Cybersecurity Terms and Threats You Need to Know in 2020

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!


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What is DNSSEC and Why Is It Important?

If you’re like most companies, you probably leave your DNS resolution up to your ISP. But as employees bypass the VPN, and even more organizations adopt direct internet access, it’s more than likely that you have a DNS blind spot. So what steps can you take to ensure your visibility remains free and clear?

One simple and easy thing you can start doing right away is to mine your DNS data. Each time a browser contacts a domain name, it has to contact the DNS server first. Since DNS requests precede the IP connection, DNS resolvers log requested domains regardless of the connection’s protocol or port. That’s an information gold mine! Just by monitoring DNS requests and subsequent IP connections you will eliminate the blind spot and easily gain better accuracy and detection of compromised systems and improve your security visibility and network protection.

But what about those pesky cache poisoning attacks, also known as DNS spoofing?

DNS cache poisoning attacks locate and then exploit vulnerabilities that exist in the DNS, in order to draw organic traffic away from a legitimate server toward a fake one.This type of attack is dangerous because the client an be redirected, and since the attack is on the DNS server, it will impact a very large number of users.

Back in the early nineties, the era of the world-wide-web, Sony Discmans and beepers (we’ve come a long way kids!), the Internet Engineering Task Force, or  IETF started thinking about ways to make DNS more secure. The task force proposed ways to harden DNS and in 2005, Domain Name System Security Extensions, aka DNSSEC, was formally introduced.

DNS Security Extensions, better known as DNSSEC, is a technology that was developed to, among other things, protect against [cache poisoning] attacks by digitally ‘signing’ data so you can be assured [the DNS answer] is valid. DNSSEC uses cryptographic signatures similar to using GPG to sign an email; it proves both the validity of the answer and the identity of the signer. Special records are published in the DNS allowing recursive resolvers or clients to validate signatures. There is no central certificate authority, instead parent zones provide certificate hash information in the delegation allowing for proof of validity.

Cisco Umbrella now supports DNSSEC by performing validation on queries sent from Umbrella resolvers to upstream authorities. Customers can have the confidence that Cisco Umbrella is protecting their organization from cache poisoning attacks, without having to perform validation locally.

Cisco Umbrella delivers the best, most reliable, and fastest internet experience to every single one of our more than 100 million users. We are the leading provider of network security and DNS services, enabling the world to connect to the internet with confidence on any device.

Get the details on how Cisco Umbrella supports DNSSEC.


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Emotet Malware Now Hacks Nearby Wi-Fi Networks to Infect New Victims

Emotet, the notorious trojan behind a number of botnet-driven spam campaigns and ransomware attacks, has found a new attack vector: using already infected devices to identify new victims that are connected to nearby Wi-Fi networks.

According to researchers at Binary Defense, the newly discovered Emotet sample leverages a "Wi-Fi spreader" module to scan Wi-Fi networks, and then attempts to infect devices that are connected to them.

The cybersecurity firm said the Wi-Fi spreader has a timestamp of April 16, 2018, indicating the spreading behavior has been running "unnoticed" for close to two years until it was detected for the first time last month.

The development marks an escalation of Emotet's capabilities, as networks in close physical proximity to the original victim are now susceptible to infection.

How Does Emotet's Wi-Fi Spreader Module Work?

The updated version of the malware works by leveraging an already compromised host to list all the nearby Wi-Fi networks. To do so, it makes use of the wlanAPI interface to extract the SSID, signal strength, the authentication method (WPA, WPA2, or WEP), and mode of encryption used to secure passwords.

On obtaining the information for each network this way, the worm attempts to connect to the networks by performing a brute-force attack using passwords obtained from one of two internal password lists. Provided the connection fails, it moves to the next password in the list. It's not immediately clear how this list of passwords was put together.

But if the operation succeeds, the malware connects the compromised system on the newly-accessed network and begins enumerating all non-hidden shares. It then carries out a second round of brute-force attack to guess the usernames and passwords of all users connected to the network resource.

After having successfully brute-forced users and their passwords, the worm moves to the next phase by installing malicious payloads — called "service.exe" — on the newly infected remote systems. To cloak its behavior, the payload is installed as a Windows Defender System Service (WinDefService).

