several solutions.

Disable the SMBv1 protocol, this solution is effective immediately and does not require a restart (Windows 8.1 / Server 2012R2 or newer):

Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB1Protocol $false

To disable the SMBv1 protocol on later versions of Windows (7, Vista, Server 2008 and Server 2008R2), modify the registry:

Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters" SMB1 -Type DWORD -Value 0 -Force

To take an account a restart is necessary.

For Windows 8.1 / Server 2012R2, it is also possible to uninstall the SMBv1 protocol support, here a restart is necessary:

Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName SMB1Protocol

I also wrote a tutorial on disabling SMBv1 protocol (Server/Client) by group policy: https://rdr-it.com/en/gpo-disabled-smbv1/

Enable signing on the SMB protocol

In order to “protect” against Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, it is possible to activate the signature on SMB protocol exchanges.

SMB signing works with SMBv2 and SMBv3.

The configuration of the signature can be done:

  • at the client level
  • at the server level

From the moment one of the two negotiates the signature, the SMB flow will be signed.

The configuration is done at the level of group policies: Computer configuration / Windows settings / Security settings / Security options. The two parameters to activate:

  • Microsoft network client: digitally sign communications (always)
  • Microsoft network server: digitally sign communications (always)

Again, I advise you to test on a few computers before applying this to your entire fleet, for my part, I had problems with RDS servers in terms of access to shares.

For more information I invite you to read this page : https://docs.microsoft.com/fr-fr/windows/security/threat-protection/security-policy-settings/microsoft-network-client-digitally-sign-communications-always.

Disable LM and NTLMv1 authentication

Still in the “old” protocols, it is necessary to disable the LM and NTLMv1 protocols which have password hashes that are very easy to brute force.

Once again, deactivation can be done by group policy at: Computer Configuration / Windows Settings / Security Settings / Security Options

You need to configure the parameter: Network Security: LAN Manager Authentication Level.

To do this, check Define this policy parameter and select: Send NTLM version 2 responses only\Refuse LM and NTLM

This setting is in an ideal world, if NTLMv1 should still be used, use this setting to disable LM: Only send NTLMv2 responses\Refuse LM

If you must use this parameter, NTLMv1 HASHes can still circulate on the network and are vulnerable to brute force attacks faster than NTLMv2.

It is possible to audit NTLM traffic by enabling settings to identify where NTMLv1 is being used

  • Network Security: Restrict NTLM: Audit Incoming NTLM Traffic
  • Network Security: Restrict NTLM: NTLM authentication in this domain

The NTLM configuration allows quite a bit of flexibility in terms of configuring it and adding exceptions.

Disable LLMNR and NBT-NS

LLMNR (Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution) and NBT-NS (Netbios Name Service) are two broadcast/multicast name resolution “protocols” that are enabled by default, they are used when dns name resolution fails.

If you use Wireshark type software to listen to the network, you will see that there is a lot of LLMNR and NBT-NS traffic.

The main danger of LLMNR and NBT-NS is that it is easy to send a false response with another computer in order to retrieve an NTLM hash of the requesting client.

Below are screenshots of the responder which allows you to respond to LLMNR and NBT-NS requests

Listen

Now we will see how to deactivate LLMNR and NBT-NS

Disable LLMNR

Good news, LLMNR is disabled by group policy in configuring the DNS client of computers.

To disable LLMNR, you must enable the Disable multicast name resolution setting located at: Computer Configuration / Administrative Templates / Network / DNS Client.

After applying the GPO on the computers in the domain, they will no longer use LLMNR.

If you have non-domain computers, it will be necessary to do this on them.

Disable NBT-NS

Here it gets a little complicated because NBT-NS is configured at the NIC level and there is no applicable group policy. The good news is that for client computers (mainly workstations), it is possible to do this by an option on the DHCP server.

At the options level (extended or server), option 001 Microsoft Options for disabling NetBios must be configured in the Microsoft Windows 2000 Option vendor class. The value 0x2 must be entered to disable NBT-NS.

For computers that are not in automatic addressing, Netbios must be disabled on the network card(s).

Open network card properties.

Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties.

From the General tab, click on Advanced.

Go to the WINS tab, and select Disable NetBIOS over TCP/IP.

Close the different ones by validating the configuration.

It is possible to disable Netbios by GPO using a PowerShell script run at startup.

Here is the script:

 ps-disable-netbios.ps1 248 Bytes 

1234

# Get network cards
$regkey = "HKLM:SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\NetBT\Parameters\Interfaces"
# Disable Netbios on each
Get-ChildItem $regkey |foreach { Set-ItemProperty -Path "$regkey\$($_.pschildname)" -Name NetbiosOptions -Value 2 -Verbose}

Some additional tracks

Here are some additional tips:

  • Deploy LAPS on computers and servers in order to have different local administrator passwords.
  • Sign your DNS zone (DNSSEC)
  • Regularly audit privileged accounts.

It is also important to follow some simple “hygiene” rules:

  • Limit privileged account usage (domain admins)
  • Do not use domain admin accounts on workstations
  • Update servers and computers regularly
  • Update applications (Web server, database, etc.)
  • Make sure you have up-to-date antivirus
  • Learn about security bulletins

Regarding the last point that I will address, it is passwords, for domain administrator accounts, privileged long passwords (20 to 30 characters) which will take much longer to be “brute-forced” than an 8-character password even with complexity.

Don’t forget to audit your Active Directory for free with Ping Castle.CategoriesActive DirectoryTagsActive DirectorySecurity

Source :
https://rdr-it.com/en/active-directory-harden-the-security-of-your-environment/

Ubiquiti UniFi – Backups and Migration

Migration is the act of moving your UniFi devices from one host device to another. This is useful when:

  • You are replacing your UniFi OS Console with a new one of the same model.
  • You are upgrading your UniFi OS Console to a different model (e.g., a UDM to a UDM Pro).
  • You are offloading devices to a dedicated UniFi OS Console (e.g., moving cameras from a Cloud Key or UDM to a UNVR).
  • You are moving from a self-hosted Network application to a UniFi OS Console.

Note: This is not meant to be used as a staging file for setting up multiple applications on different hosts.

Types of Backups

UniFi OS Backups

UniFi OS backup files contain your entire system configuration, including your UniFi OS Console, user, application, and device settings. Assuming Remote Access is enabled, UniFi OS Cloud backups are created weekly by default. You can also generate additional Cloud backups or download localized backups at any time. 

UniFi OS backups are useful when:

  • Restoring a prior system configuration after making network changes.
  • Migrating all applications to a new UniFi OS Console that is the same model as the original.

Note: Backups do not include data stored on an HDD, such as recorded Protect camera footage.

Application Backups

Each UniFi application allows you to back up and export its configuration. Application backups contain settings and device configurations specific to the respective application.

Application backups are useful when:

  • You want to restore a prior application configuration without affecting your other applications.
  • You want to migrate a self-hosted Network application to a UniFi OS Console.
  • You want to migrate your devices between two different UniFi OS Console models.
  • You need to back up a self-hosted Network application.

Note: Backups do not include data stored on an HDD, such as recorded Protect camera footage.

UniFi OS Console Migration

UniFi OS backups also allow you to restore your system configuration should you ever need to replace your console with one of the same model.

To do so:

  1. First, ensure that you have already generated a Cloud backup, or downloaded a local backup. If not, please do so in your UniFi OS Settings.
  2. Replace your old UniFi OS Console with the new one. All other network connections should remain unchanged.
  3. Restore your system configuration on the new UniFi OS Console using the backup file. This can be done either during the initial setup or afterwards  in your UniFi OS settings.

Note: Currently, UniFi OS backups cannot be used to perform cross-console migrations, but this capability will be added in a future update.

If you are migrating between two different console models, you will need to restore each application’s configuration with their respective backups. Please note, though, that these file(s) will not include UniFi OS users or settings. 

See below for more information on using the configuration backups during migrations.

Migrating UniFi Network

Before migrating, we recommend reviewing your Device Authentication Credentials found in your Network application’s System Settings. These can be used to recover adopted device(s) if the migration is unsuccessful.

Standard Migration

This is used when all devices are on the same Layer 2 network (i.e., all devices are on the same network/VLAN as the management application’s host device). 

Note: If you are a home user managing devices in a single location and have not used the set-inform command or other advanced Layer 3 adoption methods, this is most likely the method for you.

  1. Download the desired backup file (*.unf) from your original Network application’s System Settings
  2. Ensure that your new Network application is up to date. Backups cannot be used to restore older application versions.
  3. Replace your old UniFi OS Console with the new one. All other network connections should remain unchanged.
  4. Restore the backup file in the Network application’s System Settings.
  5. Ensure that all devices appear as online in the new application. If they do not, you can try Layer 3 adoption, or factory-reset and readopt your device(s) to the new Network application.

    If a  device continues to appear as Managed by Other, click on it to open its properties panel, then use its Device Authentication Credentials (from the original Network application’s host device) to perform an Advanced Adoption.

Migrating Applications That Manage Layer 3 Devices

This method is for users that have performed Layer 3 device adoption (i.e., devices are on a different network/VLAN than the application’s host device). This may also be useful when migrating to a Network application host that is NOT also a gateway.

  1. Download the desired backup file (*.unf) from your original Network application’s System Settings
  2. Enable the Override Inform Host field on the original Network application’s host device, then enter the IP address of the new host device. This will tell your devices where they should establish a connection in order to be managed. Once entered, all devices in the old application should appear as Managed by Other.

    Note: When migrating to a Cloud Console, you can copy the Inform URL from the Cloud Console’s dashboard. Be aware that you will need to remove the initial http:// and the ending :8080/inform
  3. Ensure that your new Network application is up to date. Backups cannot be used to restore older application versions.
  4. Restore the backup file in the Network application’s System Settings.
  5. Ensure that all devices appear as online in the new application. If they do not, you can try Layer 3 adoption, or factory-reset and readopt your device(s) to the new application.

    If a device continues to appear as Managed by Other, click on it to open its properties panel, then use its Device Authentication Credentials (from the original Network application’s host) to perform an Advanced Adoption.

Exporting Individual Sites from a Multi-Site Host

Certain Network application hosts (e.g., Cloud Key, Cloud Console, self-hosted Network applications) can manage multiple sites. Site exportation allows you to migrate specific sites from one multi-site host to another. To do so:

  1. Click Export Site in your Network application’s System Settings to begin the guided walkthrough.
  2. Select the device(s) you wish to migrate to your new Network application.
  3. Enter the Inform URL of your new host. This will tell your devices where they should establish a connection in order to be managed. Once entered, all devices in the old application should appear as Managed by Other in the new one.

    Note: When migrating to a Cloud Console, you can copy the Inform URL from the Cloud Console’s dashboard. Be aware that you will need to remove the initial http:// and the ending :8080/inform.
  4. Go to your new Network application and select Import Site from the Site switcher located in the upper-left corner of your dashboard.

    Note: You may need to enable Multi-Site Management in your System Settings.
  5. Ensure that all devices appear as online in the new application. If they do not, you try Layer 3 adoption, or factory-reset and readopt your device(s) to the new application.

    If a device continues to appear as Managed by Other, click on it to open its properties panel, then use its Device Authentication Credentials (from the original Network application’s host) to perform an Advanced Adoption.

Migrating UniFi Protect

We recommend saving your footage with the Export Clips function before migrating. Although we provide HDD migration instructions, it is not an officially supported procedure due to nuances in the RAID array architecture. 

Standard Migration

  1. Download the desired backup file (*.zip) from the original Protect application’s settings. 
  2. Ensure that your new Protect application is up to date. Backups cannot be used to restore older application firmware.
  3. Replace your old UniFi OS Console with the new one. All other camera connections should remain unchanged.
  4. Restore the backup file in the Protect application’s settings.

HDD Migration

Full HDD migration is not officially supported; however, some users have been able to perform successful migrations by ensuring consistent ordering when ejecting and reinstalling drives  into their new console to preserve RAID arrays.

Note: This is only possible if both UniFi OS Consoles are the same model.

  1. Remove the HDDs from the old console. Record which bay each one was installed in, but do not install them in the new console yet.
  2. Turn on the new console and complete the initial setup wizard. Do not restore a Protect application or Cloud backup during initial setup!
  3. Upgrade the new console and its Protect application to a version that is either the same or newer than the original console.
  4. Shut down the new console, and then install the HDDs in the same bays as the original console.
  5. Turn on the new console again. The Protect application should start with its current configuration intact, and all exported footage should be accessible.

Source :
https://help.ui.com/hc/en-us/articles/360008976393-UniFi-Backups-and-Migration

How to Solve Hyper-V Cannot Delete Checkpoint | 3 Solutions

Case: Hyper-V snapshot no delete option

My Hyper-V host is Server 2012 R2. I have a virtual machine (Server 2012 R2) with a checkpoint. When I right click on the checkpoint, there is no “Delete checkpoint… ” option. I need to delete this checkpoint so that it is merged with the parent VHDX. What is the best method for doing this?

– Question from social.technet.microsoft.com

Have you ever encountered the situation where your Hyper-V cannot delete checkpoint because of “Delete” option missing? Right-clicking on the Hyper-V checkpoint, there are only “Settings”, “Export”, “Rename” and “Help” options left, why would this happen?

Hyper-V snapshot no delete option

There are many reasons may cause Hyper-V snapshot delete option not available, such as connection error with the host, or a backup tool failure. The most likely scenario is that the checkpoint created by a third-party tool was not deleted properly by the same tool.

More specifically, the checkpoints and associated .AVHDX files should be merged and deleted at the end of a backup – only the newer .AVHDX files should be kept. However, sometimes the checkpoints may be corrupted because the VM is in a locked or backed up state, or some other reason is preventing the deletion and merging. In this case, you may find the delete option missing, and Hyper-V cannot delete this checkpoint.

How to fix this? I will provide you 3 proven solutions, you can try them one by one. *They also work for cleaning up after a failed Hyper-V checkpoint.

How to solve Hyper-V cannot delete checkpoint (3 solutions)

When you are unable to delete checkpoint in Hyper-V, you can first try some regular troubleshooting means. If they cannot solve this issue, don’t worry, there are still some alternatives can help you delete Hyper-V checkpoint properly. I will cover all of them below.

Solution 1. Troubleshooting steps that you should try first

Before taking other measures, you can try some simple ways in Hyper-V Manager to see if you can make snapshot removal work. That is:

  • Right-click on the host name in Hyper-V Manager and select Refresh.
Refresh Hyper-V host
  • Close and restart the Hyper-V Manager.
  • Highlight the target checkpoint and use the [Delete] key on the keyboard. It should pop up a window confirming whether to delete the checkpoint or not.

If none of these ways can help, then you may need to try delete checkpoint Hyper-V with PowerShell.

Solution 2. Properly delete Hyper-V checkpoint with PowerShell

Hyper-V PowerShell module is a bundle of cmdlets for creating, configuring and managing Microsoft Hyper-V hosts and virtual machines. It can be more a time efficient method than using GUI. You can use it remove any Hyper-V checkpoint that has no delete option.

Launch Windows PowerShell as administrator on the Hyper-V host, input and execute the following command to delete the checkpoint:

Get-VMSnapshot -VMName <VMName> | Remove-VMSnapshot

Delete Hyper-V checkpoint via PowerShell

Note:

1. You need to replace <VMName> with your target virtual machine name.

2. If you need to specify a host, you can add a parameter of -ComputerName. The command looks like:

Get-VMSnapshot -ComputerName <ComputerName> -VMName <VMName> | Remove-VMSnapshot

3. If you want to delete a specified checkpoint, you can first run the command to get the checkpoint name:

Get-VMSnapshot -ComputerName <ComputerName> -VMName <VMName>

Then use the name to delete the specified checkpoint, the command will be like:

Get-VMSnapshot -VMName <VMName> -Name <CheckpointName> | Remove-VMSnapshot

Once the command succeeded, you can see the merge progress for the particular VM. It may take some time depending on the snapshot size. After that, you should be able to modify the virtual machine configuration again.