In addition to communicating with a command-and-control (C2) server, the service acts as a dropper and executes the Emotet binary on the infected host.

The fact that Emotet can jump from one Wi-Fi network to the other puts onus on companies to secure their networks with strong passwords to prevent unauthorized access. The malware can also be detected by actively monitoring processes running from temporary folders and user profile application data folders.

Emotet: From Banking Trojan to Malware Loader

Emotet, which was first identified in 2014, has morphed from its original roots as a banking Trojan to a "Swiss Army knife" that can serve as a downloader, information stealer, and spambot depending on how it's deployed.

Over the years, it has also been an effective delivery mechanism for ransomware. Lake City's IT network was crippled last June after an employee inadvertently opened a suspicious email that downloaded the Emotet Trojan, which in turn downloaded TrickBot trojan and Ryuk ransomware.

Although Emotet-driven campaigns largely disappeared throughout the summer of 2019, it made a comeback in September via "geographically-targeted emails with local-language lures and brands, often financial in theme, and using malicious document attachments or links to similar documents, which, when users enabled macros, installed Emotet."

"With this newly discovered loader-type used by Emotet, a new threat vector is introduced to Emotet's capabilities," Binary Defense researchers concluded. "Emotet can use this loader-type to spread through nearby wireless networks if the networks use insecure passwords."

Coronavirus Affecting Business as Remote Workforces Expand Beyond Expected Capacity

The novel coronavirus epidemic is a major global health concern. To help prevent the spread of the new virus, organizations, businesses and enterprises are protecting their workforce and allowing employees to work remotely. This practice helps limit individual contact with large groups or crowds (e.g., restaurants, offices, transit) where viruses can easily spread.

As such, ‘stay at home’ is a common phrase in many health-conscious regions this week. According to the BBC, the city of Suzhou said businesses would remain closed until Feb 8, if not longer. As of 2018, Suzhou had a population of more than 10.7 million people.

On Jan. 30, the World Health Organization labeled the outbreak as a global health emergency. In response, the U.S. Department of issued a Level 4 travel advisory to China (do not travel).

Precautions like these are causing unexpected increases in mobile workers; many organizations don’t have enough virtual private network (VPN) licenses to accommodate the increase of users. This is a serious risk as employees will either not have access to business resources or, worse, they will do so via non-secure connections.

Organizations and enterprises in affected areas should review their business continuity plans. The National Law Review published a useful primer for employers and organizations managing workforces susceptible to coronavirus outbreaks. In addition, leverage SonicWall’s ‘5 Core Practices to Ensure Business Continuity.”

What is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a respiratory illness first identified in Wuhan, China, but cases have since been reported in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Germany, France, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, and nine other countries. In an effort to contain the virus, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), early patients in the outbreak in China “reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.”

The latest situation summary updates are available via the CDC: 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Wuhan, China.

Smarter Cybersecurity: How SecOps Can Simplify Security Management, Oversight & Real-Time Decision-Making

Organizations continue to be alarmed by how easily cybercriminals can circumvent security defenses as malware, ransomware, cryptojacking and phishing attacks make headline news.

In addition, security operations lack visibility and awareness of unsafe network and user activities, network traffic irregularities, and unusual data access and utilization. This exacerbates the situation and creates a dangerous condition where security teams are too late or unable to:

  • Respond to security alerts or incidents at the speed and accuracy they need
  • Conduct thorough and effective investigations
  • Find answers fast enough to take corrective actions

Through close engagements with our top channel partners and key customers, SonicWall learned and understood these challenges first-hand. And through that collaboration, SonicWall developed and introduced the SonicWall Capture Security Center and two powerful risk management tools ­— Analytics and Risk Meters — to help customers solve these difficult problems.

Govern, comply and manage risk

The Capture Security Center is grounded on three core objectives:

‘Govern Centrally’ focuses on improving operational efficiencies and reducing overhead, while ‘Compliance’ and ‘Risk Management’ concentrate on the business value. These core objectives are interdependent as each leverages a common set of information, processes and technologies that help SecOps establish and deliver a strong, federated security defense and response services at the core of their security program.

Work faster and smarter — with less effort

Capture Security Center is a cloud solution organizations use to avoid operational overhead associated with software and hardware installation, upgrades and maintenance. This solution provides SecOps teams secure single sign-on (SSO) access to license, provision and manage their entire SonicWall security suite, including networkwirelessendpointemailmobile and cloud security products and services.