If this method still cannot delete your Hyper-V checkpoint, turn to the next one.

Solution 3. Export and import Hyper-V VM to resolve checkpoint cannot delete

You can try Hyper-V export VM and import as suggested by some other users, which are also said can be used to solve the problem.

1. Launch Hyper-V Manager. Right-click on the name of the target checkpoint, and select Export…

Export Hyper-V checkpoint

2. In the pop-up window, click Browse to specify a network share as the storage destination to the exported files. And then click Export.

export  checkpoint

3. Right-click on the host name and select Import Virtual Machine… Click Next on the pop-up wizard.

Import Virtual Machine

4. On Locate Folder page, click Browse… to specify the folder containing the exported VM files. Click Next to continue.

Locate Folder

5. On Select Virtual Machine page, select the virtual machine to import, then click Next.

Select Virtual Machine

4. On Choose Import Type page, choose the type of import to perform:

  • Register the virtual machine in-place (use the existing unique ID): use the exported files in-place, and when the import has completed, the export files become the running state files and can’t be removed. The ID will be the same as the exported one.
  • Restore the virtual machine (use the existing unique ID): restore the VM to the specified or default location, with the same ID as the exported one. When the import has completed, the exported files remain intact and can be removed or imported again.
  • Copy the virtual machine (create a new unique ID): restore the VM to the specified or default location, and create a new unique ID. Which means the exported files remain intact and can be removed or imported again, and you can import the VM to the same host multiple times.

Click Next to continue.

Choose Import Type

5. Choose the second or the third option, the wizard will add 2 more pages for selecting storage.

On Choose Destination page, you can check Store the virtual machine in a different location option, and click Browse… to specify Virtual machine configuration folder, Checkpoint store, and Smart paging folder. Leave the option unchecked the wizard will import the files to default Hyper-V folders. Then click Next.

Choose Destination

6. On Choose Storage Folders page, you can click Browse… to specify where you want to store the imported virtual hard disks for this VM, or leave the default location unchanged. Then click Next.

Choose Storage Folders

7. On Summary page, review the settings and click Finish to start restore.

Summary

Furthere reading: FAQ about Hyper-V delete checkpoint

The above describes how to solve the problem that the delete option disappears and the hyper-v checkpoint cannot be deleted. Besides, many users may have some other confusion about checkpoints. I have compiled some common questions and their answers here.

Q: Where are checkpoints stored on a Hyper-V host?

In general, the default location for storing checkpoint configuration files is:

%systemroot%\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Hyper-V\Snapshots

And the default locations for storing AVHDX files (checkpoint storages) are:

Windows Server 2012R2 / Windows 8.1: C:UsersPublicDocumentsHyper-VVirtual Hard Disks

Windows Server 2012 / Windows 8: C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindowsHyper-VNew Virtual MachineVirtual Hard Disks

Q: Can you directly delete checkpoint files (.avhdx)?

Whenever a checkpoint is deleted, Hyper-V merges the .vhdx and .avhdx files automatically, and the .avhdx files should be removed from the disk after the Hyper-V checkpoint merging process is complete. So a proper checkpoint deletion does not result in data loss.

It’s not a good idea to delete the .avhdx file in VM folder directly, because it may cause the checkpoint tree to fail.

The normal steps to delete a checkpoint is:

Open the Hyper-V Manager -> Select the virtual machine for which you need to remove checkpoints -> Locate the Checkpoints tab -> Right-click on the desired checkpoint -> click “Delete Checkpoint”. If asked to confirm the action, make sure the checkpoint is correct and click “Delete” again.

Note if you need to delete all subsequent checkpoints, right-click the earliest checkpoint and click “Delete Checkpoint Subtree”.

If you find some orphaned Hyper-V AVHDX files in the VM folder, but no snapshots on that VM, this may be because incomplete deletion or merging, you can refer to: delete Hyper-V AVHDX file without checkpoints.

Q: Hyper-V checkpoint delete vs merge

A checkpoint is any new change or save between the old state and the present, it stops writing to the actual disk and writes to the change disk.

Once you are satisfied and delete the checkpoint, the changes are written back/merged to the actual disk and are write enabled again. Therefore, deleting a checkpoint and merging a checkpoint are actually the same thing.

If you don’t want the changes, you just need to revert them and any changes since the checkpoint will be deleted.

Q: Can Hyper-V checkpoints be used as regular backup means?

The answer is NO. VM snapshot and backup are different from each other. Microsoft’s Hyper-V checkpoint is not a replacement of backup.

When you create a backup, you are creating a copy of your virtual machine. It stores complete data of VM. Backups in Hyper-V can be used to restore a whole VM and do not affect the performance.

When you create a checkpoint, you are creating a differencing disk based on the original virtual machine hard disk. If the original disk is damaged, the child disk is easy to be lost or damaged as well. All changes made after the checkpoint are re-directed to the child disk and leaves the original virtual machine disk read-only.

Meanwhile, checkpoints are running out of the memory of disk with a rapid speed, which will gradually  to the poor performance of your virtual machines.

Hyper-V Restore Checkpoint

In short, Hyper-V checkpoint is just a secure “undo” button. If you want to test something quickly and restore the VM to a stable state, checkpoint in Hyper-V is convenient and fast to execute the process. But, if you want long-term and independent protection for VMs, you still need to find effective Hyper-V backup solution.

Better option for long-term protection: Image-based VM backup

As mentioned above, if you are looking for long-term data protection and the ability to quickly restore VMs to a usable state in the event of a disaster, then you are more suited to an image-based VM backup solution.

Here I’d like to introduce you AOMEI Cyber Backup, this free Hyper-V backup solution is designed to protect virtual machines from any data threats, whether you are using Hyper-V in Microsoft Windows Server 2022 / 2019 / 2016 / 2012 R2, Microsoft Windows 11 / 10 / 8 / 8.1 or Hyper-V Server 2019 / 2016 / 2012 R2.

You can use the software to simplify Hyper-V backup and management. If offers you the following benefits:

Easy-to-use: User-friendly interface to complete backup and restore process based on several clicks.
Perpetual Free: No time limit for AOMEI Cyber Backup Free Edition to protect up to multiple virtual machines.
Auto Backup Schedule: Schedule backups for multiple VMs at once and auto run it without powering off VMs.
Centralized Management: Create and manage Hyper-V VM backups from the central console without installing Agent on each VM.
Flexible Backup Strategy: Flexibly tracking data and store backups to different storages.
Role Assignment: allows one administrator to create sub-accounts with limited privileges.

Please hit the button below to download and use AOMEI Cyber Backup for free:

Download FreewareVMware ESXi & Hyper-V

Secure Download

*You can choose to install this VM backup software on either Windows or Linux system.

3 easy steps to perform free VM backup:

1. Open AOMEI Cyber Backup web client, and access to Source Device >> Hyper-V >> Add Hyper-V to bind your Hyper-V host, then enter the required information and click Confirm.

Add Hyper-V Host

2. Access to Backup Task >> Create New Task to configure your Hyper-V backup task. In the opened wizard, you can select Hyper-V virtual machines to back up, the storages to save the backups.

Backup Target

Also, you can configure Schedule to select backup method as full / incremental backup, and specify the backup frequency on basis of daily / weekly / monthly to automatically run the Hyper-V backup task.