Think of it as a high-productivity tool that provides authorized users access to all available security services based on their role and access rules. The command console is assessible from any location and from any web-enabled PC. Once signed in, users are automatically granted access to everything — and are able do everything securely — using one cloud app.

The different tiles (shown below) are exactly what you’ll see when you log in to your Capture Security Center account. Users can easily navigate between tenants presented on the left panel and, on the right panel, manage any licensed cloud services registered to that tenant.

Available in January 2020, Capture Security Center version 1.8 adds capabilities for security teams to:

Study risks and threats in real time with real-world data

SonicWall Risk Meters is a threat monitoring and risk-rating tool we’ve integrated into the Capture Security Center. The tool is available to all SonicWall Capture Security Center customers at no additional cost.

Risk Meters, shown below, gives a direct line of sight into the cyberattacks affecting your security posture. Threat vectors are represented by colored arrows while threat types are shown as icons.

Clicking on an icon pops up an information panel that provides a detailed description of the threat. A tenant drop-down list allows you to view threat metrics at the tenant level. Visibility into the attacks targeting various defense layers helps guide your response to where immediate defensive actions are needed for a specific environment.

The first defense layer captures attacks blocked by the firewallsCapture Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) sandbox and WAF.

The second defense layer reveals attacks targeting your SaaS appliances and email environments.

The third defense layer shows threats attacking your users’ devices. The DEFCON and Shield Level ratings displayed at the top-right corner provide the computed risk scores based on existing defense layers. Scores are adjusted as you toggle to activate or deactivate available services.

Taking this a step further, Risk Meters gains several important improvements in Capture Security Center 1.8. A new control panel presents users with customization functionalities to run analysis on a variety of threat data.

This new feature allows for experimenting “what-if” simulations at a more granular level to see how the risk score dynamically changes when sub-components of certain layer or multiple layers are added or removed.

Up until this release, risk scores were calculated based solely on security services from SonicWall. To give a more accurate account of customer security environments, CSC now factors in all security controls when calculating the risk scores, including non-SonicWall services.

The Risk Meters Control Panel allows users to configure and weigh third-party security controls into the calculated risk scores. Users can now review trends of different threat types and then compare them against regional and global averages to help identify which threat vectors to focus on and where to prepare their defenses.

Transforming threat data into decisions, decisions into actions

In conjunction with Capture Security Center 1.8, SonicWall releases Analytics 2.5 to introduce a new user-based analytics and reporting function to helps security teams visualize and conduct investigations into users’ actions and application and data usage.

Security teams can monitor or drill-down into the security data for more details about the user network traffic, access and connections, and what applications are being used and websites are frequently visited.

Also, security teams can investigate attacks that target a certain group of users and bandwidth costs associated with resource utilization to determine if policy-tuning or added configurations are needed to reduce their risk profile or optimize network performance.

About the SonicWall Capture Security Center

Capture Security Center is a scalable cloud security management system that’s a built-in and ready-to-use component of your SonicWall product or service. It features single-sign-on and ‘single-pane-of-glass’ management. It integrates the functionality of the Capture Cloud Platform to deliver robust security management, analytics and real-time threat intelligence for your entire portfolio of network, email, endpoint, mobile and cloud security resources.

Capture Security Center delivers a valuable team resource to help organizations control assets and defend entire networks from cyberattacks. Unify and synchronize updates and support, monitor security risks and fulfill regulatory compliance — all with greater clarity, precision and speed.

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Amazon Echo Hacked at Pwn2Own Tokyo 2019 and Ransomware Attacks Hit Spanish Companies

Welcome to our weekly roundup, where we share what you need to know about the cybersecurity news and events that happened over the past few days. This week, learn about a ransomware that is attacking Spanish companies and how nearly 50 adware apps were found on Google Play. Also, read about how an Amazon Echo was hacked on the first day of Pwn2Own Tokyo 2019.

Read on:

Facebook Portal Survives Pwn2Own Hacking Contest, Amazon Echo Got Hacked

Amazon Echo speakers, Samsung and Sony smart TVs, the Xiaomi Mi9 phone, and Netgear and TP-Link routers were all hacked on the first day of ZDI’s Pwn2Own Tokyo 2019 hacking contest.

New Exploit Kit Capesand Reuses Old and New Public Exploits and Tools, Blockchain Ruse

In October 2019, Trend Micro discovered a new exploit kit named Capesand, which attempts to exploit recent vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Based on our investigation, it also exploits a 2015 vulnerability for Internet Explorer.

Inside the Microsoft Team Tracking the World’s Most Dangerous Hackers

Microsoft’s latest win over cloud rival Amazon for the lucrative military contact means that an intelligence-gathering apparatus among the most important in the world is based in the woods outside Seattle. Now in this corner of Washington state, dozens of engineers and intelligence analysts are watching and stopping the government-sponsored hackers proliferating around the world.

Halloween Exploits Scare: BlueKeep, Chrome’s Zero-Days in the Wild

On October 31, Chrome posted that a stable channel security update for Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of Chrome will be rolled out in order to fix two use-after-free flaws in audio and PDFium. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has released a statement advising users and administrators to apply the updates.

A Stranger’s TV Went on Spending Spree with My Amazon Account – and Web Giant Did Nothing About it for Months

After a fraudster exploited a bizarre weakness in Amazon’s handling of customer devices to hijack an account and go on spending sprees with their bank cards, it was discovered that it is possible to add a non-Amazon device to your Amazon customer account and it won’t show up in the list of gadgets associated with the profile.

Ransomware Attacks Hit Spanish Companies, Paralyzes Government Services in Canadian Territory of Nunavut

A ransomware campaign recently hit companies in Spain, including Cadena Sociedad Española de Radiodifusión (SER), the country’s largest radio network. In another part of the globe, threat actors managed to infect government systems with ransomware in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Lets Attackers Steal Your Wi-Fi Password

Security researchers at Bitdefender have discovered a high-severity security vulnerability in Amazon’s Ring Video Doorbell Pro devices that could allow nearby attackers to steal your WiFi password and launch a variety of cyberattacks using MitM against other devices connected to the same network.

Unpatched Remote Code Execution rConfig Flaws Could Affect Millions of Servers and Network Devices

Details on the proof-of-concept (PoC) exploit for two unpatched, critical remote code execution (RCE) vulnerabilities in the network configuration management utility rConfig have recently been disclosed. At least one of the flaws could allow remote compromise of servers and connected network devices.

California DMV Data Breach Exposed Thousands of Drivers’ Information, Agency Says

A data breach at the California Department of Motor Vehicles may have exposed some drivers’ Social Security number information to seven government entities, according to the DMV. The breach affects about 3,200 individuals over at least the last four years, the agency said in a statement.

49 Disguised Adware Apps with Optimized Evasion Features Found on Google Play

Trend Micro recently found 49 new adware apps on Google Play, disguised as games and stylized cameras. These apps are no longer live, but before they were taken down by Google, the total number of downloads was more than 3 million. This Trend Micro blog discusses solutions and security recommendations for protecting against adware apps.

CVE-2019-2114: Patched Android Bug That Allows Possible Installation of Malicious Apps

An Android bug that could allow threat actors to bypass devices’ security mechanisms was discovered by Nightwatch Cybersecurity. Successful abuse of the bug can allow threat actors to transfer a malicious application to a nearby Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled device via the Android Beam. The bug affects Android version 8 (Oreo) or higher.

Surprised by the devices that were hacked on the first day of Pwn2Own Tokyo 2019? Share your thoughts in the comments below or follow me on Twitter to continue the conversation: @JonLClay.

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WSUS synchronization fails with SoapException

WSUS synchronization fails with SoapException

Applies to: WSUS - All versionsWindows Server 2016Windows Server 2012 R2Windows Server 2012 Less


Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) synchronization fails, and you receive the following error message:

Additionally, an error message that resembles the following is logged in the WSUS log file (%ProgramFiles%\Update Services\LogFiles\SoftwareDistribution.log) on the WSUS server:


This issue occurs if the WSUS servers are configured to use the old synchronization endpoint, This endpoint was fully decommissioned and is no longer reachable after July 8, 2019.