Schedule Hyper-V VM Backup

3. Start Backup: click Start Backup and select Add the schedule and start backup now, or Add the schedule only.

When completing the Hyper-V backup solution, you can monitor the backing up process on the main interface, and you can also check the Backup Log to see if there are any errors that result in your backup failure.

When you want to Restore a VM from the backup, you can select any backup version from the history, and Restore to original location easily.

Restore Hyper-V VM

✍While the Free Edition covers most of the VM backup needs, you can also upgrade to enjoy:

  • Backup Cleanup: Specify retention policy to delete old VM backups automatically, thus saving storage space.
  • Restore to new location: Make a clone of a virtual machine in the same or another datastore/host, without reinstalling or configuring a new VM.

Summary

If you find your Hyper-V snapshot no delete option, I summarized several ways to solve the problem Hyper-V cannot delete checkpoint in this article. Hope it could be helpful to you.

Besides this, you may encounter some other issues, such as Hyper-V VM running slow, stuck at restoring or saved state, Hyper-V VM no internet, failed to change state, etc. To prevent your virtual machines from getting all kinds of errors and eventual crashes, it’s always recommended to back up your VMs that are loaded with important data.

Source :
https://www.ubackup.com/enterprise-backup/hyper-v-cannot-delete-checkpoint.html

The best productivity apps in 2023

The premise of this article’s headline is nonsense, sure, but it isn’t clickbait—I promise. 

You’re almost certainly here because you searched for “best productivity apps.” I understand that impulse. You want to get more done in less time, which is about as universal a feeling as humans can have at work. The problem: productivity is deeply personal, and the words “productivity tools” mean a lot of different things to different people. What works for you may or may not work for me, which is why—after over a decade of writing about productivity software—I don’t really believe there are objectively “best” productivity apps. 

5 things you should automate today

Start automating

I do, however, think there are categories of tools that can help you become a better version of yourself. Some of them work better for more people than others, and not everyone needs an app from every category. Knowing what kinds of apps exist, and what you should look for in an app, is more important than knowing what the “best” app in that category is. 

Having said that, you’re here for software recommendations, not my personal reflections on the nature of productivity. So I’m going to go over the main kinds of productivity apps I think most humans who use electronic devices at work should know about. I’ll explain why I think each category is important, point to an app or two that I think will work well for most people, then offer links to other options if you want to learn more. 

Just remember: the specific app doesn’t matter. The best productivity app is the one that works best for you. The most important thing is having a system. Sound good? Let’s jump in. 

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.


A to-do list like Todoist

We all have things we need to do—at work and in the rest of our lives. The worst place you could store those things, in my opinion, is in your mind. It’s just stressful: you’ll remember, at random moments, that there’s something you were supposed to be doing, and that memory will result in panic. Writing down everything you need to do allows you to make a plan, and (crucially) means you don’t have to panic. 

Not everyone benefits from a dedicated to-do list app—some of the most productive people I know prefer sticky notesemail inboxes, or even spreadsheets. I think that’s great, so long as you have some place to record the things you need to do. 

Todoist, our pick for the best to-do list app for balancing power and simplicity

I think that Todoist, shown above, is a great to-do list app for most people. It’s easy to use but also offers a lot of features. It can also be installed on basically any device you can imagine, meaning your to-do list is always available. It allows you to assign due dates to tasks, sort tasks by project, or even view a project using a Kanban board. You don’t have to worry about those features if you don’t want to, though, which is why I think it’s a great starting point for someone who needs a to-do list. 

If Todoist doesn’t work for you, though, check out our list of the best to-do list apps—it’s got a wide variety of recommendations. I, personally, use TickTick because I like how easy it is to add tasks, and I also can’t stop saying good things about Things for sheer simplicity on Apple devices. Find a tool you like—and that you remember to actually open. There’s nothing less useful than an app full of tasks you never look at. 

Once you’ve picked your to-do list app, make the most of it with automation, so you can easily add tasks that come in by email, team chat apps, project management tools, or notes. Read more about automating your to-do list.

A calendar like Google Calendar

There are only so many hours in the day, unfortunately, which means you have to budget them. A calendar is how you do that. You could use a paper wall calendar, sure, but a calendar app lets you invite other people to an event. Also, in a world where so many meetings are virtual, calendar apps give you a useful place to store the link to your Zoom call. 

Google Calendar, our pick for the best free calendar app

I think that Google Calendar, shown above, is the right calendar app for most people—particularly people who already use Gmail. Google Calendar is easy to load on any device, lets you see your calendar in several different views, and makes it easy to invite anyone else to any event or meeting you happen to plan. I could write multiple articles on Google Calendar features (and I have). This app does everything any other app can do, and more, all while being pretty easy to use.

If Google Calendar doesn’t work for you, though, check out our list of the best calendar apps for more options. Microsoft Outlook is a solid alternative, as is the Calendar app that comes with all Apple devices. 

I’d also consider looking into some kind of meeting scheduling app. These apps let anyone sign up for appointments with you, which is particularly useful if you have a meeting-heavy calendar. Calendly, shown below, is a solid option, with a lot of customizability and the ability to sync with Google Calendar. You can check out our list of the best meeting schedulers for a more complete rundown of Calendly and other options. 

Calendly, our pick for the best meeting scheduler app for simplified scheduling

Once you choose a calendar app, take it to the next level. With automation, you can do things like automatically turn calendar events into tasks on your to-do list or use forms to create calendar events. Here’s how you can bring context to your calendar by connecting other apps.

A note-taking app like OneNote

I’m constantly taking notes: before and during meetings; while researching an article; while brewing beer. And I think most people have some class of information they’ll need to reference later that doesn’t quite meet the threshold of a “document.” Who wants a sprawling series of folders with all of that information? 

This, to me, is what note-taking apps are for: quickly writing things down so you can read them later and (hopefully) follow up. They also work well as a personal journal, or a place to store files related to a particular project. 

Justin's beer brewing notes in OneNote

OneNote, above, is probably the note-taking app most people should try first. It’s free—so long as you don’t run out of OneDrive storage—and it gives you all kinds of ways to organize notes, from notebooks to sections to sub-headers. It also has powerful search, which includes the scanned contents of any images or PDFs you might drop in a note. 

But OneNote isn’t the only option. You should check out our list of the best note-taking apps for more choices. If you loved Evernote back in the day, you should check out Joplin, which is a completely free and open source replacement for that app. And I personally love Obsidian, which turns your notes into an entire database, complete with internal links and an extensive plugin collection. There are a lot of good choices out there—find something that lets you write things down and dig them up later.

See our favorite ways to use automation to improve how you put your notes to worktrack action items from meetings, and put an end to regular copy-paste actions.

A distraction blocker like Freedom

I’ve never tried to work in the middle of an amusement park, but I imagine it would be distracting. The internet is worse. Everything you could possibly imagine is available, all delivered by brilliant engineers who are doing everything they can to keep you looking at more and more and more of it. It’s understandable if you have trouble getting stuff done in that context, which is why apps that block distractions are so helpful. 

Freedom, our pick for the best focus app for blocking distractions on all your devices at once

Freedom is a great tool for the job. It runs on every platform and can block distractions—both websites and apps—on all of your devices. That means you can’t, for example, block Twitter on your computer only to pick up your phone and look at it there. With Freedom, you can set up multiple block lists, then start timers for any of them.

I personally love Serene, which combines distraction blocking with a sort of to-do list. You say what you want to do and how long it will take, then you start a distraction-free session to work on it. There’s also Cold Turkey Blocker, which can optionally prevent you from changing the time settings on your computer as a way of working around the block you set up. You’ve got more choices, though, particularly if you’re a Mac user. Check out our list of the best distraction blockers to learn more. 

Remember: the internet is distracting on purpose. There’s no shame in using a tool to build discipline. 

A habit tracker like Streaks or HabitNow

My dentist tells me I should brush my teeth twice a day, and I believe him, but I tended to only brush at night. I used a habit tracker to change that. 

These applications might sound similar to a to-do list, but they’re very different. You can’t add individual tasks to a habit tracker—only recurring ones. The idea is to set an intention to do something regularly, then keep track of how often you regularly do it. Eventually, you have a streak going, which psychologically motivates you to keep it up until the habit becomes second nature. Don’t laugh—it works. 

Streaks, our pick for the best habit tracker for iPhone

We recommend checking out Streaks, shown above, for iPhone and HabitNow, below, for Android. These apps both live on your phone, which is the place you’re most likely to look. They both let you create a list of habits you’d like to build, then remind you about that intention. They also both show you your progress in various ways. 

HabitNow, our pick for the best habit tracker for Android users

They’re not the only options, however; check out our list of the best habit tracker apps for more ideas. Also keep in mind that some to-do lists have habit-tracking capabilities built right in. I, personally, use TickTick‘s built-in habit tracker—I love it. And some people use a paper calendar for tracking a simple habit—just add an X every day you stick to your habit. 

An app to save things for later like Pocket

I’d love to read articles or watch YouTube videos all day. We all would. Sometimes, though, you have to do something else—even though your friend just sent you a really, really interesting article. That’s where read-it-later apps come in. They let you quickly save something you intend to read, so that you can come back to it when you have time.

Pocket, our pick for the best read it later app for turning articles into a podcast

I think that Pocket, above, is the app of choice in this class. It’s free to use, offers extensions for every major browser, and also has great mobile versions that sync your articles for offline reading. There’s even built-in support for highlighting, then reviewing your highlights later. 

Instapaper is a close second, and it even lets you send articles to your Kindle. These aren’t your only choices, though—check out our list of the best read-it-later apps for some more options. It’s also worth noting that some people use bookmarking apps or even note-taking apps for the same purpose, and that’s great—they both make it easy to save things for future reference. 

Automate the process of saving articles by connecting your read-it-later app to Zapier. Here are some ideas to get you started.

A screen recording tool like Loom

Whether it’s for a quick presentation or troubleshooting a problem, sometimes recording what’s on your screen and sharing it just makes life easier. Screen recording tools are perfect for this, allowing you to quickly record your screen, your voice, and even your face if you have a webcam. 

A screenshot of Loom, our pick for the best screen recording software for quickly recording and sharing on desktop

Loom is a great first tool to check out in this category. It’s easy to set up, works on all major platforms, and makes it really simple to share recordings. You can even add your face, via a webcam, to the recording. 

I personally use Zappy, which was originally an internal tool used by Zapier. It’s honestly the best screenshot tool I’ve ever used, and it’s free—if you use a Mac, it’s worth a try. Check out our list of the best screen recording tools for more options, and keep in mind you can actually record your screen without any software, if you don’t mind managing the file yourself. 

Want to share your screen in real-time? You need a screen sharing tool (Zoom works pretty well, surprisingly).

Other productivity tools worth checking out

This article could go on forever. There’s no end to great software out there, and I love writing about it. I think the above categories should save you all kinds of time—and take up plenty of your time to set up—but here are a few other suggestions if you’re feeling particularly motivated.

  • Password managers, like LastPass or 1Password, help you generate random passwords for all of your different services without the need for memorization. This is great for security, but it also makes logging in to stuff faster. Here’s a list of the best password managers.
  • Mobile scanning apps, like Microsoft Lens, let you scan documents using your phone while also digitizing any text using optical character recognition (OCR). Check out our list of the best mobile scanning OCR apps for more choices. 
  • Text expansion tools, like PhraseExpress, mean you’ll never need to look up and copy-paste the same message to multiple people ever again. Read more about text expansion software, or learn how it can make you better at dating
  • Dictation software, like Dragon by Nuance, lets you type by talking, which can save you all sorts of time. Here’s our list of the best dictation software.
  • Time tracking apps, like Toggl Track, are great for keeping track of how long projects take and making sure you’re not spending too much time on the wrong things. Take a look at our list of the best time tracking apps to find the right one for you.
  • Mind mapping software, like Coggle, helps you map the connections between different ideas while you’re brainstorming. Here are our picks for the best mind mapping software.
  • AI software, like OpenAI, could make all kinds of tasks easier in the future. It’s early, granted, but I already find it useful when I’m in the brainstorming phase of a project—I can ask the bot to generate ideas.

Once you have apps set up in some of these categories, you can take the whole productivity thing even further. Automation software like ours at Zapier connects all the other apps you use, with workflows you can build yourself—no code required. Like the tools above, Zapier won’t solve every problem you have, but it’s a great way to connect tools that otherwise don’t integrate well—which means you can use the best tools for you, as opposed to the tools that happen to play nice together. And it’s not limited to productivity—eventually, you’ll find yourself automating even your most business-critical workflows.

Plus, if you sign up for Zapier, we’ll be able to write more useful articles like this one. Here are five things you should automate today to get started.

This post was originally published in September 2018 by Matthew Guay. The most recent update was in December 2022.

Source :
https://zapier.com/blog/best-productivity-apps/

The 8 best to do list apps in 2023

There are too many to-do list apps. Trying them all would be a massive task, and I know because I did. 

Why are there so many apps for something easily done on sticky notes? Because managing tasks is an intensely personal thing. People will reject anything that doesn’t feel right. That’s a good instinct, but it makes it hard to find the right app. 

Make the most of your to-do list with Zapier

Automate your tasks

To that end, we’ve been hard at work researching the best to-do apps, trying to find the right ones for various use cases. Research for these pieces was exhaustive. We started by finding the best apps for every platform: AndroidWindowsmacOS, and iPhone/iPad. We then tried the top-rated apps in every respective app store, and spent way too much time migrating our personal to-do lists from one app to another.

And now I’m offering you what I feel is the cream of the crop. Whatever you’re looking for, one of these apps is going to be right for you. Click on any app to learn more about why I chose it, or keep reading for more context on to-do list apps.

The best to-do list apps

  • Todoist for balancing power and simplicity
  • TickTick for embedded calendars and timers
  • Microsoft To Do for Microsoft power users (and Wunderlist refugees)
  • Things for elegant design
  • OmniFocus for specific organizational systems
  • Habitica for making doing things fun
  • Google Tasks for Google power users
  • Any.do for people who forget to use to-do apps
  • Other options, including project management software, note-taking apps, and other tools that can do the job

What makes the best to-do list app?

How we evaluate and test apps

All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who’ve spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it’s intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We’re never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.

I’ve written about technology in general, and productivity specifically, since 2009. In that time, I’ve personally tried basically every to-do list app that has come out, and I’m usually depending on at least one of them to function.

Of course, when it comes to managing a to-do list online, everyone has different criteria. I kept this in mind as I tested, and I noticed a few features that made certain apps stand out.

The best to-do list apps:

  • Make it fast to add and organize tasks. Ideally, a task is added and categorized in a couple taps or keystrokes.
  • Offer multiple ways to organize your tasks. Tags, lists, projects, and due dates are all helpful, and the best to-do apps offer at least a few categories like this.
  • Remind you about self-imposed deadlines. Notifications, widgets, emails—if you’re using an online to-do list, it should help you track what needs to happen when.
  • Offer clean user interfaces. The best to-do app fits into your workflow so you can get back to what you’re supposed to be doing.
  • Sync between every platform you use. Which platforms will depend on what you personally use, but I didn’t consider anything that doesn’t sync between desktop and mobile.

I tried to find the task list apps that balance these things in various ways. None of these options will be right for everyone, but hopefully one of them is right for you. Let’s dive in.


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Best to-do list app for balancing power and simplicity

Todoist (Web, Windows, macOS, Android, iPhone, iPad)

Todoist, our pick for the best to-do list app for balancing power and simplicity

Todoist isn’t the most powerful to-do list website out there. It’s also not the simplest. That’s kind of the point: this app balances power with simplicity, and it does so while running on basically every platform that exists. That’s a strong selling point—which is probably why Todoist is one of the most popular to-do lists right now.