To fix the issue, change the synchronization endpoint in WSUS configuration to

To do this, follow these steps on the topmost WSUS server that connects directly to Microsoft Update, such as the root WSUS server in a WSUS hierarchy:

  1. Close all WSUS consoles.
  2. At an elevated PowerShell command prompt, run the following PowerShell scripts.

    Note Don't run the scripts on a WSUS server that’s not the topmost server. If the server isn’t connected to the Internet, synchronization may fail.
    For WSUS version 3.x:

    $server = [Microsoft.UpdateServices.Administration.AdminProxy]::GetUpdateServer()
    $config = $server.GetConfiguration()
    # Check current settings before you change them
    # Update the settings if MUUrl is
    $config.MUUrl = ""
    $config.RedirectorChangeNumber = 4002
    Restart-Service *Wsus* -v

    Note WSUS servers that are running Windows Server 2008 (without the latest update) or earlier versions may be using the or synchronization endpoints. Because these versions of Windows don’t support SHA256 certificate authentication, use the following settings in the PowerShell scripts:

    $config.MUUrl = ""
    $config.RedirectorChangeNumber = 3011
    For WSUS on Windows Server 2012 and later versions:

    $server = Get-WsusServer
    $config = $server.GetConfiguration()
    # Check current settings before you change them
    # Update the settings if MUUrl is
    $config.MUUrl = ""
    $config.RedirectorChangeNumber = 4002
    Restart-Service *Wsus* -v

  3. Verify that WSUS synchronization succeeds.

More Information

Windows Server 2008 End of Support: Are you Prepared?

On July 14th, 2015, Microsoft’s widely deployed Windows Server 2003 reached end of life after nearly 12 years of support. For millions of enterprise servers, this meant the end of security updates, leaving the door open to serious security risks. Now, we are fast approaching the end of life of another server operating system – Windows Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, which will soon reach end of support on January 14, 2020.

Nevertheless, many enterprises still rely on Windows Server 2008 for core business functions such as Directory Server, File Server, DNS Server, and Email Server. Organizations depend on these workloads for critical business applications and to support their internal services like Active Directory, File Sharing, and hosting internal websites.

What does this mean for you?

End of support for an operating system like Windows Server 2008 introduces major challenges for organizations who are running their workloads on the platform. While a small number may be ready to fully migrate to a new system or to the cloud, the reality is that most organizations aren’t able to migrate this quickly due to time, budgetary, or technical constraints. Looking back at Windows Server 2003, even nine months after the official EOS, 42% of organizations indicated they would still be using Windows Server 2003 for 6 months or more, while the remaining 58% were still in the process of migrating off of Windows Server 2003 (Osterman Research, April 2016). The same is likely to occur with the Server 2008 EOS, meaning many critical applications will continue to reside on Windows Server 2008 for the next few years, despite the greatly increased security risks.

What are the risks?

The end of support means organizations must prepare to deal with missing security updates, compliance issues, defending against malware, as well as other non-security bugs. You will no longer receive patches for security issues, or notifications of new vulnerabilities affecting your systems. With constant discovery of new vulnerabilities and exploits – 1,450 0days disclosed by the ZDI in 2018 alone – it’s all but guaranteed that we will see additions to the more than 1300+ vulnerabilities faced by Windows Server 2008. The lack of notifications to help monitor and measure the risk associated with new vulnerabilities can leave a large security gap.

This was the case for many organizations in the wake of the 2017 global WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected over 230,000 systems worldwide, specifically leveraging the EternalBlue exploit present in older Windows operating systems. While Microsoft did provide a patch for this, many weren’t able to apply the patches in time due to the difficulty involved in patching older systems.

What can security and IT teams do?

The most obvious solution is to migrate to a newer platform, whether that’s on-premise or using a cloud infrastructure-as-a-service offering such as AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud.

However, we know many organizations will either delay migration or leave a portion of their workloads running in a Windows Server 2008 environment for the foreseeable future. Hackers are aware of this behavior, and often view out-of-support servers as an easy target for attacks. Security teams need to assess the risk involved with leaving company data on those servers, and whether or not the data is secure by itself. If not, you need to ensure you have the right protection in place to detect and stop attacks and meet compliance on your Windows Server 2008 environment.

How can Trend Micro help?

Trend Micro Deep Security delivers powerful, automated protection that can be used to secure applications and workloads across new and end of support systems. Deep Security’s capabilities include host-based intrusion prevention, which will automatically shield workloads from new vulnerabilities, applying an immediate ‘virtual patch’ to secure the system until an official patch is rolled out – or in the case of EOS systems – for the foreseeable future.