Adding tasks was quick on every platform in my tests, thanks in part to natural language processing (type “buy milk Monday” and the task “buy milk” will be added with the next Monday set as your due date). You can put new tasks in your Inbox and then move them to relevant projects; you can also set due dates. Paid users can create custom filters and labels, and there are also some basic collaboration features.

Todoist is flexible enough to adapt to most workflows but not so complicated as to overwhelm. And it adds new features regularly: you can view projects as a Kanban board, for example, and navigating the app by keyboard is much smoother after recent updates. Overall, this is a great first to-do list app to try out, especially if you don’t know where to start.

Todoist also integrates with Zapier, which means you can automatically create tasks in Todoist whenever something happens in one of your favorite apps. Here are some examples.

Add new Google Calendar events to Todoist as tasks

Try it

  • Google Calendar logo
  • Todoist logo

Google Calendar, Todoist

Google Calendar + TodoistMore details

Add new starred emails to Todoist as tasks [Business Gmail Accounts Only]

Try it

  • Gmail logo
  • Todoist logo

Gmail, Todoist

Gmail + TodoistMore details

Add new Trello cards to Todoist as tasks

Try it

  • Trello logo
  • Todoist logo

Trello, Todoist

Trello + TodoistMore details

Todoist price: Free version available; paid version from $4/month.

Check out more ideas for automating Todoist with Zapier.

Best to-do list app with embedded calendars and timers

TickTick (Web, Android, Windows, macOS, iPhone and iPad)

TickTick, our pick for the best to-do list app with embedded calendars and timers

TickTick is a fast-growing task list app that offers a wide array of features on just about every platform you can imagine. Adding tasks is quick thanks to natural language processing. There’s also a universal keyboard shortcut offered on the desktop versions and pinned notifications and widgets on mobile, which makes it quick to add a task before getting back to what you’re doing. Tasks can be organized using lists, tags, and due dates, and there’s also the ability to add subtasks to any task. 

TickTick offers all of this with apps that feel native—the macOS version is distinct from the Windows version, for example, in ways that make sense given the differences between those two systems. TickTick also offers a few features that are above and beyond what other apps offer.

First, there’s a built-in Pomodoro timer, allowing you to start a 25-minute work session for any of your tasks (complete with numerous white noise options, if you want). Second, there’s integration with various third-party calendars, allowing you to see your tasks and your appointments in one place, and even do some time blocking. There’s also a built-in habit-tracking tool, allowing you to review how many days you did or didn’t stick to your exercise and diet commitments. And an Eisenhower Matrix view allows you to prioritize your tasks based on what’s urgent and what’s important. It’s a great collection of features, unlike anything else on the market.

With TickTick’s Zapier integration, you can connect TickTick to the other tools in your tech stack to automatically create tasks whenever you get new leads, deals, or emails.

Create TickTick tasks for newly-labeled Gmail emails [Business Gmail Accounts Only]

Try it

  • Gmail logo
  • TickTick logo

Gmail, TickTick

Gmail + TickTickMore details

Generate TickTick tasks from new Facebook Leads

Try it

  • Facebook Lead Ads logo
  • TickTick logo

Facebook Lead Ads, TickTick

Facebook Lead Ads + TickTickMore details

Generate TickTick tasks from new HubSpot deals

Try it

  • HubSpot logo
  • TickTick logo

HubSpot, TickTick

HubSpot + TickTickMore details

TickTick price: Free version available; paid version from $2.40/month.

Check out other ways you can automate TickTick with Zapier.

Best to-do list app for Microsoft power users (and Wunderlist refugees)

Microsoft To Do (Web, Android, Windows, iPhone and iPad)

Microsoft To Do, our pick for the best to-do list app for Microsoft power users (and Wunderlist refugees)

In 2015, Microsoft bought Wunderlist and put that team to work on a new to-do list app. Microsoft To Do is the result of that, and you can find Wunderlist’s DNA throughout the project. The main interface is clean and friendly, adding tasks is quick, but there’s a lot of flexibility below the surface.

But the real standout feature here is the deep integration with Microsoft’s ecosystem. Any email flagged in Outlook, for example, shows up as a task. Outlook users can also sync their tasks from that app over to Microsoft To Do, meaning there’s finally a way to sync Outlook tasks to mobile. Windows users can add tasks using Cortana or by typing in the Start menu. For example, you can type “add rice to my shopping list,” and rice will be added to a list called “shopping.” If you’re a Windows user and an Outlook user, this is the app for you.

This is also the prettiest to-do list app on the market, in my opinion. You can set custom background images for every one of your lists, allowing you to tell at a glance which list you’re looking at. You’re going to be looking at your task list all day—it might as well look good. 

Microsoft To Do integrates with Zapier, which means you can make sure Microsoft To Do is talking to all the other apps you use, not just the Microsoft ones. Here are some examples to get started.

Create Workboard action items from new tasks in Microsoft To-Do

Try it

  • Microsoft To Do logo
  • Workboard logo

Microsoft To Do, Workboard

Microsoft To Do + WorkboardMore details

Send direct Slack messages with new Microsoft To-Do lists

Try it

  • Microsoft To Do logo
  • Slack logo

Microsoft To Do, Slack

Microsoft To Do + SlackMore details

Create Microsoft To-Do tasks from new Salesforce leads

Try it

  • Salesforce logo
  • Microsoft To Do logo

Salesforce, Microsoft To Do

Salesforce + Microsoft To DoMore details

Microsoft To Do price: Free

Learn how you can make Microsoft To Do a productivity powerhouse with Zapier.

The best to-do list app with elegant design

Things (macOS, iPhone, iPad)

Things, our pick for the best to-do list app with elegant design

To-do list apps tend to fall into two categories: the complex and the minimalist. Things is somehow both.

That’s about the highest praise I can give a to-do list app. This is an app with no shortage of features, and yet it always feels simple to use. Adding tasks is quick and so is organizing them, but there’s seemingly no end of variation in ways to organize them. Areas can contain tasks or projects; projects can contain tasks or headers that can also contain tasks; and tasks can contain subtasks if you want. It sounds confusing, but it isn’t, which really speaks to how well Things is designed.

Other apps offer these features, but Things does it in a way that never feels cluttered, meaning you can quickly be done with looking at your to-do list and get back to whatever it is you’re doing. Combine this blend of functionality and beauty with features like a system-wide tool for quickly adding tasks, integration with your calendar so you can see your appointments while planning your day, intuitive keyboard shortcuts, reminders with native notifications, and syncing to an iPhone and iPad app.

The only downside here is the complete lack of versions for Windows and Android, though this decision is probably part of what allows the team to focus on making such a clean product. If you’re an Apple user, you owe it to yourself to try out Things.

You can automatically add to-dos to Things from your other apps with Things’ integrations on Zapier. Here’s some inspiration.

Add saved Slack messages to Things as to-dos

Try it

  • Slack logo
  • Things logo

Slack, Things

Slack + ThingsMore details

Add new Trello cards to Things as to-dos

Try it

  • Trello logo
  • Things logo

Trello, Things

Trello + ThingsMore details

Create Things to-dos from starred emails in Gmail [Business Gmail Accounts Only]

Try it

  • Gmail logo
  • Things logo

Gmail, Things

Gmail + ThingsMore details

Things price: $49.99 for macOS (15-day free trial), $19.99 for iPad, $9.99 for iPhone.

Best to-do list app for users with a very specific organizational system

OmniFocus (Web, macOS, iPhone, iPad)

OmniFocus, our pick for the best to-do list app for users with a very specific organizational system

OmniFocus is nothing if not flexible. This Apple-exclusive application is built around the Getting Things Done (GTD) philosophy trademarked by David Allen, but an array of features means it can be used for just about any organizational system you can imagine. There are three different kinds of projects you can set up, for example, depending on whether you need to do tasks in a specific order or not. There are six main views by default, allowing you to organize your tasks by things like due date, projects, and tags. You can even add more views, assuming you have the Pro version.

You get the idea. OmniFocus is a power user’s dream, with more features than anyone can hope to incorporate into a workflow, which is kind of the point: if there’s a feature you want, OmniFocus has it, so you can organize your tasks basically any way you can imagine.

Syncing is offered only between Apple devices. There’s a web version that’s intended for occasional usage away from your Apple machines, but non-Apple users should probably look elsewhere.

You can connect OmniFocus to your other favorite apps with OmniFocus’s Zapier integration. Whenever something happens in another app that you want to keep track of in OmniFocus, Zapier will automatically send it there.

Create OmniFocus tasks from new saved Slack messages

Try it

  • Slack logo
  • OmniFocus logo

Slack, OmniFocus

Slack + OmniFocusMore details

Create OmniFocus tasks for new starred emails on Gmail

Try it

  • Gmail logo
  • OmniFocus logo

Gmail, OmniFocus

Gmail + OmniFocusMore details

Create OmniFocus tasks from new or moved Trello cards

Try it

  • Trello logo
  • OmniFocus logo

Trello, OmniFocus

Trello + OmniFocusMore details

OmniFocus price: From $99.99/year for the recurring plan, which includes all apps and the web version. Also available as a one-time purchase from $49.99 (14-day free trial).

Best to-do list app for making doing things fun

Habitica (Web, Android, iPhone and iPad)

Habitica, our pick for the best to-do list app for making doing things fun

Games are fantastic at motivating mundane activity—how else can you explain all that time you’ve spent on mindless fetch quests? Habitica, formerly known as HabitRPG, tries to use principles from game design to motivate you to get things done, and it’s remarkably effective. You can add tasks, daily activities, and habits to a list. You also have a character, who levels up when you get things done and takes damage when you put things off. You can also earn in-game currency for buying offline rewards, such as a snack, or in-game items like weapons or even silly hats.

This is even better when you join a few friends and start a party. You can all fight bosses together, but be careful: fail to finish some tasks on time and your friends will take damage. If that doesn’t motivate you, nothing will.

What’s the downside? Habitica isn’t a great to-do list for managing long-term projects, so you might need something else for that. But if motivation is your problem, Habitica is well worth a spin.

Habitica price: Free version available; paid version from $5/month.

Best to-do list app for Google power users

Google Tasks (Web, Android, iPhone and iPad)

Google Tasks, our pick for the best to-do list app for Google power users

If you live in Gmail and Google Calendar, Google Tasks is an obvious free to-do list app to try out. That’s because it lives right in the sidebar of those two apps, and offers more than a few integrations. Plus, there’s a dedicated mobile app.

The app itself is spartan. Adding tasks is quick, particularly if you spend a lot of time in Gmail anyway, but there’s not a lot of organizational offerings. There are due dates, lists, descriptions, subtasks, and the ability to “Star” tasks. There’s not much beyond that, which is ok. On the desktop, the integration with Gmail is a key selling point. You can drag an email to Google Tasks to turn it into a task, for example. You also can see your tasks on your Google Calendar, if you want.

The best to-do app is one that’s always handy. If you’re the kind of person who always has Gmail open on your computer, it’s hard for any app to be handier than Google Tasks. The mobile versions make those tasks accessible on the go.

You can automatically move information between Google Tasks and your other apps with Google Tasks’ integration on Zapier. Here are a few examples of workflows you can automate, so you can stop manually moving your tasks.

Create Trello cards from new Google Tasks tasks

Try it

  • Google Tasks logo
  • Trello logo

Google Tasks, Trello

Google Tasks + TrelloMore details

Add new Google Tasks to Todoist as tasks

Try it

  • Google Tasks logo
  • Todoist logo

Google Tasks, Todoist

Google Tasks + TodoistMore details

Add Google Tasks tasks for new Google Calendar events

Try it

  • Google Calendar logo
  • Google Tasks logo

Google Calendar, Google Tasks

Google Calendar + Google TasksMore details

Google Tasks price: Free

Take a look at how you can power up all of your Google apps using automation.

Best to-do list app for people who forget to use to-do apps

Any.do (Web, Android, iPhone and iPad)

Any.do, our pick for the best to-do list app for people who forget to use to-do apps

Any.do offers a really slick mobile app that makes it quick to add tasks, organize them into lists, and add due dates. But where it really shines is with its daily “Plan my Day” feature, which forces you to schedule when you’ll accomplish your various tasks, so that you remember to actually do things. Any.do also integrates nicely with Google and Outlook calendars, allowing you to see your appointments and your tasks in one place. This is exactly what you need if you’re the kind of person who adds things to a list and forgets about them.

The desktop version isn’t quite as slick as the mobile version—it feels cluttered and is more than a little confusing. Still, Any.do’s mobile version alone makes a compelling reason to give it a shot, especially if that’s where you do most of your task management.

Any.do integrates with Zapier, so you can automatically add tasks to Any.do whenever there’s a new calendar event, note, or task in your other apps.

Add Evernote reminders to Any.do as tasks

Try it

  • Evernote logo
  • Any.do logo

Evernote, Any.do

Evernote + Any.doMore details

Create tasks in Any.do for new saved messages in Slack

Try it

  • Slack logo
  • Any.do logo

Slack, Any.do

Slack + Any.doMore details

Add new incomplete Todoist tasks to Any.do

Try it

  • Todoist logo
  • Any.do logo

Todoist, Any.do

Todoist + Any.doMore details

Any.do price: Free version available; paid version from $2.99/month.

Other to-do list options

We focused on dedicated to-do list apps in this roundup, but plenty of other software can fulfill the same function. Here are a few ideas if none of the above quite fit what you’re looking for:

Finding the right task management system is hard because it’s so personal. To that end, let me know if there’s anything you think I missed.

Related reading:

This post was originally published in April 2018 by Andrew Kunesh. The most recent update was in November 2022.

Source :
https://zapier.com/blog/best-todo-list-apps/

How To Install Kimai Time Tracking App in Docker

In this guide, I’ll show you how to deploy the open source time tracking app Kimai in a Docker container. Kimai is free, browser-based (so it’ll work on mobile devices), and is extremely flexible for just about every use case.

It has a stopwatch feature where you can start/stop/pause a worklog timer. Then, it accumulates the total into daily, weekly, monthly or yearly reports, which can be exported or printed as invoices.

It supports single or multi users, so you can even track time for your entire department. All statistics are visible on a beautiful dashboard, which makes historical time-tracking a breeze.


Why use Kimai Time Tracker?

For my scenario, I am salaried at work. However, since I’m an IT Manager, I often find myself working after hours or on weekends to patch servers, reboot systems, or perform system and infrastructure upgrades. Normally, I use a pen and paper or a notetaking app to track overtime, although this is pretty inefficent. Sometimes I forget when I started or stopped, or if I’ve written down the time on a notepade at home, I can’t view that time at work.

And when it comes to managing a team of others who also perform after hours maintenance, it becomes even harder to track their total overtime hours.

Over the past few weeks, I stumbled across Kimai and really love all the features. Especially when I can spin it up in a docker or docker compose container!

If you don’t have Docker installed, follow this guide: https://smarthomepursuits.com/how-to-install-docker-ubuntu/

If you don’t have Docker-Compose installed, follow this guide: https://smarthomepursuits.com/how-to-install-portainer-with-docker-in-ubuntu-20-04/

In this tutorial, we will be installing Kimai for 1 user using standard Docker run commands. Other users can be added from the webui after initial setup.


Step 1: SSH into your Docker Host

Open Putty and SSH into your server that is running docker and docker compose.