Deep Security also helps monitor for system changes with real-time integrity monitoring and application control, and will secure your workloads with anti-malware, powered by the Trend Micro Smart Protection Network’s global threat intelligence. Deep Security’s broad platform and infrastructure support allows you to seamlessly deploy security across your physical, virtualized, cloud, and containerized workloads, and protecting your end of life systems throughout and beyond your migration.

Learn how easy it is to deploy virtual patching to secure your enterprise and address patching issues.



Use a Local Administrator Account for Remote Administration

Local administrator accounts are commonly configured with the same password across all devices in corporate environments, making it easy for attackers to own every device if the password is compromised. Microsoft’s security baseline templates block remote use of local accounts because until Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) was released in 2015, there was no mechanism for securely managing local administrator accounts. LAPS is a free tool from Microsoft that randomizes local admin passwords every 30 days and stores them securely in Active Directory for each computer account.

The risk posed by local administrator accounts can be managed by manually setting a random password on each device and then recording it in a spreadsheet. But that doesn’t address the issue of changing passwords periodically and requires you to make sure the spreadsheet isn’t accessed by malicious or unauthorized users. LAPS solves these problems, ensuring that local administrator accounts remain secure and can’t be used by hackers to laterally move around your network.

For more information on using LAPS, see Secure Local Administrator Accounts with the Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) Tool on Petri. Microsoft’s security baseline templates for Windows and Windows Server are available as part of the Security Compliance Toolkit.

Despite the convenience LAPS provides for managing local admin accounts, IT helpdesk staff often use a domain account that is granted administrator rights on each workstation in the domain. While this account doesn’t need to be a privileged domain account, i.e. not a member of Domain Admins or other privileged AD group, the account could still be used to compromise every workstation in the domain.

Local Accounts for Remote Administration

In a blog post by Aaron Margosis, Microsoft recommends that organizations consider unblocking remote use of local administrator accounts if LAPS or another password management solution in place, and if you want to use local accounts for remote administration. Otherwise you should continue to block remote use of local accounts.

Margosis says that if a helpdesk user wants to remotely access a workstation, it is more secure to retrieve the local administrator password from AD than to use a domain account. If the local admin password is compromised, any damage is limited to that device. Some remote access tools expose credentials when logging in to remote systems, so IT helpdesk account credentials could be compromised.

If you decide to unblock remote use of local accounts, there are three Group Policy settings that need to be changed:

  • Deny access to this computer from the network
  • Deny log on through Remote Desktop Services
  • Apply UAC restrictions to local accounts on network logon

The first two settings can be found under Windows Settings\Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment and should be set to empty. The third is a custom setting that’s part of the baseline templates (SecGuide.admx). It can be found under Administrative Templates\MS Security Guide and should be set to Disabled.

As you can see, there are some definite advantages to using LAPS-managed local administrator accounts for remote access. The only drawbacks that I can see are that it requires some administrative effort for helpdesk staff to retrieve local admin passwords from AD every time they need to log in, as opposed to getting quick access with a domain account. Secondly, using an unnamed account to log in means we don’t have a record of who accessed the device with administrative privileges. You can work around this by enabling auditing of access to LAPS passwords in AD and resetting passwords after each use. Both these tasks can be accomplished using the PowerShell Set-AdmPwdAuditing and Reset-AdmPwdPassword cmdlets respectively.



How to disable SMBv1 Windows

How to detect, enable and disable SMBv1, SMBv2, and SMBv3 in Windows and Windows Server

Applies to: Windows 7 EnterpriseWindows 7 Home BasicWindows 7 Home Premium More


This article describes how to enable and disable Server Message Block (SMB) version 1 (SMBv1), SMB version 2 (SMBv2), and SMB version 3 (SMBv3) on the SMB client and server components.

In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, disabling SMBv2 deactivates the following functionality:

  • Request compounding - allows for sending multiple SMB 2 requests as a single network request
  • Larger reads and writes - better use of faster networks
  • Caching of folder and file properties - clients keep local copies of folders and files
  • Durable handles - allow for connection to transparently reconnect to the server if there is a temporary disconnection
  • Improved message signing - HMAC SHA-256 replaces MD5 as hashing algorithm
  • Improved scalability for file sharing - number of users, shares, and open files per server greatly increased
  • Support for symbolic links
  • Client oplock leasing model - limits the data transferred between the client and server, improving performance on high-latency networks and increasing SMB server scalability
  • Large MTU support - for full use of 10-gigabye (GB) Ethernet
  • Improved energy efficiency - clients that have open files to a server can sleep

In Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2016, disabling SMBv3 deactivates the following functionality (and also the SMBv2 functionality that's described in the previous list):

  • Transparent Failover - clients reconnect without interruption to cluster nodes during maintenance or failover
  • Scale Out – concurrent access to shared data on all file cluster nodes
  • Multichannel - aggregation of network bandwidth and fault tolerance if multiple paths are available between client and server
  • SMB Direct – adds RDMA networking support for very high performance, with low latency and low CPU utilization
  • Encryption – Provides end-to-end encryption and protects from eavesdropping on untrustworthy networks
  • Directory Leasing - Improves application response times in branch offices through caching
  • Performance Optimizations - optimizations for small random read/write I/O

More Information

The SMBv2 protocol was introduced in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

The SMBv3 protocol was introduced in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.

For more information about the capabilities of SMBv2 and SMBv3 capabilities, go to the following Microsoft TechNet websites:

How to gracefully remove SMB v1 in Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Windows 2012 R2, and Windows Server 2016

Windows Server 2012 R2 & 2016: PowerShell methods

SMB v1
Detect:Get-WindowsFeature FS-SMB1
Disable:Disable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName smb1protocol
Enable:Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName smb1protocol
SMB v2/v3
Detect:Get-SmbServerConfiguration | Select EnableSMB2Protocol
Disable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB2Protocol $false
Enable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB2Protocol $true

Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016: Server Manager method for disabling SMB

SMB v1


Windows 8.1 and Windows 10: PowerShell method

SMB v1 Protocol

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10: Add or Remove Programs method

How to detect status, enable, and disable SMB protocols on the SMB Server

For Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012

Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 introduce the new Set-SMBServerConfiguration Windows PowerShell cmdlet. The cmdlet enables you to enable or disable the SMBv1, SMBv2, and SMBv3 protocols on the server component.

You do not have to restart the computer after you run the Set-SMBServerConfiguration cmdlet.

SMB v1 on SMB Server
Detect:Get-SmbServerConfiguration | Select EnableSMB1Protocol
Disable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB1Protocol $false
Enable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB1Protocol $true

For more information, see Server storage at Microsoft.

SMB v2/v3 on SMB Server
Detect:Get-SmbServerConfiguration | Select EnableSMB2Protocol
Disable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB2Protocol $false
Enable:Set-SmbServerConfiguration -EnableSMB2Protocol $true

For Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, and Windows Server 2008

To enable or disable SMB protocols on an SMB Server that is running Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Vista, or Windows Server 2008, use Windows PowerShell or Registry Editor.

PowerShell methods

SMB v1 on SMB Server


Get-Item HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters | ForEach-Object {Get-ItemProperty $_.pspath}

Default configuration = Enabled (No registry key is created), so no SMB1 value will be returned


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


Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters" SMB1 -Type DWORD -Value 1 –Force

Note You must restart the computer after you make these changes.

For more information, see Server storage at Microsoft.

SMB v2/v3 on SMB Server


Get-ItemProperty HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters | ForEach-Object {Get-ItemProperty $_.pspath}


Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters" SMB2 -Type DWORD -Value 0 –Force


Set-ItemProperty -Path "HKLM:\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters" SMB2 -Type DWORD -Value 1 –Force

Note You must restart the computer after you make these changes.

Registry Editor

Important This article contains information about how to modify the registry. Make sure that you back up the registry before you modify it. Make sure that you know how to restore the registry if a problem occurs. For more information about how to back up, restore, and modify the registry, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
322756 How to back up and restore the registry in Windows

To enable or disable SMBv1 on the SMB server, configure the following registry key:

Registry subkey: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters
Registry entry: SMB1
REG_DWORD: 0 = Disabled
REG_DWORD: 1 = Enabled
Default: 1 = Enabled (No registry key is created)

To enable or disable SMBv2 on the SMB server, configure the following registry key:

Registry subkey:HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters
Registry entry: SMB2
REG_DWORD: 0 = Disabled
REG_DWORD: 1 = Enabled
Default: 1 = Enabled (No registry key is created)

Note You must restart the computer after you make these changes.