Step 2: Create Kimai Database container

Enter the command below to create a new database to use with Kimai. You can copy and paste into Putty by right-clicking after copy, or CTRL+SHIFT+V into other ssh clients.

sudo docker run --rm --name kimai-mysql \
    -e MYSQL_DATABASE=kimai \
    -e MYSQL_USER=kimai \
    -e MYSQL_PASSWORD=kimai \
    -e MYSQL_ROOT_PASSWORD=kimai \
    -p 3399:3306 -d mysql

Step 3: Start Kimai

Next, start the Kimai container using the already created database. If you look at the Kimai github page, you’ll notice that this isn’t the same command as what shows there.

Here’s the original command (which I’m not using):

docker run --rm --name kimai-test -ti -p 8001:8001 -e DATABASE_URL=mysql://kimai:kimai@${HOSTNAME}:3399/kimai kimai/kimai2:apache

And here’s my command. I had to explicitly add TRUSTED_HOSTS, the ADMINMAIL and ADMINPASS, and change the ${HOSTNAME} to the IP address of your docker host. Otherwise, I wasn’t able to access Kimai from other computers on my local network.

  • Green = change port here if already in use
  • Red = Add the IP address of your docker host
  • Orange = Manually specifying the admin email and password. This is what you’ll use to log in with.
  • Blue = Change to docker host IP address
sudo docker run --rm --name kimai -ti -p 8001:8001 -e TRUSTED_HOSTS=192.168.68.141,localhost,127.0.0.1 -e ADMINMAIL=example@gmail.com -e ADMINPASS=8charpassword -e DATABASE_URL=mysql://kimai:kimai@192.168.68.141:3399/kimai kimai/kimai2:apache

Note that 8 characters is the minimum for the password.


Step 4: Log In via Web Browser

Next, Kimai should now be running!

To check, you can go to your http://dockerIP:8001 in a web browser (192.168.68.141:8001)

Then simply log in with the credentials you created.


Step 5: Basic Setup

This app is extremely powerful and customizeable, so I won’t be going over all the available options since everyone has different needs.

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m using Kimai for overtime tracking only, so the first step for me is to create a new “customer”.

Create a Customer

This is sort of unintuitive, but you need to create a customer before you can start tracking time to a project. I’m creating a generic “Employee” customer.

Click Customers on the left sidebar, then click the + button in the top right corner.

Create A Project

Click Projects on the left sidebar:

Then click the + button in the top right corner.

Add a name, choose the customer you just created, and then choose a date range.

Create An Activity

Click Activity on the left, then create an activity. I’m calling mine Overtime Worked and assigning it to the Project “Overtime 2021” I just created.


Step 6: Change “Timetracking Mode” to Time-clock

Click Settings. Under Timetracking mode, change it to Time-Clock. This will let you click the Play button to start/stop time worked vs having to manually enter start and stop times.


Step 7: Start Tracking Time!

To start tracking time, simply click the timer widget in the top right corner.

A screen will pop up asking you what project and activity you want to apply the time to.

The selfhosted stopwatch will start tracking time right after. You can then view the timesheets for yourself under the My Times section or for all users under the Timesheets or Reporting tabs.


Wrapping Up

Hopefully this guide helped you get Kimai installed and setup! If you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to help you out.


My Homelab Equipment

Here is some of the gear I use in my Homelab. I highly recommend each of them.

The full list of server components I use can be found on my Equipment List page.

Source :
https://smarthomepursuits.com/how-to-install-kimai-time-tracking-app-in-docker/

Cybercrime (and Security) Predictions for 2023

Threat actors continue to adapt to the latest technologies, practices, and even data privacy laws—and it’s up to organizations to stay one step ahead by implementing strong cybersecurity measures and programs.

Here’s a look at how cybercrime will evolve in 2023 and what you can do to secure and protect your organization in the year ahead.

Increase in digital supply chain attacks #

With the rapid modernization and digitization of supply chains come new security risks. Gartner predicts that by 2025, 45% of organizations worldwide will have experienced attacks on their software supply chains—this is a three-fold increase from 2021. Previously, these types of attacks weren’t even likely to happen because supply chains weren’t connected to the internet. But now that they are, supply chains need to be secured properly.

The introduction of new technology around software supply chains means there are likely security holes that have yet to be identified, but are essential to uncover in order to protect your organization in 2023.

If you’ve introduced new software supply chains to your technology stack, or plan to do so sometime in the next year, then you must integrate updated cybersecurity configurations. Employ people and processes that have experience with digital supply chains to ensure that security measures are implemented correctly.

Mobile-specific cyber threats are on-the-rise#

It should come as no surprise that with the increased use of smartphones in the workplace, mobile devices are becoming a greater target for cyber-attack. In fact, cyber-crimes involving mobile devices have increased by 22% in the last year, according to the Verizon Mobile Security Index (MSI) 2022 with no signs of slowing down in advance of the new year.

As hackers hone in on mobile devices, SMS-based authentication has inevitably become less secure. Even the seemingly most secure companies can be vulnerable to mobile device hacks. Case in point, several major companies, including Uber and Okta were impacted by security breaches involving one-time passcodes in the past year alone.

This calls for the need to move away from relying on SMS-based authentication, and instead to multifactor authentication (MFA) that is more secure. This could include an authenticator app that uses time-sensitive tokens, or more direct authenticators that are hardware or device-based.

Organizations need to take extra precautions to prevent attacks that begin with the frontline by implementing software that helps verify user identity. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2022 Global Risks Report, 95% of cybersecurity incidents are due to human error. This fact alone emphasizes the need for a software procedure that decreases the chance of human error when it comes to verification. Implementing a tool like Specops’ Secure Service Desk helps reduce vulnerabilities from socially engineered attacks that are targeting the help desk, enabling a secure user verification at the service desk without the risk of human error.

Double down on cloud security #

As more companies opt for cloud-based activities, cloud security—any technology, policy, or service that protects information stored in the cloud—should be a top priority in 2023 and beyond. Cyber criminals become more sophisticated and evolve their tactics as technologies evolve, which means cloud security is essential as you rely on it more frequently in your organization.

The most reliable safeguard against cloud-based cybercrime is a zero trust philosophy. The main principle behind zero trust is to automatically verify everything—and essentially not trust anyone without some type of authorization or inspection. This security measure is critical when it comes to protecting data and infrastructure stored in the cloud from threats.

Ransomware-as-a-Service is here to stay #

Ransomware attacks continue to increase at an alarming rate. Data from Verizon discovered a 13% increase in ransomware breaches year-over-year. Ransomware attacks have also become increasingly targeted — sectors such as healthcare and food and agriculture are just the latest industries to be victims, according to the FBI.

With the rise in ransomware threats comes the increased use of Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS). This growing phenomenon is when ransomware criminals lease out their infrastructure to other cybercriminals or groups. RaaS kits make it even easier for threat actors to deploy their attacks quickly and affordably, which is a dangerous combination to combat for anyone leading the cybersecurity protocols and procedures. To increase protection against threat actors who use RaaS, enlist the help of your end-users.

End-users are your organization’s frontline against ransomware attacks, but they need the proper training to ensure they’re protected. Make sure your cybersecurity procedures are clearly documented and regularly practiced so users can stay aware and vigilant against security breaches. Employing backup measures like password policy software, MFA whenever possible, and email-security tools in your organization can also mitigate the onus on end-user cybersecurity.

Data privacy laws are getting stricter—get ready #

We can’t talk about cybersecurity in 2023 without mentioning data privacy laws. With new data privacy laws set to go into effect in several states over the next year, now is the time to assess your current procedures and systems to make sure they comply. These new state-specific laws are just the beginning; companies would be wise to review their compliance as more states are likely to develop new privacy laws in the years to come.

Data privacy laws often require changes to how companies store and processing data, and implementing these new changes might open you up to additional risk if they are not implemented carefully. Ensure your organization is in adherence to proper cyber security protocols, including zero trust, as mentioned above.

Source :
https://thehackernews.com/2022/12/cybercrime-and-security-predictions-for.html