How to detect status, enable, and disable SMB protocols on the SMB Client

For Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2012

Note When you enable or disable SMBv2 in Windows 8 or in Windows Server 2012, SMBv3 is also enabled or disabled. This behavior occurs because these protocols share the same stack.

SMB v1 on SMB Client
Detect:sc.exe qc lanmanworkstation
Disable:sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb20/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb10 start= disabled
Enable:sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/mrxsmb20/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb10 start= auto

For more information, see Server storage at Microsoft

SMB v2/v3 on SMB Client
Detect:sc.exe qc lanmanworkstation
Disable:sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb20 start= disabled
Enable:sc.exe config lanmanworkstation depend= bowser/mrxsmb10/mrxsmb20/nsi
sc.exe config mrxsmb20 start= auto


  • You must run these commands at an elevated command prompt.
  • You must restart the computer after you make these changes.

Disable SMBv1 Server with Group Policy

This procedure configures the following new item in the registry:


Registry entry: SMB1 REG_DWORD: 0 = Disabled

To configure this by using Group Policy:

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console. Right-click the Group Policy object (GPO) that should contain the new preference item, and then click Edit.
  2. In the console tree under Computer Configuration, expand the Preferences folder, and then expand the Windows Settings folder.
  3. Right-click the Registry node, point to New, and select Registry Item.

In the New Registry Properties dialog box, select the following:

  • Action: Create
  • Key Path: SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters
  • Value name: SMB1
  • Value type: REG_DWORD
  • Value data: 0

This disables the SMBv1 Server components. This Group Policy must be applied to all necessary workstations, servers, and domain controllers in the domain.

Note WMI filters can also be set to exclude unsupported operating systems or selected exclusions, such as Windows XP.

Disable SMBv1 Client with Group Policy

To disable the SMBv1 client, the services registry key needs to be updated to disable the start of MRxSMB10 and then the dependency on MRxSMB10 needs to be removed from the entry for LanmanWorkstation so that it can start normally without requiring MRxSMB10 to first start.

This will update and replace the default values in the following 2 items in the registry:


Registry entry: Start REG_DWORD: = Disabled


Registry entry: DependOnService REG_MULTI_SZ: “Bowser”,”MRxSmb20″,”NSI”

Note The default included MRxSMB10 which is now removed as dependency

To configure this by using Group Policy:

  1. Open the Group Policy Management Console. Right-click the Group Policy object (GPO) that should contain the new preference item, and then click Edit.
  2. In the console tree under Computer Configuration, expand the Preferences folder, and then expand the Windows Settings folder.
  3. Right-click the Registry node, point to New, and select Registry Item.

In the New Registry Properties dialog box, select the following:

  • Action: Update
  • Key Path: SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\mrxsmb10
  • Value name: Start
  • Value type: REG_DWORD
  • Value data: 4

Then remove the dependency on the MRxSMB10 that was just disabled

In the New Registry Properties dialog box, select the following:

  • Action: Replace
  • Key Path: SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanWorkstation
  • Value name: DependOnService
  • Value type REG_MULTI_SZ
  • Value data:
    • Bowser
    • MRxSmb20
    • NSI

Note These three strings will not have bullets (see the following screen shot).

The default value includes MRxSMB10 in many versions of Windows, so by replacing them with this multi-value string, it is in effect removing MRxSMB10 as a dependency for LanmanServer and going from four default values down to just these three values above.

Note When you use Group Policy Management Console, you don't have to use quotation marks or commas. Just type the each entry on individual lines.

Restart required

After the policy has applied and the registry settings are in place, the targeted systems must be restarted before SMB v1 is disabled.


If all the settings are in the same Group Policy Object (GPO), Group Policy Management displays the following settings.

Testing and validation

After these are configured, allow the policy to replicate and update. As necessary for testing, run gpupdate /force at a command prompt, and then review the target computers to make sure that the registry settings are applied correctly. Make sure SMB v2 and SMB v3 is functioning for all other systems in the environment.